Artist Brian Dick amid tires and mattresses in the New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The New Children’s Museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary in downtown San Diego with the return of an updated version of one of its most popular art installations.

“No Rules Except…” by San Diego installation artist Brian Dick features 40 mattresses and 165 cushions in the shape and style of tires that children — and even a few adults — can play in. As they play, they will hear six soundscapes emanating from the mattresses.

“I took the idea of pillows and the idea of tires and collapsed them together,” said Dick, who created a similar installation — minus the tires — in 2008.

“People come in all the time and say, ‘Where’s that mattress room?’” said Tomoko Kuta, deputy director of the museum.

Playing in the tires

Dick said the inspiration for the tires came from a 1961 installation by his UC San Diego professor and noted performance artist Allan Kaprow called “Yard” that used real tires. But the tires in New Children’s Museum are all cushions, with silk-screened tread patterns based on a child’s toy vehicle.

While real tires are “dirty and stinky,” Dick said, the cushions are a “perfect form” for kids to crawl through and play in.

The installation’s homage to Kaprow includes his family name on the tires’ sidewalls and the artist’s bagel recipe where tire specifications are typically listed.

The work is sponsored by Jerome’s Furniture, which donated the mattresses, and ResMed, which appropriately makes products to treat sleep apnea.

The new exhibition opens to the public on Saturday, May 12, at the museum on 200 West Island Avenue.

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on Sunday, when the museum opens at 11 a.m., and Tuesday, when it is closed.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.