A Center for the Arts That Entertains and Instructs the Family

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A Center for the Arts That Entertains and Instructs the Family

The Batangol Art Center is now into its second year of operation. For its founder, Park Eui-Soon, a painter, the anniversary has been especially sweet. She looks back on establishing the art center, which in its early days struggled to survive, with a sense of having taken the high ground.

To many, the barren land on which the center stands did not seem to be the right place to explore and celebrate art and culture. But Ms. Park insisted on placing the center in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi province, which is where she grew up (batangol means "origin" or "home" in Korean). She faced many hurdles in obtaining government permission for the not-for-profit project.

To everyone's surprise, her approach to the arts, which caters to children, has been well received. Ms. Park's diminutive guests fill the center seven days a week, attending ceramics and crafts courses, skits and ballet performances. The pleasant green open space that faces the Bukhan River outside the center is a favorite attraction. The ceramics course is the most popular program. It is just one of the ways children can have fun while getting hands-on experience in art - from fingerprint painting to sculpting their own faces or fashioning clay cups for their family.

The center's anniversary celebrations, which began June 16, continue through August 26, offering children the opportunity to use their summer vacation to participate in cultural activities. The summer schedule is laced with the family musicals "Magic Sketchbook," "Dallae- yah, Dallae-yah," and "Yeo-u ya, Nolja(Can We Play, Mr. Fox?)" Also, the center has not forgotten its adult audience; do not miss concerts featuring the folk singers Lim Ji-hoon, Cho Duk-bae, and the group Dongmoolwon.

The art gallery has scheduled some unusual events. One in particular, "Mulberry Paper 2001," is an exhibition by 27 mulberry paper artists. While the works in this show conform to traditional Korean aesthetic principles, they solicit an unusual degree of interaction from visitors, who are invited to touch, play with and otherwise manipulate the art. The paper exhibition runs through July 1.

At the gallery adjacent to the center, you'll find a multimedia exhibition where you can further satisfy that indomitable urge - usually strictly frowned upon - to handle the artwork. The main challenge facing the eight artists in this show was to create interactive art. On view are paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations.

For more information call 031-774-0745 (English service available).

by Jung Jae-wal

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