VAN BUREN — Twenty-six new artists were featured at a special reception on Friday night (July 6) at the Center for Art and Education (CAE) in Van Buren. Paintings and sculptures, created by members of the ARC for the River Valley’s art therapy class, were on display for visitors to enjoy as part of a special collaboration between the two organizations.
Displayed throughout the center’s first-floor gallery, the exhibit included more than 30 pieces of two and three-dimensional art crafted by ARC members.
The ARC for the River Valley is a nonprofit committed to providing advocacy, education and recreation for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Students in the ARC’s art therapy class worked over the last six months to create the pieces featured at the center.
The exhibit showcases a variety of art in mediums including acrylics, pastels and crayon drawings. The paintings vary greatly in theme and inspiration. Gallery-goers were treated to landscapes, portraits and even sketches of Arkansas Razorbacks. Many pieces have a comic edge, including Lucas Willliams’ “Where’s the Litter Box?” which portrays a cat and a commode.
The idea for the first-ever ARC art exhibit came about after a conversation between executive director Patti Logan and Jane Owen, executive director for the art center.
“We had been looking for an organization with whom we could partner for something like this,” said Logan. “After visiting with Jane, we decided to work together and use the center to show off some of the great work of our clients. It has turned out to be a great experience.”
Supporters of both the ARC and the CAE attended the reception along with many art enthusiasts from throughout the community. Volunteers from both organizations and members of the boards of directors also turned out to encourage the artists and their families. Visitors were treated to drinks and refreshments as they strolled through the gallery.
Word of the beautiful art quickly spread even before the opening reception. Two pieces were sold prior to the exhibit’s opening night and many others were purchased at the reception. Prices of the art range from $20 to $50. Proceeds from the sales will be split between the artists and the ARC.
“We are very excited to be featuring artwork from the ARC,” said Kerri McMahon, CAE Gallery Coordinator. “The center is always looking for ways to corroborate with other organizations, especially other nonprofits. This partnership helps introduce the center to a whole new audience and gives ARC supporters the chance to learn more about what we do, as well,” she added. “It is really a win for all.”
Several of the ARC artists were on hand to greet guests and to share a little about their paintings. One artist, who had two pieces featured, talked about how proud she was of her art and how much she enjoyed doing it. “I love painting,” she said. “I love watercolors and I really love drawing with crayons. This was a lot of fun.”
Each of the clients proudly wore an “Artist” badge and many jumped at the chance to have their picture taken next to their “masterpiece.” Logan recognized the Arkansas Community Foundation for providing a grant to help the ARC purchase the frames for the art.
“Their support enabled us to display the paintings in beautiful frames which enhances our clients’ art even more,” she said.
The art therapy classes are among just a few of the educational opportunities offered by the area ARC chapter.
All artwork is for sale and the exhibit is open to the public. Admission is free. Those interested in purchasing a painting or sculpture should contact the Center for Art and Education. The ARC client art will be on display through July 27.