The Gift That Really Keeps On Giving


Steven Robert Allen
3 min read
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Artists are among the poorest people on the planet. This year, while you're thinking about what to buy for your loved and not-so-loved ones, you'd do well to consider local nonprofit art organizations. A good way to start is by taking a look at ArtX3, an innovative holiday collaboration between OFFCenter Community Arts Project, VSA Arts of New Mexico and Out ch'Yonda.

“It's all about shopping in alternative ways,” says Janis Timm-Bottos, director of OFFCenter.

OFFCenter has an amazing art shop at its new location that sells low priced art mostly created by low income artists in the community. The organization will also be opening up a new exhibit, Get Your Glitter on Park Avenue, on Friday, Dec. 10, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. to sell even more handmade art by neighborhood artists. If you don't like anything you find there, or if you're really strapped for cash, OFFCenter will also host its annual free family holiday gift making session on Wednesday, Dec. 15, from 5 to 8 p.m., where you can use OFFCenter's extensive art supplies to make intimate creative gifts for your family and friends.

Meanwhile, VSA Arts of New Mexico, a local chapter of a national organization that serves artists with disabilities, will host a big art fair on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its swanky North Fourth Art Center. Mayor Martin Chavez will open the festivities with the dedication of a new tiled sculpture called “Doorways to Imagination” created by artist Cassandra Reid. The dedication ceremony will be followed by performances by VSA resident dance and theater companies, art exhibits and an art sale featuring work by artists with disabilities from all over New Mexico. Refreshments will be served.

“This is a big event for us,” says Susanna Kearny, VSA's marketing/presenting director. “The sculpture has been in the works for two years now. … The event is free, and the artists will keep most of the proceeds from sales.”

Finally, on Wednesday, Dec. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m., Out ch'Yonda will host a cash free market to be accompanied by a Kwanzaa feast. As you may or may not know, Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 and is based on seven ethical principles. One of these principles is called Ujamaa, or cooperative economics, which encourages both independently owned stores and bartering. At the Out ch'Yonda event, participants are encouraged to bring in all their cool but unwanted stuff to trade it in for cool, wanted stuff.

That's the long and the short of it. If you know what's good for you, and I know you do, you'll check out all of these events, pick up some great gifts and make the world just a little bit better in the process. God bless every one of you, and happy holidays.

ArtX3 is a collaboration between three nonprofit art organizations—OFFCenter (808 Park Avenue SW, 247-1172), VSA Arts of New Mexico (4904 Fourth Street NW, 345-2872) and Out ch'Yonda (929 Fourth Street SW, 385-5634)—that occurs throughout the month of December.

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