Busy Bristles Uses Art For New Understandings


Busy Bristles Uses Art For New Understandings

Cynthia Duran is gearing up to start another school year – in whatever form that may take – but she’s always teaching.

The Weslaco school district art educator has navigated through an interesting summer at her Busy Bristles Art Studio. The downtown Weslaco business also had its COVID-19 ups and downs. The enthusiasm for art never waned. 

Cynthia Duran in the back office at Busy Bristles.
Cynthia Duran in the back office at Busy Bristles.

The interest of children and adults to get before a canvas again ran high, as it did for their instructor. What started “as a little dream” in 2017, a summer camp, has grown to be a busy school of art. At Busy Bristles Art Studio on Texas Boulevard, Duran runs and owns a school that combines a love of art with a willingness to learn and risk making mistakes to gain greater understandings. 

Duran considers herself more of an educator who teaches art than an artist. There is that attention to detail a teacher expects at a recent morning class of young children focusing on their drawings. Duran walked between them while offering encouragement and insights with smiles.

“We’re all visual learners,” she said. “You can teach art with a correlation to other subjects. You can incorporate science with art and provide students with a visual representation of what they are learning.”

Art is Life

Present day goals at her business intertwine with childhood memories Duran has of coming to downtown Weslaco with her father. She recalls the old Western Auto and other classic stores. It instilled a connection to the community that inspired her to open a business downtown.

In 2017, Duran was looking to keep busy during the summer months. She had entertained the notion of starting an art school that could include arts and crafts in addition to private and classroom-style teaching and tutoring. The possibilities were expanded to after-school art classes at San Martin de Porras Catholic Church in Weslaco. 

Before Duran knew it, she had a busy business going to add to her day job as an art educator with the Weslaco school district. After school, evenings and weekends are dedicated in good part to Busy Bristles. It suits Duran well. Her enthusiasm for teaching is evident as is her philosophy of art as it relates to life.

Attention to detail.
Attention to detail.

“I get students, children and adults, who will say, ‘I’m not really an artist.’ They’re afraid to make mistakes,” she said. “I tell them we all need to learn to embrace mistakes.

“Art doesn’t have to be perfect,” Duran said. “We take risks when we take on new challenges, and we gain new understandings and meanings in going through it.”

Duran has undergraduate and master’s degrees in art and education. She, like other instructors, is waiting to hear plans on how instruction will be handled in the upcoming school year. She has made the needed accommodations in her business with social distancing and mask wearing. Those adjustments have not curbed the enthusiasm to learn, draw and create.

“We had a lot of people calling us,” Duran said of questions when Busy Bristles would open after the shelter-in-place orders of April were being lifted. “It’s a challenging time and we want to do what we can to keep everyone safe and give back to our community.”

Ricardo D. Cavazos is a Rio Grande Valley native and journalist who has worked as a reporter, editor and publisher at Texas newspapers. Cavazos formerly worked as a reporter and editorial writer at The Brownsville Herald, Dallas Times Herald, Corpus Christi Caller-Times and San Antonio Light. He served as editor of The Monitor in McAllen from 1991-1998 and from there served for 15 years as publisher at The Herald in Brownsville. Cavazos has been providing content for the Valley Business Report since 2018.