By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer
A program aimed at preventing gangs in Clovis and Portales kicks off Thursday.
Windows on the World sponsored by the non-profit Artists of America in New Mexico is targeting middle school and high school youth at risk for joining a gang.
The program recruits students on probation for tagging and teaches them to adapt their penchant for art into mural painting or painting windows for the holidays.
The program has been gearing up in the area since before April.
Mary Kathryn Barris, manager of AOA of New Mexico, said the program will begin by painting a mural on Paul’s Upholstery in downtown Clovis. Amelia Sandoval coordinated the effort to paint a mural on her father-in-law’s building.
Sandoval said she originally worked with the Salvation Army to have a mural painted. When that fell through, she approached her father-in-law.
“My father-in-law’s building had been tagged a while back so I asked him and he said he was interested,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval said the mural will display different career opportunities with the words “Clovis, a city of opportunity.”
After attending a gang workshop in Las Cruces, Sandoval noticed the problem in Clovis.
“I hope the program will work,” Sandoval said. “I think it will especially if we can engage the younger people. Not all the youth that participate are engaged in gang activities, but it will show some of the others what they can use their artistic abilities to do. We hope it will take off.”
The apprentices, as Barris calls the participating youth, will work on the Paul’s Upholstery mural Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the help of muralists Tasha Hicks and Megan Graddy.
The group will also paint an American flag on a corrugated fence on the corner of Mitchell and Purdue Streets. The flag will be painted July 2, 3 and 4 and will be completed just in time for the Smoke on the Water annual fireworks display on the fourth, Barris said.
Barris said the program continues to seek funds, as their grant covers specific costs like bottled water and T-shirts. The program is seeking money to pay the muralists, buy food for the youth and cover overhead expenses for the murals, she said.
To donate, contact Barris at 762-2899.