Museum of Art Meets smART Families

With the art of acclaimed Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo at the center of attention, the smART Families group attracted more than 200 parents and children to its annual family bash at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

In the past, holidays like Halloween or Chinese New Year were the focus of the annual smART Families party. But this year, with the opportunity to create an event inspired by such a prestigious artist as Tamayo, the smART Families steering committee decided the party should reflect its mission: helping families appreciate and explore art in a museum setting.

“This is the biggest and the most important installation at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art this year, so I wanted to make sure all of the smART Families had an opportunity to see it,” said Amy Mayfield, chair of the steering committee.

To help parents and children understand Tamayo’s art, the Museum’s art educators designed a game called La Lotería specifically for this exhibition. Popular in Mexico, La Lotería is a game of chance similar to bingo, but pictures are used instead of numbers. Children follow clues to find images from Tamayo paintings, and then solve riddles. The game is printed in both English and Spanish, and is available to all visitors of the museum.

“The game encourages them to look at the art,” said Jeppe Madsen, whose daughters completed the activity. “You can bring them to the museum, but it’s hard to convince them to actually look at the art once they are here.”

Rufino Tamayo, known as the “Mexican Picasso,” was one of the most important and beloved artists of modern Mexico. He had a prolific career that spanned seven decades and took him from his birthplace in Oaxaca, Mexico, to New York and Paris. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s exhibition is the first major U.S. presentation in nearly 30 years, and includes 100 of his most famous paintings. It will be on display until May 28 – as the museum will be open on Memorial Day and has decided to extend the exhibition an additional day.

“The colors are pretty amazing. He chose universal themes that go beyond one cultural language, so kids can understand it,” said Garrett Speirs, an artist and member of the smART Families steering committee.

The Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted exhibition was organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in collaboration with the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, through the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico, and the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo, AC.

Now in its fourth year, smART Families, which costs $300 year to join, holds six to seven events per year to encourage its members to learn about art. Members’ contributions support the wide range of art education programs at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

The smART Families steering committee members are: Patricia Aoyama, Hilary Doubleday, Kate Gura, Kisa Heyer, Jill Levinson, Amy Mayfield, Toni McClintock, Mary Morouse, Lizzie Peus, Laura Shelburne, Ted Simmons, Garrett Speirs, Meghan Stoll, Michele White, Lisa Wolf and Megan Yager.

For more information about smART Families, call the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s development officer, Karen Kawaguchi at 884-6428.