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The Healing Power of Art

Out of Arundel Lodge’s studios come works colorful and textured — plus works you can put a face to

reviewed by Carrie Madren

For the 19 artists now showing at Annapolis City Hall, art heals and provides a creative outlet from lives that haven’t been smooth sailing. At Arundel Lodge day center, adults with mental health disorders and illnesses hone their craft and express themselves.

Annapolis musician and artist Rob Levit helped the art class develop this exhibit, which shows the people as well as their talents. We’re introduced to each of the 19 artists through 19 vertical displays — framed in tall, matted frames — showing the artist’s four-by-six photo on top, a written artist’s statement below, then a post-card-sized artwork at the bottom.

Jewelry maker Scott W. wrote in his artist’s statement, Art is helping … I’m often a negative thinker and artwork helps met to think positively. His craft — shown by photo — is bead-and-shell necklaces in bright hues.

The first color I reach for is blue because it makes me feel better, writes Andre S. Indeed, the word love — drawn in block letters — is surrounded by blues, yellows and reds in a blocky stained-glass impression.

Tawana P. writes about being raised by her grandmother, who taught her to crochet. In her show photo, Tawana holds up her crocheted patchwork afghan.

Art is music to my senses, writes Warren H., who shows his colored-pencil illustration of a long dining table set with fruit and a cup.

Others write about walking in nature, faith in God, the ocean, birds, boats and dolphins; their art ranges from abstract sketches to precisely penned sailing ships.

A few larger works line the halls to the mayor’s office. Mike S. used colored pencils to illustrate a soaring eagle framed by pastel blues and greens.

“He was very proud,” says art teacher Deede Miller. “But he wanted to make sure that we didn’t sell it.” He was so proud he requested a not for sale sign posted on his work.

Miller’s class crafted several group art projects: a drawing and a few yarn weavings. In a group painting of a fictional cityscape, each artist designed a tall building to add. The result is a colorful hodgepodge city with a pet shop, yarn gallery, auto store and a hippie shop.

“I give encouragement and facilitate most things that they do,” says Miller. “I can also help them if they want to learn more about a specific type of art.”

For the group weavings, one artist hammered nails into an old wooden frame, then strung string in a grid across the opening like a loom. Other artists took turns weaving colorful yarns with varying textures in blocks and rows across the grid.

Some artists made smaller weavings: colorful abstract hangings and pastoral landscapes. Weavings sell for about $200 a piece, with proceeds begetting more art. All sales benefits the art program.

“It helps build confidence any time that they can get out there,” Miller says. Members have been getting their art out more in the past year.

This is the fourth public showing of Arundel Lodge artists — who have also exhibited at 49 West coffeehouse, Maryland Hall and Quiet Waters.

Visual art isn’t the only way Levit helped display Arundel Lodge’s hidden talent; members made music with Levit last fall in a concert at Maryland Hall that included original works.

“It means a lot,” says Arundel Lodge director Mike Drummond, “to the members to create works that other people can relate to and value.”

Showing thru April 30, 9am-5pm @ City Hall, 160 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis: 410-263-1183.

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