Artistic Touch
Lori Connors brings her skills as an artist, teacher and marketing specialist to her new job as the manager of the June M. Hughes Arts and Crafts Center.

Artwork from the Army's 2009 Arts and Crafts Contest is on display at the June M. Hughes Arts and Crafts Center. But the display isn't the only thing new for customers and visitors.

So, too, is the manager.

Lori Connors took over management of the center in June, following the retirement of longtime manager Mark Wolfson.

"I didn't know much about MWR and the Arts and Crafts Center until I learned about the job opening from Gina Hurst (an employee at the center) through the Huntsville Art League blog," Connors said. "This is my second time to live in Huntsville, and Redstone Arsenal had always been kind of a mystery to me.

"This job intrigued me as soon as I learned about it because it is a way for me to use my managerial skills and my art background. It's a perfect match for me in that I can utilize all my skills in writing, teaching, art and music right here."

In the past four weeks on the job, Connors has spent a lot of time getting to know the Arsenal, taking stock of the activities at the Arts and Crafts Center, and familiarizing herself with the responsibilities of the center's 13 full-time, part-time and flex-time employees. She is assessing the center and its customer base to determine what types of classes the center should offer in the future and what the center needs to grow within the Arsenal community.

"The Arts and Crafts Center is about the people - the staff and the customers," Connors said. "The building needs to be improved. But what we offer here is wonderful, and the staff is extremely helpful and encouraging."

Connors has an extensive background in visual art, music, writing, teaching and marketing. She has exhibited and taught at the Huntsville Art League, and is a writer for local publications. An alumnus of the University of New Orleans, Connors is an online teacher for Delgado Community College, also in New Orleans. She has a master's in arts administration.

Connors was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005. She evacuated to Atlanta, eventually coming to Huntsville where she visited her former in-laws. She was soon hired by the Girl Scouts of North Alabama to teach art classes and coordinate the efforts of 73 Scout troops in four service units.

In her new job at the Arts and Crafts Center, Connors wants to plan art programs that will grow its customer base. She wants the center to again offer stained glass classes and to build on its popular drawing, painting and woodworking classes. She also wants to develop special events for the center's customers and the Arsenal community.

One such event - a reception for Watercolor 2 students - is set for July 21 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

"We will have the work of these students on display," Connors said. "Many of these students have never exhibited or marketed their works. We want to get them comfortable with doing that."

Another event designed to draw in both artists and the Arsenal community is the current exhibit of local entries for the Army's 2009 Arts and Crafts Contest. More than 20 pieces are on exhibit in the following categories: ceramics, wood, fibers and textiles, glass, metals and jewelry, mixed media-2D and 3D, drawings, prints and watercolors. The center will hold an open house in late August.

The Arts and Crafts Center is in building 3615 at the intersection of Vincent and Gray roads. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with Do-It-Yourself hours from 1:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Various classes are offered in the evenings. The center also offers graphic imprinting, laser engraving, and custom matting and framing. For more information, call 876-7951 or visit its website at redstone-mwr.art@conus.army.mil.

Page last updated Wed July 15th, 2009 at 18:09