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Family Valued 1.04.06 

Kids love Chinese food. They're amused by the zodiac. Strengthen their appreciation for Chinese culture by visiting The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Gallery and the University at Buffalo's two ArtGalleries.

Before we visited the Albright-Knox, Pink Floyd's was the only wall with which my kids were familiar. After standing in a gallery dominated by Ghosts Pounding the Wall (pictured), a monumental ink rubbing of a three-story section of China's Great Wall, their minds have been expanded.

Clearly, you don't have to know much about modern art or Chinese culture to enjoy this jaw-dropping multi-media extravaganza featuring large installations, videos, photographs, paintings, and sculptures --- including a few nudes.

My 9-year-old reveled in the vivid colors and whimsical elements in pieces such as Rainbow, a painting in which a gymnast dances on a wall with an upended bicycle.

100,000 Kilometers, an installation featuring bricks and drapery panels made of human hair from around the world, made a huge impact. "It's the most bizarre thing I've ever seen," said my 12-year-old. Hey! Looks like my job is done.

Buffalo is the only North American venue for this exhibition, which continues through January 29. Admission at the Albright-Knox Gallery, including audio tour and permanent collection, is $12, 13 and under free. Albright-Knox hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Info at or call 716.882.8700. Free admission at both UB locations. Go to or call 716.645.6912.

--- Linda Kostin (

Beer run with the doll family

There are some experiences you can have only if you're a parent. These range from the joy of watching your child's first steps to the pain of that first visit to the emergency room. But what about those utterly ridiculous experiences, the ones that even the most imaginative couldn't make up? Here's one that I'll never forget.

When our daughter was about five, she loved to play in my car. Sure, she spent some time behind the wheel, adjusting the radio and the wipers, but the bulk of her time was in getting all her "children" buckled in. She'd go out to the garage holding a few dolls and stuffed animals, whichever ones suited her fancy that day. She'd spend a good 20 minutes getting them all buckled in, talking to them about where they were going and the like. Then, she'd pretend to drive the car.

One hot summer day, she left all her children in the car. We were having a cookout, and I was running late, so I left the dolls and animals all buckled in while I ran to the store for beer. I don't remember who was with me other than Josefina, the American Girl, sitting attentively in the front passenger seat. With a twelve pack on the floor of the passenger side and Josefina staring straight ahead, I started for home.

As the speedometer threatened 50, I suddenly thought about what I'd say to the officer when he walked up to the car. The scene would be most poignant if the radio were playing Harry Nilsson's theme from Midnight Cowboy: "Everybody's talkin' at me / I can't hear a word they're sayin..." (it was actually AC/DC's "T.N.T." at embarrassing volume).

I slowed down to make sure nothing so ridiculous happened. When I got home, I told Lindsay to get her dolls and stuffed animals out of the car. As she started for the door, I told her we all enjoyed the ride.

--- Charlie Blum

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