FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — More than two dozen people were in attendance for the Drop-in Paint Pouring event Jan. 27, 2024, held at the Apache Arts and Crafts Center here.
Paint pouring is exactly what it sounds like; participants pour paint using the paint bottle or by pouring from a plastic cup onto the canvas. They could move the canvas around to push the paint around.
Benjamin Jingco, retired military, Kinga Saunders and Dominic Jingco, 12 years old, chose to attend the painting event to escape from the chilly weather outside and the activity.
“I wanted to do something different,” Benjamin explained.
They had all been painting once before at Apache and thought it would be a good bonding activity.
“Doing something together is the most exciting (part) and (it’s) fun to do,” Saunders shared.
While the center’s focus may seem to be only on traditional arts and crafts classes, it also offers the “Resiliency Through Art” program to provide a quiet, safe space. Soldiers, veterans, family members and Department of Defense civilians can use the center to learn arts and crafts, which in turn help reduce stress, increase focus and develop tools to cope with the stresses of military life.
The paint pouring event was focused on just that, offering resiliency to the art program for Soldiers and their families.
“This is an extension of that. The environment is kind of stuck sometimes, and so in order to get out of that, if you’re in a tough spot, it’s easier to come out and have fun and just kind of bond with everybody else in the community,” explained Christine Riopelle, volunteer at the Apache Arts and Crafts Center and recreation assistant with Fort Cavazos Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
“(This program) is an unique aspect in the military community because not every duty station has an arts and crafts center, or ‘Resiliency Through Art’ program,”she added. “It allows people to connect with art and if they have any trauma or issues they’re going through, it allows them to work through it because they’re working with their hands and building connections.”
Louise Gonel, Army Community Service specialist and resilience trainer, who was in attendance to help with the event, agreed.
“We’re all about community connection,” she shared. “This is a different way to bring people together, be connected in self-awareness and then giving that time out for themselves or for them with their family and children, and also giving them the resources and helping them not be afraid to ask for help.
“Sometimes, we give our energy to work, families, school,” Gonel continued, “but we never take that time out to control that energy to be able to be mindful and be able to be open to ask for help.”
When asked what people should know about the Apache Arts and Crafts Center or the resiliency program, Gonel shared she wanted to people to become involved.
“Get involved in the community, stay in the know, especially with the unit command,” she said. “Make sure they’re putting out this information to the service members, taking it home to the families, but then using different avenues. … These things are happening, but people say, ‘you don’t know about it.’ … It’s just information sharing and not being afraid to share information with each other.”
As often described by visitors, the Apache Arts and Crafts Center is a “hidden gem.” It provides a vast number of creative outlets for the Fort Cavazos community, including ceramics, pottery, painting and woodworking.
In addition to simply using the facilities, the center also offers classes on “Laser Engraving 101,” “Wood Shop Machine Usage and Safety Course,” “Basic Framing” and “Slip Pouring Class.”
The center can also support small functions and events, such as birthday parties or club meetings, and they are always looking for volunteers to help with events, to teach crafts or to promote the center to others. The staff are always encouraging those interested to stop by and learn more.
The Apache Arts and Crafts Center is open from noon to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekends and training holidays. For more information, call 254-532-2586 or visit cavazos.armymwr.com/programs/apache-arts-and-crafts-center.