Aspen at home: Basalt’s Art Base provides free art kits for all
The Aspen Times
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
Art Kits To-Go are available on the back deck of the Art Base at 99 Midland Ave in Basalt. The kits include art-making supplies and instructions for art projects in English and Spanish.
Share your art projects online with photos or videos and tag the Art Base on Facebook (@theartbasebasalt) and Instagram (@theartbase) or email photos to email@example.com.
HOW TO SUPPORT
Art Kits To-Go now include remittance envelopes, so you can mail a donation if you’re able. The Art Base is also accepting donations online at theartbase.org. Memberships start at $50.
The best thing most people can do to help right now is nothing. Stay in, avoid people, don’t go to work, only go out for necessities and exercise a safe distance.
Even artists are powerless to express themselves in the usual ways during this public health crisis. The musician can’t play for crowds. The actor can’t perform in the theater. The painter and sculptor can’t share their work with museum visitors.
And, along with closing and canceling exhibitions, arts organizations like the Art Base in Basalt can’t host the art classes for kids and adults that have helped make them valuable community assets.
But the Art Base quickly saw a way to be of service during the coronavirus shut-down of public life.
The center announced its closure Friday, March 13. By that afternoon they had began making hundreds of their new Art Kits To-Go, providing them free for pickup on the Art Base’s back porch to help people make art at home while social distancing.
As they faced a closure last week, executive director Genna Moe and her staff discussed ideas about how they could be of service to their community while people were staying at home and do so without risking transmission of the new coronavirus.
“One of our staff members said, ‘Hey, what if we offer Art Kits To-Go’?” Moe recalled.
The staff raided all of their supplies on hand in the building, sorted them, sanitized them, and began filling brown paper lunch bags with a trove of art tools: crayons, pencils, foam balls, stickers, wood tent models, pipe cleaners, glue sticks, assorted paper and the like.
They placed them on the porch — under a large painted sign “Art Kits To-Go” and put out the word on social media, encouraging people to pick them up, make art at home and share it online (the Art Base launched the hashtag #socialdistancingart). By Saturday, 60 of the kits had found homes. By this week, they were putting out as many as 160 daily.
“The art kits were such a hit, clearly they filled a need quickly,” Moe said. “We have an accountability to the community, to Basalt and to all local residents, to encourage people to keep art as part of their lives.”
The kits include prompts for art-making projects in English and Spanish, which have changed with new batches and can be used by both kids and adults. The prompts include things like “Sit quietly for 1 minute and then draw the sounds you hear,” “Illustrate your dream last night,” “Collage portraits of your family members” and “Make a viewfinder with your hands, draw what you see.”
The instructions open with a declaration: “Just because we are apart, doesn’t mean you can’t make art!”
This is not the first crisis that Moe and the Art Base have weathered and to which they have mounted a rapid response. During the Lake Christine Fire in Basalt in summer 2018, the Art Base provided art-making activities at local evacuation centers and later hosted expressive art therapy for locals in stress and anxiety.
For children especially, a positive experience with art during crises can have a lifelong effect.
“When they grow up and remember this, they might remember picking up the kit and making something,” Moe said. “This could be a positive impressionable experience.”
So even before public orders to shut down started last week, Moe and her team were working on how to have a positive impact and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We felt we had to start thinking about further implications,” Moe said. “Community centers are likely transmission hubs with so many people coming through the doors everyday of all ages and from all communities.”
The Art Base team also is working on providing virtual resources in the days to come, said Moe, expecting to launch online versions of its “Art Healing and Hope” classes for adults and young people, tutorials and videos with local artists.
Moe also noted that free art-making is not new to the Art Base, so unloading all of their art supplies for free was an easy choice.
“The majority of our youth programs and several of our community adult programs are free,” Moe noted. “The emphasis is on access to art for everyone.”
Like all local busineses and nonprofits, the coronavirus shutdown has had an immediate financial impact on the Art Base. After a few days of providing the free kits, the Art Base began including donation envelopes inside. Moe, on Wednesday, was also working on setting up ways for its part-time teachers to continue bringing in income while serving the public, such as paid online tutorials, as the organization has in the short-term lost all of its earned income from its classes.
“Every donation helps right now,” she said.
The Art Base will continue to provide their Art Kits To-Go as long as there is demand and need for them.
“Creativity encourages us to think outside the box and solve problems creatively,” Moe said. “That’s what our society needs most right now.”