Thursday, December 24, 1998
A nine-month-old Salinas-based community arts organization, aimed toward getting at-risk kids off the streets and into the performing arts, is doing a lot of good work with very little money.
Very little? How about none. "At our first auction this year, we raffled a TV and made 60 or 70 bucks," says singer and community activist Nicolasa Alvarez, executive director of Caminos del Arte. Looking around the small room in the Bread Box Center on North Sanborne Road in Salinas, which the city of Salinas allows her group to use for free to hold its weekly music workshop, she notes, "I bought all this music equipment out of my own money, and bring it here for the kids to use."
Caminos del Arte was started on March 5 by a group of artists, community representatives and volunteers as an umbrella organization for the many small groups presently running youth arts programs in the Salinas area, and as a catalyst for the formation of new classes. "With the threat of gangs and drugs in our communities, the organizers found that the community had a need for an alternative program in a medium in which young minds can express their creative abilities through the arts," states the group''s brochure.
So far, Alvarez says, the group is running three programs: a music workshop held Thursday evenings in the Bread Box Center; a Tuesday evening Chicano theater group that began meeting just seven weeks ago in the recreation center of Casa de Madera, a low-income housing project in East Salinas; and an Aztec dance class that has been meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays at Alvarez High School for the past three months. All of the programs are free, aimed at kids aged seven to 17 years old, and all are taught by volunteers.
Mario Madrigal teaches the music workshop in his spare time between working at a local optometrist''s office and studying at Hartnell College, where he minors in music. Last Thursday, he met with half a dozen teenage girls, who were practicing their singing skills, in Spanish and English. The girls pick out their own material, mostly rap, R&B, soul and Spanish music. "I do it because I enjoy music," he says, noting that, like the other teachers, he is not paid for his efforts.
The theater workshop is particularly crucial, Alvarez notes, because it''s held on the premises of a CHISPA-affiliated low-income housing project with few recreational activities for the kids. "They don''t do anything there," she says. "You go there and you see the kids walking up and down, up and down. If they have nothing to do, they get in trouble. Some of these kids have a lot of talent. It goes unnoticed. That''s why I like to train them. It helps them increase their self-esteem."
Caminos del Arte groups put on shows at local schools and Juvenile Hall, and participate in community festivals. Alvarez coordinates those efforts, oversees the workshops and classes, and acts as a counselor to the kids, fielding their questions about the arts, or life in general. "I wish I had something like this when I was growing up in Salinas," she notes ruefully. "It would have kept me out of trouble."
Caminos del Arte has no grants or funding sources yet. They have applied for 501(c)-3 nonprofit status, which Alvarez hopes they''ll receive by the beginning of the year, so they can start fundraising and applying for local arts grants.
"We wanted to have a guitar session, but we don''t have any guitars," she says. "When we get more established, we''ll run more programs." Alvarez says she''s looking for more kids to participate in Caminos projects. They''re free, she notes, so why not? They could also use donations, of money or musical instruments.
Future plans include a theater production at a Salinas high school in February, and a talent show by late spring. "If I can get donations, we''ll be able to offer prizes," she says. Eventually, the group would like to establish a multipurpose Cultural Center for East Salinas, which will provide local youth with a variety of arts programs, but that''s a long way off.
"It''s hard to get people to help us when they don''t know about us," she says. "Look at all we''ve accomplished so far, voluntarily. Can you imagine what we could do if we had money?"
If you''d like to donate time or goods, or if you''re a kid interested in coming to a Caminos del Arte class, call Nico Alvarez at 449-7883. After Jan. 12, you can also reach her at 594-9407.
Call for Performers The third annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival, scheduled Sept.15-25, 1999, is looking for "boundary-breaking, risk-taking new work in the performing arts." Performers working in any discipline are encouraged to apply: theater, dance, music, puppetry and spoken word. Applications will be accepted until March 1. Most artists will receive 70 percent of box office receipts, plus technical support. Shows may be self-produced. For an application, write Deborah Block, Program Director, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, 217 Vine St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or fax (215) 413-9007; phone (215) 413-9006; Website www.pafringe.com.
Ansel Adams Gallery "Ansel Adams: Retrospective Exhibition." This retrospective exhibition aims to show the diversity as well as evolution in style that made Adams an important photographer. The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17 Mile Dr., Pebble Beach. 375-7215. Through: 1/31/99.
Back Porch Fabrics "Wearable Art." Garments made by members of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. 157 Grand Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-4453. Through: 1/14/99.
Buena Vista Branch Library "Guiding With Courage: Personal Heroes." Photographs by Kira Carillo Corser illustrate essays by MoCo children about their personal heroes. 1852 Lara Dr., Salinas. 459-9699. Through: 12/31.
Carmel Art Association "Happiness Is:" Works by local professional artists. Dolores Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 1/7/99.
Carmel Valley Manor "Museum Posters." Posters from the collection of Jules Trattner. 8545 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 626-4711. Through: 12/31.
Gray''s Art Gallery "Accent on Angels." Group exhibit. 1104 Broadway Ave., Suite K, Seaside. 899-1069. Through: 1/3/99.
Grove Homescapes "Du Temps Perdu." Hand-colored black-and-white photographs of Paris by Meredith Mullins. 472 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 647-1719. Through: 1/31/99.
Henry Miller Library "Winter Art Show." The sixth annual "Winter Art Show" features the works of more than 40 Big Sur artists. Highway 1, Big Sur. 667-2574. Through: 1/31/99.
Monterey College of Law An exhibit of photography and printmaking by Lesley Anne Spowart. 404 W. Franklin St, Monterey. 373-3301. Through: 12/30.
Monterey Museum of Art "Winterfest: A Multi-Cultural Celebration." Works that "focus on the artistry of a Victoran Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Pueblo Indian and Mexican celebrations." Also, "Artists'' Miniatures 1998," works by more than 100 local artists. On 1/4, works will be raffled off to art lovers who buy $3 tickets. "Storybook Illustrations," works by Laura Regan. 599 Pacific St., Monterey. 372-5477. Through: 1/3/99.
Monterey Museum of Art--La Mirada "Face to Face: The Paintings of Mabel Alvarez." 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. 372-3689, 372-5477. Through: 3/7/99.
Monterey Peninsula Airport "Altered States: Transforming the Spirit of Castoff Materials." Works by local artists who have created unusual works from everyday objects. Also, "Angels of Tradition," Santa Catalina Lower School students present their version of Monterey''s Christmas angels. 200 Fred Kane Dr., Monterey. 624-7910. Through: 3/31/99.
Nancy Dodds Gallery Printmaker Anita Toney reveals a triptych etching of Carmel Mission. 7th Avenue and San Carlos Street, Carmel. 624-0364. Through: 1/31/99.
National Steinbeck Center "El Arte De Mexico: Tres Aspectos de Tradicion." Paintings by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco related to The Virgin of Guadalupe. 1 Main St., Salinas. 753-6411. Through: 1/10/99.
Pacific Grove Art Center Works by Julie Smith''s art students; paintings by Manel Santana; ceramics by Dianna Holubec; jewelry by Ling Yen-Jones; "Christmas Stocking Event." 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208. Through: 1/8/99.
Searle Art Supplies Paintings by students of Robynn Smith''s MPC class; holiday ceramics from MPC''s Mud People. 639 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. 373-0126. Through: 12/31.
Seaside City Hall Works by Alison Cloran, Betty Rees and the Carmel Crafts Guild. 440 Harcourt Ave., Seaside. 899-6270. Through: 12/31.
Shallcross Gallery "Works on Paper." A variety of works on paper by California artists Carolyn Berry, Mira Kamada, Antonella Brughera, Gloria Shaw and Marjorie Faris. Visitors enter to win a lithograph by Mira Kamada. 499 Calle Principal, Monterey. 655-0642. Through: 12/30.
Spa on the Plaza "Big Sur Florals." Watercolors by Big Sur artist Helen Jerene Morton. 201 Alvarado St., Monterey. 647-9000. Through: 2/1/99.
Venture Gallery "Holiday Miniature Show." Miniature works in many media by local artists. 260 Alvarado Mall, at the Doubletree Hotel, Monterey. 372-6279. Through: 1/4/99.
White Oak Grill "Day''s End." Color photography of sunset images by David J. Gubernick. 19 East Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 659-7632. Through: 12/31.
Woman''s Wellspring Rhythmic and boldly colored acrylic paintings by Danielle Dufayet. 575 Calle Principal, Monterey. 649-2320. Through: 1/30/99.