Gift-Giving Outside the (Gift) Box

By on 19 April, 2016 in Carole King with 0 Comments

DSC02185Looking for an unusual gift for Mother’s Day, Graduation, Wedding, Father’s Day or even a birthday? Don’t despair. For the person who has absolutely everything, we have the answer for you! A one-of-a-kind original piece of artwork from one of the creative artists with the Alabama Folks Art Project.

The innovative art project is sponsored by Aid to Inmate Mothers but the driving force behind the creative movement is volunteer Mark Montoya. Mark is an artist himself and landscape designer who had an earlier career in product development in the retail world. He conceived the idea of the creative project about four years ago while working with the men at the Renascence project.

The current Alabama Folks Arts Project consists of 15 women from the Montgomery Women’s Facility. The facility, which houses 200 women, is located adjacent to Kilby Prison. Art classes are held at the facility once a week for two and a half hours giving the ladies an outlet to develop their creative ideas and to produce income for themselves while incarcerated. All the monies received from the sale of their artwork goes directly back to the ladies who are then able to purchase many of the personal items that they need on a daily basis.

Mark encourages the ladies to expand their thinking and let their creative juices take over painting what they know in a variety of color blends. They bring in their own ideas, sometimes seen in magazines or photographs and with Mark’s guidance they produce fun and original pieces of artwork. The medium is usually an art quality paint on a simple piece of wooden board. Mark instructs the ladies on color, color theory and design and then just waits for the ladies’ inspiration to take over. Their work spans the gamut from serious landscapes to whimsical creatures. Mark purchases the supplies himself as he knows what the ladies prefer and what the prison system will allow. Monetary donations to Aid-to-Inmate Mothers are always welcome as that will enable Mark to expand their artistic learning experience.

Mark has marketed the Alabama Folks Art Project ladies’ artwork to all the leading artistic outlets around town so you can find them in some of your favorite places — Montgomery Museum of Fine Art Museum Store, Visitor Center at Union Station, Goat Hill Museum Store, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History Museum Shop. Throughout the year, Mark organizes occasional fundraising art opening to produce income for the project.

So now you’ve got a great new inspirational gift idea for that hard to buy for friend or relative. But, I’m betting you’ll have to have at least one of these awesome creations for your own art collection!

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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