This month, First Fridays participants can help support artists with disabilities by visiting two shows.
At the Boveri Realty Group Art Space: Mission Project 2 showcase and fundraiser, 33 local artists have donated more than 200 pieces for the show. A portion of the proceeds from sales will benefit Mission Project 2, a program that helps developmentally or cognitively disabled adults live independently.
“MP2 is a great organization that not many know about. All in all, everyone benefits,” says Christina Boveri, who has lent her space at 1819 Wyandotte St. to artists for First Fridays for 10 years now, always without a commission. In recent years she has been working more with nonprofits.
Among the artists represented will be Holly Ann Schenk and Jeffrey C. Porter, who will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their painted wood sculpture, “The Sky’s the Limit.”
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“Helping developmentally disabled adults … they’re kind of like the forgotten people,” Schenk says. “We’re trying to be more socially conscious in our artwork, in its purpose and its meaning, and everything around it.”
The idea for the show came from Jean Belancio, who works at Boveri Realty Group and whose brother-in-law, Tom, participates in Mission Project 2.
Tom, 40, moved to the Kansas City area from Philadelphia in 2012. A cat lover, he has been working at VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center for over a year and lives alone in an apartment. He loves it. He also volunteers at Great Plains SPCA.
When Jean and Michael Belancio, Tom’s brother, read about the Mission Project in The Star, they immediately thought Tom would like it. MP2 and its sister organization MP1 are based in Mission, and currently have 31 participants combined.
For the Belancios and the families involved, the program becomes part of their lives. Michael Belancio has been board president since 2014. The board comprises members from each family, so they can steer programming.
Recently, Jean Belancio decided she’d like more arts exposure for participants. Her idea took root, and now participants spend time twice a month working with artist Jessica Hays. It has been a success.
“Families have told me that, while conversation can sometimes be a challenge, their participants are excited and spontaneously talk about the subjects they’ve learned and the artwork they’ve created,” Jean Belancio said. “One even recently asked to purchase his own supplies so that he can paint at home in his spare time.”
But the art club would have to be self-sustaining, as Hays is one of only two paid MP2 employees, and classroom space and materials are not free. They needed a new fundraiser solely for the art program. The organization already raises funds to help cover the $4,000 to $6,000 per year cost for each participant, which mostly pays for transportation.
So Jean reached out to Boveri, and the event was born.
Meanwhile, “Expressions” at the Jones Gallery will feature works created by artists with disabilities. It’s the fifth annual show by the Whole Person, an organization that also helps disabled adults live independently.
Artist Just Colcord, a Whole Person participant who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being hit by a truck as a child, writes, “My family encouraged me to make art and it became a sort of language for me. I use art to express my internal world and to record my memories.”
Contact Anne Kniggendorf at firstname.lastname@example.org
Boveri Realty Group Art Space: Mission Project 2 showcase and fundraiser
5-9 p.m. Friday, 1819 Wyandotte St.
Jones Gallery: “Expressions” by artists associated with the Whole Person
5-9 p.m. Friday, 1717 Walnut St.