Getting into arts

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Calling all children, parents, grandparents and neighbors: Get ready for this year's colossal Community Arts Party, starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the city of Socorro's Finley Gym, and lasting until 3 p.m.

"It's going to be an extravaganza," said Ronna Kalish, who came up with the idea of a huge, hands-on workshop in 1997 as a way for children of all ages to explore the wonderful world of arts and crafts.

The Community Arts Party is a Socorro tradition, an opportunity for children and adults to don old duds and get down and dirty as they move from project to project, immersing themselves in paint, glue, glitter, play dough and papier mache – and that's just the beginning.

Arts party-goers always look forward to seeing what artist Becky Titus Taylor comes up with for the group project. The former Socorroan, now living in the Jemez Mountains, has been central to the arts party since its inception, along with a host of other loyal volunteers.

"Becky will be showing kids show to make CD antenna headbands, along with her loopy dude color-me color pages,'" Kalish said. "Her creativity and enthusiasm are contagious, and the kids just love her."

The artist and her husband, Mark Taylor, will be using some of the hundreds of CDs and DVDs Becky has been collecting and using in her "Recycled Music" artwork.

"The computer disks will have blank labels so participants can draw on them and decorate them with all kinds of fun, crafty fuzzy things, and they can decorate the headbands as well," she said. "And since the CDs have such a lovely mirror surface on one side, everyone will be able to see how they look with their CD antennas on by looking at their neighbor's CD," she said.

Titus Taylor is a member of the Jemez Artisans gallery in Jemez Springs, which shows the works of nine members.

"The gallery has a really excellent variety of work. I also show regularly at Fuller Lodge Art Center in Los Alamos, and will have work at the Jemez Springs Bath House from February to April. Hopefully I'll also be showing at the New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair in Albuquerque in June," she said.

Her current work is mostly the Recycled Music Warped Album Art – hand-painted, vintage records warped into bowls, clocks, mirrors, earrings and sculpture. She also still works for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology on a freelance basis.

Kalish, director of the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series, organizes the event every year with Tech's blessings, working the phone to line up volunteers, sponsors and donations.

The principal sponsor of this year's event is the city of Socorro with additional support provided by local dentist C. Bonner Oates and the New Mexico Tech Facilities Department.

Younger children will enjoy face painting, play dough, balloon animals and flower fairies, while their older siblings can join the mural-painting project, or learn about Japanese brush painting, or create a cool pair of sunglasses.

"The Community Arts Party really does have something for all ages and all interests," Kalish said. "I've seen children who came in as toddlers grow up in the program – some of them even became workshop leaders later on."

All that fun is bound to stimulate an appetite for the young artists and their adult helpers, so several concessions will be available to soothe those hunger pangs.

Wear old clothes and prepare to have fun.