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FAMILY: Ventura County | FOR THE KIDS

Cultural Lessons : New museum program and local fiesta promise learning experiences.


In Paris, the local river is a cultural marker, with the artists' zone known as the Left Bank and the area where fine old homes are found known as the Right Bank.

This weekend, the Santa Clara River, where it almost reaches the ocean, will play the same romantic role locally. Young artists will explore their creativity in Oxnard on Friday, while, on Sunday, at the venerable Olivas Adobe in Ventura, classical music and sparkling fountains will beguile fiesta guests.

The artistic activities in Oxnard will result from the Carnegie Art Museum's new program of art lessons for kids, using a curriculum with high aesthetic standards developed at the Getty Center.

The official name of the Carnegie Art Museum program, which is free to children, thanks to a grant from the Procter & Gamble Fund, is "Neighborhood Kids."

According to its lead teacher and curriculum developer Shirley Nagy, the six Friday afternoon sessions for fourth- and fifth-graders will offer drawing and mixed-media arts instruction.

"The kids will also be learning the more fine-arts aspect of art--more aesthetics and history," Nagy said. Their lessons will be based on the Getty Center's DBAE (Discipline-Based Arts Education) curriculum. The exemplars that kids will study as a basis for their own work are such giants as Pablo Picasso, Mary Cassatt and Diego Rivera.

Nagy's assisting teacher will be local Latino artist Chuy Rangel. He represents a particularly appealing feature of the course: a local role model with a fine body of his own work to discuss with the students.

Nagy says the course is intended primarily for children who live in the Oxnard neighborhood where the Carnegie Museum is located, and "their applications for enrollment will be given priority."

Nevertheless, any child who applies will be considered. Nagy says the museum expects a waiting list to develop, which could result in some kids from distant neighborhoods being admitted at the last moment. Enrollees must sign what Nagy calls "a contract," promising they will attend all six sessions.

Sunday, on the other side of the Santa Clara River, kids are invited to join the fiesta at the Olivas Adobe, sponsored by Ventura's Office of Cultural Affairs.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., they can sample the lifestyle of the rich and famous, at least as it was lived by the people at the top of the socioeconomic ladder in old California. In its heyday, the Olivas Adobe bustled with the family's 21 children and a full complement of Chumash servants. Parties, then as now called fiestas, were frequent and lengthy.

Sunday's fiesta will include performances by mariachis, jugglers, puppeteers, a classical guitarist, folklorico dancers and a Chumash storyteller. There will be demonstrations of pottery making, bread making in a horno (adobe oven) and weaving.

And, true to the period, gunfighting will be provided by the Frontier Professional Gunfighters, who will appear at 3:15 p.m. At 4 p.m., kids will be able to get in their licks on a pin~ata.

Admission to this part of the fiesta is $3 for kids, $5 for adults. There will also be a mercado at the site, free to the public, where local artisans will display and sell traditional arts and crafts.


* "Neighborhood Kids" will be held at Carnegie Art Museum, 424 South C St., Oxnard, on six Fridays from 3-5 p.m., beginning this Friday. The course is free; advance registration required. (805) 385-8157.

* "Olivas Fiesta y El Mercado" will be held at Olivas Adobe, 4200 Olivas Park Drive, Ventura, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Kids $3, adults $5. (805) 658-4726.

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