BY COLLETTE CAPRARA

The folks at Belmont are inviting area families to celebrate Presidents Day at their first annual All-Ages Art Day.

Daylong activities will include family tours of the home and studio of internationally acclaimed artist Gari Melchers, a visit to the galleries, and hands-on demonstrations of a variety of painting and drawing techniques.

“We’ve never done anything like this before, but I had the idea that, since most kids have the day off, it would be fun during the winter to come to Belmont, experience everything that is here, and also have an opportunity to create some art projects,” said education and communications manager Michelle Crow–Dolby, who is coordinating the event.

While the house tour will be guided by a docent, it will be responsive to the interests and questions of the guests and, therefore, unique for each group of visitors.

“We provide background information about Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne, explaining that they traveled frequently and collected art and had a special affection for Dutch folk life,” Crow–Dolby said. “But we let the guests guide the tour, asking about any items in the house that catch their eye.”

One intriguing piece that often attracts interest is a centuries-old linen press that was used to both store and emboss a family’s linens.

For the family tour of Melchers’ studio and gallery, Crow–Dolby has developed a flowers and animals scavenger hunt.

Visitors will receive a laminated sheet with small images of flora and fauna that are included in the exhibit. Then they have to match the paintings in which the images appear.

Also to stimulate conversation about

the art, Crow–Dolby has posted family labels with various works that ask, for example, what mood is conveyed through a painting or whether the subject of one painting appears in any other work in the gallery.

The Pavilion will bustle with drop-in art projects throughout the day. One area will be designated for sketching, and participants can receive information on the role that sketches play as an artist develops a painting.

Another section will focus on color mixing, where visitors can learn how the full spectrum of color is created from just three primary hues and then try their hand at creating a variety of colors and shades.

In another longstanding favorite activity, visitors can create their own take-home impressionist works of art, using paper and colored tissue.

“The precut, brilliantly colored pieces of tissue paper will represent their brush strokes,” Crow–Dolby said. “When they do the scavenger hunt they may notice how individual each brush stroke is and the impact of colors that are side by side.”

At a sculpture station, guests can mold three-dimensional works of art using kits with wires, beads and clay.

Children can also explore Belmont’s collection of award-winning illustrated books and work on puzzles made from images of paintings in the gallery.

“This is an event for the whole family,” Crow–Dolby said. “Parents won’t just be observing what their children are doing but will also be involved and have fun with the projects.”


What: All-Ages Art Day at Belmont

When: Monday, Feb. 20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Gari Melchers Home & Studio, 224 Washington St., Fredericksburg

Cost: Art Day activities are free to members and included with regular museum admission. General admission: $10. Students 18 and younger are admitted free with an accompanying paying adult (limit two). Current UMW staff and students are admitted free.

Info: 540/654-1015; GariMelchers@umw.edu

Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.

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