She’s been taking art lessons through The Arc of South Talladega County’s association with VSA Arts of Alabama and Comer Museum for close to five years now.
And so have about 20 other adults with developmental delays and program organizers are thrilled with the experiences the Arc clients have, as well as their own joy in watching how the art exposure has affected the clients.
Vanessa, along with Arc client Rodney Harvey, spent Thursday morning at Heritage Hall Museum in Talladega, where they worked with artist in residence Tommy Moorehead to finish paintings for the upcoming ArtPartners Auction, which supports the ongoing art program for Arc clients.
ArtPartners formed about four years ago and pairs professional artists with Arc clients to create the art for the yearly fundraising auction.
This year’s event is set for Thursday, Sept. 17 and will be held at the Hightower House on Main Avenue in Sylacauga.
Working in the downstairs studio ay Heritage Hall, Moorehead and Vanessa collaborated to put the finishing touches on a big orange tabby cat.
Moorehead helped Vanessa load her brush with just the right amount of a yellow they mixed up for the background.
“What if I mess up?” Vanessa asked.
“Then we’ll fix it,” Moorehead said.
Vanessa smiled and declared, “I am so happy,” turning to start putting in the background.
“That’s what’s so wonderful about this,” said Beverly White, executive director for The Arc for 24 years now. “You can’t help but smile when you see something like this.”
The art experiences have provided a way for the Arc clients to have something they can do on their own, and have built self esteem and confidence in the clients, White said.
“This is empowering for them,” she said.
Moorehead heads to help Rodney next, they’re finishing up a comical monkey started by Alexander City artist Lila Graves, another contributing ArtPartner in the program.
White said she expects to have about 50 to 60 pieces in the auction, including paintings, jewelry, some pottery and mixed media as well.
The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for the event, and the actual live auction begins at 7 p.m. with auctioneer Stevie Wyatt.
This year’s ArtPartners theme is “An Evening of Art Among the Magnolias,” and includes hors’doeuvres and beverages along with entertainment from pianists Martha McKemie and Shera Lou Honeycutt. The Buddy Simpkins Jazz Ensemble will also play, outside on the grounds.
Last year’s auction brought in about $13,000, a little under the usual amount, White said.
“But our community has continued to support us, even with the economic times we’re in,” she said. “We are so grateful. This is so important for our clients and adds so much to their lives.”
But the ArtPartners event also invites sponsorships that help add to the total, White said.
Sponsorships range from $75 to $500, and includes donor recognition on an easel, along with complimentary tickets to the event depending upon the level. Sponsors may be individuals or businesses and may also be made in honor of or in memory of someone.
To sponsor easels, or for tickets, you may call White at 256/245-2323.
Artists who volunteer for the ArtPartners program include Tommy Moorehead, Lila Graves, Judy Hartsfield, Jimmy Reynolds Jr., Larry Hurr, Connie Vickers, Mary Ellen Hurr, Chick Lively, Sue Ridley, Shirley Pody, Mindy Buckley, Don Smith, Cheryl Eyster, Maurice Cook, Larry Allen, Donna Rentfrow, Carol Laney, Lisa Norris and Perry Austin.
Moorehead has worked with the group for about four years now.
“I do it because it’s an extra worthy cause and money raised keeps the art program going for the group,” he said. “And I enjoy it, something spontaneous happens.”
White said the volunteers add so much to the clients’ lives.
“The artists who work with us have tremendous hearts,” she said. “When you see something like this, you know you’ve been successful.”