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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Blazing Paper Trails

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, coordinator of community education and outreach at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Williamstown - When it comes to introducing children to art, Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer has a simple, direct philosophy: "Get 'em while they're young."

Hands-On Art For Families

"We really believe that visiting an art museum can enhance people's lives," said Ostheimer, who is the coordinator of community education and outreach at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. "My objective is to get kids while they are young. I think an appreciation of art and artists shapes the way you look at life."

Ostheimer has been at the thick of Clark Art Family Day events since 1998. Her creative planning skills have developed unique, innovative agendas that other museums must envy - the Clark has been occupied by life-sized "people" sculpted from hay, the grounds have been transformed into a "seaside," and during a memorable "Arctic Day" event, dog sledding was offered- and the events are growing in frequency and in attendance.

"There have always been family days over the years but we have increased the number," she said during a March 16 interview. "There is an expanded commitment to family programming. Our goal is family friendly fun activities. We believe that our family programs may be helping to close a gap that is occurring in schools because of [arts] funding cuts. We're hoping that when a family is planning what they will do over a weekend, they will come to the museum."

Past events have included "mountain-climbing," dance lessons, volleyball coaching, yarn doll-making, and Tarot card reading; on April 22, a four-hour "Paper Trails" Clark Family Day will offer paper-themed activities.

From noon to 4 p.m., kite-making and kite-flying, origami, crafting tissue-paper flowers, 3-D art , and even a magic show focused on "paper magic" will unfold at the museum's campus.

Admission to the family event and the galleries will be free and supplies for the activities will be provided.

Go Fly A Kite!

Handmade kites and kites brought from home will be welcomed during a planned kite-flying excursion along Stone Hill. The event is dependent on the weather.

Two magic shows are on the afternoon's agenda. International performer Gene Anderson has planned special "Magic with Paper" performances beginning at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.. Anderson is expected to "wow the audience" with a routine "that will not be forgotten," according to information provided by the Clark.

Discover Paper Trails

Benjamin Levy, described as a magician, entertainer, and memory expert, is slated to showcase origami during shows planned for 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.. Levy is considered to be among the top corporate entertainers in the world and has been dubbed "The King's Magician" by Fortune magazine.

The family day is designed to complement the Clark's current "Paper Trails: 100 Great Drawings, Prints,and Photographs From the Clark" special exhibit, and Curator of Education Michael Cassin is scheduled to host two half-hour gallery talks about the exhibit.

The talks are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and Cassin plans to engage families in the discovery of connecting "trails" between the paper art works. Children will be encouraged to select a pair of "Paper Trails" exhibit art works that affords a new "connection" and share their discovery with staff at the museum's "Welcome" desk. Prizes will be awarded.

Workshops focused on paper-making and origami are included in the activity roster. Environmentalist Phoebe Hazard and origami artist Mari Yoko Hara will host two workshops during the afternoon. Artist Anna Kronick will offer paper-cutting demonstrations throughout the afternoon. Children are welcome to have a turn at creating cut paper art pieces.

The "Paper Trails" exhibit "draws connections between such great artists as Picasso and Durer and finds links both visual and historical in often seemingly disparate works. This fun and unusual approach invites reflection on the nature of connectedness and invites viewers to find their own trails between the works. This anniversary exhibition spans over 500 years and includes works by Degas, Morandi, Atget, Munch and many more."

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., are open Tues.-Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The museum is open daily during July and August. The museum will be open on Patriot's Day [April 17]. Museum admission is free from November through May. From June 1 to Oct. 31, admission is $10 for adults, free for children under 18 years old, members of the Clark, and students who present valid student identification.

Additional information about the museum is available at 413-458-2303 or by visiting a www.clarkart.edu Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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