A sky full of kites is expected...

A sky full of kites is expected over the western lawn of the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton when the 11th annual Florence Arnold Children's Art Festival gets under way Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

During the festival, children will have a chance to participate in "Colors in the Wind," a free kite-building workshop in which participants will assemble, decorate and fly their creations.

"We like to offer a creative, hands-on experience in addition to the art show," said festival chairman Cherie Grant. "All the materials are supplied at no cost. We wanted an activity that would allow the children to make something and take it home. Kites seemed like the perfect thing."

She said the festival will include an exhibit and judging of 372 artworks by Fullerton students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. The exhibit runs through April 6.

A Young Composers Concert at 3 p.m. will feature five Fullerton elementary and junior high school students performing original piano compositions.

"The main purpose of the festival is to showcase the children who live in Fullerton," said Muckenthaler director Judith Peterson. "It is not so much a competition as a way to encourage children to display their talent."

Students from 18 elementary schools, three junior high schools and five private schools in Fullerton have contributed their work to the art exhibit.

"I think it's great how many young artists are participating. The Fullerton kids can come and see their work in a real art gallery instead of on the refrigerator door," Grant said.

Nancy Quinn, art resource teacher for the Fullerton School District, agreed. "I love the fact that the kids can go with their parents and see the work on display in their community," she said. "There is a real interest among parents and teachers in giving children a learning opportunity in the arts. It (the exhibit) also is a good way to see how children approach art problems. The subject matter is secondary to the strategy."

A panel of three artists--festival founder Florence (Flossie) Arnold, photographer and kindergarten teacher Lauralyn Eschner and Jane Ingalls--have judged the exhibit and will award prizes Sunday.

"It's difficult to judge children's artworks because they are all good," Arnold lamented. "But when you look at them it's like cream; the good ones rise to the top. I try to be as generous as possible. The work is of a very high caliber. Everyone who enters is a winner."

Eschner said the judges looked for artworks that "filled the whole space beautifully. We got that from (the late) artist, Georgia O'Keeffe. We also looked for originality."

Although there are only five entrants in the Young Composers Concert, compared to hundreds of entrants in the art division, the children's performances are promising, said Mary Mark Zeyen, a professor of music at Cal State Fullerton.

"The pieces may be very short or simple but some of them do very sophisticated things with interesting dissonance and syncopation," said Zeyen, who has served as coordinator for the Young Composers Concert series since it began 11 years ago. "Some are very good at writing lovely melodies, so hopefully we can encourage these efforts. We will not judge the compositions, but all composers will receive a certificate for participation."

This year, all five entrants performing in the concert are pianists, Zeyen said. To be eligible for the concert, the entrants were required to submit a tape of their composition and a manuscript of the music.

The concert will feature fifth-grader Jory Kyle Prum playing "Hazy Afternoon"; second-grader Benjamin Makino, "Candy Land"; third-grader Wesley Peacock, "Funny Clown"; fifth-grader Darci Raphael, "Dancing a Jig," and third-grader Megumi Takasaki, "Waltz in C Minor."

Arnold said the Children's Art Festival, which began in 1975, evolved from children's summer art classes at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, where she served as a mentor. "They wanted a place to show the work. And the festival is such a pleasure. Of course, at 85, everything is a pleasure to me," she said. "I enjoy the ambiance--the joy of sharing ideas in a pictorial and musical way instead of a verbal way."

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