Art center holds ‘Arty Party’

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg Art Center had something for children of every age on Saturday with its “Arty Party” in the morning and a special class for older kids in the afternoon.

“We have a lot going on and trying to get kids’ creativity going and excited about art,” said Jessie Siefert, education director at the art center, located at Eighth and Market streets in downtown Parkersburg..

Saturday morning’s “Arty Party” was the second of the year and allowed the children to make watercolor paintings as well as use play dough along with getting some extra energy out by playing on bouncing balls.

“This is a great way for the kids to get out of the house and socialize during the winter when they would normally have to stay at home,” said Sheila Boggs, of Mineral Wells, who brought her grandson Alex Zermeno, 6. “It also allows him to get out some energy.”

This was the first time Zermeno had participated in the event at the art center, but will not be the last.

“I didn’t know what to expect when we came here but it has been a very positive experience for both of us and I’m sure we will be back,” Boggs said.

Mineral Wells resident Shannon Dugan brought her son Mark, 4, and daughter Brittin, 6, to the art center last week and decided to attend every “Arty Party” this year.

“Mark doesn’t really like arts and crafts, so I decided to bring him here so he would get the experience and challenge him to like it,” she said. “Brittin enjoys crafts and doing these things, so it allows her to expand her creativity and have fun.”

After the first week’s event, Dugan said she did not have any trouble getting either of her children to attend Saturday.

“It is awesome for the art center to do this and I hope my kids learn a lot more about the arts and what they can do,” she added.

Saturday afternoon saw older children participate in a “trial-sized” class that allowed them to learn how to make a book into a work of art.

This week’s class taught the participants about “altered books,” where an old hard-bound book is repurposed as a canvas for art, said Heather Royer, art teacher at VanDevender Middle School.

“This teaches kids that they can make art from pretty much anything,” Royer said. “With the ‘altered books,’ they use the book as their canvas and can use watercolors and acrylics to paint, add pictures and quotes and anything with this mixed media work.”

Royer said it also teaches kids to reuse and upcycle old items they might normally consider throwing away.

“In this case the old book is definitely upcycled, but you can also add old buttons and other reused items,” she said.

This is the second year for the “Arty Party” program where for 10 Saturdays this winter, each week children will be introduced to a new media or project that allows them to use their imaginations and be artistically creative. The program is free to the public due to a gift from the Virginia Neptune Foundation.

There is a fee for the “trial-sized” classes for older children, which work to provide a preview of multi-week classes regularly offered at the art center. A new round of four-week classes for children and adults in various media will begin in February at the art center.

Registration for art classes is available by calling 304-485-3859 or going online at www.parkersburgartcenter.org. Most classes require a minimum of four students in order to run.