The Thrill of the Orient in the Form of a Festival

For Immediate Release

July 02, 2000

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - On Sunday, July 23, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute injects the spirit of the Orient into a day of festivities for area and visiting families. Called "The Near East Family Bazaar," the outdoor celebration will recreate the present-day scenes, art, elements, foods, dance and music of the Near and Middle East. Admission to the event is free of charge.

The Bazaar, which runs from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., will present the entertainment of the Islamic world: everything from a whirling dervish dancer to a photogenic camel. Among the tents and events, you can meet miniature donkeys at a petting zoo, or, for the strong of heart, witness the large snake demonstration. The camel, albeit not enlisted as a mount, is a perfect photographic backdrop for visiting children and adults.

"Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America is a thought-provoking exhibition that is also great for kids, with its popular culture materials and silent film theatre. I hope this exciting day of activities will bring families out to have a good time outdoors and to learn more about the exhibition," says Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. "Last year's Family Farm Day drew more thousands of people, and we hope for a similar success this year. There is something for everyone, whatever the age."

Thus, a big art-making tent will host free craft-making, creating checkers and chess boards, matted sand landscapes, tissue "stained glass" votives or sheep's wool camels.

Six demonstration tents will host a rug display, stained glass demonstration by Cummings Studio, tile-making by Ellen Germandier, calligraphy demonstrations by Ann Keimus, wood carving, and leather making with Kurt Jundella. For a fee, visitors are welcome to participate in the activities, and children will be assisted by the artist.

The Performance tent will schedule authentic, Near Eastern dance, music and lore, including a whirling dervish demo, drumming and storytelling. In yet another tent, "Abode of Islam" provides educational information and experience, including Islamic artifacts, videotapes about Islam and henna tattoos.

Five area restaurants will operate food booths with Near and Mid-Eastern food and "kid-friendly" foods. Offering a variety of "Orientalism" fare such as taboulleh, hummus, grape leaves, shish-kebobs, falafels and baklavas will be Robin's Restaurant, Hot Tomatoes, The Store at Five Corners and Mamoun's Falafel. Lickety Split will serve ice cream.

"Admission to the Near-East Family Bazaar is free," says Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, Coordinator of Family Events for the Clark and organizer of the event. "Certain demos, food and items for sale are not, but in truth, a family could attend the entire event free of charge. We're pleased to be able provide this type of cultural opportunity to families from the Berkshires and elsewhere."

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit

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