The Arts Build Community in Mineola
Mary Ann Zapletal enjoys painting during a workshop at Mineola League of the Arts.
Photo by Sharon Robertson
Mineola League of the Arts (MLOTA) is a unique community of people interested in learning as much as they can about all aspects of art and sharing all they learn with others. The organization functions through individual groups called “guilds” formed to study specific art forms. Their current guilds are painters, photography, line dancing, quilting, sculpting, and fiber arts. They also offer yoga classes.
For a nominal annual fee ($25), one becomes a member of the league and is encouraged to participate in the guilds.
MLOTA began in 1988 with 17 charter members. They rented an old school building at 200 West Blair Street in Mineola in 1990, purchased the building in 1992, and still use it today. They now have 235 members. Two years ago, another building was built on their property to keep up with the expanding need for space because of all the activities they offer.
The different guilds hold regular classes and workshops and they sometimes have public shows of their artwork. Two of their larger events are an art show each year in April and a quilt show in October.
Having the facilities with dedicated areas for each guild is a big part of why they are so successful.
Vickie Steed, first vice president of the league, says, “Our goal is to be a center, a core.”
The league hosts the Texas Association of Quilts guild, and they often host other activities from different towns.
An exciting part of the league is the annual Kaleidoscope Kids Art Camp held every summer for children ages six to 12. They host 144 kids for a one week camp where they learn about 10 different art forms and create their own masterpieces. About 50 to 60 adult and teen volunteers happily work this week each year and help these kids make art, memories, and friendships. Children come from all around Texas and beyond for this camp.
Steed says, “It’s a good time of year to come visit grandparents or aunts and uncles, and be a part of the fun.”
In 2018, MLOTA added a teen camp, primarily at the request of campers who had outgrown children’s camp. There were 18 attendees last summer, but they expect that number to grow each year.
Jan Sokolosky, current president of the league, says the local teens who want to attend are excited to learn different art forms and that “they have a voice in what will be included.”
On a regular basis, the league helps people experience different types of art and to learn something new. Steed says she started as a quilter, but now she does painting, sculpture, and fiber arts. Sokolosky is in the line dancing guild, but she told of many different art forms that she has tried. Of a recent class, she said, “I really liked the Ukrainian eggs,” and went on to explain the process of creating art pieces made from hollowed-out eggs, wax strings and colorful dyes.
They have Sample Days each August, where anyone can come in and sample new art techniques to see if they would want to become involved in the league.
The MLOTA building is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Friday. Most of their classes are offered during these daytime hours, although sometimes the photography and painting guilds meet at night.
Sokolosky enjoys working with members and says of the organization, “It is kind of like a second family to me.”
A lot of people involved are retired and/or have recently moved to the area. Sherry Spencer, coordinator of the painters guild, says that she and her husband lived out by Lake Holbrook for a couple of years and didn’t know hardly anyone. They became very involved in activities at the league and she says, “Now we feel a part of something.”
Steed says to anyone who might be interested in what MLOTA has to offer, “Come and play.” For more information, call (903)569-8877 or visit mlota.org.