For the past 4 weeks, I have been creating art with developmentally disabled employees of ARC thrift stores on Wednesdays. Yesterday was our last meeting, and we finished the mural you see above (I think you can click on it to see it bigger)- it is about 10 feet across, and we traced each person's silhouette onto the board we painted. In addition to this big collaborative piece, each of them created a few individual pieces and they will all be part of an annual auction and dinner gala that the company has each year.
I have to say that even though I was "volunteering" my time, I might have ended up with the better end of the deal. Each week, they provided me with a delicious lunch- probably the best meal I would have all week. Plus I get to go to the fancy gala next week with one guest (which will probably be Matt). And tickets to the gala normally cost $150!! And as if that wasn't enough, this group of people was so much fun to hang out with. They were all super hilarious and entertaining. At first, I expected it to be like working with kids, but it really wasn't like that at all. Their skill level, as far as making art, was similar to maybe elementary age kids, but their attitude was unbelievable. No one ever complained, or was unsatisfied about anything ever. This was the happiest and most positive group of people ever. They were so encouraging to me, and to each other, and even to themselves, and I really felt on top of the world after being with them each week.
This was Marlene. She probably did more work on the big mural than anyone else. But she also made this angel piece. The eyeball on the face of the angel is from a bag of ARC store trinkets and nicknacks. I would like to paint a picture of Marlene soon.
This is Robbie and this painting was a dream of his from the beginning. It is a picture of (left to right) Marlene, himself, and Barb (his store manager) and his teddybear in the middle. He even brought his teddy bear in to model for this picture, and he said it was embarrassing bringing his teddy bear onto the public bus.
This is Juan and he loved Denver Bronco cheerleaders. That's just about the only thing he talked about. When I suggested that he paint one for his individual project, he really lit up. He was like "are you serious?! I could really do that?!" I brought in my projector so he could project his favorite picture onto the canvas. He worked super hard on this picture.
This is Ryan and I just loved this picture he did. For some reason, it reminds me of Magritte's "This is not a Pipe" painting.
And this is Lorraine. She had very limited use of her arms, but she gave orders very well, and took pride in her design. For her silhouette on the big mural, she dictate a poem for me to fill it in with.
I loved these guys so much. They've certainly won me over so much that I will probably never again donate my junk to goodwill or savers- I'll be driving the extra distance to dump my stuff at the ARC.