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Art Spark Texas Announces an Arts Retreat for Valley Veterans


Saturday, October 23

8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

A local poet and an Austin-based nonprofit are teaming up to present a creative arts retreat for military veterans and their families in the Rio Grande Valley. The free event, Earth Tones: Exploring the Creative in Nature, will take place Saturday, October 23 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Estero Llano Grande Valley State Park in Weslaco.

The one-day, in-person retreat will be held indoors and outdoors at the Park, a World Birding Center site. Participants, including teens 14 and over, will be able to choose from one of three tracks: visual art, photography, or creative writing. The park-entry fee and retreat costs will be covered for each registrant, but pre-registration is required. Each track will be facilitated by expert faculty from the Valley.

Ruth Hoyt, a certified interpretive guide and certified Texas Master Naturalist, will lead the photography track. This indoor/outdoor workshop will include guided hikes around the Park. Participants are encouraged to bring their own cameras, though simple ones will be available.

The drawing/painting/illustration session will be led by South Texas College professor Rachael F. Brown.

“As a kid, I was introduced to the outdoors and nature by my grandfather, a World War II veteran,” Brown said. “We'd spend hours outside observing plants and trees, animals and birds that visited the farm pond, and exploring nearby parks, using sight, sound, and smell to tune in to the environment around us.”

While some material will be provided, participants are encouraged to bring their own supplies; but travel lightly. Weather-permitting, this track will primarily be stationed outdoors.

“For those new to visual arts, I'll offer some grounding activities that don't pressure the participant to make a ‘masterpiece,’” Brown said. “And for those with more experience, I'll offer some tips on using color and tone to create depth and visual interest in landscape compositions.”

The creative writing track will be facilitated by award-winning poet and author Katherine Hoerth, assistant professor of English and editor-in-chief of Lamar University Literary Press. Participants are encouraged to bring their own writing implements, though some tools will be provided.

Lunch will be provided, and every attempt will be made to include persons with disabilities, which necessitates pre-registration in order for accommodations to be made.

The event is sponsored by Art Spark Texas, an Austin-based nonprofit organization operating at the intersection of arts, education, and disability in Texas. Representatives of the organization will be on hand to discuss several cultural arts projects focused on military veterans around the state.

“We know the Valley is home to many veterans, and we’re very excited to host this event and welcome Art Spark Texas once again to the RGV,” said poet and Navy veteran Daniel García Ordaz, project organizer and teacher at La Joya Early College High School. “We’ve partnered with Art Spark recently, and this is another great opportunity for veterans to connect with one another and the arts. Nature and the arts both have the potential to heal, and both help us relate to the beauty that surrounds us.”

Event link: https://bit.ly/2XJbWO2

To register, please visit: https://bit.ly/2XLMA20.

For more information on the retreat, contact García at poetmariachi@gmail.com. For information about Art Spark Texas, contact April Sullivan at april@artsparktx.org or visit artsparktx.org. For information about the park, call 956-565-3919.

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