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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Clark Family Day An Exhibition of Fun

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, July 24, 2005

Children just couldn't tear themselves away from a Velcro wall at the Clark Art Institute's July 24 Family Day.
View Slide Show
Williamstown – It wasn’t a time warp, but local residents and visitors were able to experience five decades in five hours during a July 24 celebration at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Hula-hoopla, vintage vehicles, “Elvis” sightings, and fashion crazes from the 1950s to modern days peppered the "Clark Through the Decades" Family Day celebration. Classic television programs such as “The Dick Van Dyke” show were shown on a television within the museum’s reception area.‘60s-style “peace beads,” “Dick and Jane” puppet-making, hackey-sacks, and a “make-your-own pet rock” station resurrected the delights of yesteryear for many adults, and introduced 50 years of fads to hundreds of children.

Pets Of the Past


The two phases of Elvis
Pet rocks-those lovable pebbles with eyes popular during the 1970s- captured the imagination and heart of 9-year-old Amiya Tor. Amiya said that she liked creating her new “pet,” and added that pet rocks “are not silly.”

Amiya planned to carry the pet rock home in a cardboard carrying case provided at the work station. A Newfoundland dog named “Gracie” already holds court as a family pet, she said, but emphasized that “Gracie” would adjust to the new “pet” presence.

“She’ll just sniff it and then she’ll leave it alone,” Amiya said of the pooch’s inevitable introduction to the rock. “She won’t be

Joseph Vigiard, 4, and Lanie Vigiard, 2, designed their own pet rocks.
jealous.”

Amiya’s 8-year-old cousin Leora Huebner said that she enjoyed making a pet rock, and was excited about pet ownership.

“My mom said it’s the one pet that we can keep,” Leora said, speaking about herself and her sisters Rachel Huebner, 10, and Abigail Huebner, who said that she was “five and three-quarters” years old.

Rachel agreed that pet rock design was a pleasant diversion, but identified “mountain climbing” as her favorite activity. A tall four-sided climbing wall was erected at the Clark campus, and child after child donned a safety harness and carefully ascended the slope.

The view was great from the top, said Rachel, who reached the wall's peak.

“Climbing was a lot of fun and you could see everything from the top,” she said.

Getting Better All the Time

A summertime “family day” is a Clark tradition, and the event themes usually coincide with Clark summer exhibits. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clark and the Sunday celebration commemorated the 50 years that have passed since the galleries opened. Each year’s event seems to surpass the last, said Beth DeVoe of Williamstown.

“I think that the Clark does a beautiful job every year,” DeVoe said. “They are so creative, and if you wake up one day and realize that you’ve missed it, it’s like you missed a ‘Snoopy’ [Peanuts cartoon character] special for the year.”

By 1:30 p.m., several on-site volunteers and attendants estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors had toured the grounds and the galleries. Clark Director Michael Conforti appeared pleased with the attendance and the festivities.

“[Family days] are always successful,” Conforti said.


10-year-old Matt Belini began his ascent along a climbing wall.
Conforti noted that the museum is widely respected as an education and research center.

“And we do these great special events,” he said. “We can relate to the community with these special events. We reach for all targets and we seem to be able to do it.”

The current Clark special exhibit, “Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile,” brings “one of the most famous painters of the 1800s” to the Clark galleries, Conforti said.

“A lot of people come to see the show. The only place that people can see it in New England is the Clark.”

The exhibit was organized by the J.Paul Getty Museum and the Clark.

The Clark’s permanent Impressionist paintings collection is revered as well, Conforti said.

May I Have This Dance?

Additional family day activities included a petting zoo, a psychic booth, jitterbug, twist, hustle, and macarena dance lessons, and a Velcro wall, which kept children “sticking” to the fun. DJ Mark Denning entertained music from the ‘50s to the present, and an outdoor food court offered items from pizza to ice cream. Local restaurants such as “Tupelo Honey,” “Hot Tomatoes,” “Lickety-Split,” “Taconic Restaurant” and “Spice Root” shared north lawn with the “Jae’s at the Clark” restaurant. Wine and beer were also offered by the “Jae’s” eatery.

A second Family Day acknowledging another current Clark

Esra Yener, 6, displayed her hula-hoop skills.
exhibit, “Little Women, Little Men: Folk Art Portraits of Children from the Fenimore Art Museum” is planned for September, said Clark Public Relations Director Mary Leitch.

Information about Clark exhibits, special programs and events, and other details are available at the www.clarkart.edu Internet Web site.

A “Clark Through the Decades Family Day” multi-photograph slideshow will be posted at www.iberkshires.com during the upcoming week.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.

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