CLUTE — Since 1959, the swirling of paintbrushes on canvases, molding of polymer clay and assembling of broken, jagged pieces of glass have been just some of the art mediums on full display at the Center for the Arts and Sciences’ Art League.

Julia A. Crainer and local artists established the Brazosport Art League on Oct. 8, 1959, to create, collect and encourage art through education in Southern Brazoria County. And the league’s impact in the county has since flourished over the last six decades.

Each month at the Center for the Arts and Sciences, there are a multitude of classes and workshops offered in the Brazosport Art League studio that teach children, teens and adults. Additionally, the Any Kid Kan at the Brazosport Art League Gallery in the center has paired clients of the Brazoria County Association of citizens with Handicaps with art league volunteers for more than 40 years to teach art to children with special needs.

Member Shey Cotten, who started to participate in the league in 1985, felt a natural connection to the group that hasn’t wavered, she said.

“It was the only place in the area that I could come and draw,” she said. “This is my second family. These are good people.”

Cotten, who has taught at the center and conducted different workshops on art techniques for several decades, has always had a natural inclination to teach the next generation about art, she said.

“That is how I was born,” she said. “I was born to be a teacher. It is part of who I am. This place is amazing. I don’t know of many places like this in Texas.”

When she thinks of the 60-year milestone, nothing but fond memories come flooding back in her mind, Cotten said.

“I have known so many of the people that have been here almost that long,” she said. “If I didn’t do art with them, I took art from them. Some of the people that were the founding members of this group, I took art lessons from as a kid. It is very surreal. I am so excited.”

She isn’t surprised the league continues to grow, member Dolores Reynolds said.

“Not after all these years,” she said.

Involved since the mid-1970s, it has been a remarkable experience to help residents and community leaders find their artistic side, Reynolds said.

“Everyone seems to enjoy it,” she said. “I did not just do a painting and say, ‘Follow me.’ In my class, I liked to get them to be able to paint their own thing. That way, their experience grew their capabilities, their originality, instead of just copying mine.”

The art classes offered, regardless of the medium, have no limitations and the fees are cheap, Reynolds said.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It has been fantastic to be able to bring a big class in and have them paint. There have been wonderful classes.”

Joyce Patterson, an art league member for 10-plus years, has been making art dolls for three decades and wanted to bring her craft and other art media to the league’s gallery, she said.

“First of all, look at the facilities,” she said. “They are just absolutely gorgeous and they lend themselves to so many different three-dimensional and two-dimensional shows.”

A past president of the league, member Norma Robuck has been deeply involved with the classes the league has created, including Teen Studio Time, she said.

“Education is part of our thing,” she said. “We are trying to get more kids in.”

She predicts nothing but a bright, fulfilling future for the league, Robuck said.

“It’s great,” she said. “It’s wonderful that we have been going that long. We are very lucky. I hope we keep on going. We get new people in all the time. With these children’s programs, it brings more families in that have never been out to the Center, so it’s exposing them to everything as well.”

For information on the league and classes offered, call 979-265-7661 or visit bcfas.org.

Connor Behrens is a features writer/reporter at The Facts. You can contact him at 979-237-0150.

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