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TAM kicks off Art Smart kids’ camp

Children aren’t often encouraged to get dirty.

It’s not that making a mess isn’t fun — even adults want to let loose every now and then — it’s just the annoyance of cleanup usually outweighs putting those imaginations to action.

Ian Koushan, 8, of Bridge City decorates his freeform concrete cross with sea glass during the annual Art Smart kids' summer camp at the Texas Artists Museum in Port Arthur Tuesday.

Ian Koushan, 8, of Bridge City decorates his freeform concrete cross with sea glass during the annual Art Smart kids’ summer camp at the Texas Artists Museum in Port Arthur Tuesday.

But the horde of volunteers manning the Texas Artists Museum this week, many of whom are artists themselves, are skilled in minimizing the mess. Leading by example — digging their hands into porcelain clay and submerging gloved fingers under wet concrete — the volunteers are teaching Southeast Texas children the valuable lesson of how to get dirty productively.

The Texas Artists Museum kicked off its annual Art Smart summer program — a two-week camp for budding artists, chronic crafters and mini chefs — Monday. The 40 students enrolled in Week 1 returned to camp Tuesday morning ready to experiment with freeform concrete, paper mache, porcelain clay, ceramics and paint.

Art Smart 2015 students decorate their freeform concrete designs with sea glass and sea shells to match the theme of the week, "It's a Shore Thing," at the Texas Artists Museum in Port Arthur Tuesday.

Art Smart 2015 students decorate their freeform concrete designs with sea glass and sea shells to match the theme of the week, “It’s a Shore Thing,” at the Texas Artists Museum in Port Arthur Tuesday.

TAM volunteer Dot Chauvin said Tuesday there are no more slots available for Week 1, but any parents interested in signing up for Week 2 should call sooner rather than later.

“Next week is ‘Carnival of Fun,’ so we’re going to talk about Mardi Gras and have beads everywhere,” Chauvin said. “We do a lot of the same projects — the concrete, the paper mache, the porcelain clay — but the new theme will change what we prepare for the kids to do.”

Chauvin said each week of Art Smart has 40 slots available for children ages 6 to 12.

Volunteer Jamye Nchugh, left, shows Art Smart 2015 students Hollierose Justice, 5, of Groves and Bryson Greene, 6, of Port Arthur how to make a "bead puppy" at the Texas Artists Museum in Port Arthur Tuesday.

Volunteer Jamye Nchugh, left, shows Art Smart 2015 students Hollierose Justice, 5, of Groves and Bryson Greene, 6, of Port Arthur how to make a “bead puppy” at the Texas Artists Museum in Port Arthur Tuesday.

“Carnival of Fun” classes will run from 9 a.m. to noon, July 20 through July 24. Registration is $30 per student. Additional family members can register for $25.

Applications are available at the Texas Artists Museum, located at 3501 Cultural Center Drive in Port Arthur.

For more information, call (409) 983-4881.

Twitter: @crhenderson90