Thursday, February 15, 2007
Four years ago this month, the Spectrum ArtWorks program was in its infancy. We were excited about receiving some funding from United Way for an online art gallery; we were pleased as punch to show the artwork of our members in a couple local art shows for artists with disabilities. It was then that I received a call from a man named Yuri Arajs, he and his business partner Beth Parkhill had just opened a gallery down the street from us called “Outsiders and Others Gallery”. One of their very first shows was to be a show featuring artists living with a mental illness and did we have any work that we might want to submit for that show.
I will never forget that first opening; the walls were white and the lighting impeccable. The artists were artists and not poster people for disability. One of the artists in that first show had always identified himself as “a schizophrenic”, as in “Hi, my name is Bob and I’m a schizophrenic.” That night I heard him as he was introduced to an admirer of his work and he said, “Hi, my name is Bob and I’m an artist.”
In the past four years Outsiders and Others Gallery has exhibited the works of close to 20 Spectrum ArtWorks Artists with the majority of those artists displaying their work in shows that have had nothing to do with disability or mental illness. The Spectrum ArtWorks program has benefited by our association with Outsiders and Others Gallery tremendously; to have had such a well respected gallery with an amazing array of talented staff and volunteers care about our program and our members has kept us strong and proud and motivated.
Because of the welcoming and accessible atmosphere created by Outsiders and Others Gallery, hundreds of people were able to go to an art gallery and enjoy and learn to appreciate art. People with mental illness and with other disabilities, people who were homeless, people without money to buy art, all people were welcomed to come in and take a look.
Thank you Yuri. Thank you Beth. Thank you to all the volunteers and to the board of directors. Thank you to all the amazing artists (especially to those of you who really put yourselves out there to combat stigma in the Mental Health Awareness and the Homeless Awareness Shows). Thank you to the press for all the great coverage. Thanks to everyone who came to a show and to everyone who bought some art. Thank you to all the sponsors. Thank you to Minneapolis for being such an awesome art supporting city.
Please come out to the final gallery closing party on March 10th from 7-10 pm and say good-bye and thanks.
In all sincerity,
Amy Rice and The Spectrum ArtWorks Program
If we would have had our blog here up and running last month, we would have posted some information about Spectrum Artist Christi Furnas and her solo show at The Warren. Alas, we were not prepared but we can still give you a link to the article in The Pulse that highlights The Warren and the work of Christi, plus we can pleasure your eyeballs with this lovely painting from the show.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Spectrum ArtWorks Artist Audrey Bernard is having a fantastic month. Her work is featured in the current show Today's Love Stories at Outsiders and Others Gallery and The Downtown Journal did an article on love that came out today, Valentines Day, and featured Audrey's work from that show. Here's the best part:
Art of love
Audrey Bernard’s artwork is on display at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Elliot Park, in an exhibit called “Today’s Love Stories.”
The love story behind her artwork began in July 1989, when she left her children behind in Jamaica and moved to the United States. Since that time, she has returned home just twice, and her health has prevented her from seeing her five children and eight grandchildren for the past nine years.
In the midst of deep sadness, Bernard started spending time in an art studio run by Spectrum Community Mental Health. She learned printmaking techniques and started reconstructing photographs of her family into paintings.
“I wasn’t interested in painting, but I would keep coming every day because I was depressed,” Bernard said. Eventually, she said, the work gave her a sense of peace.
“This keeps me a little more in touch,” she said.
In addition to the show at Outsiders and Others, her paintings such as the brightly colored “Grandkids with Attitude” are also on display this week on the 8th floor of the IDS Center.
“Painting is something I didn’t know I had in me,” Bernard said. “To see where I came from, thinking about the depression to where I am today, it makes me very happy. I am very proud of my kids.”
And as if that weren’t enough excitement Audrey also has work featured in Layers: an exploration of race and identity
at The Minneapolis Foundation.
Here are some links for you to put our program in context:
Spectrum ArtWorks is a program of Spectrum Community Mental Health
Spectrum Community Mental Health is a division of RESOURCE.
We have an online gallery that displays the work of members of the larger Spectrum Community.
Do you want to learn more about mental illness? The National Association of Mental Illness has an informative website.
In 2006 Spectrum ArtWorks moved to an a amazing new studio, we made a giant mentally ill puppet and marched him in the May Day Parade to combat stigma associate with the disease, we had a very successful group show at Stevens Square Center for the Arts, we assisted over 20 artists in procuring show opportunities in Minneapolis and beyond, we received a "Making Arts Accessible" Award from the Minnesota VSA and NAMI-MN (National Association of Mental Illness/Minnesota) named Spectrum ArtWorks program manager Amy Rice "Mental Health Provider of the Year".