Eddie Ramirez is no stranger to art.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Art instructor Eddie Ramirez of the Art Center of Rio Communities is shown with one of his balloon paintings. The group is hosting the ‘Montage of Color’ art show at the Harvey House Museum in Belen from Sept. 1 to Sept. 15. The artist’s reception is from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8.

The Los Lunas resident has successfully spearheaded an effort to teach art classes at the Art Center of Rio Communities and will help host a September art show at the Harvey House Museum in Belen.

The show, called “Montage of Color,” runs Sept. 1 through Sept. 15 and features 60 to 75 works from abstract artists to photographers. The artist’s reception is from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. The show is free to the public.

“Montage of Color” is the group’s first show at the Harvey House Museum and Ramirez expects a good turnout of artists, who also feature their work in places such as Silver City, Elephant Butte and Truth or Consequences.

Over the last four years, Ramirez has built the center into a place where adults and children can learn art.

“The art center basically was developed to bring art education into the community,” Ramirez said. “We’ve had an estimated 300 to 400 kids that have come through this program and a couple hundred adults.”

The center is big enough for Ramirez to work and teach, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the art teacher can be seen moving from station to station teaching art and answering questions.

Wednesday classes run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The fee is $50 per month, but Ramirez said for new students, art supplies are covered for the first four weeks in case the student doesn’t want to continue with the program.

“Everything is provided,” Ramirez said. “The student doesn’t have to worry.”

The instructor opened his art supply store in May 2000 after he retired as a public relations specialist for the federal government. Ramirez holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from University of Nebraska and has always had a love for art.

“I’ve always had that art in me,” Ramirez said. “I was always doing art.”

He volunteered time teaching in community centers around the state and invested money in the store when he retired full-time.

But, after 10 years, Ramirez said there was no longer a market for such a business in Valencia County and closed his Los Lunas shop.

“I thought it was beginning to be too much,” Ramirez said. “That’s when we decided to go strictly into the learning aspect of it.

“For some reason, parents and people will always find money for art lessons for their kids,” he said. “There was actually nothing going on in Valencia County until we started the (Rio Communities) art center.”

In addition to helping run the Art Center of Rio Communities, Ramirez teaches at the Boys and Girls Ranch in Socorro County two days a week.

The art teacher said he starts students off painting with black and white rather than color, since a full pallet of colors can be intimidating to newcomers. Eventually, students get to paint in color while learning the fundamentals.

The group eventually wants to add more classes and bring in additional instructors.

He said he likes to get new students who have wanted to paint, but never have.

“If you are able to capture shadows in a painting, you have got it licked,” Ramirez said. “You can paint just about anything.”

One of those students is 17-year-old Sarah Bockisch of Los Lunas.

Bockisch started painting 10 years ago and now helps teach children to paint as part of the group’s summer program.

Ramirez said he thinks the girl is “going to be an artist no matter what happens,” and said his role as instructor reminded him of Olympic coaches who train children for years. He said his role is similar to a coach who trained a child from a young age to the point where they become an adult.

“I can relate to that,” Ramirez said. “It’s kind of a neat feeling.”

Bockisch said she, too, likes teaching art.

She said she took up an interest in art when she was a young child and says art gives her an outlet to express herself. In one instance, Bockisch used a sketch from her notebook to craft a painting of a tree.

She said she likes to ignite passion in her students.

“It’s a lot of fun to work with them,” Bockisch said. “It’s kind of fun to see how excited they get.”

Another student, Aaron Buchanan, said he has enjoyed his time at the center.

Buchanan, an abstract artist, said he has shown his works nationally and internationally, but appreciates Ramirez as his instructor. The Belen resident got back into painting over the last several weeks after taking a long hiatus from art.

He said an important part of art is evoking thought about what a particular painting means.

“Part of art is about (the aspect) that gets into your mind,” Buchanan said.

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