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Art immersion comes to Hillsboro

Creativity in Motion' presents diverse, family-oriented art at Walters Center
by: Courtesy photo Portland-based Johnny and Jason (Johnny Keener and Jason Green) will entertain the younger set on Saturday.

This Saturday, Hillsboro's Walters Center is poised to be a veritable circus, with talking animals slinking across the stage, a juggler performing amazing feats of coordination and rock music for the younger set filling the air.

But this isn't an event designed around spectacle. It's a chance for families to become immersed in various kinds of art while experiencing hands-on activities to stimulate the desire to create.

For the second year, the Walters Center is presenting 'Creativity in Motion,' a free feast for the senses. The show, emceed by juggler Charlie Brown, features performances by Portland's Tears of Joy puppet theater, which specializes in various forms of puppetry - including Japanese bunraku rod puppetry - to tell traditional folk tales, many of which involve animals.

Musical performances at 'Creativity in Motion' include 'Raven Steals the Sun' and 'Stellaluna.'

In addition, the event features puppet-making workshops and a concert by Portland duo Johnny and Jason, a group that specializes in kids' music with an indie-rock edge for adults.

One-stop art exposure

The event is designed to give families - particularly children - a one-stop place to get exposed to art. In addition to the performances and workshops, attendees have opportunities to view gallery displays and learn more about the Walters Center's classes.

'You're hitting a lot of cylinders at once with workshops, music and theater,' said Walters Center cultural arts program supervisor Carl Annala. 'We see it as not only a service for the community, but also as a way of increasing awareness of arts in the community.'

Sneak attack

Johnny Keener, guitarist for Johnny and Jason, said his project - which he created with Jason Green, his bandmate in Portland trio Yoyodyne, when the musicians became fathers - performs a sneak attack in its ability to generate interest in the arts.

'They don't even know they're being exposed to art,' said Keener. 'They're just boogyin'.'

Keener, who frequently plays educational programs at the Portland Children's Museum and recently released a Johnny and Jason album, said being exposed to music at a young age helped foster his own artistic development.

When he takes the stage with Johnny and Jason, he said he frequently sees the same spark in the eyes of young audience members.

Setting off 'triggers in their brains'

'All the kids dig it, but different kids dig it at different levels,' says Keener. 'Some are just dancing, and they get into it with the rhythm of their bodies.

'But there's a smaller group of kids who don't move a muscle. You know they're processing it at a different, 'I need to do that' level. You're setting off some serious triggers in their brains. Events like this make that happen.'

'Creativity in Motion' takes place Saturday, Oct. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Walters Cultural Arts Center, located at 527 E. Main St. in Hillsboro. To learn more, visit ci.hillsboro.or.us/arts/wcac or call 503-615-3485.