May 2, 2003

Painting on a sunny day, a great way to celebrate Kids Day

The annual kids painting contest at CECUT

By Mariana Martinez

Kids day is celebrated in México on April 30, so the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) celebrated kids with its traditional painting contest, this past Saturday, April 26 where there was music, dancing, raffles and a great opportunity to enjoy family time, on the pink patio of CECUT, on a beautiful Saturday.

A huge crowd went to the event, where, besides all the special presentations, adults could enjoy the movies at CECUT at a special “kids price” and enjoy the weekend with a little art for everyone.

The Kids Painting Contest has been going on every year at the CECUT for 13 years, it’s a time where kids from all ages come to register very early in the morning, they get a huge white shirt, some colors and a paint brush, then they run to a spot they picked out on the floor at the huge CECUT patio or go up to the fountain to get a splash of geniality.

Since the first Kids Painting Contest, there had only been two categories, six to nine years old and ten to twelve, but then the organizers started noticing that whole families were coming to the contest, little brothers and sisters were crying because they too wanted to paint, so this year, a new category was added, for 2 to 5 year olds so they could also express themselves “like the big kids”, and they seemed to enjoy it just as much, although some felt the urge to taste the paint or lick the brush, no real harm was done.

When the masterpieces where finished the kids took them to be judged and then went to pick-up their surprise gifts –just for participating– they got a handbag or backpack with a coloring book, some finger paint, water colors, crayons, brushes and some snacks. This is seen as another way to encourage kids to get involved in the arts, instead of giving them dolls and toy cars that have little to do with expression or imagination.

While parents and kids are mixing colors in order to get marine green or pumpkin yellow, there was a stage setup where performers and entertainers joined them. The Folkloric Dance group Ticuán presented a few numbers, among them “Tamaulipas Campero” where kids and adults from the dance group danced together and show a piece of Mexican history. The Hispanic Guitar Center presented some of its young students who played classical pieces for the crowd, while some kids, amazed at what kids like them could do, quickly said “daddy, I want to learn how to do that, and make music”. There was a play by The Blue Planet Kids Theater Company from Ensenada and story telling by Ursula Tania, who shared part of her latest work “ A sea of stories”.

The master of ceremonies of the event was Lila Gutiérrez, a kids radio show host for the show Garabatos Infantiles “In Garabatos we had a radio contest called “Host for a day” as a celebration of Kids Day, kids sent us subject ideas for the show, and those who won got to host one of the programs and talk about the subjects they find important. Eleven kids where chosen, they hosted programs all last week; they had a show about riddles and jokes and one about proper pet care. “I was there mainly as a moderator between the hosts and the kids who called in to participate on the shows” tells Lila “they have the most interesting and respectful dialogs, they give us adults a lesson in tolerance”.

While the party was going on top of CECUT, down in the underground parking lot the judges’ debated about the merits of the drawings, they talked while walking through the long lines of drawings that were created that morning, trying to choose the winners among the 1500 drawings submitted. “Look at the lines on that one. I love what he did with the space,” said Abraham Cabrera, a young Tijuana painter who was judging in the 2 to 5 category, “the art ranged from the totally abstract to self portraits, that say so much about what they see. They’re gorgeous and the truth is, I’m learning a lot from them, about being simple and straightforward,” he adds.

Some of the pictures where really amazing, one was plain yellow with just a red dot, or others seemed like just lines until looked upon from a distance: one of them becomes a little girl dancing. The plain paper pieces where used horizontally, vertically or in the shape of a diamond showing everyone just what could be done with imagination.

In the end, the winners where announced after lunch, the happy kids running towards the stage in order to get their prizes and pictures. First place from every category won a brand new bike, second and third place, along with some other pictures that got honorable mention, won some drawing material, scholarships in different drawing classes around the city and other educational toys.

As night falls, families start picking up the toys and trash, putting on sweaters and going on home, with some great memories and another picture to put on the fridge door.

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