Very special artists

The therapeutic value of art is well-known. Such artists as Williamstown, Massachusetts resident Jessy Park, a painter who is austic; photorealist painter Chuck Close, paralyzed by a blood clot in his brain; and any of the painters in Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum demonstrate that disabilities are no bar to creating visual masterworks.
    But what of writing and disabilities? Charlottesville is fortunate to have a large pool of creative, imaginative people who happen to be disabled, but who demonstrate that those disabilities are sources of creative insight and inspiration. Life’s Creations: Poems and Thoughts about Life, is a collection of the work of some of these “very special artists.”
    Charlottesville Recreation and Leisure Services (CRLS), the Independence Resource Center, and Very Special Arts cosponsored the first volume of poetry and art by, among others, local residents Carl Steppe, Linda S. Hite, and Rosemary Balister. Now the call is out for submissions for a second volume to be published in the fall.
    May 17 is the deadline for submissions of poetry and art. It will include poems and art by caregivers, family members, and counselors as well as disabled individuals themselves. The poetry and art can be about any subject; the purpose of the poetry project, CRLS project coordinator Mildred Spicer says, “is to promote writing and creativity skills and the therapeutic value of poetry.”
     The first volume of Life’s Creations, copies of which are still available at CRLS, is divided into sections: nature; strong emotions; and fear, death and love are among the topics these writers address. But there is no dearth of humor, as demonstrated by this poem by Donald K. Jones:
    “When mad at hubby she is, then pots and pans will throw/ for the clank and the clang, the mighty noise and din/must be loud enough to reach/ the doghouse hubby is in.”
    Because a particular poem may prompt readers to want to know more about the author, brief biographies of writers are included. The editors hope that knowledge of the writer’s life will enhance understanding and appreciation of his or her work.
    People interested in contributing should submit their creations by May 17. Your fellow citizens in Charlottesville await your creations!

Charlottesville/Albemarle residents with disabilities (and their caregivers, counselors, and family members) should submit poetry and art by May 17 to Mildred Spicer, P.O. Box 911, Charlottesville 22902.

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