Marianne Hale has found a job she loves: teaching art for Otero Junior College at the Fort Lyon facility under the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Student artwork will be featured in a show Wednesday, April 26, in La Junta's Somewhere on San Juan, Fifth and San Juan Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Marianne Hale said she has never been an athlete, but thinks of herself as a coach in her art class. For years, she taught art at the Colorado Boys Ranch and loved every minute of her job. But the Boys Ranch closed with the shortage of funding for rehabilitating youngsters with serious problems. She struggled through some substitute teaching in the public schools for a while. This is never an easy job. Now she has found another job she loves: teaching art for Otero Junior College at the Fort Lyon facility under the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

She loves teaching a mixed class of men and women who are adults and are aspiring for a better life. She encourages, cajoles and bullies them into finishing their art projects. They are not all excellent artists, but they are all learning things that will be a help to them in life as well as art. The public is invited to see their art displayed Wednesday, April 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Somewhere on San Juan, Fifth and San Juan in La Junta.

They start with clay. Many have never worked in clay before - some have had no art instruction since elementary school. There’s something about molding a piece of clay that is eminently satisfying. Then they get into the spirit of an artist by choosing an artist’s work and emulating the style of it in painting. Next comes wire sculpture - sometimes mixed with clay, although clay shrinks when fired and usually that leads to cracks in firing, said Hale.

“I don’t ever ask about their backgrounds, but sometimes they tell me,” Hale said. One of her students was an archaeologist. He made a wonderful pterodactyl from wire and enhanced it with a tissue paper covering. He is gone now from the facility, but she is hoping he will show his artwork. Everything has to be at Somewhere on San Juan by Monday, when they will be setting up the show. The artists will be on hand at the show, working with water colors, which have been unavailable for them up until this time.

The facility where the class is taught is separate from the main building and does not have its own water supply. The have to bring in their water in five gallon containers, so they have to use it frugally. “We don’t waste water, and it works,” said Hale; “they wash their brushes and their hands and keep their workplace neat.” The paint they use is acrylic, making water wash-up possible.

Hale finds her work with these students inspiring and the feeling is most probably mutual.