Friday, May 16, 2008

Finally someone called me a spit fire. About darn time.

Artsy Moms Everywhere Unite

All hail the play date, supposed respite of mommies everywhere. Unfortunately for some, these can turn into glorified joint babysitting sessions in the houses of people they don�t have anything in common with anymore. Help is on the way. Local mother-centric activities have received a major facelift.

Now moms can spend the afternoon learning how to paint, act, draw, scrapbook, or even helping other mothers in the area, thanks to Artsy Mamas�brainchild of unique local mama, Mandy Ray-Jones.

I had been involved with mom�s groups in the past and found myself dissatisfied,Ray-Jones said. I'd found myself lost in all of the mundane tasks of taking care of a kid for so long, I'd started to lose sight of myself.

About a year ago, the red-headed, spitfire actress and writer caught herself wearing khakis on a regular basis. Something, she knew, had to be done.

So with her son, Hunter, on one hip and her daughter, Ronin, on another, Ray-Jones went in search of people who felt the same. She was sure they were out there, and she was right.

Artsy Mamas was born in 2007, and now not only is Ray-Jones getting to live with art in her life, she�s picking up new skills and learning how to use her gifts, and the gifts of her fellow Artsy Mamas, to inspire more mothers.

This is a great time to be a mom, Ray-Jones said. We are no longer going to allow ourselves to taking the back seat. Moms are hot, we are talented, we are smart, and we are artists.

The ladies of Artsy Mamas are already working with Bellwood Preschool�s parenting center to encourage other local mothers, and with A Time to Dance, Center for the Arts, and retailers like Hobby Lobby to provide community services. Other programs in the works are with the YWCA domestic violence program, local pregnancy support system, local homeless shelters, anywhere, Ray-Jones said, with �moms who may need an extra boost of self confidence.�

Artsy Mamas has been meeting regularly in people�s homes for a year, but now the organization has become a bonafide nonprofit organization and is organizing events in public places to encourage more participation.

We hope to start having regular artshops in our community,� Ray-Jones said. We are searching for volunteers to lead artshops in painting, mosaic, jewelry making, pottery, scrap booking, sewing, music, dance, etc.

The founder plans to delegate her local concerns to a capable board of directors, freeing her up to help communities across the country form their own Artsy Mamas chapters.

This May, the month of Mother�s Day, Artsy Mamas are bringing Mamapalooza to Murfreesboro.

I believe that programs like ours are vital for the community. It is through events like Mamapalooza and programming like Artsy Mamas that mothers gain a voice,� Ray-Jones said.

Mamapalooza, hosted by The Motherhood Foundation, was an easy fit for Murfreesboro�s Artsy Mamas. Ray-Jones calls the similarities between the initiatives �almost creepy.

Mamapalooza Murfreesboro happens Sunday, May 18, at Conrad�s, in the Holiday Inn on Old Fort Parkway. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., show starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at Cornerstone Cheesecake and Gifts, Center for the Arts and Johnny Guitars.

Entertainment includes music from Carolyn Sledge and Sugar Lime Blue, interactive dance, monologues, vendors, door prizes, a silent auction and a Mama of the Year award.

For more information on Artsy Mamas, visit artsymamas.org, an online community of mothers where local moms and their achievements are front and center.

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