ArtLoveMagic Youth Workshop – Take 2


Art, Love and Magic Connecting our Community

words by Tressie Knowlton – photos by Nicole Rodriguez

“I never wanna leave this place!” exclaimed one young art student to his teacher.  He clung to his painting and the comics he had drawn as he walked out the door of the Deep Ellum Community Center on Friday.

About a hundred other students most likely made similar comments and had great memories to share, along with their new artwork, after the second-ever ArtLoveMagic Youth Workshop.  The Deep Ellum Foundation teamed up with ArtLoveMagic to offer a fun, interactive art experience to Dallas-area youth July 24th.


The workshop started with the younger bunch. Sixty 6-12 year olds showed up full of energy and ready to be entertained.  Yikes!  But, we were ready.  At the pottery station, Conner Muldoon had the wheel spinning and enough “mud” to get all of the kids nice and dirty.  The hands-on experience molding the clay had them all screaming with delight.

Mike Lagocki acted as host and tour guide while the groups of children flowed through the workshop stations learning art techniques and creating side-by-side ArtLoveMagic’s professional mentors.  Graffiti art with Isaac Davies and Deep Ellum muralist icon, Frank Campagna, received rave reviews from the youngsters!  Deb Driscoll and Melody Hay introduced mixed-media artwork through Melody’s signature subject: trees.


“Thank you.  Thank you so much,” said Monica as she shook my hand.  She had come to pick up her son.  He isn’t a member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas or Arlington’s SafeHaven, like the other kids who enjoyed the workshop.  Juan is a 9-year-old local boy looking for art opportunities.  Monica, a single working mom, had heard about the workshop and asked if there was any way her son could join in, because “he loves art”.  So, of course, I replied “Absolutely!  That’s what this workshop is all about.”

With art education disappearing from public school curriculum as fast as independent coffee shops did at the birth of Starbucks, there is a greater need than ever to encourage our youth to participate in the arts.  The best way we could think to make that happen was to connect students with people who were kids just like them, and are now…well…artists!

Samax Amen and Khalid Robertson sat at a table with 12 teenagers during the afternoon session.  Many of them drew in silence while Samax shared stories about his comics and his journey to becoming a professional artist.


“I don’t have any expectations,” Samax laughed after I’d asked him if he’d seen some nice artwork develop from the group he was working with.  ”I remember being nervous drawing in front of people when I was a teenager.  You finally get over that, but I don’t want any of them to feel that way today.”

The forty teens who participated in the afternoon session had the chance to free the right side of their brains through sketches, brushes, and spray paint.  The graffiti art station taught the basics of creating large-scale artwork, like the murals on walls all over Deep Ellum. Many students jumped at the chance to “tag” their names on the stone board.

“If ‘Baby Bricks’ starts showing up on walls in Deep Ellum, I’m going to know just who to blame,” laughed Campagna as he pointed to the words tagged on one of the boards.


For those who missed the workshop, Nicole Rodriguez and her camera lens captured the entire enchanting experience.  The magic of the day was obvious to all who stopped by – especially Susan Reese, one of the workshop’s major sponsors.

“This is great!” she smiled.  ”I’ve been watching the activity all day.  How can I help keep this program going?” she asked, and offered some excellent suggestions.

The combination of students aching to learn, artists excited to share, volunteers giving their time, and sponsors supporting the cause showed me that there is still a lot of good out there.  We just have to live outside ourselves for a while.  Days like Friday make me think that if we would all request what we need, give what we can, and receive with gratitude the world would be a lot brighter, ya know?


Special Thanks to our sponsors:

Jeanne Blanton – Don Blanton Art Endowment Fund

Susan Reese – Madison Partners, LLC

Randy Redmond – 2616 Commerce, Deep Ellum Foundation

Thanks to all of the great volunteers!  You are appreciated!

5 Responses to “ArtLoveMagic Youth Workshop – Take 2”

  1. you can’t get a sense how much fun these things are until you do one. the kids are so thankful, funny and energizing! if you get a chance to work with kids in this kind of setting in your community (even if you have NO idea what you’re doing) DO IT!
    i always have a ton of fun!

  2. Agreed. It can get crazy in there when there’s a lot of kids, but it’s an inspiring thing to do. They’re pretty enthusiastic.

    Samax, you’re a gem at this, too. The folks at the Deep Ellum Foundation specifically mentioned the way you teach the kids many times. Great stuff.

    We’ll have more of these in the future.

  3. word.
    always fun! jus let me know!

  4. Conor Muldoon Says:

    Great Blog! It really captured the feel of the event as much as words possibly could. Once again, a magically fun-filled day with kids whose eyes were lit up with enthusiasm at each mini workshop they attended. It was such a pleasure to share my passion with others, regardless of age. Thanks ArtLoveMagic, Deep Ellum Com. Ctr., and Tressie for all the wonderful dreams that are now being realized by working together.

    Peace and Creativity

  5. Ashley Jones Says:

    I was lucky enough to be a volunteer at this workshop! This was my very first experience with ArtLoveMagic…and I have to say…It will certainly not be my last! I had so much fun. I could feel the excitement and energy all around me. The kids had such a good time. There a so many kids out there who do not even realize the talents they hold inside themselves! This was a great way to help them find it…and be reassured right then and there by real artist’s. What a great thing to experience as a child! I think the name ArtLoveMagic is a PERFECT fit! Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this! I look forward to many many more experiences!


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