Children’s Art Festival at Museum: A playdate to create

Ellis Johnson [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

Creativity overflowed at the Vero Beach Museum of Art last Saturday during the 38th annual Children’s Art Festival, a free, family-friendly event oozing with exciting hands-on activities and performances for all to enjoy.

In the studios children painted, molded and designed to their hearts’ content, creating faux stained glass to tie in to the museum’s Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement exhibition, on display through May 5. In the gallery, docents discussed selected pieces while children viewed the paintings through specially made binoculars and played the ukulele to mimic the “Musica” painting.

A giant board game had youngsters dancing like an octopus, chomping like a shark, spinning like a hurricane and walking the plank before swimming ashore to dig into a treasure chest, and there were also visits to the multi-sensory Art Zone, shell decorating and creativity with clay.

Things got “curiouser and curiouser” with a Mad Hatter tea party performance by Xaque Gruber and Friends that had everyone celebrating their “unbirthday,” just like “Alice in Wonderland.” Other performances throughout the afternoon included music, dance, karate, singing and baton by elementary school students.

The 2019 Indian River County Juried Student Exhibition, on display through May 19, included more than 40 works by local students. The Middle School Best in Show was awarded to Sebastian Bois, seventh grade, for “Smushy Face,” and at the High School level to Alexis Kolesnik, 12th grade, for “Beach Still Life.”

“The art leaders in the community really were interested in introducing art to children,” said VBMA volunteer Toni Hamner, remembering back to the inaugural event in 1981, before the museum was even built. The then “art in a tent” event was hosted by the Alliance for the Arts to elicit interest in the creation of a community museum. Today the festival attracts nearly 4,000 children and families.

“Families really want to do things together, and the museum wants to generate a whole new art audience. One of the ways you do that is to invite the families in. This is a way to get the parents, grandparents and children all together in one place to celebrate art. And it’s all the arts – performing, visual and creative arts,” explained Hamner.

Upcoming exhibits, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold, and the Astronomy Photographer of the Year open June 1. For information, visit

Photos by: Denise Ritchie
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