Free Fun Sundays

Weekends are the times we want to reserve for quality family fun.  It is essential to keep children active and interested despite the challenge of dipping temperatures that lead to limited outdoor activities.  There are lots of things to choose from in Pittsburgh but it is worth the venture to check out the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. It really isn’t that far.  I used to work with someone who traveled from this Westmoreland County to work in Oakland every single day. 

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art was established in 1949 at the bequest of Mary Marchand Woods who was a long time resident of Greensburg interested in the arts. This visionary founder bequeathed her entire estate for the museum to be built.  It sits 35 miles east of Pittsburgh and opened its doors to the public in 1959.  It focuses on American and southwestern Pennsylvania art.

It is known for its many award-winning, curriculum-based educational programs which have reached thousands of students in the region and have received both state and federal funding. The innovative programs utilize the Museum’s collection to teach students in grades Kindergarten through high school about art and history.

But one of the best things going are the free Imagine Nation Studio Sundays.  Every Sunday from 12-3 PM children of all ages and their favorite adult can stop by the Museum for a free themed art activity. Kids learn about art and have fun creating their own art project in the studio. There is a different art project featured each week.

Imagine American Art

January: Shine On – We are drawn to shiny objects like large metal sculptures, pieces of jewelry, mirrors and glass. So, lets bring in the New Year all bright and shiny by making art from materials that reflect, glimmer and sparkle.

February: By Design – A simple line can be just vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Or this line can go on an adventure to create shapes, patterns, textures, and movement. Bring your imagination to the studio each Sunday this month and see what interesting art can be created with lines.

March: You’ve Got to Move It – The world in which we live is full of moving objects of one kind or another. Artists have been inspired by movement in nature and man-made items to create forms of art. Let the winds of March carry you into the studio and make art projects inspired by movement.

April: The Primaries – A splash of color here, there and all around as seen every day and its all brought to you by the primaries; red, yellow and blue. These are the colors that make all others happen. Youll mix and match colors to create 2D and 3D art that contrast and complement each other, and even set a mood using music.

May: Building Blocks – Wood is very versatile piece of art material. It can be carved, assembled, and formed. The studio this month offers you a chance to use these various techniques along with painting, fusing and transfer of other art materials to make unusual and interesting masterpieces to go.

 

 

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Dining Al Fresco

This evening I had dinner on the patio of the Churchill Valley Country Club.  Our table had a view of the golf course  across Beulah Road.  Our table was facing  a telephone pole that a woman hit with her car yesterday as she traveled down the hill past the club.  It was a freak accident where her steering wheel popped off during impact and she became impaled on the steering column.  It was not a pretty way to go.  

Life is fragile.  The minute you leave your house you are in danger of being harmed or provoked in a multitude of ways.  So much that happens to us is out of our control.  I just read an article about a University of Pittsburgh grad student who had just arrived from China.  She was walking home and standing on the corner waiting to cross the street at an intersection.  A speeding car racing to make the light lost control and hit her full force.  The impact propelled her backward and pinned her against a tree severing both of her legs.  Another freak accident. 

Yesterday I came off the parkway at the Squirrel Hill exit and headed up Murray.  At the Forbes intersection I was stunned to see placid protestors trolling the sidewalks with five foot tall graphic photos of aborted babies.  I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was on the way to pick up my daughter and was thankful she wasn’t in the car.  I spotted a police van and bicycle cop on the corner.  I parked my car and approached them.  How could they allow this.  It’s pefectly legal I was told.  It’s been taken all the way to the Supreme Court but freedom of speech permits this atrocity. 

This morning I took my daughter to school and just as we approached Washington Blvd. I saw them.  The same protestors from yesterday.  There was nothing I could do.  My daughter looked in awe and asked me if they were mummies.  I told her yes but she is too clever.  Why are they all bloody she asked? Why are those people doing holding up those horrible pictures?    What happened to those babies?  I guess the protestors won.   I had to have an in depth discussion with an eight year old about mommies taking babies out of their tummies.  I told her they had to do it because things were not going well with their pregnancy.  I regreted having to have this early morning discussion with my child.  I felt like I had been viloated and accosted right in my own car and there was nothing I could do.

Sure we could stay inside all day and avoid the world and stop living a full life.  But if we do that, the terrorists win.

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Buying Shoes

Today I took my mother-in-law to buy shoes.  She used to be a model.  She told me she wore a size 11 1/2 which I knew would be impossible to find.  I took her to Gordon’s at the Waterfront and they measured her foot.  It is between 10 1/2 and 11.  We found a nice pair of New Balance tennis shoes in a brilliant white.  They fit like a glove and she couldn’t quit looking at her feet.  This is a woman who has been wearing the wrong size shoe for over 20 years.  Imagine that. 

I then picked up my daughter from school and took her to Eons on Ellsworth Avenue to buy a costume for a party.  Richard Parsakian owns this eclectic vintage fashion store with a flair for the dramatic.  It’s a lot deeper than what appears on the surface.  Stolen moments of granduer are stored high on shelves and squeezed on racks of silk and taffeta dresses.  The clothes whisper to you as you walk by and taunt you with the secrets they hold of forgotten parties and first dates.  These evenings would not be complete without the glitzy accessories of days gone by.  Beads of pearls and glittering rhinestone jewels peek out from glass cases as tempting as Sinbad’s cave.  My daughter bought a flapper style black dress covered in fringe that moves like liquid when she twirls.  Oh, and speaking of shoes, wouldn’t you know it, I spied a vintage pair of Manolo Blahniks in a very small size. 

But I did find a pair of forest green suede slingback pumps that just fit.  I am beginning a makeover starting with my feet and Richard is just the person to help me.   Or his assistant Tom who could run a Pittsburgh version of What Not To Wear.

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I Ride My Bicycle

I bought my daughter a new bicycle today.  A purple mountain bike with 15 gears.  She asked me if I had a mountain bike when I was little and I told her I didn’t even know if they made them then.  I’m sure they did.  I just didn’t know about them.  I remember getting a bright pink bike with three speeds on the handle bar and then my friend got a 10 speed.  I was so jealous.  Suddenly  I craved a Schwin LeTour with handlebars that looked like ram’s horns. 

That same year Janis Joplin came out with the song I Ride My Bicycle and it evokes summer bike rides where distance and time were meaningless.  Innocence mingled with the sweet Southern nights of my youth and I slept the deep sleep of physcial exhaustion after a 20 mile bike ride.  I once fell into a sleep so deep after such a ride that a parent I was babysitting for had to climb through a window to wake me up.  Those were good days.  I haven’t slept so deeply since. 

My favorite bicycle scene from a move is the one where Paul Newman rides Katherine Ross on the handlebars of his bike to the tune of Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.  I sat through that movie twice when it first came out with my cousin Gary.  Life seemed so much simpler then due to the luxury of being a kid instead of an adult. 

Now I won’t let my daughter out of my sight on her bike.  She is still young enough that I worry but she will never have the innocent freedom I did as a child.  Our world is too unsafe and unpredictable.  As we were leaving for a girl scout event a few weeks ago a 15 year shot an 18 year old at the McDonalds near our house.  It was 6:00 P.M.  These things aren’t supposed to happen that early.  They’re not supposed to happen at fast food restaurants filled with children buying french fries and they’re  not supposed to happen to kids that young.  But they do. 

The next day you could see the bullet holes in brick next to the entrance.  You could see them from the road as you drove by and my daughter spotted them in the back seat.  There had to be twelve or 14 holes.  Why are there so many she asked?

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