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Arts-Kids hosts ‘Window to the Heart’ at Kimball

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

The circle of Arts-Kids classmates beat and shake Brazilian percussion instruments and sing in Portuguese, taking turns in the middle, carving careful cartwheels on Parley’s Park Elementary School’s gym floor in their socks.

At this particular Thursday afternoon class, they are learning the Brazilian martial art Capoeira from Luis Garcia, a teacher who has earned an advanced belt in the art by training both abroad and in Salt Lake. With each week he will be visiting the 10 schools that hosts the Arts-Kids Program.

Garcia, who strums the Berimabu, a single-string instrument in the shape of a cross bow, leads the Portuguese songs, says the drive up the valley was "well worth it." He’ll be back, he hopes, to teach more regularly in the future, he says.

Capoeira is one of many arts that children learn in a semester. Graduates of the Arts-Kids program will showcase their talent in the visual arts this Saturday at the Kimball Art Center with paintings on glass.

The occasion for the display is the nonprofit’s fourth annual fundraiser, which for the last year has been held at Harry O’s and been known as "Paint the Town." This year, in honor of a new venue, the event will also don a new theme "Art: A Window to the Heart."

"We wanted to create a theme that was expressive of what kids are doing [at Arts-Kids]," said Arts-Kids executive director Kris Beer. "Art is really an expression of what’s inside, and we thought a windows theme really reflected that idea."

The event will gather 25 artists and unite 18 galleries in effort to continue the nonprofit’s 10-week classes during the school year and their summer courses, and also to expand their program to more schools.

Done to Your Taste catering will be providing food to accompany the live and silent auctions and there will be music by Big Time Jazz, a Park City High School group, and Bossa Luna, a Latin salsa band from Salt Lake.

"This is our biggest fundraiser, and it’s really to highlight what kids our doing," Beer explained.

Arts-Kids’ mission since its inception in 1999 is to be a youth development program that helps children to develop self-esteem and self-awareness through art. Counselors, parents and teachers nominate kids to be a part of the program, and those accepted join after-school groups of 18 kids or more in their age range.

Professional artists during this Arts-Kids semester include Park City residents Loralei Pearce, Michelle Enus and Nate Sears.

"One of our priorities is to get strong artists that are not just about arts and crafts to teach the art form as self expression," stressed Arts-Kids founder and director Pat Drewry-Sanger.

The program is also about diversity, she adds. Each class is comprised of different ages and a variety of cultural backgrounds. Facilitators, volunteers and artists are encouraged to participate in the activities.

At the beginning of each class, children state an intention for the day, and each must wait patiently and listen before they are granted their turn to speak. A "talking stick" is passed around a circle. The person who holds the stick is the only one allowed to speak.

At Thursday’s Capoeira class, there is a uniform response to the day: "My intention was to have fun and learn something new," each child explains. "I met that intention."

Board member and eight-year volunteer Whitney Wallace, sitting with crossed legs alongside Sanger and Garcia, participates, too.

"After a 10-week program, I find children really blossom though our activities," she said afterward. "The children receive better grades in school and make more friends and become relaxed as human beings."

For more information about "Art: A Window to the Heart" benefit tickets or about Arts-Kids, call 615-7878 or visit the nonprofit’s Web site at http://www.arts-kids.org .


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