Every month I compile a list of multicultural activities available around Los Angeles. I encourage readers to explore the richness of where we live, to travel the world without having to go very far. Some events are familiar to me at locations I already know; others are at brand-new-to-me venues in unfamiliar areas of the city. Last month I accepted my own culture challenge and ventured out and tried something new.
I took the whole family with me, which included visiting grandparents from Norway, to Barnsdall Art Park in the Los Feliz/Hollywood area. Every Sunday, they offer Barnsdall Arts Sundays, free family art workshops that focus on different cultures and use different media. That particular week the focus was printmaking with Scandinavian folk motifs. I was intrigued and the boys had no sports so I penciled it in our calendar, despite the fact that my parents would have just arrived from Norway and Christmas preparations would have to be put on hold.
The experience exceeded our expectations beyond a doubt! First of all, just visiting the area was interesting. I had no idea Barnsdall Art Park was on a hill. Seeing this hill of trees appear in the middle of the city was eye-opening. And the views from the top were fantastic as well. In one direction was a lovely view of Griffith Observatory and Hollywood Sign. In another direction was Century City and maybe the ocean if it had been clearer.
We finally made it to the art workshop in the Junior Arts Center. The signage for us first timers left a little to be desired. We weren’t sure where to go until I asked a group that seemed to be coming from an art workshop. They guided us in the right direction past the Hollyhock House (Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles project, under renovation now but might be worth a return visit), through a grove of trees, to the art studios.
Immediately upon entering the studio we were all thrust into action! All three generations. No one had a chance to decline participation. Before we knew it, we were all sitting at a table holding a styrofoam card onto which we were to etch our designs. Shelah, the director, enthusiastically instructed us and we set to work.
The theme of the workshop was Scandinavian folk motifs, but not much emphasis was put on that aspect of the workshop. Papers with examples of designs were present, but we were encouraged to create whatever designs we wanted. The grandparents chose to do holiday themed designs, Doobie and Daddy created geometric designs, and Sonny creatively etched his name. I was the only one to attempt a Scandinavian design. It was tricky and took much longer than the others, but that’s what I came to do.
Once our styrofoam etchings were done, we colored our papers onto which the etchings would be printed. Then we inked our designs and laid them upon our colored paper and voilá, we had a cool print or two that we proudly took home.
I highly recommend an excursion to Barnsdall Art Park for a Sunday family art workshop. It’s a drop-in situation, but don’t arrive too close to the ending time because you may not have enough time to work on your project as much as you’d like. We arrived with 45 minutes left in the session and worked right up until clean-up time. We could have easily spent more time there making more prints of our etching. All materials are supplied and the instructors are very enthusiastic and helpful. All ages are welcome and encouraged to participate. The adults in our group weren’t really planning on getting involved, but we were glad Shelah insisted because we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
The workshops resume Sunday, January 11. Take a look at the schedule and your calendar and see when you can give it a try. After our visit, we had a lovely outdoor lunch at nearby Alcove Cafe and Bakery, which we had recently seen on a list of “great places to eat outdoors in Los Angeles” (which is a must-do when Norwegians are in town) and we recommend that as well.