Duo establishes new art and ceramics studio in Lower Valley


El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — One of El Paso’s only ceramics studios is open for business in the Lower Valley.

Artist and owner of PJ Romero Artworks has teamed up with Alicia Villalobos, a teacher at Bel Air Middle School, to create a unique art space for people of all ages called Can Do Community Art Studio, where people can create paintings, drawings and ceramics. 

A discussion between Romero and his partner Alicia came about over what to name the studio one day. Romero shared with her the philosophy he’s always incorporated in past studio classes where he’s always told his alumni: ‘This is a can do studio’. 

Courtesy of: Phillip Romero

“So when I have students that come and tell me, I don’t think I can do that, well then get out because this is a ‘Can Do Studio’. Anything is possible here and I want to help you achieve your goal but you have to know that you are able.” said Romero.

The concept stuck, giving light to the newly named studio. 

When it comes to the ceramics class, Romero will be teaching hand building and wheel throwing. “You are going to get your hands muddy and I’m going to show you from a wet ball of mud, I’ll show you how to make a beautiful bowl or whatever it is you are after.” he said.

At the height of his success, COVID hit and his work diminished entirely as this type of art is all hands on.

With help from his family and a few temp job opportunities that came his way, Romero was able to stay afloat during the pandemic eventually landing a particular temp job at the school district that opened doors to this new opportunity. 

“It’s a great little space we’re going to be doing drawings and paintings and ceramics.” says Romero. 

Courtesy of: Phillip Romero

Prior to COVID, Romero was the ceramics instructor at the El Paso Art Museum in downtown teaching five classes, volunteering and teaching boys from the juvenile probation department, along with teaching at El Paso Community College. Romero would also visit the elderly at Guillen Veterans Home in the Northeast for ceramic time and with whatever time he had left Romero would teach to preschool children in West El Paso.

“I’m trying to raise funds right now to buy more equipment.” he explained. “That’s the challenging part is that at the museum I did have everything there but here I’m on my own I’m starting from the bottom and working my way up.”

Romero says that for the time being he’s been reaching out to prior alumni and letting them know that he’s back and this time in a more intimate setting as the classes are smaller in this new studio.

He added, “Despite it being a small space we still have plenty of room to move around and hear each other and talk and get instructed and make wonderful art here.”

He also posts to his Instagram page, PJ Romero Artworks, were he periodically makes videos updating the public on his latest ventures, class schedules and inviting the public to go check out Can Do Community Art Studio.

“I am reaching out to them and letting them know, again, inviting them to make an appointment and come in because we’re trying to stay safe, this area does get sanitized daily, I am fully vaccinated myself and as per the state we are not requiring masks but we are respecting social distance in the studio.” said Romero.

The classes consist of a three hour class once a week for four weeks. Sometimes months go a bit long and the alumni might get lucky with a bonus class.

“In my space now, I’m still going to provide everything. I’m going to give you your clay, and you’ll have your name on it, it belongs to you. I am going to give you all your tools, I’m going to give you the instruction, I’m going to fire everything for you here. All the prices will include everything whether it’s painting, drawing or ceramics.” 

Courtesy of: Phillip Romero

Included when signing up for the class will be a 25-pound bag of clay, instruction, all the tools, the firing, and glazes.

“You don’t need to bring anything all you need to bring is a good attitude and maybe and apron.”

As of now Romero will be available Sunday through Saturday from 9:00am -12:00pm, 1:00pm-4:00pm or from 5:00pm-8:00pm.

“What’s important to me is that you have the time to finish because you’ll find how relaxing and how rewarding this art form is.”

Can Do Community Art Studio will be hosting an open house on Saturday July 10, from 11am-5pm. Expect to find some art to paint, clay to work with and the opportunity to experience the space.

Can Do Community Art Studio is located at Carolina Village in the Lower Valley. The address is 120 S. Carolina Ste. D, 79915 right next to Sun City Slice.

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