Irving Arts Center
3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving
Box office: 972/252-2787
Gallery hours: 9am–5pm Monday–Wednesday and Friday; 9am–8pm Thursday; 10am–5pm Saturday; 1–5pm Sunday.
Admission: Free to tour art galleries and for select kids’ events; cost for performances.
You’ll find a steady stream of beautiful sights and sounds inside the Irving Arts Center: theater and symphonic performances on two stages, a sculpture garden and 24 colorful art exhibitions each year in four galleries. As an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Irving’s cultural arts complex is also one of only four museums in Dallas-Fort Worth allowed to borrow exhibits from the world's largest museum complex in Washington, D.C. Impressive, no?
To get the most out of your visit with the kids, make sure to pair your art gazing with one of these upcoming craft programs – plus a special theater production – made just for them. Here’s when and why to plan for a trip this fall.
Splat the Cat, the Musical
Your own kids have all experienced those first days at school, so they’ll know exactly what Splat the Cat goes through in the book (the first in the series) by author and illustrator Rob Scotton. Magik Theatre, a professional family theatre in San Antonio at HemisFair Park, created a musical based on the book for their national tour and will perform its world premiere on October 22.
See the show at 9:30am and 11:30am in Carpenter Hall for $6, and stay for a lobby meet-and-greet with the actors. Homeschooling parents, you’ll appreciate the study guides available for grades K–5 to review with the kids beforehand.
JumpstART Stories and Art, ages 2–8
For free family fun, take your kids for the JumpstART programs, which combine art and literature. The craft projects and storybook readings, provided in collaboration with Irving Public Library, start rolling at 10am on the first Thursday of the month September–May. The next JumpstART program on November 7 celebrates all things family in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Saturday School, ages 6–12
If your child’s artistic talents are in need of extra nurturing, check out these programs that delve into a variety of media, from collage to printmaking to puppetry, such as the Navidad Latinoamericana Puppet Production Workshop beginning October 12.
The workshops cost $75 for a run of six or seven weekly sessions and usually complement an exhibit that’s on view at the same time. Future workshops in 2014 focus on the Harlem Renaissance, the history and culture of Mardi Gras and famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Family Fundays, all ages
The whole family is welcome to join these programs (also free) with activities based on the art exhibits in the galleries. The center usually hosts the events once per quarter, but three special programs are on the horizon for the Christmas season, so save the dates for December 7, 14 or 21 or all three.
Family-friendly art exhibits
While you’re already at the center, take a walk through the art galleries to see what they’ve got on view. One especially colorful exhibit – Colors of the Wind by the legally blind painter and textile designer George Mendoza – is on view through November 10 thanks to the Ellen Noel Art Museum in Odessa, a sister institution via the Smithsonian.
Three more upcoming exhibits feature works by Latino artists, including local Pastor Garcia, whose brightly colored, papier-mâché sculptures of dragons, bats and wolves follow the Alebrijes style of Mexican folk art. Beginning on November 16, don’t miss the exhibit by award-winning children’s book illustrator Raúl Colón, who’s known for watercolor and colored pencil illustrations including the recent picture book Don’t Forget: God Bless Our Troops, written by Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
Published October 2013