Art Partners Offers Guidance and Self-esteem

By Mavis Bennet

Partners began nearly 33 years ago. They have two programs: the One to One and the Art Partner. After about 10 years they found that when the youth were turning 13, 14 they didn’t want to be involved in the program. A focus group revealed that teens would be interested in an art-focused partnership. Since then Art Partners has connected budding artists with photographers, poets, actors/theaters, and musicians, fine artists, craftsmen, and even a blacksmith.

The Art Partner program, which serves Delta, Montrose & Ouray Counties, is a little different in structure than the One to One Partner program. Rather than a one-year commitment, the mentoring artists make a six-month commitment. The young person still agrees to a year. The program has been recognized throughout the area.

According to Lissette Riviere, case manager for Montrose and Ouray Art Partners, “Our youth won first, second, and third ribbons in the Montrose Visual Art Guild show. We took a first and third in the Ouray County Alpine Artists show. When the kids win ribbons, sell their work and go to the reception, they’re part of the art community. You can’t put a price on the amount of self-esteem it gives them.”

Art Partners will be showcasing the mentee and mentor’s art work at their annual Art Expo in November. The partnerships also attend quarterly art workshops. The Montrose Center for the Arts has been sponsoring Alcohol Ink Workshops this year.

There’s a process to becoming a mentor which includes an application, background check, fingerprints, letters of reference, and an interview process, where the Partners case manager gets to know that mentor, their whole life story.

Art partners mentors youth in Montrose, Delta, and Ouray counties.

Matching adults with youth is a month-long process. In the One to One program, the case manager wants to be sure the mentor/mentee will like and get along with each other. By comparing personalities, likes, and dislikes, the process narrows the mentees down to three, and the mentor picks the one they think would match best. In the Art Partner program, they match on the artistic abilities and mediums of the mentor and mentee. Case managers stay in weekly contact for the first three months with the mentee, the mentor, and the mentee’s family as well as the referent (the person who referred the mentor to the program). After that, they’re in contact twice a month.

Partners motto is: “Be someone who matters to someone who matters,” a mission carefully designed to fit individual participants, both youth partner and mentor. The program is funded by state and local foundations, the annual On-Line Auction in April, plus their 12th Annual Chili Bowl Fest & Art Expo to be held November 30, 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. at the Lark & Sparrow, 511 E. Main St. in Montrose. Participants can paint a bowl at Amazing Glaze (209 E Main St.) or pick out a bowl at the expo. Buy or bring your bowl, and partners will fill it with all-you-can-eat chili for $20. Direct donations may also be made through their website:

Photos courtesy of Partners.