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Published: Monday, 1/23/2006

Center offers kids a brush with the arts

Perrysburg residents Grace Burkin, 2, left, and her sister Hope, 5, create bottle-cap art at the Toledo Museum of Art's Family Center while their father, Donny, offers helpful tips. Perrysburg residents Grace Burkin, 2, left, and her sister Hope, 5, create bottle-cap art at the Toledo Museum of Art's Family Center while their father, Donny, offers helpful tips.

While sitting on a low stool covered with droplets of dry paint and glitter, 6-year-old Isabella Lause meticulously arranged plastic bottle caps on a crisp sheet of white paper.

"Are you ready to glue them down?" asked her father, Michael Zakrzewski, eyeing the rainbow of bottle caps, complete with a grouping of yellow ones for the sun and blue ones for clouds.

With a definitive nod, Isabella grabbed one of the dozen glue bottles scattered across a faded blue tarp splashed with paint and sequins to cement her colorful masterpiece in the art room at the Toledo Museum of Art's Family Center.

The pair said they often turn up at the family center, which is geared toward fostering an interest in artwork, to participate in the free activity offered weekly for kids and adults to do together.

This week's topic tapped into children's natural ability to use their imagination to create works of art with random objects, like bottle caps, that most people would just toss into a nearby garbage can, said Regina Jankowski, manager of the family center and early childhood program.

"Did you know you can make art from things people throw away?" she asked a group of youngsters crowded around the art table. "Isn't that cool?"

She said the activity was loosely based on the artwork of Louise Nevelson, whose pieces center around discarded pieces of wood, furniture, tools, and other objects with unique shapes. One of her works - Sky Presence I, which is made of mostly wood and painted entirely in black

- takes up an entire wall in a gallery at the museum.

The kids in the family center seemed to agree that Mrs. Nevelson's idea was a good one, as most used the bottle caps in their art. While one youngster used the colorful caps as stencils, another drew on them before gluing them down among sequins and foam shapes.

After gluing alternating red and white bottle caps onto paper so they "look like checkers," Sarah Contos, 7, of Oregon decided she didn't need paper to be creative.

After drawing faces on each of the fingers on her left hand with a blue marker, she proceeded to place the smaller caps on the finger puppets as hats.

"With my hat, I can't see," she said in a high-pitched, finger-puppet voice. "Let me see if this one fits."

Nearby, oblivious to the puppet show, Perrysburg residents Hope Burkin, 5, and her sister Grace, 2, had finished their bottle cap art and donned matching purple smocks to paint "smiley faces" and a picture of their dad, Donny Burkin.

"We don't have a lot of artsy stuff at our house," Mr. Burkin said. "This is more their age level, and you can make a mess here. It's worth the drive."

The Family Center's art and play space is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Contact Erika Ray at: eray@theblade.com or 419-724-6088.

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