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FESTIVALS & EVENTS : It's All in the Familia at Bowers

August 19, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition.

Family festivals are becoming regular events at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art and are taking museum patrons around the world.

The last one took a Thai theme. This Sunday's is a little closer to home: The museum's courtyard will be filled with the culture of Latin America: folkloric dancers and mariachis, art workshops for children and food booths featuring Mexican and Peruvian foods.

The events are part of "Festival de la Gente" (or, Festival of the People in Spanish), a free afternoon celebration of Latino culture. Bowers officials hope that in drawing people into the courtyard they can also get them to take the extra step into the museum.

"We hope they . . . learn something about the Bowers," said Janet Baker, chief of education for the museum and organizer of the festival. To that end, some of the festival events will take place inside the exhibit areas, including "discovery" tours in Spanish and English.

The event is something of a scavenger hunt. Participants in the discovery tours get sheets of questions to answer by combing the exhibits for clues. It's not only for kids; adults can play too.

"You'd be surprised what adults can learn when they do this," Baker said.

Docent-led tours of the museum will be offered in Spanish and English. Also, a Spanish-language documentary will be screened at 1 p.m. in the museum. "Ulama" explores the origins of the ball game played in pre-Hispanic Central and South America.

In the courtyard, meanwhile, the entertainment will include a local ballet folklorico group performing traditional Mexican dance at noon; a local mariachi group at 2 p.m., and a Los Angeles-based group called Matices Peruanos at 3 p.m., performing regional dances of Peru.

Several art workshops for children will also be offered during the festival, which runs from noon to 4 p.m. Food booths will sell cuisine from Mexico and Peru.

"Festival de la Gente" is one in a series of "family festivals" offered by the museum periodically. The goal is to "appeal to all ages," Baker said. "It's not just for the kids, where the parents bring the kids, but something they can enjoy as a family group."

Some of the festivals are tied to particular exhibits, and others (such as this one) are tied to other aspects of the museum's mission.

This festival was organized with the help of the museum's Mexican-American Arts Council and underwritten by a grant from Kraft General Foods.

"It's geared to members of the Hispanic community who want to learn more about their own culture," said Baker, as well as to other members of the community who want to learn more about the music, food and arts of Latin America.

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