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Local artists explore love, loss at Enrichment Center

Felipe Armenta, the Enrichment Center artist who came up with the title ‘Rip My Heart Out of My Chest’ for the dual-sided exhibit.
Felipe Armenta, the Enrichment Center artist who came up with the title ‘Rip My Heart Out of My Chest’ for the dual-sided exhibit.

Enrichment Center (EC) artists will be opening their next exhibit on the third floor of the Merced Arts Center on Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day.

This special exhibit is inspired by the holiday, and its themes of love and friendship — and heartbreak too.

The exhibit will feature two sides, “Heart Emoji” and “Rip My Heart Out Of My Chest.”

“They wanted to do a Valentine’s show last year, but we didn’t get around to it,” explains Eulalia Gamez, the EC director. “This year, when I brought it up, one of the artists said ‘Ugh, no, I hate Valentine’s, I just had a break up!’ Another artist, Felipe Armenta, said: ‘I rather rip my heart out of my chest than make lovey dovey art!’”

From there, Gamez says she discussed with the group about different types of emotions people might have during the Valentine’s season, and noted that the group remained divided on the subject. “Some artists wanted to make hearts and art about love, and other artists wanted to show the ugly of past relationships, the heartbreaks, betrayals and so on.”

By exploring both sides of the subject, individual artists were able to create excitement for the entire group, and at the same time, widen the pool of artwork available for the show. To spread the love, so to speak, other local artists are invited to submit their own work for this display of passion and creativity.

“So far, there’s lots of ceramic work, paintings, soft sculptures, and for the first time some printed poetry by the EC artist Jose Miguel Castenada, who absolutely loves romance,” Gamez says.

Artwork displayed under “Heart Emoji” will feature work that explores the different types of relationships, friendships, family, stranger-love, animals, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives.

The second side of the show, “Rip My Heart Out of My Chest,” will explore heartbreak, sadness, anger, indifference and coping with past relationships.

Currently the Enrichment Center is accepting community artwork until Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 11:59 p.m. Those interested in submitting work can do so by emailing artwork related to love to [email protected]. Artwork will be dropped off at the Enrichment Center on Feb. 10, from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., with the exhibition running from Feb. 14 until Feb. 22. As part of the exhibition, a mini-reception is planned to take place on Feb. 14, from noon until 1 p.m., and Feb. 17, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Any medium is welcome with submissions needing to include which side of the show they would like to be displayed in in the subject line, along with the name of the piece, medium, dimensions, and a photo of the artwork in the body of the email.

Located on the third floor of the Merced Arts Center at 645 West Main Street in downtown Merced, the Enrichment Center provides a forum for exploration, practice, and study, in the visual and performing arts for adult artists with developmental disabilities.

As part of the Art Studio, the Enrichment Center offers full access to creative space and materials for artists to work on their own individual art and Visual Art Workshops where artists work on developing new skills and techniques. In their Performing Arts Studio, the organizations offers a selection of group performance projects, Theatre, Dance, and Vocal Workshops.

The Enrichment Center is a program of the Merced County Arts Council, licensed by the State of California, Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division, and a vendor for the Central Valley Regional Center. For more information about the Enrichment Center, log onto

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