As a volunteer for OFFCenter during 8 years (as an event volunteer, Board member, interim Exec. Dir, floor sweeper and toilet cleaner) I appreciate OFFCenter as a valuable place where every person is welcomed and encouraged to participate creatively to the fullness of their ability, free of charge and without prejudice. I also love finding great treasures for gifts in the retail shop and knowing 80% of the purchase price directly supports the artist.
I am lucky enough to be a regular volunteer at different OFFCenter events or in the open studio . There is no other place where I see the mix of people interacting together in one place as I do in OFFCenter. The urge to create and to appreciate creativity draws people to OFFCenter. It is a comfortable place for anyone who goes there that makes you want to return and meet more people or explore some new kind of creative expression. It's also a wonderful place to find beautiful and one of a kind treasures that are affordable, and sometimes you can meet the person who made it too!
OFFCenter is a great place. Walking in for the first time I was welcomed immediately by staff and volunteers. Everyone was busy making art, all kinds. The level of activity was staggering and the art on display all over the studio took me by surprise. Friends had recommended the OFFCenter classes on jewelry making and bead making but nothing could prepare me for the range of activities. This is truly a place where anyone, regardless of their age or income status can come make art for free. In addition it offers artists a place to display and sell their art. You can be a first time artist or struggling artist, no one cares and no one judges. OFFCenter is all about serving the community.
I first discovered OFFCenter in 2004, shortly after I moved to Albuquerque. My first five years here were very rough; I was assaulted shortly after moving here and could'nt find steady employment. OFFCenter gave me a job as a maintenance person and a place to sell my jewelry creations. I've met many fine people there who have become like family to me. OFFCenter gave me hope during hard times and kept me going. I know there are many others with similar stories. There are many disadvantaged people with true artistic talent and great character. OFFCenter provides these individuals with an outlet for expression and the opportunity to sell their creations. In addition, the organization is a true community where people can learn, teach, collaborate, network, and just plain make friends. There's even a little food for those who are hungry. I am now employed full-time as a veterinary technician and make a little money selling my jewelry on the side. I am an OFFCenter success story, and I know there are many others. I believe in OFFCenter so much that I joined the Board of Directors! OFFCenter is truly one of Albuquerque's bright spots!
When I first moved to Albuquerque, I needed to meet and be around fellow artists. I never anticipated finding a studio where I be part of the community. This community is made up of handicapped, elderly, children, homeless, along side of career artists. There is a networking amongst everyone that encourages and supports new artists. This is a unique situation for people who do not have the means to purchase art supplies or a place to work. Something constructive for some people who want to improve their lives in a positive way.
I am fortunate to have OFFCenter in my neighborhood and to be involved in such a a positive endeavor. I was taken to OFFCenter by a friend to explore the open studio space. She thought the studio with its varied materials and people making art would help my creative process. She also pushed/encouraged me to put a piece in one of the OFFCenter shows. I did. It sold. For me, it offered a save place to begin showing my work to others and offered me resources and information helpful to new artists and those looking to sell more of their work. The open studio is a wonderful welcoming space for everyone in the community. It is a truly inclusive community space and that is its magic. Making art together truly builds bridges.