Since 2008 I have experienced OFFCenter Community Arts Project as a participant, volunteer, and Board member. Throughout the years I have seen the impact of OFFCenter on the people who come to the art studio to access creative self-expression in community. OFFCenter thoroughly fulfills its mission to 'Enhance the lives of all people in our community - especially those who have been marginalized - through art-making and creative social interaction in a safe environment'. OFFCenter is a rare treasure of high value.
Fall in Albuquerque means that OFFCenter Community Arts Project is about to gift our city once again, as they have done since 2001, with their day long fantastic OFFCenter Folk Art Fest (originally known as the We Art the People Folk Fest) at Robinson Park! One of the best festivals in Albuquerque with something for everyone! The giant puppet parade is a favorite tradition for all to see and anyone who desires to participate can join right in. Up to 100 local artists have the opportunity to exhibit and sell their creations at a very affordable participation cost and the public gets to see so much of Albuquerque's creativity in bloom and purchase unique and wonderful art creations for themselves or as gifts. The kids art making tent buzzes with activity all day long while local musicians, entertainers and food trucks enliven the festival even more! As if all that were not enough, many kitchen creatives contribute delicious baked goods available for purchase, with all proceeds benefiting this wonderful organization. How lucky Albuquerque is to have OFFCenter Community Arts Project - This is just one of the terrific things they bring to our city!
A community gem, OC offers everyone the chance to engage in creative endeavors in a safe, supportive space filled with free art supplies and inspiration. Every year OC gifts the community with it's annual folk art festival, an ABQ staple. They provide community outreach and educational opportunities as well. Love OC!
This community gallery and studio opens it's doors to all. Tireless volunteers and staff are working hard to keep this free space available to the community.
I have been meeting a small group of adults with developmental disabilities weekly at OC for over six years. We are a part of this community, we participate and volunteer, laugh and create together. Thanks Offcenter for giving us a place to feel at home.
Tres Amigos Art Group
Off Center is still my favorite NP. I've made life long friends there and like an old friend it is there for all who need it!! Volunteered there for several years and was also a client served. Both were wonderfully enriching experiences.
Off Center is fantastic. They do so much to help those less fortunate. I think the fact that people of all ages and economic backgrounds come together and share in their knowledge is rare. I like that!! I have meet some of the most wonderful artisans there.Learned to knit from a woman in the hands on workshop and now make scarves for people as gifts ( family and the homeless). Also was able to sell a few paintings which was a real boost. Everyone gives of themselves to help other people and this is a real service to the whole community. I volunteered there for several years doing things like cleaning, setting out snacks & sorting. it made me feel like an important part of something bigger than myself. I like to buy things from the shop to support the center and the artists .Now days I see a new group of people growing.
I love Off Center! The staff is always around to help me out and support others in finding materials and guiding them towards new and fun classses and workshops. I always feel at home whenever I walk in the door and so uplifted for coming and reuniting with my creative self. Definitely a 'you must go to Off Center' if you haven't already- one of the best places ABQ has to offer!!
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.
OffCenter has given me the confidence to allow myself to be creatively expressive. I have found such encouragement and support for my art work. I credit OffCenter for many new friendships, opportunities for volunteering and connecting me to our community in a unique way. I remember the first time I came to OffCenter, Marcia asked me if I wanted to create something. I remember feeling shy - but surprised at how being asked really opened me up.
This non-profit offers a creative home to people of all strata. The classes are excellent. This non-profit offers the kind of healing community so much needed in this particular time.
My initial interaction with OFF Center was hearing great things about it from friends. When my artist friend Teddy decided to donate her extensive art supplies, I suggested that she donate them to OFF Center. We packed my car to the ceiling and for the first time, I saw OFF Center. I was quite impressed but for some undefined reason waited another three or so years before I decided to volunteer there. Mostly what I have done since that day is talk to people. I love chatting, but more so I enjoy seeing individuals grow. The environment for producing all types of artwork, the freedom for individuals to direct their work and interacting with artists of all ages to create casual camaraderie is like magic. I love it all and know I receive far more than I give.
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!
I first discovered OffCenter 8 years ago when I met several people who worked there as employees and others as clients. I quickly became a client myself as I found a very warm and welcoming staff and visitors. I was mentored by several people and it helped me through some tough times. Sharing our different views and techniques of art and what it means to us individually was, and is, the most enlightening experience I have had. I continue to this day to be encouraged by the visitors who come by to get lost for a few moments in their personal art making. I have participated in many open juried shows that are always fun and colorful offering all who participate a new experience of exhibiting and the possibility of selling that work. There is also a gallery shop where artist may offer their works for sale creating another level of opportunity. Between the shop and the shows there is such a variety of art to examine, encourage and inspire any visitor, budding or seasoned artist. There are also workshops offered--low-cost or no-cost!--with many different mediums and techniques including sewing, printmaking (my favorite), painting, puppet/mask making, found object sculpture making including metal, bottles, wire, bottle tops, etc.... I volunteer often offering my time to assist others who would like to learn a new form of art making which has opened up the opportunity to actually teach organized workshops (and get paid a small stipend--greatly appreciated). The organization is run with a small, yet dedicated staff, but there is always tasks to be done to help the day-to-day operation. Setting up shows, openings, neatening the materials is something I assist with as well. There are some student/service individuals who get credit, pay or both for their work at the center and this always adds additional liveliness with their smiles, infinite energy and helpfulness that is so essential to the atmosphere. The center is open to all who want to make art--families, individuals, all abilities, socioeconomic status and several social workers bring their clients--all are welcome to make art, interact, participate in shows enriching everyone's experience at the center. Almost all materials, equipment and supplies--even furniture-- is donated to the center. This type of service oriented center is one of several that dot the map of the States and Canada and I am so thankful that such a place as OffCenter is in my community.
OFFCenter provides an open studio for all to come and explore their creativity. Although I don't have a creative bone in my body, everytime I have been to OFFCenter or participated in any of their events, everyone is very friendly and welcoming. This type of atmosphere makes you want to keep coming back.
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.
An amazing open art studio, OFFCenter Community Arts Project welcomes all comers who want to make art in a welcoming, safe and creative atmosphere! Free art materials, work space and peer mentors as we learn from one another in various art media: drawing and painting, print-making, knitting/crocheting, jewelry and metal creating- a special theme throughout the 11 year history is "recycled" art - an art piece from odds and ends! Now this widespread theme is called "re-purposing", but I feel certain OFFCenter in a small way has led the way for many artists, new and experienced, to create from "just stuff". For myself, I am grateful for the many friendships enjoyed over the years with folks from all parts of our community and all levels of economic position, including homeless and near-homeless. The only boundaries in this hospitable community are those of respect for others. As a volunteer and participant, I know OFFCenter keeps going on a very tight budget with only 3 parttime staff - almost miraculous!
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.
I love coming to OFf Center when I can find the time. I usually curl up on a cozy armchair with my embroidery and listen to all the little conversations going on around me or the shuffling of other people's work or the keys of the piano being tinkered by anyone generous enough to share their talent. I've met lovely people here and this community center has served exactly the purpose I hoped it would. It provides a creative and social environment where I can work on my art in the company of others. Working in my home studio can get quite lonely at times. Much of the time I struggle with my mental well-being and having a place to be life OFF Center is very helpful to me. I am also grateful for the wealth of donated supplies and tools that OFF Center provides access to. It really allows for creative freedom and growth.
OFFCenter's 10 year history is inspiring and I am proud to have been there to see it grow all the way. Starting first in a small storefront, it is now housed in a large storefront that includes exhibits of art made by participants which are for sale and an art space for exhibits created by all and any of us who wish to participate. It's a lift of spirit to be there whatever your choice and level of skill.
For the past year or so I have contributed my time and skills toward making the frame shop at the center more user friendly. During that time I have taught the rudiments of matting and frame building to many artists who frequent the center. I have also participated in several workshops, art shows and activities that opened up new possibilities to me as an artist. In all these activities I was supported with wonderful help, encouragement and appreciation from the staff and other clients. The best part of my experience there is that I met and worked alongside many people I would not otherwise have crossed paths with. The fact that the center is open to everyone is a most beautiful thing. It enriches us all. I have dreamed of creating a place like this, and I am grateful to be a part of this symbiosis.
Before I began to take classes at OffCenter, I had been involved with a few of the art shows, which are non-juried and open to the public. I found the space and the staff to be very inviting and inclusive of artists of all ranges of age, ability, and economic status. Some years later, I began to take the drawing class, and have found a new community of people that I probably would not have met under other circumstances. OffCenter is a place where people mix, talk, and share common experience despite the widely varying circumstances of their personal lives. It is a very supportive atmosphere that encourages creative expression in everyone who drops by.
I love going to OffCenter to particpate in art-making in a safe and free space! I can just drop by randomly and utilize any of their great supplies and tools. The printmaking program has been really a great way to express myself and learn new techniques from caring professionals. I have taken many classes there and have participated in jewelry -making open studio, which is nice to do in a group.
My art group, Rainbow Artists, meets at OFFCenter, and supports the center. They provide art materials, support and encouragement to both the community at large, and an under-served population of artists. The staff is knowledgeable and available for assistance and they are ready and able to provide meeting space, classroom space and materials. They have an amazing art fair each September, We Art the People, that is a much anticipated annual event.
I recently presented a paper for the International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA) at the OFFCenter. It was a great venue and the least boring presentation room I have ever been to. It was a wonderful setting to talk about Art and Science education surrounded by all kinds of art explorations in different colors and materials, from crayons to yarn to computers. Sine we arrived early to setup, we also had a tour and were told of the history and the role in the community that the space has.
I have taken and taught a variety of classes at OffCenter for the past 10 years. The staff is dedicated, professional, and consistently coming up with new ways to serve the community. The Center is open to the public and provides a workspace for individual artists, groups of artists as well as for long term projects. One can participate in workshops in music, drawing, writing and various media whether you are a professional or a beginner. One of the projects I have participated in are the fantastic We Art The People Folk Arts Festival which is held once a year and includes weeks of preparation with people coming together to work on puppets and other art projects, music, and art in the park. I have offered workshops at OffCenter including one called EAK which was the Experimental Art Klub. People came together once a month to learn about and emulate various artists. This workshop was intended to offer artists an opportunity to get away from their usual media and methods and to experiment in another artists' consciousness. A big hit! OffCenter is a place that I know I can drop in anytime and find friends working on projects and trying out new things. It's great.