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Summer art ideas for kids in Orlando

Area schools will be out for the summer this week. Keeping the kids occupied 24-7 for two months can be at best daunting and at worst insanity-inducing. If summer camp is out of the question, here are some options.

Keep an "art box" with scissors, construction paper, crayons, paste, yarn, Popsicle sticks and other supplies. I did this for my kids, nieces and nephews and it came in handy during the daily afternoon thunderstorms.

Check our many art museums and art centers for free and almost free activities for kids. There's no charge for the rest of year at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Rollins College in Winter Park; call 407-646-2526 for details. The Mennello Museum of American Art (900 E. Princeton St., Orlando; 407-246-4278) has free family days on June 9, July 14 and Aug. 11 that include "make & take" projects for the kids. Over at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (445 N. Park Ave., Winter Park), there are free events related to its Art Nouveau exhibit. On seven Tuesdays — June 18 and 25 and July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 — families can take a 45-minute guided tour through some of the museum's galleries and kids get a take-home activity with all supplies. On four Fridays — June 28, July 12 and 26 and Aug. 2 — the Morse offers a short film, family tour and art activity. Space is limited and reservations are required for both programs. Call 407- 645-5311, Ext. 136 for details.

•Plan a picnic. Many art institutions in our area have lovely lawns or gardens perfect for a mobile feast. Two come to mind: The Albin Polasek Museum (633 Osceola Ave., Winter Park; 407-647-6294) and its lakeside gardens; and Orlando Museum of Art (2416 N. Mills Ave.; 407-896-4231), surrounded by the huge Loch Haven Park.

And families of active military personnel get free entry every day to many museums, zoos and art centers across the country until Labor Day, Sept. 2. This is part of the national Blue Star Museums program. Details at http://www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

Saturday doings

Saturday is the last day to view "Expanding Visions" at the Florida Museum for Women Artists (100 N. Woodland Blvd.; 386-873-2976) in downtown DeLand. Eight artists were selected from across the state to exhibit, and they will discuss their work and creative processes from 3-5 p.m. Admission is $5 (includes refreshments) and free for members.

If you take State Road 44 east from DeLand, you can be in New Smyrna Beach in less than an hour for the monthly 1st Saturday art happenings, 4-7 p.m. I always start at Arts on Douglas (123 Douglas St., 386-428-1133) and ask folks there what else to see nearby. For the entire month of June, the works of six extraordinary artists-jewelers will be featured in "More Than Just Bling!" As always, AoD's large galleries will include works by its 60-plus award-winning artists.

After enjoying some art and food in New Smyrna Beach, you'll have plenty of time to head to downtown Orlando for The Falcon Bar & Gallery's event for painter Karen Russell and the Sea of Bees Jewelry line, which is designed and produced in Orlando. Meet the artists, 8 p.m.-2 a.m., Saturday at the Falcon, 819 E. Washington St. Details: 407-423-3060.

sentinelvisualarts@cfl.rr.com

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