Once upon a time, nine spirited women and men watched jobs decrease and hard times spread in their village of Loreto, Baja. The group discussed the need to encourage art and creativity in Loreto, how to add beauty and inspiration, and ways to showcase the talents hidden here. People living on remote mountain ranches were searching for outlets for their handmade leatherwork and art. But was this the time to start something new? There was no money, but the cooperative took off. the members called themselves Misioneros del Arte.
Loreto’s Art Co-op can be found on the north side of the Plaza in Loreto. It has a unique wood and leather sculpture outside, a sign noting classes offered, and is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 p.m-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Many cities have art galleries. Step inside ours. Watch the entry; the first step is high, and is missing a big piece of floor tile. We find all kinds of art for sale: angels, masks, sand paintings, leatherwork, shell sculptures, wooden birds, and mermaids with twisted serpentine hair. The second room is a classroom, painted orange with two windows, tables, and shelves of recycled materials unavailable in stores. Classes are offered (three or four each week), constantly changing, and using recycled materials found naturally in the area. Paper mache birds, angels, mermaids and fish are created from discarded tortilla wrappings.
The future of this little place? Everyone hopes for expansion. This requires more materials, and funding, but if success continues, government grants are possible. The co-op wants to involve the community, sharing ideas and inspiration.
Women with small children tell me that this co-op gives them choices and opportunities; they learn skills while making salable items, earn income while remaining home with their children in a kind of cottage industry, and they also say that watching their parents make art that is valued has influenced their own children. Co-op art is art therapy, art as expression, and shared ideas. The mood here is, “Look at me! Art helps my heart and soul.”
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