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Monday, November 19 , 2018, 12:40 am | Fog/Mist 49º


smART Families Date Night Sparks Creativity

Art education program gives parents a chance to discover their inner artist

It wasn’t your ordinary Santa Barbara Museum of Art event. As couples walked in the door at the Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House last week, they had their photograph taken and printed on a large piece of watercolor paper. Later, they were given oil pastel crayons, epoxy glue and inspiration to help them transform the image into a mixed media masterpiece. (Click here for the slideshow.)

“It’s the most innovative party I’ve been to,” Jessica Schaeman said as she put the finishing touches on her creation. “I actually learned something, and it was fun!”

The “Date Night” event gave couples from smART Families, a SBMA affiliate group, a chance to discover their inner artist and have a playful night in the studio while also enjoying food, cocktails and a short educational presentation by one of the museum’s docents.

The inspiration for the evening came from the museum’s current exhibition, Identities, which runs through Sept. 14 and includes 25 works from the museum’s contemporary collection, many of which are quite large in scale. The artists featured in the exhibit used a wide variety of media to express personal feelings and broader perceptions about racial, sexual and cultural identity.

“smART Families isn’t just about educating our kids about art, it’s about educating the parents as well,” said Ted Simmons, who organized the event with local artist Garrett Speirs. Before the parents started to transform their photographs, Speirs gave a brief presentation on technique, showing participants how to use their oil pastels to create a dramatic effect.{mosimage}

Now in its fifth year, “smART Families” is the catchy name of a group of families dedicated to art education for children at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Usual activities include art workshops and bus trips to other art museums — all with their children.

But once a year, parents in the group enjoy a “date night” without the kids. This year’s party gave the 75 parents attending a sophisticated and fun night out on the town and it also raised money to support the museum’s educational programs.

The smART Families steering committee members are chairwoman Amy Mayfield and Kim Blankenhorn, Suzanne Deardorff, Hilary Doubleday, Tisha Ford, Kate Gura, Kisa Heyer, Jill Levinson, Jen Markham, Lizzie Peus, Elizabeth Raith, Julia Rodgers, Laura Shelburne, Ted Simmons, Garrett Speirs, Katherine Stewart, Meghan Stoll, Michele White and Lisa Wolf. smART Families costs $250 a year to join.

For more information about smART Families, e-mail SBMA senior development officer Karen Kawaguchi or call her at 805.884.6428.

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