Arts In The Parks Gears Up Amid Pandemic

Managing Editor

Arts Place Auglaize-Mercer Center will have a few changes for this year’s Arts In the Parks (AIP) program.

Center Director Heather Dowell said some of those changes include online registration and that all classes but a few will be outside the center. Masks will be required inside the building and social distancing will be expected of guests as will hand washing upon entering. Opening receptions will be made virtual until further notice and carry-in food and drink is now prohibited.

“With everything going on with the pandemic, it definitely made more sense to have online registration rather than having people licking envelopes and sending them, that just seemed like a bad idea,” Dowell said. “There are a lot of changes this year, but there are a lot of great things still happening.”

One of the biggest changes, Dowell said,  is that all classes that take place in Ohio are limited to nine students, with the 10th person serving as the instructor for a class, but she added that there is more flexibility in classes that take place in Indiana in regards to group sizes. 

Although ArtFest is canceled this year, all classes at AIP are free — no matter the amount of classes people take.

While classes at AIP are free, Dowell added that donations are welcome. If parents or children want to donate toward the program, they are more than welcome to do that.

Registration fees are waived for the program and those interested in registering for a class can go to and click on “Arts in the Park” to register. Classes in St. Marys will take place at the High Street shelter house and registration for those classes will be available by June 26 on the center’s website.

Classes in New Bremen will take place at the East Shelter House, 300 N. Jefferson St. and classes in Minster will take place at Four Seasons Park, shelter No. 5. There are also AIP classes in Fort Recovery, Celina and Coldwater, among others. Locations can be found on the center’s website. AIP classes will run from the first week of July to the second week of August instead of the usual schedule of June, July and August because the center had to reduce the number of classes offered with the fact that some teaching artists were not able to travel because of travel bans in their states.

Dowell said one of the new classes being offered this year is a cooking class. The class is the only one that will be conducted via Zoom so children can log on to the group-led activity. 

Other classes scheduled at the St. Marys center is an orb mobile classes using found objects such as yarn, sticks or glue to make a mobile. Another are a pair of clay classes — a layered wall sculpture where students will create a nature-pressed ceramic plate and colorful clay pates where students will create a decorative plate while learning about color, theory using glazes that add color, patterns and designs of the plate. 

Artist Hector De Campo will arrive for the urban spray paint class — a five-day class that includes the introduction to stencil and spray paint style/urban art. According to the center’s website, the class will have an emphasis on the basics of stencil making and color theory. This workshop will begin with helping individuals take their drawings and transform them into a graphic stencil. De Campo would then walk the participants through safe and proper X-ACTO knife handling, those parents with children, will be able to guide and assist. De Campo will also have “Beginning to Paint Like a Pro Class” that runs three days in a row in July and August.

Additional changes to this year is wearing masks. Dowell said the center is requesting that students wear masks and masks will be on-hand. The center will also have latex-free gloves. The center has access to soap and running water and hand sanitizers at each location. Children will also receive temperature checks upon arrival with a touch-less thermometer as well as answering questions about their health. Parents and guardians are welcome to join the Arts in the Park classes as long as they maintain a six-foot social distance. Supplies will be handed out in individual packets for students to keep. Any art materials that are shared will be handled by the teacher and sanitized before the next class.