Mr. Flores Visits Materials for the Arts

Here’s the front entrance of MFTA. I’m all bundled up; it was really cold in NYC over spring break.

By: Daniel Flores

 

As a full-time art teacher, I decided to take a trip to New York City during my Spring Break. As an art enthusiast, I wanted to see all the remarkable museums, architecture and design New York has to offer.

Having been a volunteer and now an educator for Spare Parts—whose mission is to advance reuse education through the arts—I’m always looking for new reuse ideas for art projects. In New York City, Materials for the Arts (MFTA) is the place to go! The Executive Director of Spare Parts Mary Elizabeth Cantú helped set up a ‘meet and greet’ with MFTA Director Harriet Taub.

MFTA is a very large building. When I first walked in, I got the sense it was a warehouse in a previous life. Up the elevator and into the entrance you see the Material for the Arts welcome sign.

There are encouraging and inspirational signs throughout the halls of MFTA.

 

Entering the office space, I was welcomed by one of the educators with a warm and friendly handshake. I received the grand tour of this magnificent space. Before stepping inside the impressive shop area of donated reusable items, you walk through the hallway of MFTA’s resident artists’ extraordinary work. All the exhibited works are created using reusable and re-purposed materials.

You then enter a secured door into the shop area, imagine a Costco or Sam’s but on a slightly smaller scale. All items are so organized and placed in a way unlike anything I’ve seen before. These items aren’t your regular paints and brushes, but categorized as books, office items, furniture, plastics, metals, etc. The books are categorized into fiction and nonfiction. Imagine walking into a huge Michael’s or a Hobby Lobby store. MFTA has creative displays at the front end of the aisles demonstrating various imaginative to give these materials a new life.

Here is one of the cool displays in the MFTA warehouse showing “How do we reuse Christmas ornaments?” By making a solar system, of course.

These displays and donated items are just a little bit of what you get to see from this outstanding facility. After the tour, I learned there is MFTA programming. MFTA offers ‘make and; take classes’ to surrounding schools. I was excited to see the educators in action. They are teaching New York’s young minds about the importance of reuse.

As an art educator, sometimes I think we forget, and need to be reminded—it’s not all about markers and crayons. MFTA is huge benefit for the City of New York. As a team member of Spare Parts, we are always looking for and learning new ways to teach our children, teens and the young at heart, how to use these items that might be forgotten or even thrown away. Visiting MFTA was important for me to get an interactive experience and spread these creative reuse ideas by bringing them to San Antonio.

Here’s an educator at work in a classroom setting telling kids about the importance of reuse.
New York City’s’s young minds are prompt to make robots from donated, preloved items.

I wanted to extend a thank you to MFTA and Director Harriet Taub for their generous hospitality, time and sharing of knowledge. Observing their educators in action was so encouraging and I will bring everything I learned to Spare Parts. Their warehouse is inspiring, and I look forward to help recreate it with the Spare Parts San Antonio team.

MFTA’s Executive Director Harriet Taub and me are standing in front of artwork made by the youth of New York City.

Spare Parts Summer of ’17 brought to you by Friends of Spare Parts Board President Laura Carter

Laura Carter, President, Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors

If you live in Texas, it might be hard to tell the summer season is almost over. Those of you who are teachers, students or parents of school-aged kids know ‘back to school’ is upon you. The Spare Parts team hopes you all had a good summer. For Spare Parts’ Board of Directors and staff it’s been gloriously busy.

 

In June of 2016, we initiated a fundraising campaign for a permanent location to house our offices, to create a Spare Parts store where San Antonians can donate or purchase preloved art materials, and to host creative reuse programs year-round. To reach this goal we realized Spare Parts needed to establish itself as a 501c3 nonprofit. Currently Spare Parts, a sole proprietorship, is a member of Fractured Atlas, a national nonprofit arts organization that allows us to accept your charitable donation for tax-deductible purposes.

 

Friends of Spare Parts founding Board of Directors (left to right, back row): Jeanne Cantu, Regina Villalobos-Perez, Jessica Jones Gonzales, Laura Carter, Rikkianne Van Kirk and Heather Eichling. Front row, left to right: Carla Berryman, Brenda L Burmeister and Chris Castillo.

On June 9, 2017, we held our first Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors meeting—a formal Board being one of the criteria for establishing an 501c3 nonprofit. We adopted Bylaws and began the process of creating committees and discussing goals. As the elected President of the Board, I am excited to be working with capable and enthusiastic Board members Carla Berryman (Treasurer), Brenda L Burmeister, Jeanne Cantu (Vice President, Friends of Spare Parts), Chris Castillo (Vice President, Mini Art Museum), Heather Eichling, Jessica Jones Gonzales, Rikkianne Van Kirk and Regina Villalobos-Perez (Secretary). Mary Elizabeth Cantú was hired to hold the Spare Parts Executive Director position.

 

Friends of Spare Parts Board Members (Laura Carter, Jessica Jones Gonzales and Rikkianne Van Kirk), Mia, Laura, Anna and Dezarre Boone and Spare Parts Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú at August’s Spare Parts Shop. All Spare Parts Shop proceeds goes to securing a building of our own for a year-round Spare Parts store & community center.


Our annual summer Fine Arts Fair/Materials Giveaway, historically held at Wonderland of the Americas, was postponed until Spare Parts secures a space. In its stead, our Spare Parts Shop committee lead by Jessica Jones Gonzales and Rikkianne Van Kirk held two pop ups, stocked with preloved creative materials and various artsy things for sale-cheap. The Spare Parts Shop has plans to pop up at various locations monthly going forward.

 

Cantú, co-founder of the Mini Art Museum took a new exhibit all the way to Columbia, South America in July. “Controlled Burn” was curated by San Antonio artist/Mini Art Museum committee member Daniel Rios Rodriguez. Visit www.miniartmuseum.org to learn more about this wee adventure!

 

Left to right: Lucero Munoz, Mary Elizabeth Cantú and Cecilia Cedillo in Villa de Leyva, Colombia (July 2017). Munoz and Cedillo were Cantu’s traveling companions. Munoz is originally from Armenia, Quindio, Colombia.

Our programming continues to thrive under Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú. As Board committees evolve, we will announce ways you can help take Spare Parts to the next level. At any time you can make a tax-deductible donation to our permanent space campaign. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, too.

 

If there are any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to email: laurac@sparepartssa.org. 

-Laura Carter
President, Board of Directors
Friends of Spare Parts

During her 14-day stay, Cantu installed “Controlled Burn in 12 locations across Colombia. Here is a group of students at their rural school in Rio Verde visiting the Museum (July 2017).
MINI ART MUSEUM presents “Controlled Burn” curated by Daniel Rios Rodriguez. This picture was taken at a coffee farm in front of the Andes Mountains of Colombia (July 2017).

It isn’t waste ’til we waste it.

“Imagine a place in San Antonio where waste inspires creativity…because it isn’t waste ’til we waste it,” reiterates Mary Elizabeth Cantú, Founder and Director of Spare Parts. As an organization whose mission includes–cultural and environmental sustainability; affordability and accessibility to the arts; community, education and creativity, green-style–Spare Parts engages the public with many possibilities to reach zero waste...

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