Yuma, Ariz. -- YUMA, Ariz. - Marines, sailors and family members who have attended and utilized free art classes held by the Single Marine Program at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma showcased their art at the Yuma Fine Arts Center, Thursday.
The MCAS Yuma SMP art campaign has been a major project, and classes have been held on a weekly basis to provide a fun and creative outlet for Marines and sailors.
“The Marines have done so many incredible things with their artwork. It’s really phenomenal,” said Jude Crouch, an SMP coordinator at MCAS Yuma. “We have students who never exposed themselves to any kind of artwork before, and they’ve produced some incredible things.”
The program provides an instructor for the classes, canvasses, paint and an art classroom.
SMP provides a wide variety of art classes and does not limit the artists to one medium. Classes range from acrylic painting and oil painting to charcoal drawing, pottery and photography.
“I wasn’t into painting, so we’re doing woodwork soon; but at the same time, it’s easier to do acrylics in a room than having saws going all the time,” said Sgt. Brian C. Post, an AV-8B Harrier II powerline mechanic with Marine Attack Squadron 211 and the station SMP president. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to do what they feel fits them.”
The art program has generated substantial interest, so it is slated to be an annual project for SMP.
“The Marines are warriors and are trained in all kinds of different skills, but a lot of them want to express themselves and are amazing artists,” said Crouch. “When talking about Marines, artists are not the first thing [people] think, but we have a lot of people here who are so ridiculously talented.”
“We have this Marine who came to class, and I don’t know if he’s drawn before, but he made this incredible cactus, and it’s beautiful and life-like,” added Crouch. “We just have so many incredible pieces. The artists didn’t know they had the talent, but they obviously have the skills.”
In addition to being an outlet for creativity, the art program gives service members a chance to take time away from the daily military grind and have some constructive, recreational fun.
According to Post, for a single Marine living on base and working 11 to13 hours a day, every day and sometimes weekends, time off is spent getting haircuts, doing laundry and worrying about the next week.
“You’re still stressed, and it’s really hard to sit down and relax to see a movie or eat out when you’re focused on work. But if you put a focus on a piece of art, you’re completely focused on the art work and not thinking of anything else,” said Post, a native of Lockhart, Texas.
Individuals who submitted their artwork through SMP had the rare opportunity to interact with the community and simultaneously showcase their artistic capabilities.
“It has been very successful and interesting,” said Crouch. “Tonight is great, and because [Marines] do so much work in the community with 7,000 and some odd [donated volunteer] hours, we invited the civic leaders and have a lot of community supporters come out tonight to support the Marines.”
Art classes are held every Monday. For scheduling or class information, contact the MCAS Yuma SMP at (928) 269-6556.