The Irvine Fine Arts Center will do its bit for a positive global warming Saturday with Family International Day '90, a free festival designed to boost cross-cultural coziness through the arts.
Themed "Creating a Better World Together," the inaugural event will expose families to performing, visual and culinary arts from nations around the world through shows, demonstrations and hands-on workshops. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., children, parents and grandparents can work side by side on Scandinavian quilts, catch a demonstration of Mexican straw paintings, see a Japanese folk tale come to life or nibble on traditional Thai food in and around IFAC's Heritage Park facility.
"This time of year, everything is Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. . . . It seems everything is Christian-oriented," said Cathi Decker, special events coordinator for Irvine's Cultural Affairs Department, which is sponsoring the festival. "We recognized that there's a great diversity of cultures in Irvine and the surrounding cities, so we wanted to create an event that would give people a better appreciation of other cultures' traditions and art forms.
"Plus, the holidays are always so hectic; families are scattered all over the place. This gives them a chance to regroup and enjoy time together."
At two hands-on workshops, families can work together on their own Chinese brush painting or Scandinavian-style quilt under the direction of two local artists. Participation in the two-hour workshops is open to everyone from "Grandma to preschoolers," Decker said.
For those who prefer watching to doing, local artists representing six different cultures will demonstrate Thai silk-flower making, Mexican straw painting, Chinese calligraphy and other regional arts and crafts throughout the day. Orranard Intarajit, an IFAC culinary arts instructor, will create and sell a variety of Thai specialties, including pad Thai (fried noodles with chicken, dried shrimp and peanuts) and tod man (fried fish cakes). International holiday baked goods such as Swedish spice cookies, Caribbean-style banana bread and German gingerbread will also be sold.
The day's entertainment begins at noon on IFAC's lakeside patio with a performance by the South Coast Chinese Culture Assn.'s Little Panda Chorus. Ranging in age from 6 to 12, the 35 boys and girls will present a 20-minute program of Chinese folk songs and contemporary American tunes. Also fea tured that day will be the children's troupe, We Tell Stories. Appearing in conjunction with the Irvine Arts Festival, a six-month series of free performances and exhibits, the Los Angeles-based children's troupe will present "Proud to Be Me," a theatrical lesson in the importance of self-worth through the telling of three multicultural folk tales: "John Henry," which celebrates the accomplishments of a black folk hero of the late 1800s; "The Burro and the Bee," a Mexican legend about the perils of false pride, and "The Two Stonecutters," a Japanese story about the dangers of being dissatisfied with your lot in life. Students from the Irvine-based Wan Hua Dance Studio will complete the lineup with a selection of traditional Chinese folk dances.
In addition to the workshops and performances, participants will be invited to tour IFAC's current gallery exhibition, "Who I Am Not," a collection of photographs and multimedia works intended to dispel stereotypical views of the homeless. Artists represented in "Who I Am Not" and companion exhibits include residents of the Santa Ana Civic Center, as well as area high school and elementary school students.
What: Family International Day '90.
When: Saturday, Dec. 8, from 10 a.m to 3 p.m.
Where: Irvine Fine Arts Center, 14321 Yale Ave., Irvine.
Whereabouts: From the southbound Santa Ana Freeway, exit at Culver Drive and turn left. Turn left on Walnut Avenue and left again on Yale Avenue. From the northbound Santa Ana Freeway, exit at Jeffrey Road and turn left. Turn right on Walnut and right again on Yale.
Wherewithal: Admission is free, but participants are asked to bring an unwrapped new toy for distribution through Toys for Tots, Irvine Temporary Housing and other local service groups.
Where to call: Reservations: (714) 724-6609, Information: (714) 552-1018.