I’m don’t know why I’m always amazed at the ability of children to see and create art. Children live in the same world where art comes from; that Neverland of the human mind where all magical things are created.

     I took my daughter to the Tools in Motion exhibition at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs and we walked around looking at all of the fun and whimsical art. This traveling exhibition showcases art created from everyday objects such as tools. There is one huge piece on the wall that consists of many vice grips welded with steel.

School of Fishes by Arman
Patrons at the Tools in Motion: Works from the Hechinger Collection exhibition admire "School of Fishes" by Arman.

When she saw it, my daughter said “Look, fish!” She was correct, the piece, titled “School of Fishes” is by the artist Arman. Born Armand Pierre Fernandez in Nice in 1928, the artist came to be known as Arman due to a misprinting of his name in 1958. Arman is well known in artist circles throughout the world. During his life he created hundreds of modern works in metal, and in paint. His pieces can be found in museums and collections throughout the world.

     “School of Fishes” (as part of Tools in Motion) has become an audience favorite. Everyone that walks in, whether they are 2 or 92, comments on these fish that shimmer and shine as they swim across the wall. Arman accomplished that outstanding feat that artists can do; he transformed something simple into a brilliant work of art that strikes a chord with everyone who sees it.

     Through my work with the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, I have come to recognize just how strongly the Art Center is committed to bringing art to children. This exhibition isn’t specifically for children, but people are encouraged to bring their children. On Saturdays there are free family activity days from 1 to 3 p.m. During this time, Youth Education Director Jordan Smith gives parents and their children a tour of the exhibition and then creates projects with the children. Each project uses tools to create art.

     This is just one of the many ways that local children can be exposed to art. During the week Smith can be found teaching youth classes at the Center for the Arts and also going out into Bonita schools with his Art Goes to School outreach program. With this program he, and volunteers, create art projects that they teach to area school children. On April 16, the Center for the Arts will hold its free Arts Worldwide event at the Promenade, where children and families can come and create art and experience music and dance from many cultures. In May there is a free theater production with the Youth Theater Department under the direction of Craig Price. In June it will be time for summer camps. This year camps will be offered in clay animation, theater, cooking, painting, pottery, movie making, fashion design and more. Camp catalogs are available now at the Center for the Arts.

Caitlyn Conway creates a horse from electric wire during a free Family Activity Day at the Center for the Arts.
Caitlyn Conway creates a horse from electric wire during a free Family Activity Day at the Center for the Arts.

    Many of the youth programs are free. Those that are not free have scholarship dollars available.

     Having lived in many communities, I feel very lucky to have a place like the Center for the Arts where I can bring my child to experience art. As she stood in the gallery looking at the piece “Dread Lock Box” by Bradford McDougall, she said “It’s a lady.” The piece does resemble a woman with blond hair. It is a box made of steel with yellow electrical wiring for hair.

     My husband asked my daughter, “What is it made of?” To this she replied, “It is made of art.”

     Tools in Motion: Works from the Hechinger Collection will be on display at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs through April 30. It is free and open to the public. Family Activity Days take place each Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Information is available at www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling 495-8989.

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