The power of community


Drafted Monday

Community involvement

High in Hooking all set up and raring to go at the OFFCenter Folk Art Festival Sunday.



Today was a bad day. For the victims in Las Vegas, for their families, and for all of the United States. How to write a blog about rug hooking or art or anything that seems frivolous in comparison? I decided not to bother. Instead I decided that I should concentrate on “community.”

Community involvement.

This dude led the Giant Puppet Parade. So cool!

Yesterday I was a vendor at the OFFCenter Folk Art Festival here in Albuquerque. Frankly, as far as selling goes, the day sucked. I didn’t even sell a mug rug set. The folks around me didn’t do too well either. In my case, I’d been afraid that my price point was too high for the event. Was I right? I’m not completely sure, but I suspect that had a lot to do with it. Was I disappointed even though I knew I might have a problem? Of course, but, you know, packing up, I told myself and Tom that it could’ve been worse.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here. There was bright sun, and it was about 75 degrees tops. Sure, Albuquerque typically enjoys about 310 days of sun annually, but last week wasn’t at all typical. It rained for a number of days in a row. I needed waterproof shoes to set up in the grass, but I was able to change into canvas sneakers right after that. My point: it was much better to be out and about with others than to be sitting in the house listening to the Patriots lose.

The OFFCenter Folk Art Festivval is most definitely a family affair. Everyone and anyone can get in on the action.

The OFFCenter Community Arts Project’s mission is:

To promote positive self identity and resilience through art making by providing a safe environment for creative social interaction with an emphasis to enhance the lives of those most marginalized in our community.

They have a studio and shop across from Robinson Park where yesterday’s festival was held. It’s not just an event whereby selling artists pay a fee that raises monies to support the project. There are grants and donors and volunteers to do that. No, this festival is a CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS AND THE PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY WHO LIKE TO MAKE ART. And I’m not only talking about the artists like me who were selling. It’s very family-friendly. There were tents and tables set up for kids and adults alike to make art. They didn’t have to buy it from me or the toy-maker or the illustrator or the painter. And while they drew and

Community involvement

One of the giant puppets in the parade.

crocheted and linked beads, there was music to dance to. There were giant puppets! See their pics!


The Project serves anyone and everyone in Albuquerque who chooses to go there. They, you, I, we all can make art for free. This is part of the Center’s vision statement:

…to provide a working model of a non-institutional community art setting that sustains and improves community mental health and social capital.

My aunt was an art therapist so I know the value that creative pursuits offer to those with mental illnesses let alone to those of us who are “normal.”  I’m not lying when I talk to people in my booth who say, “That obviously takes so much time and patience.” My response: “It’s my therapy.” In fact, that’s what many of my guild-mates say when we’re out demonstrating around town. We’re not lying. You know. There’s something calming about working with your hands; the repetitive movement is soothing. It doesn’t have to be hooking. All artists feel it. The Zen-like concentration keeps us in the moment, relieves us from ruminating constantly on all our problems. And we all have problems.

Community involvement.

It’s about creating a community where we all feel safe enough to risk, to join in.

Community involvement.

How can you not love the vibrant art scene in Albuquerque? Especially with all the community involvement.









Today the entire country is living not just a problem, but a nightmare. Worse, we keep re-living the nightmare. I don’t know what the answer is, but somehow communities have to come together – if only for consolation. Yesterday I saw a community that was clearly providing all kinds of mutual support. It was beautiful. And it’s a start.

Community involvement.

Young girl creating a yarn chain of some kind.


From the OFFCenter Arts Project:

Annually, we serve ~3,600 predominantly low-income artists of all ages, from child to elder. They’re often living with disabilities or other hardships, recovering through the arts, building community and hope inside and outside our studio walls.


If You Believe in What We Believe…Please Support Us!

Community involvement.

Beautiful things happen when a community comes together.