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Messy Monets: Art in the Park gives kids a colorful crash course in fun

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

A great success is the best way to describe the first-ever Art in the Park at the Mountain Resource Center last week.

The event, which provided free art activities for children and their parents, was expected to garner a couple dozen wannabe artists, but by the halfway point, at least 50 children had attended. And they all had messy, artistic fun.

The kids painted birdhouses and made kites, hats, beaded necklaces and stamped booklets, and even painted canvas shoes.

The shoe-painting table was filled with children painting everything from intricate designs to huge splashes of color. The children’s shoes were donated by Valerie Gemoets of Bailey, who works at the Mountain Resource Center and also is an artist.

Gemoets said at one time she painted shoes for a living, decorating them with floral and animal themes and then selling them at craft fairs.

She had a bunch of toddler-size shoes left over, so she brought her shoes and donated her time to the art fair.

Stephanie Hollis of Conifer brought her daughter Shea, 6, to Art in the Park because they like to make things and love art.

Shea said she came “just to have fun.” Shea, who had a whale on her cheek from the face-painting table, was painting shoes for her little brother. The shoes were green and blue with a small orange fish on the top.

Evergreen resident Leah Rogin-Roper brought 3-year-old Rose for Art in the Park. Rose was intently putting green splotches on a shoe.

Leah said that they were attending a class at the Mountain Resource Center and stopped by to check out Art in the Park. They were glad they did.

Kyra Searcy, a student at West Jefferson Middle School, painted shoes for her cousin because there were no shoes available in Kyra’s size. Sporting a butterfly on her cheek from the face-painting table, Kyra, 12, was making the shoes blue and green.

She said she had attended to similar art programs in Evergreen and was glad to attend one in Conifer.

Art in the Park is sponsored by Center for the Arts Evergreen, which has been doing similar programs in Evergreen for years.

“The whole idea is to have fun and experience art,” said Linda Mellor, director of education and marketing for the center.

The program was a great partnership between the center, the Mountain Resource Center and Conifer Rotary, which provided a grant to pay for the art supplies, Mellor said.

The Center for the Arts has been wanting to bring programs to Conifer for a long time, said Steve Sumner, the center’s executive director.

“People think of (Evergreen and Conifer) as two separate communities,” he said. “But the Center for the Arts Evergreen’s mission is to bring arts to the mountain community, and that means both places.”