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Two different, unique exhibitions find a home at BIG ARTS

By Staff | Apr 27, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED “Sea-Ray” by Frank-DiMaria

BIG ARTS on Sanibel will host work by aspiring young artists with a financial need and pieces by individuals with disabilities in two separate exhibits during the month of May.

Open Doors and Art by the disABLED opens on May 2.

A reception and appearances by the artists will take place on May 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“These exhibitions are dear to us at BIG ARTS and important to our community,” Executive Director Lee Ellen Harder, said. “It brings much-needed awareness to these incredible programs. Each piece of art is created with passion, no matter the abilities or skill level of the artists, and it really shines.”

In the Phillips Gallery, Art by the disABLED will feature about 50 paintings by participants in Lee Health’s Arts in Healthcare program. The program is designed for individuals with disabilities who are looking for showcase and exhibition opportunities for their work, according to Lee Health officials.

PHOTO PROVIDED “Joy,” by Riley Remus

“Each of Lee Health’s hospitals maintains a gallery to display their artwork and the health system arranges an annual juried art show and assists disabled artists in participating in local art shows, like the one in May at BIG ARTS,” Pat Dolce, spokeswoman for Lee Health, said.

Officials reported that Arts in Healthcare is led by the program coordinator with the support of more than 75 volunteers, and the Art by the disABLEd program is funded through donations received.

Doug McGregor, who is the organizer of the exhibit and with Arts in Healthcare, explained that the artwork highlights the artists’ achievements and helps to extinguish the common misunderstanding of people with disabilities, reinforcing their significance in society.

“We also want this to be an opportunity for us to connect with others in our community who would benefit from our program,” he said.

Art by the disABLED has a working relationship with The Lighthouse of Southwest Florida and Special Populations in Cape Coral. McGregor explained that the two organizations provide a creative outlet for the artists, who suffer from disabilities ranging from visual impairment to lime disease.

“It can take a lot for some of them to get the brush to the canvas, but it’s a healing processes for all of them,” he said. “There are various levels of artistic abilities, but they always give it their all.”

It is the third year that BIG ARTS has hosted Art by the disABLED in its gallery and it continues to grow in popularity. The artists earn 60 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their pieces.

In the Founders Gallery, Open Doors exhibits works by students with exceptional ability in art and the drive to paint, draw and expand vistas from traditional to postmodern art. It also opens the door to children who have a financial need.

“It gives students self-confidence, a sense of dignity in labor as they work to figure out their composition,” Krista Johnson, organizer of the exhibition and a program instructor, said. “Most of the works we will exhibit this year are colorful and based on nature, but some are abstract while others depict objects and people they see in everyday life.”

“Students are encouraged to express themselves freely and develop their creative potential,” she said. “This exhibition is also a chance for them to sell their work and earn all the proceeds.”

For more information, call 239-395-0900 or visit online at bigarts.org.

BIG ARTS is at 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel.