Mesa Arts Center offers free arts classes to service members

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The Arts in Service program at the Mesa Arts Center provides pathways for veterans and active duty service members to get creative and find community. The program offers free classes ranging from painting to ceramics to blacksmithing.

On Arizona Horizon, we spoke to Laura Wilde, art studios manager, and Joshua Pinckard, arts in service glass instructor and Navy veteran, about the program.

“Arts in Service is a program offered by Mesa Arts Center that provides free studio art classes, and helps service members and veterans achieve their goals,” said Wilde.

The Arts in Service experience uses studio arts experiences to help veterans and service members reach their personal goals through art. Those goals could include finding a supportive community, stress relief, working toward overall health and wellness, or pursuing career interests in art-making.

The program offers free art classes like welding, ceramics, watercolor, jewelry and flame-working exclusively for veterans and active-duty service members. The program culminates with a free exhibition of artwork created by program participants.

“I’ve been able to try so many things that I never thought I could try, “said Deborah Brindley, an Air Force veteran. “Printmaking, ceramics, jewelry.”

Mesa Arts Center receives support from the Boeing Company, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, and the Arizona Department of Veteran Services to make the program possible.

Best of all, there’s no experience necessary.

“It really helps to re-ground people… helps center and refocus,” said Pinckard.

Some of the classes offered include:

Glass Flame-working
Service members learn to manipulate molten glass with a torch to make cosmic marbles and hollow form pendants, ornaments and objects. Intermediate to advanced demos will challenge continuing students. Students will also have the opportunity to work with instructors in fusing marbles and glass bead-making.

Learn the basics of blacksmithing while making functional objects for the home such as handles and hooks.

The Science & Art of Photography
A four-week introduction to the first camera. Learn the processes the first photographers used as you retrace their pioneering steps in time.

Intro to Clay for Beginners
Students will learn the basics of working with clay, including coil building, slabs, pinch pots, creating texture on clay and adding design detail. Students will have a weekly demo and then create their own personal pieces. Students will learn about glaze application and choose their own color and glaze design. Students will have a brief opportunity to learn and try out the pottery wheel. Individual creativity encouraged in this fun class. This class is for new students to ceramics.

Ceramics for Intermediate
For returning students in ceramics. Students must have already taken a ceramics class at the MAC, Intermediate students can not sign up for both classes.

Learn to bend, shape, cut weld and finish steel to make decorative objects and art for your home or yard. Learn Oxy/Acetylene and Mig welding, plasma cutting, shearing, rolling, grinding and other shop processes to manipulate and finish steel work.

In this weekly class, students will learn the fundamentals of jewelry and metal-smithing skills. A variety of techniques will be covered and students will work directly with the instructor throughout the course. Students will learn to file, sand, texture, form, saw/pierce, rivet, solder, bezel set, polish and more. Students can expect to complete 3-4 projects during this class.

No experience necessary for this class that will cover beginning to advanced techniques in several processes: monotype, dry point, relief printing and collagraph. You will be encouraged to try them all but can focus on any one if so desired. All materials provided!

Learn watercolor basics such as appropriate watercolor materials and tools, ways for organizing your palette, color, composition and painting theory, and more. You will become familiar with traditional transparent watercolor techniques like painting wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry, learn how to paint ‘mud-free’, and add texture and color variation using salts, and other materials. The instructor will give you comprehensive, personalized tips and advice to make your painting technique more effective and efficient. Students responsible for purchasing materials, please contact instructor for supply list.

For information or to register visit the Mesa Arts Center website or call 480-644-6500.

Laura Wilde, Art Studios Manager, and Joshua Pinckard, Arts in Service Glass Instructor and Navy Veteran

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