Families flock to The Clark for Sensational Summer Family Day
WILLIAMSTOWN — The Clark Art Institute is about the outside inviting you inside to view world-class exhibits.
Nestled on a 140-acre campus of expansive lawns, meadows, walking trails and its signature three-tiered reflecting pool, The Clark wants visitors to enjoy the outdoors as much as the indoors.
"I love the reflecting pool, watching people sit around it and enjoy the view," said Nick Raeburn.
The Dorset, Vt., resident and his son Shayne Raeburn were soaking up the sunshine while enjoying the museum's 20th "Sensational Summer Family Day'" on Sunday afternoon.
The free community gathering in the courtyard draws many first-timers and returning patrons to the museum.
The Clark's director of education, Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, says the annual event is an enticing way to attract new visitors in hopes they become regular patrons.
"Some people come just to enjoy the grounds," she said. "The campus is designed in a way to make the art museum less intimidating."
Raeburn has been bringing his son since he was a year old to the family-centric celebration for the food, entertainment and activities, with an eventual stroll inside to view the latest artwork on display. The Clark currently has four exhibits in play, led by "Renoir: The Body, The Senses" and "Ida O'Keeffe: Escaping Georgia's Shadow."
Raeburn does his best to pass on his passion for art to his son.
"I tell him just look and enjoy, that's what's important," he said.
The estimated 2,000 men, women and children in attendance during the five-hour event enjoyed food from area restaurants and looked with amazement watching Nimble Arts from Brattleboro, Vt. The acrobatic performers put on an aerial display of "creative works of theatrical circus," from a freestanding aerial rig, as described by the troupe's website.
"I liked how she stayed up in the air and held onto [the silk wrap] and didn't fall," said 10-year-old Julia Skrzypczyk visiting from New Milford, Conn.
"She" was Serenity Smith Forchion, who, with twin sister Elsie Smith, founded Nimble Arts nearly 20 years ago and the accompanying New England Center for Circus Arts.
Smith Forchion finds the outdoor performances very engaging.
"I can see my audience much more than when I'm inside on a stage. It's intimate and I can feed off the audience reaction," she told an Eagle reporter.
The other entertaining headliner was The Eight Tracks, an a cappella group from outside Boston making its Berkshire debut. The octet performed Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move," "With or Without You" by U2 and other cover tunes.
"We pride ourselves on taking popular songs and putting our own spin on them," the musical group's co-founder Michela Booker told the appreciative crowd.
The Log by Ramunto's Brick Oven Pizza also made its debut at the Summer Family Day. The restaurant arrived in Williamstown 14 months, via Bennington, Vt., where the original Ramunto's opened a decade ago. Williamstown general manager Emma Mulligan loved selling plain cheese and pepperoni-topped slices in the courtyard.
"This is my favorite part, right here. It's very relaxing," she said pointing to the reflecting pool.
Dick Lindsay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 413-496-6233.
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