In the cool rooms of a library, far from the summer heat, children's imaginations catch fire and spread. Ideas burn through their minds and bodies and right out of their fingertips, leaving behind bright pages of color, expression-capturing masks and prancing puppets.
This is the scene the Fells Point Creative Alliance hopes to re-create each summer at area libraries through its Open Minds program, a six-week session of free summer art classes for kids 8 to 12. Initially developed in 1996 to integrate arts in Baltimore's neighborhoods and supplement the art offerings in the city's public-school curriculum, the program later expanded to include reading.
The classes begin with a story or poem reading. Then the kids talk about the tale - the fascinating characters, the new concepts or new words - and then the real fun begins when they're asked to create individual projects sparked by the story.
Open Minds meets Saturdays through Aug. 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at three area libraries. Registration is recommended. Canton Branch Library: 1030 S. Ellwood Ave., 410-396-8548; Fells Point Branch Library; 606 S. Ann St., 410-396-0992; Patterson Park Branch: 158 N. Linwood Ave., 410-396-0983.