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Democrat & Chronicle

June 24, 2007

Drawing families (Artpark)
By Christine A. Smyczynski

Since 1974, Artpark has been Lewiston’s most well-known cultural attraction. The 200 acre state park, located along the Niagara Gorge about seven miles north of Niagara Falls, is a place where one can experience the performing arts, as well as nature’s beauty.


While Artpark is best known for its variety of summer concerts– this summer’s lineup includes shows such as Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, along with free Tuesday concerts by popular artists like Kenny Loggins and Pat Benatar, as well as a concert series by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra–it’s also a place where families can take part in hands-on art workshops.

Four creative-themed weekends, dubbed Family Weekends, are planned for the month of July. On July 7-8, families can enjoy Altered Art, where participants can create artist trading cards and mosaics. The next weekend, July 14-15, Art in the Dark, helps participants develop their artistic abilities without using their sight, doing activities like drawing objects by touch. On July 21-22, kids can create kites during Airborne Art Weekend. The last weekend, July 28-29, focuses on Exotic Art, creating hats, masks and even totem poles.

Other art activities each weekend include face painting, pottery making, dress-up costumes, drawing and more. All activities are free to the public and take place from 12-4pm.

“Family Weekends provides an excellent opportunity for parents and children to spend an afternoon in a beautiful New York State Park and enjoy a host of unique creative activities, all at no cost,” said Michael Freedman, Artpark’s Public Relations Coordinator. “It makes for a great day trip for a family to come out to Lewiston, have lunch, visit Artpark and then partake in everything else the historic village has to offer.”

Julie Szukala of Buffalo took her two children, now ages seven and ten to the Family Weekends a couple of times last year. “They enjoyed it so much they can’t wait to go back this year,” said Szukala. “It’s so much fun for the kids and it doesn’t cost anything. We’ve created so many items that we still have on display.” The kids did things like drawing still life art, poster art, painting and making items from blocks.

When her family recently went to the Allentown Art Festival in Buffalo, her son, age seven, commented that he could make artwork like he saw at the festival because of his Artpark experience.

“When we were at Artpark, it was a hot day, but there was a nice cool breeze blowing in off the gorge,” she added. She recommended that people bring cold drinks and snacks for their kids. “It’s an all afternoon activity that you can enjoy at your own pace. It’s also nice for the parents, because they don’t have a big mess to clean up like they would if the children painted at home.”

Beth Howe and her family moved to Lewiston from Connecticut in 2005 and since they were unfamiliar with the area, they were intrigued when they heard about the Family Weekends.

“I took the kids there and they loved it. I couldn’t believe that there was no charge, because they offer such great activities that are well thought out and prepared. It’s such an amazing program,” said Howe.

Since her daughter, Madeleine is six, and her son, Jackson, is three and a half, they often have different interests. However, the activity stations were close enough together that she could watch the two kids do different activities at the same time. There is also a play area with trucks and sand, along with a dress-up area with costumes, that her kids enjoyed.

“We participated in all the activities last summer and we already have this year’s dates marked on our calendar,” said Howe. She added, “My mom was visiting last year and her and Madeleine did a quilting activity. You could see them bonding as they did this activity together.” The Howe family also enjoys going to the Tuesday in the Park at Artpark, a free outdoor concert series, which also has free family-friendly hands-on workshops offered each week, with activities such as drawing, face painting, dress-up, temporary tattoos, and more. “It’s not overly crowded, so it’s not overwhelming for the kids,” said Howe.

If you go

Artpark (716-754-9000; 450 South Fourth Street, Lewiston.

Lewiston Visitor’s Information (716-0754-9500; 476 Center Street, Lewiston.

Directions From Rochester:

Take the I-90 West (NYS Thruway) to Exit 50 (I-290 - Niagara Falls); proceed to Niagara Falls/Grand Island Exit (I-190 North). Take I-190 North across the Grand Island Bridges to Exit 25-A (Lewiston). After exiting, make left at stop sign onto Military Rd. Proceed thru first stop light before making a right onto Lewiston Hill at the second light. Follow the signs to Lewiston; once in the Village proceed down Center Street (Route 104) to South Fourth Street, and turn left. Artpark is at the foot of South Fourth St.