GREENVILLE – Though a little shy at first, Brandon Johnson, of Greenville, gave an introduction to a unique group of individuals gathered at Memorial Hall Thursday afternoon.
Johnson was one of a dozen differently-abled artists set to work on projects for entry at the Fine Arts Show at the upcoming 163rd Great Darke County Fair. The show welcomes a new division specifically for them this year, one created by Amanda Mote.
Mote is the new leader of the Fine Arts Department and upon her arrival asked for an addition to the amateur and professional divisions at the show. In this case, a differently-abled category open to those with a physical or mental disability that makes them different, not less. She has worked with the differently-abled in the past and has a friend with a disability. She notes being drawn to individuals with unique needs and is an advocate for taking away labels.
“People look at them on the outside and see that they are different,” said Mote, “but when you take away all that when you see their artwork, they are just like everyone else.”
The artists gathered that day were meeting for the second time with instructor Tamera McNulty, director of the Anna Bier Gallery at Memorial Hall. The classroom was well-lit and spacious, with long art tables and a comfy chair with their choice of material from crayons to pencils, watercolors, markers, and paint.
Everyone was eager to get started after introductions that included applause and in some cases cheers.
“It’s a lot of fun. I love it, seeing the different things they create,” said McNulty, admiring Sherrylonda Grigsby’s flower collage in a vase. Meanwhile, Jacob Parsons focused on creating work with people at the center. Julie Huntington was interested in vehicles while Patty Orlijan created a montage of Pokémon characters.
McNulty went on to note she would like to showcase the group’s work at the gallery sometime in the future, similar to work that has been on display at the Greenville Public Library.
Sue Huston, Community Connections and Advocacy Coordinator for Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities, referenced several downtown businesses currently showcasing the group’s work, too.
“It’s a great outlet,” continued Huston who was hoping they would be able to continue to offer the space to the group. She also noted they’d discovered some amazing talent. That talent includes Johnson who shared he has enjoyed art for a number of years, including sculpture.
“I’ve gotten better over the years,” said Johnson with significant ambitions that include making in and starring in movies.
The differently-abled artists will be special guests from 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19, at the Fine Arts building during their daily exhibitions.
Mote encourages anyone interested in entering the Fine Arts Show at the Great Darke County Fair to consult the 2019 premium book. Changes have been made.
More information and forms for entry may also be found online at www.fineartsprogram.com.