Gallery in the Grove and the Bright’s Grove Optimists have teamed up to offer an online children’s summer art camp.
The service club has been a supporter of the volunteer-run art gallery, located upstairs in the Bright’s Grove Library, and its long-running program that sends artists into elementary schools, said Gwen Moore, education chairperson with the gallery.
Moore added, “There were thinking about summer and supporting the arts in some way, so they approached the gallery and said, ‘Can we do a virtual art camp?’”
The club donated $1,200 to the gallery and its three Visiting Artists in Lambton Schools (VALS) – Tracy Tobin, Patti Cook and Stewart Fanning – created weekly art activities for elementary school-age children being posted on the gallery’s website, www.galleryinthegrove.com.
“They put together a five-week program which is mostly based on doing art outdoors,” Moore said.
The first week’s activity for Camp Optimist was a scavenger hunt to gather found material from yards, the beach and around the house to use in upcoming art projects with the aim of avoiding sending parents to the store to buy a lot of supplies, Moore said.
The camp’s activities are aimed mostly at the Grade 6 age-range the VALS program works with each year, but are adaptable for those older and younger, Moore said.
Each Monday, new art activities are being rolled out on the gallery website.
“It’s a way of reminding people that we’re here and what we do,” as well as providing families with activities to help keep children occupied during the summer, Moore said.
“It’s a way of supporting the arts, supporting parents.”
Families are being encouraged to share photos of what children create to be posted on the gallery’s website and social media pages.
Much of the work the gallery does – along with regular exhibitions it held until COVID-19 temporarily shut the doors – involves art education with its VALS program and annual scholarships to local high school graduates studying art at college and university, Moore said.
So far, the gallery has awarded a total of more than $140,000 in scholarships.
The VALS program began 20 years ago in a few schools and has grown to 17, in recent years.
“We could do more if we had the money,” Moore said.
It traditionally runs January to April. “Fingers crossed that we will be able to go into the schools,” Moore said about the upcoming school year.
The artists were able to visit about two-thirds of the classrooms they were booked for this past school year before schools shut down because of COVID-19.
When the shutdown happened in March, the gallery transitioned to online exhibitions, and put projects and instructions from the VALS program online for families.
Some exhibitions have been postponed as the gallery waits to see how it will be impacted as public facilities begin reopening, Moore said.
Gallery in the Grove is celebrating its 40 anniversary.