‘Art-o-Rama’ draws a crowd to art center

PARKERSBURG – Ten weeks of “Free Saturdays” came to an end Saturday at the Parkersburg Art Center during the first “Art-o-Rama.”

Jessie Siefert, education director at the art center, said in addition to marking the end of the “Free Saturdays,” the “Art-o-Rama” was the start of registration for another program.

“It’s the kickoff for our summer summer camp,” she said. “This was also the last day for the Smithsonian ‘Home Town Teams’ exhibit and we set up several make-and-take stations.”

Stations included activities like painting, printing, sculpting, weaving, ceramics, face painting, dance and movement with the Schrader Youth Ballet, a drum circle with MaryMary Gonot and unusual animals brought by the Ohio Valley Wildlife Refuge.

Art center director Abby Hayhurst said 436 people registered for the event that was manned by 41 volunteers from Parkersburg High School, Parkersburg South High School, the Actors Guild of Parkersburg and Schrader.

“This was our biggest and best Free Community Art Day ever,” she said.

Siefert said the decision to change the date for the Free Community Art Day to March seemed to be a hit.

“We used to have this in May and we called it ‘May Day,'” she said. “We changed into March and our turnout is close to double what it was in years past – we are going to keep it in March.”

Local musician MaryMary Gonot, of Waverly, led a session on percussion during the event. She said the session was to show children how many different items can be used to make music.

“I educate the kids about the drums like the different names and sounds and I show them how they can play spoons or a washboard using ordinary things around the house to make music and sounds,” she said. “I try to get them to join in on the beat. Just watching their faces is all worth it to me.”

Gonot said she has participated in the event before and said it is one of her favorite things.

Zach Leach, Gonot’s grandson, of Moundsville, said he enjoys helping her out with the drumming.

“I play percussion in my school band,” he said. “I like coming here to teach them how to play the instruments.”

Nicole Harris, of Parkersburg, said her daughter Sylvia enjoys art projects.

“She liked the masks upstairs and she loves coloring and water coloring,” she said.

Sylvia said she wanted to go to the pottery area next.

“She’s very hands-on,” said her dad, Jonathan. “She loves to do anything artistic.”

Two-year-old Sadie Geary was enjoying the day, said her mother Kari. She said her daughter was at her first art day seemed to gravitate toward two areas

“She’s 2 years old and she loves the music,” Geary said. “She also loves the painting.”