Tucked away in a corner near Old Surprise, sits a building--a true hidden treasure. To learn more about the good things they are doing in the West Valley, read the full story by our guest writers Susan and Josephine of WHAM. Unbeknown to many Surprise city and West Valley residents there exists an up and coming art center, the Wham Community Art Center, the only one of its kind in the West Valley. Located at 16560 N. Dysart Road. this community center houses an array of artwork and talents ranging from excited beginner to professional accomplished. Regardless of their ability, all of these member artists are eager to share their talents and knowledge with the community at large. The Wham Art Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating and promoting the Visual Arts in Surprise and the entire West Valley. The organization was founded in 2006 by President Connie Whitlock. wham-community-mural In the short time the Wham Art Association members have occupied this building they have diligently worked together to transform the space into an eclectic gallery and educational center. The facility walls, rooms and hallways are filled with the work of acrylic and oil painters, clay potters, gourd workers, wood cutters, photographers, jewelry makers and teachers. Within the building there are private art studios, educational rooms and a growing clay studio. Artists utilize this space to display, showcase and sell their art work but the main focus for this group is to provide advocacy efforts and education in all areas of the Visual Arts. wham-art-event Some of the classes featured at the center include drawing, painting, mixed media, clay, recycled art and media technology for children and adults. There are also some specialized interactive courses for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their caregivers, a series called Mindful Art and Adaptive Art for children with disabilities and their families. Visit the Wham website to obtain information on class schedules and times. www.wham-art.org zot-art-is-alive-13 One way to become familiar with some of the Wham artists and their work is to attend the Third Annual Art Is Alive Arts and Cultural Festival in Surprise, Arizona. This year the event will be held on March 29th and 30th, 2014 at the Surprise Community Park at 15960 N. Bullard Avenue Surprise, AZ 85374. This free two day event features the work and wares of some 60 artists and vendors. There will be interactive art demonstrations for children and live dance performances, by world renowned groups. Two featured events of the Art Is Alive Festival are the Zot’s Art Ability Not Disability for children and Making Our Mark, a teen painting skateboard activity. Members of the Tohono O'odham Nation will be present to share their culture and traditions through their dance and basket weaving talents. The Art Is Alive Arts and Cultural Festival and individual artist exhibits are just two of the ways the group provides art for the local community. For more information on these events, Art is Alive Arts and Cultural Festival or the Wham Community Art Center visit in person or call 480-823-4120 Tuesday through Saturday from 10-4 where you may speak to a docent or individual artist to find out What’s Happening in the Wham Art world.