March Break Day Out: An Artsy Aunt on a Budget

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Zoey roaring in front of some pretty wall art!

March break is coming to an end, but you still have tomorrow or next year to plan for!

My niece, Zoey, is approximately seven and a half years old and was off school this week for March Break. I decided that I would take her on an afternoon outing in town. If you are also able to have the time off, there are plenty of things that you can do with your young ones for a very low cost in Oshawa. Today we went to the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG), our local art gallery that is a favourite of mine.

Budget Breakdown:
-Two 80 page sketchbooks and a pack of crayons = $10.75
-Wendy’s lunch for two = $11.74
-Downtown parking = $1.75
-Suggested art gallery donation = $5.00

Total afternoon adventure = $29.24
(Keep in mind if you already have sketch materials and pack your own lunch the day could be $6.75!)

I don’t entirely remember my first RMG visit (I think I was a preteen), but you can never start appreciating art too early. Zoey has always shown an interest in art, we have coloured and drawn together since she was able to hold a crayon. Now that she’s in grade two, art is her favourite subject in school and I love that we can share experiences together in Oshawa’s artistic community.

collage 1To start our adventure, we needed some fuel so we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch! Kids are easy when it comes to food and taking them somewhere fancy will likely only lead to them not liking what they have to eat (although I must say I was impressed with the newly renovated modern decor, Wendy’s is classier than I remember). We talked about what was happening in school and Zoey danced in her seat to the popular songs playing on the radio that I didn’t know. Zoey had assured me that she could finish a small vanilla frosty after her happy meal and I didn’t tell her “I told you so” when it was still 4/5ths full at the end of it all.

Some Wendy’s Wisdom:
At one point, a group of teenagers were having an odd amount of fun near the Wendy’s trash cans and I asked, “What are these kids laughing at?” to which Zoey replied, “They’re teenagers, that’s just what they do… they laugh at nothing” – she is wise beyond her age.

collage 2After we parked, we took photos with my favourite statue that sits just outside of the gallery. Zoey was really excited to go in and as she ran up the outdoor ramp I told her about some art gallery etiquette. She was delightfully well behaved the whole time with no running, touching, or yelling and she compared gallery etiquette to rules in libraries. The RMG is technically free, but they suggest a $5.00 donation which Zoey happily inserted into the contribution box in the lobby. Steve, the security guard, was friendly as usual and we began our self guided tour.

I was so happy that the Durham Reach exhibition was still installed so that I could show Zoey works of art by local artists including pieces created by a handful of people that I Photo 2017-03-16, 12 42 01 PMknow personally. As we moved from piece to piece in the first room (Alexandra Luke I Gallery), I admired that Zoey already seems to have a definitive idea of what she does and doesn’t like in terms of art style. She tended to like paintings that used bright colours, were pretty, fun, interactive, and she also liked the sculptures that suspended from the ceiling. She did surprise me in how broadly her taste extended with certain pieces that I didn’t think that she’d appreciate, but she’d say “oooh I like this one.”

In the second room (Alexandra Luke II Gallery), we decided to get out our brand-new dollar store sketch books and try to draw a multimedia statue that was set up. We each drew different characters in the piece and I really loved her drawings. I had seen the upcycled structure a few times before, collage 3but had only noticed that they all had erect penises when we were drawing all the details – Zoey thought it was funny, but it didn’t bother her. The same room showcased an interactive wooden triangle installation that Zoey really wanted to play with. I made a dog and she made a fish, we both loved all the colours.

Zoey wanted to draw a piece made up of stacked painting studies and a ceramic globe in the third gallery space (Isabel McLaughlin Gallery). As we were drawing, a large group of kids in the gallery’s March Break day-camp came through and were running, touching, and making a lot of noise. Zoey commented on how bad they were being and I counted myself lucky that she was sitting, drawing, and having a good time being calm!

collage 4

Photo 2017-03-16, 1 43 11 PMWe went downstairs to look at Gallery A and were lucky enough to meet an in-house artist who was working on casts to make pots for a new project. She explained the process to Zoey and even took a look at some of her drawings that she had done upstairs. We climbed the steps once more and headed into the last room of our tour (R. S. McLaughlin Foundation Gallery). She liked the metal salmon that had a working crank that made the body move as if it was swimming. Zoey also found many of the pieces in the room to be a bit scary and we quickly moved on to those that were less dark. Zoey enjoyed her time at the RMG so much that she didn’t really want to leave. We stayed in the activity room near the back of the gallery for another half hour or so, drawing and enjoying the sunlight.

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We eventually collected our things and headed to the car. It had been a quiet and art-filled afternoon that was good for us both.

I saw my niece smile a lot today… and that means the world to me.

Our Art:

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