Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Follow-up to a very old post on the Dedham Bunnies

Once upon a time, when The Seven-Year-Old was merely five, she accepted a temporary assignment as Caterpickles’ Official Junior Photojournalist. For her first assignment, The Five-Year-Old elected to develop a 15-post Photo Documentary of the Dedham Shines Public Art Project going on that summer in nearby Dedham, Massachusetts.

For the project, The Five-Year-Old photographed each of the fifteen artist-painted fiberglass rabbits as they were installed in various public spaces across the town of Dedham. She also interviewed several of the artists who created them. In the process, we learned a lot about local area history, as many of the winning designs were linked to local area history in some way. (You can find her photo documentary here.)

The bunnies themselves were modeled after the iconic crouching rabbit made by Dedham Pottery during America’s Arts & Crafts period. When painting Ear Ye, Ear Ye – A Tail of Dedham Pottery, artist Elaine Matt Schaffner imitated the unusual crackled glaze that made Dedham Pottery so distinctive.

Close-up of Ear Ye Ear Ye showing the artist's rendering of the crackled glaze. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Close-up of Ear Ye Ear Ye showing the artist’s rendering of the crackled glaze. (Photo: Shala Howell, Ear Ye Ear Ye: A Tail of Dedham Pottery (c) 2012 Elaine Matt Schaffner)

The bunny that was eventually placed by the Stop-n-Shop on Route 1, the Pete Hamilton Race Car Rabbit by Dawn Evans Scaltreto, though, actually referenced a piece of Norwood history.

The Five-Year-Old, consoling the Race Car Rabbit on the loss of his spoiler. (Photo: Shala Howell)

The Five-Year-Old, consoling the Race Car Rabbit on the loss of his spoiler. (Photo: Shala Howell, Pete Hamilton Race Car Rabbit (c) 2012 Dawn Evans Scaltreto)

Turns out that the sleepy little hamlet of Norwood, Massachusetts had been home to the fastest 1/4-mile NASCAR stock car race track back in the 1960s.

The Five-To-Seven-Year-Old and I have always been intrigued by this particular little fact. While we lived in Norwood, we of course knew the town was renowned locally for its Automile, but we had always assumed that its auto-fame was limited to the string of car dealerships along Route 1. Until Dawn Scaltreto painted the Race Car Rabbit, we had no idea that Norwood had a much more exciting racing past.

Anyway, I bring this up today, because the recently renovated Norwood Theatre will be hosting the world premiere of a feature-length documentary about the now-defunct Norwood Arena Speedway. The show, Norwood Arena Movie, is scheduled for September 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.

Sadly, The Seven-Year-Old and I will have to wait for this documentary to hit the Chicago theaters.

So, Norwood readers, your mission, should you choose to accept it: Go create lots of demand for this movie, so that my little local theatre here in Chicago will pick it up and screen it for me.



Did you know that I’ve got a book out about the 2012 Dedham Public Art Project?

My book, What’s That, Mom? provides 15 accessible, practical strategies for using public art to spark conversations with children between the ages of 3 and 10 — no artistic talent or insight required.

In addition to providing tips for viewing public art with kids ages 3-10, What’s That, Mom? offers much more detail on the 15 giant fiberglass rabbits included in the 2012 Dedham Public Art Project, including a complete set of (higher quality) photographs, influences on their various designs, and several interviews with the local artists who painted the bunnies.

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