Art exhibit showcases talents, records history, helps veterans heal

By Colleen Keane
Special to the Times

ALBUQUERQUE, March 6, 2014

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(Special to the Times — Colleen Keane)

Veterans displayed their art at the annual Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Albuquerque last week.

Confronting the impact the Vietnam War had on him, combat veteran James Yazzie, Diné, sought help from Albuquerque's Veterans Affairs Medical Center about eight years ago.

Yazzie said that the resources the VA provided to him make a difference in his daily life and have given him a positive outlook for his future.

"I'm doing excellent," he said.

The annual Veterans Creative Arts Festival is one of many resources offered to the 58,000 New Mexico veterans enrolled in New Mexico's VA health care system.

Yazzie said that he has entered his leather and beadwork in six of the shows over the years.

The 12th annual arts festival that ran from last Wednesday through last Friday showcasing veterans' music, art, creative writing, dance and drama talents, was sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Legion Auxiliary.

In the recreation hall, one of the oldest buildings on the spacious VA grounds where the show took place, paintings, beadwork, woodwork, photography, fabric art, metal work and many other pieces of art hung on walls and were laid artistically out on tables.

"Veterans — both men and women — of all ages, conflicts and wars participate," said Cecilia Martinez, one of the American Legion Auxiliary volunteers who helped organize the art show.

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