Last summer, instead of the regular kid’s arts camp, and because of the pandemic, the Route 66 Arts Alliance videoed their teachers to provide art classes online. Then combined with the Moriarty-Edgewood school system and the town of Edgewood, they gave out free art supplies. The lunch ladies gave every student a bag of art supplies that they needed for the video classes.

This spring the Arts Alliance dedicated a contest to recognize those who worked so hard last summer in art. This is a wake-up call to alert the talents lying dormant in young minds. Now, you may say, “Why go on, this is only an art contest for kids.” Yes, yes, but…

The medical professionals and the first responders kept us safe. The kindness of food pantries and churches made sure we were not hungry. The schools and educators tried to ensure that the students didn’t fall behind in their studies. Men and women at grocery stores and truckers filled out baskets and kept toilet paper a priority. To all of these people we owe our thanks.

But it is not—art. Never forget that “Art is the HEART of a community.” You can eat steak every night, or tofu, you can look at a computer screen for hours. You can look up what kind of shot you need tomorrow. These things are important; however, you can also spend time enjoying the art around you. It is everywhere.

Get a piece of paper and sit in any room and list what is connected to art. Yes, even toilet paper. I like the Charmin Bears best. If you are very brave, you can try to make art yourself. This is the purpose of our Art contest. Not just to say, “Naaa, naaa, naaa, I am better at art then you.” Phooey! Real art competition is to show you what others have done and what you can do. Most of all, it shows how you feel doing art. You only really need a pencil and paper. Bright crayons, markers and colored paper are also great. You can play with paint and clay to create, or use digital technology. You decide.

I was watching Bob Ross on reruns of his show. Remember he’s the guy with hair so big they named a Chia Pet after him. He paints “happy little clouds” and tells stories in trees. He was big on shadows and light and could teach you how to achieve it in 30 minutes. On his last show Bob was asked how long it really takes to do a painting? He replied, “Twenty minutes and twenty years.” He joined the Air Force and spent a lot of time in Alaska. That is where he first began painting. That boy can do ice and snow. The “Joy of Painting” ran 11 years and ended with Bob passing at 52 in 1995. Those videos are still available today. They never get old.

The videos of the Route 66 Arts Alliance are on the website. They have not gotten old, and they will give you projects to do and enter the contest. The deadline is July 31. If you worked on these last summer, try them again and see how far you have come in the world of art.

In New Mexico, without rain our little clouds and trees may not be too “happy.” But they sure are full of sunshine and piñon. We can not only paint them, but we can also eat the piñon, too! Please join us in a celebration of what feeds our souls, bandages our pride, and educates our spirit. Art is all around you, from the cereal boxes to the fronts of DVDs, the covers for our favorite books, the colorful shirts we wear, flags we fly, or my favorite, comic books. The Mouse says, “Try it, you will enjoy the challenge, and if you want, let your hair grow like Bob Ross.” Roaring Mouse buying hair spray, out.