Scaring up some fun this Saturday night!

“Boo-ya!”

That was the reaction in my house when I mentioned the Bristol Art Gallery is opening its 2nd annual Halloween exhibit, “BOO TOO!” this weekend.  Last year my eldest and I went together to visit the gallery during this exhibit, and it was hands-down awesome!  (Read more about last year’s visit here.)  It goes without saying that we’ll be heading downtown to experience this special exhibit, which turned out to be the gallery’s most popular exhibit in 2010.  Families are welcome, and the gallery is quick to point out that “the art on display in this exhibit has something for everyone—it’s not all  macabre, scary and creepy!  Many artworks are beautiful, fantastical, ethereal and whimsical.”  I think this is one of the best local events to visit with your teens and ‘tweens, and an especially fun way to introduce first-timers to the art gallery experience.  (Here’s an interesting read about bringing your kids to an art gallery.)  Contact Bristol Art Gallery at 396-9699 for more information.

All the gory details:

“BOO TOO!”

Opening Reception Saturday, October 1st from 5pm ’til 9pm

Bristol Art Gallery’s Second Annual Open Juried Exhibit “BOO TOO!” will open Saturday October 1st and run through November 6th.  Our most popular exhibit from 2010 is back and will continue this year to feature  original works of art including paintings, sculpture & photography which depict the “Spirit” and many moods of “ALL HALLOWS’ EVE”. Opening night will feature an awards ceremony at 6pm, creepy but tasty refreshments, spooky music and frightening Gothic decor.  Guests are welcome to wear their Halloween costumes, if they dare!  The Juror for this year’s event is well known fantasy, prehistoric and horror artist Rick Sardinha, whose clients include Hasbro, Sony, Simon and Schuster, National Geographic, Skyline Films and many more.  Fortune teller “Maribeth” from Tarot Care will be available to do complementary readings for those interested in exploring their futures…

Fusion Fest 2011

The place to be this Saturday is at the Water Street Landing (aka Blount Clam Shack) in Warren for Fusion Fest, a day of live music, good food, and local brews for a great cause!  On Saturday, October 1st Fusionworks Dance Company presents the 3rd annual Fusion Fest, a free admission event, from 11am ’til 7pm.  Here’s a taste of what you can expect-

  • live music all day from local label 75 or Less Records, plus other great local bands!
  • yummy food from Blount Clam Shack, plus visiting food trucks, The Coffee Guy, and other treats!
  • a wicked local beer garden with a variety of seasonal brews – and every dollar goes directly to help Fusionworks Dance Company fund their local arts & educational programs!
  • arts & crafts to help keep the kiddies entertained,
  • free parking (and you can always ride your bike!),
  • a spectacular waterview!

Discover Warren will be there with maps and more to help folks navigate historic downtown Warren (all those fabulous shops, restaurants, and galleries are within walking distance!), and the lovely dancers and volunteers of Fusionworks will be mingling and selling beer tickets. They’ll also have cool merchandise and plenty of information on their upcoming 2011-12 season, and will be raffling off a few pairs of tickets to their fall show!  For more information call Kate Dickson at (401)465-7279.

Fusion Fest 2011 is sponsored by 75 or Less RecordsBlount Clam Shack, and The Bay Magazine, and the New England Beer Garden is generously donated by Harpoon Brewery, Narragansett, Trinity Brewhouse, and Union Station Brewery.

Do You Remember the 21st Night of September?

This month my mind is full of back-to-school hopefulness (and dread), apple-picking daydreams, and that Earth, Wind & Fire song.  I’m also feeling a bit reflective – it was a year ago this month that I started The Arts Room, compelled by an overwhelming urge to DO SOMETHING to encourage the arts in our school system, and the belief that there was actually something tangible and proactive that a parent could do.  Besides complain with friends over coffee. ;)

It was a roller-coaster year and I’ve learned a lot, not least of which is that I’ve still got a lot to learn (who would’ve thought!).  Yet, for the sake of progress I’m trying to distill things down to a few Essential Truths:

  1. We are surrounded by art.  I kind of had an inkling of this already when I started the blog, but once I began paying really close attention I was virtually hit over the head with it – here in Bristol and Warren we suffer from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the arts! 
  2. There’s no way I can keep up with it all myself.  And I really thought I could, at the outset.  As a result of Essential Truth #1, it definitely takes more than one person to keep track of all the arts happenings in our community.  This is part of the reason I haven’t yet come up with a Community Arts Calendar I like – it’s not for lack of trying, it’s just that whenever I even come close to putting everything into a calendar format, the resulting mayhem is a visual nightmare!  I haven’t given up, but I’ve let myself off the hook on this one.
  3. I sometimes get tired of the sound of my own voice.  Shocker, I know.  A neat side-effect of this blog is that since it’s channeled my passion for the arts in education (and life!) into a focused forum, my husband no longer has to suffer through as many of my, ahem, rather verbose monologues on the subject.  However, since I’m now spending more time composing my thoughts, writing them down and editing, I’m hearing my own voice a lot more in my head and sometimes all I can think is … eeesh, tiresome!  

Which brings me to my three Essential Goals for the coming year-

  1. Invite guest posters to The Arts Room.  There are a lot of people in our community who are passionate about the arts, and I will welcome them to write about their passion here, as guests of the blog.  There are also still too many people who think of the arts as nothing more than a bit of fluff, a nice hobby or a fun break during the school day.  Hopefully with many varied and passionate voices The Arts Room can reach further and help more people realize that is a wholly erroneous and outdated view. 
  2. Stop chasing down information.  Gosh, I’m tired!  I did this for the past year and the experience led me to finally realize Essential Truth #2.  So this year, I will encourage members of the arts community to alert me to upcoming events going on in Bristol and Warren.  I will find people who want to be part of this endeavor!  I will stop chasing down information and set up systems so that the information comes to me.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  We’ll see.
  3. Take full advantage of the abundance of arts opportunities in our community.  I feel like I’m doing an okay job of this – last year I took my youngest to see the Bristol Theatre Company’s production of Annie, I played with clay on a girls’ night out at Mudstone Studios, I enrolled my eldest in a cartooning workshop at Warren Art Spot, and I enjoyed a night out with my husband at an a cappella concert at St. Michael’s Church.  Just to name a few.  But I’d like to do a better job of spotlighting our local arts professionals, and I’d like to work harder on creating a go-to resource of local arts professionals for teachers who want to bring the arts into their classrooms.  Luckily for me the Warren Arts Initiative has just released the results of their Creatives Survey, giving me a healthy starting point for that resource list!

Ah, is there anything as exhilarating as laying bare your goals for the upcoming year for all to see and hold you to?  Perhaps the roller coaster’s first scary plummet…

Happy Dot Day, Everyone!

copyright Peter H. Reynolds/Fablevision

Today is International Dot Day, inspired by the best-selling book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, one of our most beloved children’s book author/illustrators.  This book continues to top my list of Best Picture Books to Give Kids, and if you’re not yet familiar with it, then today’s the day to get in the know!  The Dot is the story of a young girl who thinks she can’t draw, and the teacher who shows her the ability that lies within her (and within us all, of course) if she’ll just give herself a chance.  It’s about considering the way we look at things, shifting our perspectives, and believing in ourselves and in those around us (I especially love the end of the book!). 

So, to celebrate International Dot Day you can hightail it up to The Blue Bunny Books & Toys in Dedham, Massachusetts (an outing very much worth the trip, if you’ve got the time) or you can celebrate here at home with your family.  Read the story with your kids, create your own Dot artwork and paper your walls with your very own Dot art exhibit.  Suggest it to your children’s teacher, or better yet, bring it in and read aloud to the class, and inspire even more kids to Make Their Mark!

The Dot is available at the Rogers Free Library in Bristol and by request through the Ocean State Libraries online system.  You can also look for it at A Novel Idea Booksellers on State Street in Bristol, and if they don’t have it in stock they can order it for you. 

Teachers take note – Peter H. Reynolds is also the founder of Fablevision, an educational media company “on a mission to make every classroom a center of innovation and creativity.”  Click the link above, and check out the Fablevision Learning website to find out more.

Community String Project – signups this week!

The Community String Project is holding signups this week for violin, viola and cello lessons for the fall session.  Lessons begin the last week in September. Rental instruments for elementary students are available at registration. Lessons for elementary and middle school students are held after school at Hugh Cole Elementary, Guiteras Elementary, Rockwell Elementary, Colt Andrews Elementary and Kickemuit Middle School.  Lessons for adults and high school students are held in the evening at Mt. Hope High School.

There are two registration nights; students may register either night.  On Wednesday, September 14th, registration is being held at Hugh Cole Elementary School in Warren:

  • at 5pm for returning elementary and middle school students,
  • at 6pm for new elementary and middle school students, and
  • at 7pm for high school and adult students (new and returning). 

On Thursday, September 15th, registration is being held at Colt Andrews Elementary School in Bristol:  

  • at 5pm for returning elementary and middle school students,
  • at 6pm for new elementary and middle school students, and
  • at 7pm for high school and adult students (new and returning). 

For more information click over to our Music page, or visit the Community String Project website.