They've got the globe covered

The Baltimore Sun

While Emily Krause, 11, of Ellicott City painted a picture of the Earth at the Columbia Art Center's summer art camp, her biggest problem was getting her artwork to stand still.

She, 11-year-old Emma Heck of Kensington and 12-year-old Brie Thompson of Randallstown were trying to decorate different sides of a big green golf umbrella - which had a tendency to tilt and slide - in preparation for the annual Umbrella Exhibition at Columbia International Day.

"It's a little challenging getting all the details," Emma said. Still, she said, "it's a really neat activity. We don't usually paint on an umbrella."

The curved canvases will be familiar to many, however, at the free Saturday festival at the Town Center lakefront, sponsored by the Columbia Association. This is the eighth year the art center has sponsored a community-wide umbrella art project as part of the annual celebration of diverse cultures.

The festival, in its 13th year, "highlights the cultural and ethnic diversity that makes Columbia special," said Michelle Miller, director of CA's division of community services. It also coincides with the time that youth are visiting from Tres Cantos, Spain or Cergy-Pontoise, France through CA's Sister Cities program.

The cultural exchange program with Spain is in its 30th year and the program with France is in its 17th, Miller said.

The festival will feature entertainment, international food and craft vendors, children's activities and costumed characters from noon until 11 p.m.

Entertainment will include music from Brazil and Japan, Jewish klezmer music, jazz from Cuba and Brazil, African songs and stories, and a rhythm and blues band. Dance ensembles will perform traditional works from India and Korea.

The umbrella exhibit has become a staple of the event. This year, under the direction of Columbia Art Center assistant director Trudy Babchak, artists of all ages and skill levels have been invited to interpret the theme, "World Celebrations: People, Places, Experiences."

That theme ties in to the international aspect of the festival and the local focus on celebrating Columbia's 40th birthday.

On Saturday, a panel of judges will recognize outstanding efforts in various age categories from among the more than 45 entries on display.

"People can have fun with art and maybe collaborate together, particularly when the kids are home for the summer," said Liz Henzey, art center director.

Jacqueline Easley of Columbia said her 6-year-old daughter, Lauren, has enjoyed seeing the umbrellas at previous International Days.

"She loves art, that's her thing, and she asked 'how do those people get to do that?'"

This year, Easley signed up for an umbrella for Lauren and one for herself. Easley is painting scenes from four Asian festivals, including a Chinese lantern festival, the Japanese cherry blossom festival, India's Diwali celebration and a festival at the end of Ramadan.

Lauren is focusing on Diwali for her entire umbrella because, she said, "I like all the lights and I like all the different colors and I like the elephants and the jewels."

Easley, who is from Malaysia, said her 4-year-old daughter, Natasha, and her husband, Don, will join her and Lauren at the festival this year as part of a family tradition.

"I like to expose my kids to diversity, different cultures and traditions," Easley said. The umbrella exhibit, in particular, is "a nice visual part. I feel like the kids really respond to it well. It's colorful and bright."

For the Columbia Art Center campers, decorating umbrellas this week was a good group project on which they could apply their creativity.

Ricki Edsall, 13, of North Laurel said he was having fun because "this is a great project to get messy with."

He and his group were painting a map of the world they had sketched out in black marker. They planned to also paint several flags and glue on curled paper to represent fireworks.

"We had to sort of think about the theme, and then we had to paint," Edsall said. "It's easy to work with the group I have."

Tracy Wise, 10, of Clarksville was painting a panel of her group's umbrella with a flag and other symbols of the Fourth of July. The girls planned to paint pictures on themes of Hanukkah, Passover, Mexico's Day of the Dead, Christmas and New Year's as well.

"I feel amazed that even though we're 10 and 11, our artwork will be shown somewhere," Wise said. "I hope [viewers] are going to say 'wow, these are kids and they did such a great job.'"

sandy.alexander@baltsun.com

Information on International Day: 410-715-3161 or www.colum biaassociation.com.

Columbia International Day

What: Free celebration of diverse cultures, including food, crafts, entertainment and children's activities

When: Tomorrow, noon to 11 p.m.

Where: Columbia Town Center lakefront

Information: www.columbiaassociation.com or 410-715-3161.

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