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PAINT BRUSHES, IMAGINATIONS RUN WILD IN `LOST GARDENS'

Thursday was the perfect day for splashing paint in the Children's Art Yard, as more than 100 children busied themselves painting, acting, playing, creating art or just making a mess.

All this fun, and it was only the second day of the 14th annual Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City.Some of the children were escorted to the festival by parents and relatives, but the majority of the children in the art yard were from local Salt Lake day-care centers.

"Dreams of an Undersea Voyage: The Lost Gardens of Atlantis," was the theme for the yard, which contained a makeshift submarine, a boat for painting, a coral reef and a giant sea monster of papier mache. As loudspeakers piped out bubbling ocean sounds through the area, hands-on projects helped the children explore the design process through painting, cutting, gluing and arranging. Other activities involved storytelling, acting and face painting.

On a stage in the yard, four children acted out a book for their small but appreciative audience. A young boy dressed in a king's crown and cape, and a girl, adorned in princess garb, provided live action for a festival volunteer who read aloud a fairy tale. Doing what the storyteller told them, the children on stage occasionally illustrated their shyness at being the featured performers, but the laughter and delight from the small audience provided sufficient incentive to remain onstage.

Next to the Act-A-Book stage, several young festival participants put their hearts into sweeping their paintbrushes across an old wooden canoe.

"I like blue," said 5-year-old Tisha Mitchell as she focused on painting the boat. Her face was a pouty mask of youthful concentration as dabs of blue splashed on her nose (and this reporter's suit).

"Some of the kids are using green, but I'm going to paint this whole boat blue," she added. A tall order, since the boat was more than 20 feet long. But Tisha had help, as several other children joined in the fun, splashing paint everywhere. One child, covered from head to foot in different colors of paint, put down his brush and jumped out of the boat. He had been in the boat for more than an hour and had experienced enough painting. Besides, he was "all yucky!"