An estimated 300 showed up at Finley Gym for last year’s arts party.
File photo

Dress the kids in play clothes and be prepared to dive into all sorts of arts-and-crafts projects, from tie-dye and play dough to face painting and jewelry making, masks, magnets and murals, at this year’s Community Arts Party. New Mexico Tech’s Performing Arts Series will host the annual Community Arts Party next Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Parkview Elementary gym.

The all-day hands-on workshop, free to all, includes sculpture, decoupage, buttons, boxes, barrels of bling, and special for this year, spiral paper snakes.

This is the 27th year for the community event, and the move to Parkview Elementary was necessitated due to the current renovation of Finley Gym.

“We’ll have a little more room at Parkview, and parking will be easier,” said Ronna Kalish, Director of PAS.

Upwards of 30 projects are planned this year.

Volunteers Needed

“This is one of my favorite times of the year,” said Kalish. “One way to ‘get your spring on’ is to become a part of the Community Arts Party volunteer corps.”

All the projects are handled by local volunteers, either professional artists or people who love doing arts and crafts that can be created by all members of the family.

“We are looking for volunteers. There are several different things people can help with,” Kalish said. “You can present your own project or assist with a project or be what we call a floater and give presenters occasional breaks.”

Other ways to volunteer include donating supplies.

“We’re always looking for stuff to reuse,” Kalish said. “If you have a truck you can help by hauling supplies from Macey Center to Parkview on Friday, and then hauling everything back to Macey Center after the event on Saturday.”

Volunteers are also sought for setting up tables and chairs as well as helping clean up on Saturday.”

Becky Titus will be showing kids how to make a Spiral Sneaky Snake.
Photo courtesy Becky Titus

Projects the organizers want help with include 3D animals, beaded keychains, pinback button making, clay creations, cork boats, cornhusk dolls, decoupage jars, dream catchers, flower fairies, koinobori, leather works, love bugs, magnets, masks, mono-prints, ojos, pipe cleaner animals, sand art, scratch art, shaving cream art, swirling colors, tie dye. Tile painting, treasure boxes, valentine cards, washer jewelry and more.

Contact Kalish or Dana Chavez at 575-835-5688 or email [email protected] for more information on volunteering.

Local Tradition

The Community Arts Party has become an annual tradition in Socorro.

“What makes it special is that we keep doing it,” Kalish said. “What I’ve always loved about this event is that it cross-crosses Socorro’s demographics. Kids from the community, kids from Alamo come, from Magdalena come, from Tech, from everywhere, and they’re just in one place doing the same thing and having fun.

“We’re thinking we’re going to have tie-dye outside by the gym, that’s where the food trucks will be,” she said.

The 2023 arts party gets underway at 10 a.m. and goes until 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Parkview Elementary gym and is free to all.

Kalish came up with the idea of a huge, hands-on workshop in 1996, as a way for children of all ages to explore the wonderful world of arts and crafts. She was enthusiastically supported by Becky Titus, who lived in Socorro at the time.

“The whole thing is a fabulous event because it brings together the entire community. People of all ages, all walks of life and they all get to mingle together. And make art,” Titus said. “You can’t get any better than that.”

Titus, who shows her art at Jemez Artisans Gallery in Jemez Springs, is also the artist responsible for the Festival of the Crayons installation on School of Mines Road.

“I live up here in the Jemez. We are very, very isolated and only come down occasionally,” Titus said. “So, it’s definitely an opportunity to get together with a big group of people and lots of other artists and see what they’re doing, and I just always love the entire event.”

Titus said the switch in locations would feel different.

“I went to school there in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. What they used to call junior high,” Titus said. “That’s where I learned to type. Mrs. Baca’s typing class.”

Arts Party goers always look forward to seeing what she comes up with for the group project.

“For the last two years, I didn’t do it because of the pandemic,” Titus said. “I’ll be back this year with a new project, which is called Spiral Sneaky Snakes. They’ll make these snakes that sort of hang down in spirals. I will provide beginning spirals that they will decorate, cut out, and hang from yarn, string, or whatever.”

Major sponsors are the City of Socorro, Positive Outcomes, Inc., and Walmart.

“Come on out, wear old clothes and get ready to have an amazing day making art,” Kalish said. She reminds children under 10 to “please bring an adult.”

Food trucks will be parked nearby.

“It’s going to be a great year. We have lots of help but could still use more help and lots of supplies. All we need is for you to attend” Kalish said.