Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Letter from Jes: Partnerships at Spectrum ArtWorks


The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 families are affected by mental illness. I have read in other places that mental illness impacts 1 - 4 people. For those reasons, part of the mission of Spectrum ArtWorks is to continue educating the public and work to reduce stigma associated with mental illness. Uniquely, we are also a program which is founded on providing direct services to professional artists living with mental illnesses.

Mental illness affects persons of any age, religion, race, and income. And it also affects artists. It takes a lot of work and courage to make a career out of your art, and it takes a lot of courage to live openly as someone living with mental illness. Thus, Spectrum ArtWorks acts as a bridge. We see the artist first and never discount the challenge of living with a mental illness.

Art is a form of communication. It also brings people together. 

Just last week, Christi Furnas, myself, and Peter F. Hinze presented at the American Swedish Institute on Spectrum ArtWorks to a number of behavioral health and human service providers, all to provide context to our work and share why we do what we do and how we do it. At the end of the presentation, Christi voiced out loud the following, a statement I appreciate and cannot shake:

Art is a form of intelligent, insightful communication.
That we come together to fight stigma by communicating in this way shows our strength, and understanding and willingness to overcome injustice. 

To do this, we work with courage.

It takes courage to be defined as a person living with a major mental illness.  We feel that by being open, positive representatives, the definition of the term will change. 

Eventually more people will live without shame.

Christi’s words show how we understand the cultural and social power of art; the role art can play in someone’s individual life as well as how art can inform and communicate. That is why our program is so public, because we are artists raising awareness.

Christi and Pete before our big presentation last week on Spectrum ArtWorks!

But how do we do that? We start first by thinking about our mission, and how we can represent it publicly and creatively. What we have found works best to do this is to partner with other agencies, organizations, businesses, and companies. In these partnerships, we find a support system, but also a way to show how others care, too, about breaking down stigma as well as advocating for mental health treatment and support.  As a group we assess our interest in moving forward with these partnerships. It is pretty rare that we say no. Every opportunity counts. So on that note, let me share with you what partnerships we have been working on and developing upon…

We are excited to share with you a partnership where Spectrum ArtWorks will pair up with all three of RESOURCE’S community support programs (CSP) to support a recovery focused empowerment tool called Photovoice, a project which couples photography with creative writing. Charaka, the Lighthouse, and the Northwest CSP will all offer sessions of Photovoice. The project aims to give individuals an opportunity to express themselves in a different way.  Some participants of Photovoice have never explored photography before. Some participants have never been able to express their experience of living with mental illness before. Often this program is referred to as RECOVERY THROUGH PHOTOS.  It’s simple really. You take a photo and put words to it, applying a metaphor; that is why it resembles recovery. The goal of this year’s Photovoice program, a program that happens annually at RESOURCE, is to conclude with a public exhibition of the artwork, an exhibition Spectrum ArtWorks will manage.  Photovoice: Recovery through Photos, the exhibition will travel during winter 2015/2016 and will show in community spaces such as coffee shops and libraries. The first exhibition will unveil mid-December at The Nicollet, a café in Minneapolis Spectrum ArtWorks partners with.

The Nicollet will also exhibit Impossible Things: A Spectrum ArtWorks Group Exhibition. The show will open May 13th, 2015. The opening reception will be announced soon! Be prepared to see how each Core Group artist approaches a themed-exhibition.

All of the partnerships we develop and are invited to form are special and unique collaborations. One that we are so proud of is our partnership with Procentive, a pioneer in EHR (electronic health records) and practice management software. Procentive is based in Hudson, WI and provides EHR solutions exclusively for behavioral health and human services agencies around the country. Procentive began showcasing the Spectrum ArtWorks Core Group artists on March 12, 2015. They are featuring artwork on a rotating basis as a way to increase awareness across Procentive’s entire network of providers. The goal is to encourage more artists with a mental health diagnosis to participate in supportive, artist-related services. 

“Everyday, thousands of therapists and staff log into their Procentive accounts,” notes Procentive CEO, Randy Zimmermann.  “With this exciting partnership, we will be doing two things for them:  brightening their day with beautiful artwork and introducing them to the Spectrum ArtWorks program.  Our hope is that therapists across the country will encourage their artistic clients to participate in Spectrum ArtWorks, amplifying the impact that this program is making in the lives of artists with mental illness.”

Kelly Matter, RESOURCE’S President and CEO had these nice things to say as well, “This partnership with Procentive is exciting because it provides yet another way for high quality, thought-provoking art to challenge audiences. Ultimately, we hope it transforms the perceptions people have of mental illness while being touched personally by this beautiful work.”

Pete and Kelly Matter, RESOURCE'S President and CEO, after the presentation. 

It is an honor to stand with Procentive as leaders in challenging stigmas and as totems for supporting artists living with mental illnesses.

And the list keeps going… We will also be exhibiting a collaborative piece for What’s Left: Lives Touched by Suicide, a multimedia exhibit that creates a proactive dialogue on suicide to break the stigma that surrounds it. The show is set to open at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota  in September 2015. Spectrum ArtWorks was commissioned by the exhibit’s Project Director, John Bauer, to produce a piece for the show. After development of the exhibition and the initial display at MacRostie Art Center, the exhibit will tour to locations around the state of Minnesota.

Lastly, Spectrum ArtWorks introduced a partnership with the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) to begin a Teaching Artist internship. This partnership not only helps undergraduate students gain experience while working towards becoming teaching artists, but it brings the larger arts community into the program’s art studio. Because this internship program has been successful so far, Spectrum ArtWorks hopes to continue this partnership with MCAD. Separate internships from MCAD are also being developed and considered, such a studio management intern.

So that’s that it in a nutshell. If you have questions about the program or would like more information, please contact me.

Jes Reyes
Arts Specialist 
Spectrum ArtWorks

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Faye Buffington-Howell: A Solo Show at Boiler Room Coffee in Minneapolis

If you have a moment during the next month or so, please make your way over to Boiler Room Coffee to view Faye Buffington-Howell's solo exhibition. She has a variety of new works up! 

Boiler Room Coffee is just off 3rd Ave, in the Stevens Square neighborhood
Faye has been an active member of the Spectrum ArtWorks Core Group for a significant number of years. She is committed to her practice as an artist and makes sure she represents her work in within the local community. In 2008, she was a recepient of the Yuri Arajs Artist Development Grant.
A new one from Faye!
Mandalas by Faye!

Abstract landscape by Faye
Boiler Room Coffee is located at 1830 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404. It is a great place to get some coffee and view some art!
Another beautiful painting by Faye!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Open Studio Hours

It is always good to set goals, and here at Spectrum ArtWorks we're always looking ahead. We're thinking about exhibition opportunities, grant applications, what we want our next project to be, and how we want to use the studio space. It often feels like the studio is a second home. And we are very proud of the communal art space Spectrum ArtWorks has become. We want it to grow! So, 2015 is the year we hope to increase membership. It's a good goal to set, right?

Becoming a member of Spectrum ArtWorks makes you apart of the Lighthouse Community Support Program, which is a wonderful place to meet new people, share experiences, and receive support.

Consider joining this community! Here is a summary about the Spectrum ArtWorks program and its components:
Spectrum ArtWorks is a visual arts program of RESOURCE whose mission is to support a community of artists living with mental illness. It offers a multifaceted, member-based studio space and is committed to challenging stigmas related to mental illness.
To access Spectrum ArtWorks’ studio, you must be a member of the Lighthouse Community Support Program, located at 1825 Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis.
Open Studio: Mondays and Thursdays, from 1 – 4:30 PM
Open studio hours give Lighthouse members access to the studio space to develop or strengthen their visual arts skills. Artists may bring their own art supplies or use supplies provided. Members use the studio time to reflect on past activities, share exhibition possibilities, set goals, and socialize with other artists. The studio also provides opportunities to participate in other art-related programming, such as:
    Art activities and outings
    Art groups
    Peer support
In addition to open studio hours, Spectrum ArtWorks offers a Core Group component to select, dedicated artists who are committed to the professional development of their artist skills, aspirations, and goals. Artists in this group complete an application process to become involved. Once approved by the group, members have access to a greater amount of studio time, art supplies, career planning, specialized peer support, help developing an artistic resume and statement, assistance with resume and grant writing, and exhibition opportunities.
Core Group members diligently and consistently create new work. Each member is expected to make a commitment to be involved, including attending weekly program meetings. Many current members of the Core Group joined after being regular open studio participants!

What do you think? Do you want to join? Please refer to the side bar for more info on how to join!

Friday, December 19, 2014

2014: An Amazing Year for Spectrum ArtWorks

It has been an amazing year for Spectrum ArtWorks. 2014 has brought positive changes to the program as well as a new Program Coordinator. So, with that in mind, here is a break down of the program. It describes the components of the program, a summary of outcomes from 2014, and what we have planned so far for 2015...
Wallace R. White - An Italian Lady and the Artist Sparrow Wearing a Beret
What is RESOURCE’S Spectrum Artworks program?

Spectrum ArtWorks, a program of RESOURCE, is a multifaceted studio space that provides artists living with mental illness the opportunity to practice and strengthen their visual arts skills and artist related goals.

The program has two components of membership:

1.    The Core Group:

§  12 professional artists actively using the space to create new work and publicly break down stigmas related to mental illness.

§  Spectrum Artworks hosts an alumni program for non-active Core Group artists who can continue to use the studio and receive support.

2.    Open Studio:

§  Members of the Lighthouse use the studio space to create art and socialize with other artists.

Let’s break this down:

What impact does Spectrum ArtWorks have on our mission and community?

Ø  Spectrum ArtWorks promotes opportunities for members to become involved in the larger arts community by various methods including assisting members in finding group and individual exhibition opportunities, writing artist statements, resumes, biographies, and grant proposals.

Ø  The studio space is used as a place where artists can come together and connect with other artists. It is also an outlet to create new work. Annually, the Core Group prepares a group exhibition intended to exhibit in community spaces.

Ø  Open studio hours provide greater access to Spectrum ArtWorks’ services by engaging with the larger Lighthouse member base. Spectrum ArtWorks’ open studio hours have attracted individuals living with mental illness that wouldn’t normally access CSP services.  

2014 outcomes:

Ø  A highlight of 2014 was our Holiday Sale on December 5, 2014. It was a major success!  In combined sales, artists sold almost $4,200 worth of artwork. 

Ø  Lighthouse Art Group attendance has shown that there is demand for more open studio time.

Ø  We welcomed four new ArtWorks Core Group members.

Ø  We created an alumni program for Spectrum ArtWorks Core Group members that wish to take a non-active membership (members who take this position have been with the Spectrum ArtWorks Core Group for three years or more).

Ø  We partnered with Hennepin Theatre Trust to exhibit two Spectrum ArtWorks alumni artists
Our 2014 Holiday Sale was a tremendous success!
 Goals for 2015:

·         Procentive Log-In Project

(Winter 2015)

Ø  Procentive will feature artwork from the Core Group on a rotating basis as a way to increase awareness across their entire network of providers.

Ø  The goal is to encourage artists with a mental health diagnosis to participate beyond the Spectrum ArtWorks client and community base.

·          “Impossible Things” – Spectrum ArtWorks Core Group Exhibition (more news to come)

(Spring/Summer 2015)

Ø  Core Group artists thematically engage with the impossible by exploring imagination.

Ø  The exhibition will open May 2015 at the Nicollet Café in Minneapolis.

·         Partnership with Minneapolis College of Art and Design

(Spring 2015)

Ø  Spectrum ArtWorks will host a Teaching Artist Internship opportunity for MCAD undergraduate students interested in becoming a teaching artist.

Ø  Interested students will have a particular goal to work with artists with disabilities.

Ø  2 Teaching Artist Interns will start in January – May 2015 to directly assist with lesson development (based upon member needs) and assist Core Group Artist members at practicing and strengthening skills.

·         “What’s Left: Lives Touched by Suicide”

(Fall 2015)

·         Spectrum ArtWorks is being commissioned by John Bauer, the curator of “What’s Left,” a multi-media art exhibit featuring the works, which depict the pain and suffering left behind from suicide to produce one piece for the traveling art show.

·         Christi Furnas, Spectrum ArtWorks Peer Support Specialist will lead the project.

·         Core Group artists will collaborate to produce one piece for the traveling art show.

·         Photovoice

(Fall 2015)

·         Spectrum ArtWorks will plan, organize, and execute a public exhibition of Photovoice, a recovery-based participatory project that elicits personal storytelling through images.

·         Spectrum ArtWorks will partner with RESOURCE’S community support programs to develop content for the exhibit.

·         Spectrum ArtWorks will partner with a community location to exhibit artwork.

·         Extend open studio hours

Ø  Lighthouse members have shown that they want to use the studio. Members use the open studio hours to create new artwork. They also have access to art workshops and activites as well as art supplies and peer support.

Ø  We often have 15-20 members participating in art group at one time!

·         Continue to partner with other arts-related galleries, programs, and organizations

Ø  To help members gain larger access to the local arts community by organizing art-based activities and opportunities outside of the studio space.

For further information on programming, to purchase artwork, or make a contribution, please contact Jes Reyes, Spectrum ArtWorks’ Arts Specialist at (612) 752-8282 or
Cecile Bellamy sold Building Community, a massive beauty of meaning and hope, at the Holiday Sale!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Eckleburg Interviews Artist and Spectrum ArtWorks Peer Support Specialist Christi Furnas

Artist Christi Furnas was recently interviewed by The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, an online and print literary and arts journal housed at The Johns Hopkins University. This interview provides background on Christi's artistic work as well as her position as a Peer Support Specialist at Spectrum ArtWorks.

 Here is a snippet from the interview. She describes her role at Spectrum ArtWorks:

In March 2011, I was hired on as staff. I support 12 people who are working to survive as professional artists. I help them apply for shows, and keep up portfolios along with other things. There is great talent in the group and I have learned a lot. Another aspect of my job is to help facilitate open studio time. This is when any member of the Lighthouse can utilize the studio and art supplies. This is not art therapy although it is an excellent time for people to be creative in a comfortable setting. 
I have a unique roll because I get to support peeps as an equal. I don’t see it happen where I work, but in a great number of situations people with mental illness are patronized or not listened to. It’s difficult to value yourself when no one else seems to value who you are or what you say. I have the opportunity through art making to connect with people. It is important to hear stories from people and be able to share experiences. The other day I compared auditory hallucination stories with an artist in the program. Then I discussed which colors to use in their painting. I feel extremely fortunate to work in the arts at a place I can be open about my illness.
Please take some time to read it here. The interview is thoughtful and insightful.

On another note: Christi recently won the People's Choice Award at the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) Fall Fine Arts Show. What an achievement! You can find more info on NEMAA and their annual exhibition here.

James and Christi in the studio

Friday, September 19, 2014

Inside the Studio: Spectrum ArtWorks Stays Busy as the Season Changes

Fall is right around the corner and Spectrum ArtWorks continues to stay busy. Artists submitted artwork for Artability and are excited to show at The Great Hall in St. Paul on October 24 and 25th. It is an important event arranged by People Incorporated, and we hope to see you there! In addition to this, Spectrum ArtWorks is planning a winter art sale and also planning out exhibitions for 2015.

Kandace at work on "The White Buffalo"

Pictured above is Kandace. She joined Spectrum ArtWorks this summer. About a month ago she started on "The White Buffalo." She states she was inspired to create a work that spoke to Native American culture. She wanted to incorporate the four directional colors, too, which are red, black, white, and yellow. She feels these two components of "The White Buffalo" have complimented each other well. "I have enjoyed working on this one, because I am seeing a style emerge in my work, a common thread in my technique," she says. "I focus on one small piece at a time, with short brush strokes." Kandace also says that she decided not to create this work using a grid system. She ended up experimenting with free hand. Overall, she has expressed feeling satisfied with her work.

James working on one of his many watercolor pieces

The art studio has continued to be a space where the group produces excellent work. James, shown above, creates watercolor paintings regularly. You can see more of his work here on Spectrum ArtWorks' Flickr page.

Artists THIA, James, and Kandace focused on projects during studio hours last week. THIA has taken a liking to Art Deco patterns and has started on an amazing stained glass piece. You can see it here on Spectrum ArtWorks' Facebook page!

Stay tuned for further updates! The winter art sale is scheduled for December 5, so mark your calendars!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spectrum ArtWorks Welcomes New Program Coordinator!

Greetings everyone! We are excited to announce that Spectrum ArtWorks has a new program coordinator, Jes Reyes! Taking over as Arts Specialist for Spectrum ArtWorks - we welcome her with great warmth and enthusiasm. We are happy to share that she brings with her a rich background and involvement in the arts as well as a great deal of compassion for the work of Spectrum ArtWorks artists and their mission. 

About Jes:

Jes Reyes is excited to join the Spectrum ArtWorks program. She comes to the program from the NWCSP, a drop-in program in Crystal, Minnesota. While there she worked with adults with serious and persistent mental illness. She helped initiate various art projects at the CSP, including Photovoice and Picture Us. She also has been involved in the Twin Cities arts community as a curator of pop-up exhibits with Altered Esthetics, a non-profit arts organization and gallery. Jes is a filmmaker and photographer. Her photo "The Eyes" will be exhibiting at Glam Doll Donuts in Minneapolis in September as part of a group exhibition. She is about to finish her Master's degree in Liberal Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. You can find out more about her by following her blogs: or

Please join us in our excitement welcoming Jes to Spectrum ArtWorks!