Village of Arroyo Hondo
Last week I was in Taos and had the chance to help out with an incredible outreach program called NAP. I learned about the "Neighborhood Arts Programs" on the Harwood Museum of Art website. I communicated with artist/instructor Siena, who organizes volunteers each week in a number of low-income neighborhoods in the Taos area and I was delighted when she invited me to help out.
Art in a Parking Lot
I showed up at noon on Wednesday, outside the Community Center in Arroyo Hondo. It was an honor to be a part of this unique initiative that takes a gravel parking lot and turns it into an art oasis. As a couple tents went up and tables and supplies were unloaded, children began to arrive. Some came on foot, others on bikes and some were brought by parents, who often ended up staying as they became involved themselves! There were numerous cozy areas for wood-working, painting, beadwork and many themed projects having to do with AIR.
I'm always eager to share the quilt with a new group, but it was hardly needed with all the activities going on that afternoon. I didn't bring the quilt out until later, when it could offer a soft spot to hang out with some books. Siena had quite a collection of books donated by the Taos Library. I read with a few kids, then managed to get a few older kids to help decorate some quilt squares for me.
I now have about 75 squares made by friends who have gathered around the quilt this past year in a few different states and countries. I may need to start thinking about creating this new quilt I keep talking about!
Bubbles on the Quilt
After a while a few younger children moved towards the quilt. I brought out the puppet and some bubbles.
Good Bye, Animals!
But the best part for me was unloading 2 bags of stuffed animals and puppets that had traveled with me from Texas. Weeks ago I opened a trunk that was still storing favorite stuffed animals belonging to my grown children. I gathered the collection of animals, snapped a photo and texted Heidi and Scott for permission to get rid of their old friends. When they said yes, I decided to take them along on the road trip...in search of good homes.
I tried to play down the "give away" so there would be no arguments... over the cutest or biggest or brightest ones. And somehow all 18 animals found new homes without pouting or tears. It was a sweet sight seeing these kids head home with arms full of colorful art creations, stuffed animals and books!
My Own Happy Kids
And I was able to give my kids a good report.
Scott said he was happy to know "Pudding Drop" found a good home!
And what I learned:
Old fashioned summers do still exist! This gathering of children, adults and art materials was as simple as the backyard summers I remember from childhood. There were no lessons and the only rule I heard was one mentioned was about conserving glitter. I love it that these children were given the time to explore and create with just the right amount of gentle guidance. What I saw was a lot of mutual respect. I heard children's voices saying "thank you" and "please" and I heard adult voices saying words like, "I love the way you used those 2 colors." The program offered a nice selection of materials and a generous amount of time. What great gifts for these children!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.