Families celebrate art at the museum

HOWLAND – Wendy Wagner of Howland said drawing and painting helped her daughter overcome physical impairment when she was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy.

“She couldn’t move her whole right side,” she said. “(Now) you would never know.”

Erb’s Palsy is a condition caused by injury to the nerves surrounding the shoulder and is usually characterized by weakness or paralysis of the arm.

“Ever since she could sit, I put her in a booster chair, strapped her in, gave her anything she could hold,” she said.

Daina, 6, showed off her painting skills Saturday during Family Day at the Butler Institute of American Art in Howland. She was painting a fox because she likes the color red, while her sister, Alaina, 5, painted a ballerina cheetah.

“They love animals. You name it,” Wendy Wagner said. “Events like this are important for educational purposes. Not every child gets to experience this and it’s nice that it’s free to the public.”

The art institute welcomed a large crowd Saturday for the event, which is held the third Saturday of every month with the exception of December due to the holidays.

Jill D’Andrea, children’s librarian from the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, said the event has been held each year for more than ten years.

D’Andrea kicked off Saturday’s Family Day by reading from several children’s books.

“It’s planting the seeds for young artists. It gives them a good reading experience … two different avenues of art,” she said.

Participants also were given a tour of the museum, which features an exhibit of the paintings of rock musician John Mellencamp through Jan. 12. The tours were given by volunteer tour guide Nancy Mallone.

Then, children were able to express themselves paint and paintbrushes as they created art of their own.

Jace Ferguson, 4, of Howland, painted a self-portrait alongside his brothers and sister, with his mother, Colleen, cheering him on.

“We come every time. They love to paint. They don’t get many opportunities in school,” she said.

Ava Boehlke, 3, and her brother, AJ, 6, came to Family Day with their mother, Marlo Boehlke of Campbell, and grandfather, Kim Boehlke of Liberty.

“They both like art. (AJ) likes being read to,” Kim Boehlke said.

Wendy Wagner said more children should take advantage of events such as Family Day.

“If they don’t experience it, they’ll never know. They wouldn’t become the big people that are inside of them,” she said.