Gallery Guide - DuPage Children's Museum

Mess Fest | Saturday, June 22 | 9–2

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Gallery Guide


Look at artwork with your child and ask these questions*:

  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?


   *Visual Thinking Strategies, 2019 |

Just like talking about art, listening to and talking about music ignites all areas of children’s development. Asking questions about what you are hearing helps develop a greater appreciation for music.



Talk about art with your child and help them develop critical thinking skills!

Develop Greater Appreciation


Chicago Sinfonietta is a professional orchestra dedicated to modeling and promoting diversity, inclusion, and both racial and cultural equity in the arts through the universal language of symphonic music. Two of the featured compositions are from their album Project W. It is Chicago Sinfonietta’s initiative to highlight contemporary, diverse women composers through four commissioned works.

Mind Exchange Music is a sound production company featuring innovative and versatile post-audio, original music and music supervision services for film, TV, and experiential live productions. They produced several original songs inspired by artwork in Art Is Instrumental including a piece for Dawn’s Chorus, Four Musicians, and Delta Blues.

Chicago Sinfonietta and Maestro Chen photographs by Chris Ocken

American Cubism

Swing Landscape, 1938

Stuart Davis
1892 – 1964, Philadelphia, PA

Stuart Davis’ artwork was inspired by the improvisational character of jazz music. His use of color and shape was inspired by the notes and rhythm of the music.


  • What everyday objects do you see in this painting?
  • How does this make you feel? Why?
  • How would this painting sound if it were a piece of music?
Biomorphic Abstraction

Succession, 1935

Wassily Kandinsky
1866 – 1944, Russia

Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist for whom music and color were connected. He had a condition called synesthesia, where he saw color when he heard music. He associated each music note with an exact hue.


  • What does this painting sound like to you?
  • Is the music slow or fast? Joyful or somber? Neither?
  • How would you draw your favorite song?
Modern Abstract Expressionism

String Orchestra, 1983

Boaz Klachkin
Born 1953, Israel

A classical and jazz musician, Boaz Klachkin expresses himself through music, poetry, and brings math and science into much that he creates.


  • How many instruments can you find?
  • What do you like most about this painting?
  • What do you see?
American Cubism

The Mellow Pad, 1951

Stuart Davis
1892 – 1964, Philadelphia, PA

Stuart Davis based The Mellow Pad on an earlier piece of artwork and, like jazz, used improvisation to grow the artwork.


  • What shapes do you see?
  • What would this painting sound like if it were music?
  • How many letters can you find?
Contemporary Cubism

Four Musicians

Joseph Catanzaro
Chicago, IL

Joseph Catanzaro combines his love of music, cartoons, comic books, and play with Pablo Picasso’s visual language of Cubism. Guitarists, blues, and jazz are his favorite themes.


  • What is your favorite music?
  • If you were going to paint your favorite music, what would it look like?
  • How many musicians can you find?
  • What instruments do you see?

Delta Blues

David Ralph
Born 1964, Red Bank, NJ

David Ralph spends a lot of time thinking about the shapes and colors he will use to create his subject matter. Inspired by angles, arcs, and curves, he plays with an idea until the perfect combination of color and palette appears before him.


  • What are your favorite colors?
  • What geometric shape would you use to draw a picture of a person?
  • If you were going to paint a band, how many people would you put in it?
Textured Collage Painting

Keys to the Soul, Orange, 2014

Marcus Glenn
Born 1968, Detroit, MI

Marcus Glenn paints right onto a board rather than canvas, which many artists use. Then he tears paper and fabric to build up his collage. Taking inspiration from God, humankind, and nature, Glenn believes that young artists should not allow creativity to be bottled up on the inside.


  • How do you express your creativity?
  • Why do you think Marcus painted the keys coming off the piano?
  • What music is the piano player playing?
Mixed Media

Waves of Music, 2008

Michael Del Valle
Born 1970, Chicago, IL

Naperville Artist and DCM Member, Michael Del Valle describes the process of making art like putting together a puzzle. Each piece represents a layer; each layer represents a shape, a movement, an expression. The pieces are bound together and highlighted by vibrant colors, enhancing the overall experience.


  • How many instruments can you find?
  • What types of music do you think about when you look at this artwork?

Dawn Chorus, 2002

James Marsh
Born 1946, England

James Marsh is a highly acclaimed illustrator, designer, artist, and author. He collaborated on projects for The Beatles and Andy Warhol.  Dawn Chorus was featured as the cover art for an Album published in 2002 by the English pop and post-rock band, Talk Talk.


  • How many birds can you find?
  • What instruments can you see?
  • If you were going to make an animal out of an instrument, what instrument would you use and what animal would you create?
Synthetic Cubism

Guitar, Sheet Music, and Glass, 1912

Pablo Picasso
1881 – 1973, Spain

Picasso is thought to have created over 50,000 works of art throughout his life, working in several different styles. This print is an example of abstract collage from the early beginnings of Cubism.


  • What clues can you find that identify this instrument?
  • What materials could you use to create a picture of a guitar?
  • What kind of instrument would you use in your artwork?
Modern Abstract Expressionism  

Adam’s Cello, 2009

Susanne Clark
New Zealand

Susanne Clark’s vision is to reduce suffering upon this planet and create well-considered, uplifting, and authentic art and then have it go out into the world to bring joy and pleasure to others. Adam’s Cello is a joyful reflection from her Music Art series.


  • What makes you feel joyful?
  • What type of music would you play with this instrument?
  • What would it sound like?
Ballpoint pen drawing

Shoe Horns, 2000

Don Stewart
Born 1959, Homewood, AL

Don Stewart studied medicine until he discovered his surgical residency clashed with his creative side. Now he spends his time creating artwork full of puns, sometimes taking as long as a year and a half to research his subject.


  • How many instruments can you find in this drawing?
  • How would this shoe sound when you walk?
Linoleum print

Joe Henderson

Artist Unknown

This linoprint is made by cutting an image into a block of linoleum, covering it in ink, and printing it onto paper or other material.


  • What instrument is the musician playing? How do you know?
  • What kind of music is this musician playing? Can you hear it? Is it happy or sad? Is the tempo Fast or slow?


This work was obtained from creative commons:

Black and White Photograph

Discarded Keys #1

Jeremy Kelty
Portland, Oregon


  • What instrument is this?
  • Why do you think the artist shows only part of the instrument in this photograph?
  • What kind of sound do you think this instrument makes?