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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Families Frolic At Clark Family Day Festivities

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, July 30, 2006

Water sprinklers were welcomed by children at the Clark Art Institute July 30 Family Day.
View Slide Show
Williamstown - It was hot, it was hazy and it was humid at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute during July 30 but the notorious "three H's" apparently did little to hamper turnout at the museum's "Clark Brothers Lawn Party Family Day" event.

One Of The Nicest Events Ever

By noon, hundreds of vehicles were parked at the museum campus and large crowds of every age group strolled the lush green lawns, sat at a temporary outdoor food court, and enjoyed a diverse selection of outdoor games and activities. Dozens more visitors spent time inside the museum, where a puppet show was offered, a "snake charmer" placed a long, slithering reptile into the hands of children, and gallery talks were delivered.


Anyone for croquet?
The event kicked off at 11 a.m. and concluded at 4 p.m..

Jackie Petrino attended the event accompanied by her three-year-old daughter Julia Petrino.

"This is one of the nicest events they've had," she said. "Events like this make us feel so glad to be part of the community."

Most of the children's activities were free, including two Tanglewood Marionettes performances of "Hansel and Gretel." An acrobatic duo known as "Double Vision" performed a "Sibling Symmetry" routine on the lawn.

An exception was a "Renoir's Hair Tent." Staffed by Indulgence salon employees, the tent hosted hair-braiding for $1 per braid [six braids for $5], with all proceeds destined for the Women's Imaging Center at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. The "braiders" were kept busy during most of the afternoon as female tots to teens perched in chairs, selected beads and sat patiently as braids were woven into their hair.

"They Are Fabulous"

Clark Curator of Education Michael Cassin was scheduled to deliver gallery talks throughout the event. Cassin was pleased with the turnout, he said during a brief break.

"I think the variety of the attractions have drawn people here and of course all the activities are connected to the summer show," Cassin said, referring to the season's "The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings" exhibit. "There are a core of devoted regulars who come [to Family Day] every year and there are those who come because they've heard about it through the press. They come for the activities and end up going inside the museum."

Preparations for the five-hour event require a talented, dedicated staff and the Clark is fortunate to employ a very skilled team of workers, Cassin said.

Lucy Shephard, 4, entered "Renoir's Hair Tent" and had her hair braided.


"There are a lot of people involved in mounting a day like this," he said. "All the staff, the buildings and grounds people, everyone, they work hard. These are the people that make sure things are in place, like the electricity being where it is needed, and they are fabulous. And if you were to come back tomorrow, you wouldn't know that all this was here today. It's all cleaned up. This is how good these people are."

Family Day relies on a great number of volunteers to operate the games and activities. Over 50 volunteers were in place during the event, Cassin said, and he emphasized that Family Day is only possible because of the generous volunteer presence.

A Good Day For Ice Cream

Kayla Kanto, 7, of New Jersey, was busy creating a horseshoe family plaque.

When asked what part of the process was the most enjoyable, Kayla answered "Everything was fun."

Corabin Allardice, 9, of Stephentown, N.Y., had settled in at a calligraphy tent and was ready to try her hand at the art.

"I'm just starting but it seems like it will be fun," she said.


Julia Petrino,3, concentrated on a "Picasso Scratch Art" activity.
A "jousting" activity allowed helmeted "opponents" to poke at each other with large "lances" made from a soft foam-like material; the event also allowed spectators an opportunity to chuckle at the antics. A "Cooperstown Batting Cage" was very popular, as were horse and pony rides.

Badminton and croquet were set up along the lawn and even very young children got the idea of whacking colored balls through wire wickets. And when badminton racquets proved too cumbersome for short, chubby fingers, toddlers quickly devised their own game of "toss the plastic birdie."

Ornate water sprinklers lured dozens of children to refreshing sprays of water and provided a very welcome respite from the hot, heavy air. Bottled water and ice cream seemed to be best sellers at the food booths.

The "Happy Feet Orchestra" provided musical entertainment throughout the event.

"The Clark Brothers Collect:Impressionists And Early Modern Paintings" joins the collections of Clark founder Sterling Clark and his brother Stephen Clark, who as a founder of the Museum of Modern Art, the Fenimore Museum, the Farmer's Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The exhibit hosts over 70 paintings and is open until Sept. 4.

Amos Cassidy, 8, crafted a family plaque using a horseshoe during a Clark Art Institute Family Day event.


The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer season and is closed on Monday from September to June. Admission is $10 per adult and free to those age 18 and under, museum members, and students with valid student identification from June through October. Beginning in November, admission is free through May.

Additional information about the Clark Art Institute is available by calling 413-458-2303 or at a www.clarkart.edu Internet web site.

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