If you’ve visited Swope Health recently, you might have seen the new displays of hand-painted leaves fluttering from the ceiling in Building C.
These leaves, along with dozens of canvases, watercolors, decoupage creations, hand-made coasters and other artwork, are the result of a generous donation of art supplies from Artist & Craftsman Supply, 229 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City.
“I am hugely grateful,” said Carolyn Graves, Community Support Specialist who directs the adult day program in arts. “We’ve really stepped up our projects because of their generosity. Without these supplies, we couldn’t do this kind of work. We’d be limited to drawing and coloring.”
Carolyn now has new challenges for her students working with professional artist-quality materials –paint-markers, acrylic paints, long-lasting puck watercolors, card-stock papers, tissue papers, canvases, a portable easel and other craft supplies. Four days each week, Carolyn guides her day program participants to new heights of complexity and creativity.
“When we started, they would say, ‘I can’t do that,’” she recalled. “Now, they ask to do more. For them, it’s exposure, a chance to find out what they are capable of.”
Carolyn has seen the benefits of the arts program in her clients, many of whom are recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. One of the participants recently told her that he doesn’t have to worry about relapsing. “He said: ‘When I’m here, I don’t even think about it,’” she said. “That made my day.”
Artist & Craftsman Supply
At Artist & Craftsman Supply, the manager and outreach coordinator also understand the power of art.
“The arts program at Swope Health seemed like a perfect fit,” said Olli Pamplin, Outreach Coordinator. “We know that creating and making beautiful things is an important part of the healing process.”
It’s part of Olli’s responsibility to seek out what the community needs. In addition to the donations to Swope Health’s arts program for adults in the day program, Artist & Craftsman Supply has donated to a new art therapy service in Kansas City, Kan., and provides an annual $500 scholarship to a student in the University of Missouri-Kansas City arts program.
“We like to be involved in the community,” said Kevin Wilson, Store Manager. “We really push to be involved in ways retailers aren’t normally. We don’t think of ourselves as salesmen. Our customers are peers we want to help.”
Artist & Craftsman Supply is an employee-owned retail business that calls itself “America’s local art supply store.” The company is based in Portland, Maine, and has 33 local stores across the country.
The Kansas City store opened in 2011 and sells art supplies and craft materials for students and professionals, as well as quirky and creative gifts for all ages. The store hosts a gallery in its backroom, and features local artists for month-long displays. Artists hold workshops and offer arts demonstrations in the store regularly, too.
“We are a retail store in our profession, but we think of ourselves more as a community center,” Kevin said. “We love it when people come in here to talk with us about their projects and creative passions. We’re here to help.”
Sometimes that help involves giving artists the boost of confidence that comes from exhibiting their work in the store’s spacious back gallery. The exhibited works are often sold – at no commission – adding another boost to an artist’s self-confidence. New exhibits are timed to start on the first Friday of each month, coinciding with the region’s popular First Friday arts celebrations.
And now, as a result of the newly developing relationship between the retail business and the day program, discussions are underway to schedule an upcoming exhibit to feature artworks from the Swope Health program.
If you’d like to support the art therapy program, visit the Swope Health Amazon Smile Wish List page to donate supplies. Or come to the annual Holiday Mart, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, to purchase artwork from the program.