BULLHEAD CITY – Whatever the creative outlet, River Valley Artists Guild (RVAG) supports the creator. “Art is a journey, and we try to make it a pleasant one,” said President Victoria Valdemar.

“It’s really a community-based organization,” Valdemar said about RVAG, which began in 2010. Hosting free monthly events at the Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library and the Laughlin branch of the Clark County Library, combined with donations coming from all angles of public and private funding, and an annual juried art show at Mohave Community College, RVAG is building an arts community. Valdemar noted that “there are a lot of retired artists and people who have a background in the arts” in the community. “We’re trying to bring those people out to participate.”

“All our money is given to education and local schools,” Valdemar said. “Charter, private, it does not matter, public, we don’t discriminate.” Teachers and other education professionals can apply for RVAG grants. Past grants have paid for “musical instruments, repair of musical instruments, a plasma cutter for a high school, supplies for art classes or theater productions,” as well as a photo printer for one of the junior highs, violin bows re-strung, new instrument cases, and more. An English teacher reached out for funding for a kindness project in the 2022-2023 school year; students painted rocks with messages and images depicting kindness that were placed in the community. “We supplied paint, brushes, fixative” and other elements, Valdemar said, because “rock painting is our thing” that RVAG brings to community events; RVAG brings supplies, and people donate $5 per rock to paint rocks. “We have ten times more adults than kids, even though we do it for the kids,” she added. At most one-off or annual community events where RVAG has a presence, “we try to have two projects going on, watercolors and rock painting.”

Again in the community every month, at the Bullhead City and Laughlin library branches of Mohave County and Clark County library districts, respectively. “We do a different art project every month; people can dip their toe in,” Valdemar said. “It’s free, it’s easy, it’s an experience.” The drop-in events are held at the Bullhead City library (1170 Hancock Road, first Thursday, 10a-1p) and at the Clark County Library in Laughlin (2840 Needles Hwy, third Tuesday, 10:30a-1:30p). Attendees can participate in the scheduled project or “you can do your project, leave, do a second project, whatever,” Valdemar said. In July at Bullhead and coming up in August at Laughlin, an RVAG member will share the Donna Dewberry method of one-stroke painting. Loading multiple colors on a single brush, the brush creates color and texture on the canvas; the method was created by Donna Dewberry. Classes have grown from about a dozen attendees to almost 40, Valdemar said.

“It’s easy to participate,” Valdemar said. “People come from everywhere; they’ve done art all over the country. They bring skills, talent, ideas from things that they’ve done.” With only about a dozen members when Valdemar first joined in 2020, the organization’s membership has grown to “between 50-60 members,” she said.

RVAG’s biggest event is in November, this year The Black Mountain Art Show is Nov. 13-18. “On Friday, we have a reception and give out awards,” Valdemar said. The Black Mountain Art Show is a juried show and will be held in Room 600 of Mohave Community College’s Bullhead City campus, 3400 Hwy 95. “We have beautiful artwork and lots of categories: photography to traditional oils, acrylics, watercolor, fabric art, ceramics, stone carving, all of it,” Valdemar said. “We’ll have applications coming out in September.”

Remember the schools? There are teen categories for the show. And, in April, “we do the tri-state art show for high schools,” said Valdemar. “The kids are fabulous.” In the works is “a third art show that’s a little different,” that she wasn’t able to expand on at this time. So many plans! “We’re talking about doing big art projects with the kids, maybe mural projects.” In addition, “we would love to hook up with home schooling groups,” she added.

Reach out to Valdemar at 951-334-8454 and follow the group on Facebook, where applications will be available for the November show next month.

Juliette Cowall