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Beline Obeid

Once upon a time: Grimmly inspired

“The Little Red Riding Hood” painting shows the wolf in the trees enticing the little girl to pick flowers, blood root, for her grandmother, forestalling her giving the wolf time to run ahead to grandmother’s house. The hem of her red cape is turning into blood droplets. photo by Ann L. Fouty.
July 26, 2012
Once upon a time, the boys and girls who lived in Grosse Pointe were invited to a festival at a large stone house beside a shimmering lake.

There they heard stories about wolves, frogs, snakes, hedgehogs, princes and princesses. While seated on tree stumps, they read books with witches enticing children and colored pictures of enchanted forests. They heard princesses singing.

This can all be experienced at Edsel & Eleanor Ford House's "Once Upon a Time: Grimmly Inspired," running from July 28 through Nov. 4, in chapter two of a three chapter story dedicated to fairy tales. Saturday, Aug. 4, the Grimm fairy tales are brought to life from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with performances, puppets, Grosse Pointe Theatre's youth group, musical performances and multicultural storytellings with Grimm characters taking center stage. The Grimm brothers were chosen in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the first printing of the duo's fairy tale collections, "Children's and Household Tales."

This year, the Ford House staff sought out local resources. The partners include the Detroit Public Library for its historical fairy tale book collection; the Grosse Pointe ART Center for a judge in the juried art show; the Grosse Pointe Public Library for books; Pewabic Pottery to create fairy tale-themed tiles; Radio Disney provides fairy tale-themed activity stations; artists from local high schools and the adult community for art works; The Parade Company for Cinderella's carriage, props, flags and costumes; and Grosse Pointe schools' art teachers for art lessons.

In June, a call went out to area artisans to submit a piece of art work based on one of nine Grimm stories, some well known, others not so well known, including "The Frog Prince," "Goose Girl," Hans My Hedgehog," "Little Red Riding Hood," Hansel and Gretel," "Mother Hulda, "Puss in Boots," The Spindle, the Shuttle and the Needle," and "White Snake."

Sara Ericson and Mario Isenmann, Ford House museum technicians, attach the leaves to the tree in the enchanted forest. photo by Ann L. Fouty.
The works in pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic, oil, shadow boxes, sculpture and fiber are to be displayed mainly in the South Cottage. More than 60 submissions were received from adults and students both in the Grosse Pointes and other near-by areas for entries to the juried art show.

Josephine Shea, Ford House curator, and Amy DeBrunner, director of the Grosse Pointe Artist Association, announce the winners of the juried art at an artists' reception July 28.

In addition to submitted works, reproductions of historic fairy tale illustrations from the Detroit Public Library's collection along with an overview of the Brothers Grimm are displayed.

Art works are displayed in the South Cottage where guests first encounter a room transformed into an area resembling the outside of a castle.

"The room outside the castle will have a wishing well and visitors can write a wish on a gold coin and toss it into the well," said Megan Callewaert, collections manager.

Wishes are later retrieved and hung from the ceiling.

A wolf with grandmother’s cap is tucked in bed awaiting Little Red Riding Hood. photo by Ann L. Fouty.
In a corner is an oversized 4-foot coloring book of the "Goose Girl" with illustrations provided by the historical book from the Detroit Public Library. Visitors can color illustrations and write their own fairy tale.

The enchanted forest with an animal theme and decorated with a leafy tree under a blue sky is in the next room. Oversized flowers flank stumps on which to sit and read a fairy tale with books supplied by the Grosse Pointe Public Library.

"We are partnering with the Grosse Pointe Public Library. They bought some books and we are using them first, then give them back. There are nooks to read books, beautiful nooks," said Chris Shires, director of interpretation and programs, of the lagoon and the lake's shores.

Each of the four corners in is dedicated to a different Grimm story, "The Frog Prince," "Puss in Boots," Hans My Hedgehog" and "White Snake."

Photos by Ann L. Fouty Children have a chance stuff the witch into a fireplace in a room dedicated to “Hansel & Gretel.” photo by Ann L. Fouty.
One of the South Cottage's rooms is a candy-filled bedroom and dedicated to the story "Hansel & Gretel."

"It will be filled with candy and children can make candy to take home," Callewaert said.

Children will have the opportunity to stuff the wicked witch into her stove and retrieve a treasure from a treasure box as a reward.

Sunlight streams onto a four poster bed with a blue and white bedspread and covering its occupant — the big bad wolf in grandmother's night cap. In this bedroom, children can dress in a red cape or don wolf ears for a photo opportunity. If children get too close to the bed, a voice will make note of how tasty they look, thus discouraging them from getting to close to the wolf.

These flowers sprout up in the enchanted forest. photo by Ann L. Fouty.
Josephine Ford's playhouse has been transformed into the house of the seven dwarfs with seven little beds, seven little mailboxes, seven plates on the table, seven dwarf-style hats and seven lanterns.

"There are lots of things in seven," said Callewaert said. "The playhouse lends itself perfect for that."

Advance tickets to the Aug. 4 event cost $12 and $15 on the day of the event. They can be purchased at fordhouse.org.

Youth programs:

* Fairy tale twilight desserts — Aug. 7, 9, 15, 21, 23. Children can join a famous fairy tale princess in the estate's gardens for songs, story time and crafts and eat a fairy tale-inspired dessert.

* Fairy house and terrarium workshop — Aug. 11, Sept. 8. Using natural materials, families create a fairy house to place on the Ford House grounds. They visit the fairy tale exhibit, listen to a story and make a fairy terrarium.

* Fairy tale quests — Aug. 18, Sept. 15 and 29. Become a hero or a princess and travel through an adventure on the Ford House grounds.

* Artfully inspired: Using Grimm stories, Sept. 22 — Young artists tour the "Once Upon a Time: Grimmly Inspired" exhibit to see how the student and adult artists created their art works.

* Pewabic tile making — Create an exhibit inspired Pewabic tile. Tiles are created at the Ford House, fired at Pewabic Pottery and can be picked up at the Ford House.

Adult programs:

* Grimms' fairy tales: The real story, Aug. 16 — Wayne State University professor Donald Hass reveals the truth about the Grimms' fairy tale collection.

* "The Pied Piper:" Franco-American versions of a German legend — Sept. 13. Wayne State University profession Anne Duggan explores the story from its German origin to the Brothers Grimm to French and American versions.

For more information, visit fordhouse.org or call (313) 884-4222.

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