Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Hello Young Artists

See Dick paint. See Jane paint. Spot paints, too, and he pants. Spot is painting with his tail! See Dick and Jane and Spot paint.

If the above passage sounds the least bit familiar, all signs point to the fact you are probably a baby boomer or older. The primers of “how to read” fame featured Dick, Jane, Spot and even Fluffy the cat. I’m allergic to cats so I left poor Fluffy on the sidelines. This trio of friends, especially Dick and Jane, engaged in all sorts of adventures but more than likely never learning how to paint. But what if they did? Learning how to read and create art at the same time could be problematic with one surely bound to suffer. But thanks to Dick and Jane, the issue never came to pass.

Flash forward to 2021, 60 years after Dick and Jane had their heyday, which began in the 1930s with the last of the Elson Readers completion in 1965. In earnest, they might have introduced your offspring to take up the brush and create. This art blog is for parents and grandparents who may or may not have a budding Picasso or Cassatt in their midst. However, we are created to create. From the time a baby can sit up, they can begin to dabble while they babble in the process of making art. The truth is even a 1-year-old can engage in finger painting if not as a bona fide means of self expression, then certainly for the tactile pleasure it gives them by swirling colors around on paper with a contained, wild abandon.

Before I became an art blogger, I worked professionally as a mental health therapist with children. As a behavioral specialist consultant for over two decades, I was able to link families to community resources. These included art centers to channel children’s problematic behaviors into more creative outlets, allowing them to gain confidence while having fun. Developmentally, the optimal age to introduce children to the arts or any extracurricular pursuit is between 3 and 6, as that window provides exceptional opportunities for learning new skills. The activity of art promotes the fine-tuning of motor skills, cognitive thinking and development and even aids with math and language. Most of all, it allows for and encourages free expression. Problem solving and the added bonus of developing the right side of the brain through a fun activity are a win-win for everyone. One key is for adults to provide periods of playtime that are open-ended without leading the activity. Allow the child to choose materials, develop ideas, and let them dictate how they want to express themselves. Most of all, be supportive, listen to their input, and help when needed without doing it for them. Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to art. If they demonstrate a true interest that grows over time, then explore the avenues of classes, summer camps and workshops. Locally, there are many available for ages 5 and up. (Pictured: art class at the Susquehanna Art Museum).

The Art Association of Harrisburg offers children’s classes from instructors Crista Sanfilippo and Cassie LaPorta. The Millworks features a number of Rooftop Kids classes, June through the end of August. These free classes will be conducted individually, with artists Amie Bantz, Tina Berrier, Elaine Elledge and Ann Benton Yeager providing in-house instruction on the rooftop.

The Susquehanna Art Museum will offer children’s classes starting in June for ages 4 to 7 and 8 to 12 throughout the summer. SAM’s instructors include Lauren Faircloth, Jordan Munoz, Mandy Forst and McKenna Gooden. Even Elody Gyekis, artist of the “Persephone” exhibit at SAM, will be one of the instructors, teaching high school students in the Artistic Expressions Summer Academy, held Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Summer City Camps include arts and crafts and can be accessed at The summer camps are for ages 6 to 17 at six local parks throughout the city. The camps run from June 21 through Aug. 13.

Carlisle Arts Learning Center offers classes for children 5 to 12 from June 14 to Aug. 20. Veteran artists Tom Oakes, Carol Reed, John Guarnera, Brenda Leach, Rebecca Sior, Courtney Blackburn, Jonathan Greenberg, Alison Rosen, Lauren Aungst and Carrie Breschi provide a gallery of experienced instructors. In addition, Jordan Munoz, Kathryn Yoder, Savannah Manetta, Bethany Petrunak and Tori Davenport round out the list of teachers offering a wide range of truly inventive art camps at CALC. (Pictured: “Recycle Robot” at CALC).




Even art birthday parties are a possibility, providing a unique theme for a celebration with a short road trip to Maureen Marks Art in Linglestown for kids starting at age 4. With over 23 years experience, Maureen also offers art classes for children under “Little Brushes,” with four levels of instruction (pictured). Weather permitting, the parties could be outdoors or inside at her studio found at 103 Sunset Ave. She wants these young artists to be able to leave their “mark,” too.

Share in your child’s joy of discovery through art and praise them whatever the outcome. Picasso and Cassatt did not become the artists they grew into overnight, but the interest and support were there. For kids, it is the sheer pleasure of creating, not necessarily the end result. With school out and summer just beginning, be sure to explore your options. Always remain supportive of your child’s endeavors. Be an encourager not a critic. The world is full of those. Instead, be a cheerleader. See Dick paint, see Jane paint, Spot is still painting with his tail. Oh Spot! See your child paint too. Yay!


Market Places, Market Faces

Meet Cooper Weiss, the “Goodwill Ambassador” of the Broad Street Market (pictured, at the JB Kelly Seafood Connection stand). They say the youth get smarter all the time, but sometimes the work ethic is lacking. Such is certainly not the case with a youth just getting started in life and who embraces the ethos of success, only coming before work in the dictionary. Thirteen-year-old Cooper Weiss is just beginning to develop a strong sense of that “W” word and will be redefining it for his peers well into the future. Cooper is a rising eighth-grader and, like most kids his age, enjoys playing video games and football with his friends, likes to cook and loves people. It’s the last one that holds the key to being a great human being. He relishes helping his mom, Jen, at J B Kelly Seafood Connection at the Broad Street Market. Young Cooper literally delivers the goods. Anything anyone needs at the market, he’s your (young) man. He has perfected the art of the hustle, meaning he’s a true go-getter. As the dispatcher delivery guy, Cooper is known by just about everyone at the legendary market, be they vendors or customers. In his spare time, he likes to dabble in the kitchen or cooking at the stand. Equally at home behind the register or a drum set, he marches to his own beat. Remember “The Hustle” from the 1970s? For this enterprising lad, he has given it new meaning. He knows all the moves. Work for him is just another day at the market, connecting with people. It is what makes him happy. Be sure to look for him on your next visit, unless he spots you first.


3rd in The Burg Events (Before, During and After)

This Friday, June 18, heralds the month’s 3rd in the Burg on the town. Before you head out, be sure to charge up with a cup of true blue Joe from Denim Coffee, a new addition to 3rd in the Burg, serving their brand of caffeine until 3:30 p.m., located at 401 Walnut St.

Oil paintings by Joseph Frassetta

During your evening out on the town, be sure to stop in at the Riverfront Gallery at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, located at 221 N. Front St. The gallery recently reopened in time for June’s 3rd in the Burg, featuring on the Cloister walls the fine art paintings of Joseph Frassetta in oils and watercolors from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. After, head over to Vivi on Verbeke at 258 as those late-night owls, Vivi and Jeb, are just starting to celebrate the evening, welcoming guests into their gallery until 11 p.m. If you hear a whoo, be sure to say it’s you.

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