This Veterans Day weekend, El Paso’s International Museum of Art will be auctioning more than 60 medium-sized tile paintings by known El Paso artists and raffling a work by Krystyna Renata Robbins – all to benefit the Soldiers Art Workshops at Fort Bliss.
Artwork by Fort Bliss soldiers recovering from injuries and trauma will also be on display, though not for sale, at the museum’s “Creating Art … One Soldier at a Time” exhibit this weekend.
Among those behind the fundraiser are John Robbins, a long-retired Army lieutenant colonel, and his artist wife, who are working with the Fort Bliss Resiliency Through Art program to restore a full range of activities for soldiers on post, from arts to auto mechanics.
“One of our problems in raising money is that a lot of people think since it’s on Fort Bliss, the Army is paying for everything,” said Robbins, who got things started again in 2014. “No taxpayer money is allowed to be used for those facilities.”
Many of the male and female soldiers who use the growing workshop live just across the street in the Warrior Transition Unit, where they stay during rehabilitation for injury or trauma.
Years ago, Robbins said, the post offered a full array of activities to soldiers, including photography, a ceramic building and lapidary and jewelry-making shop.
Those activities were abandoned and the resources scattered over the years when the U.S. was deploying large numbers of troops overseas.
“We started this about seven years ago when Mr. Robbins came to my office and said he wanted to bring back some arts and crafts to Fort Bliss,” said Robin Fox, the supervisor of Resiliency through Art. “At that point we only had a frame shop.
“So slowly, we built it from absolutely nothing working out of a trailer up to a full center.”
Therapy is not the point of the program, Fox said, “but art is naturally therapeutic.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.