For Teens, Surf’s Up at the Museum of Art

With surfing-related art projects and music blaring, teenagers had their own special “night at the museum” recently at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The event, hosted by the smART Families group at the museum, was the first ever teen-only function, attracting more than 80 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from area schools.

The museum’s current exhibit, “Artists at Continent’s End: The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1875-1907,” was the basis for the party’s surf theme, since many of the paintings in the exhibit feature giant waves crashing into the Monterey coast. The teens participated in special activities, such as creating a giant big wave mural, making surf karma charms and dressing up in costumes and posing for photos against a giant beach backdrop.

“As the smART Families kids are growing up, we want to make sure that they still feel connected to the museum,” says Amy Mayfield, chair for the smART Families steering committee.

smART Families was created four years ago by museum board member Laura Shelburne as a way to engage families with young children into the life of the museum.

Mayfield and two other steering committee members, Meghan Stoll and Pat Aoyama, helped organize the party, but they left the planning of the activities up to the teens. “We wanted them to pick the activities that interested them, since then they would be more likely to have a good time,” Mayfield says.

The teens who helped plan the party included: Quinlan Dougherty, Kyle and Addison Mayfield, Lauren Gurley, Collin Dewell, Jack Stegall, Cormac O’Connor and Lauren Gurley.

Like most teenagers, the kids attending the museum event huddled in small groups, laughing and eating the munchies. But the surprise hit of the evening was an “Accidental Tourist Photo Op with Bob Debris,” where the teens dressed in costumes and posed for photos against a giant beach backdrop. Debris went through six packs of Polaroid film and was sweating and out of breath trying to keep up with the kids. “They couldn’t get enough of it!” said John Stack, a museum security guard who stood nearby.

Judging by the reaction of the teens at the party, it passed the cool test. “I’ve never been to the museum before,” said Collin Dewell, a Crane School eighth-grader. “If they have another party here, I’ll definitely come.”

The next smART Families event is a family get-together for all ages highlighting the prestigious exhibit “Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted,” slated for Saturday, March 10.

For more information on smART Families, call Karen Kawaguchi at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 963-4364.