Bridges residents will be featured in upcoming Town Hall show
For more than five years the Conanicut Island Art Association has presented regular art exhibitions at the Town Hall gallery. Commissions from the artwork that is sold have helped to raise money so that the organization can provide scholarships to high school seniors who are interested in studying art in college. The money also benefits Melrose Avenue School students who are selected by their teachers to attend local workshops and classes.
Past exhibitions have usually included work from CIAA members. On Thursday, Sept. 20, the association will open its first invitational show at the gallery. It has invited artists from Bridges to exhibit their work, and while artists from the agency have exhibited in the past, this is the first time that the entire show will be devoted to their work.
“They’ve been working hard to create these really wonderful paintings which will all be hung in Town Hall,” said Karen Krider of the art association.
Bridges was founded in 1986 to answer the need for housing men and women with developmental disabilities. The organization has several offices as well as housing in Jamestown. Currently, 52 people with intellectual, development and physical disabilities are receiving full-time care from the staff, while another 16 to 20 live independently and receive parttime support.
According to Kim Pinksaw, the director of creative programs for Bridges, the idea for the collaboration between her organization and the CIAA came about as a result of Bridges helping to coordinate the art association’s annual summer craft fair for the last few years. The agency has also helped with the setup for the annual art show.
“It is our mission to be included in the community as a whole, and to participate as much as we can,” Pinksaw said.
“The Conanicut Island Art Asso- ciation is proud to honor this small organization of hardworking and dedicated people quietly operating among us in Jamestown,” said Gail Bolger, president of the association.” We are grateful for the ongoing rewards we continue to receive as we learn from them.”
For all CIAA shows, entry fees and a commission of 20 percent on sold work goes back to the association to help offset the costs of its scholarship programs. Last year the group provided $4,500 in scholarships to deserving students, which represents the largest scholarship fund in town. The balance of the money from art sales will be returned to Bridges where it will be divided between the artists and the organization. The money will be used to defray the costs of materials and framing of the art.
“It’s one way we can give back to the community and help another organization out,” Krider said. “We’re one nonprofit organization helping another wonderful nonprofi t organization. We would just love it if the show sold out. All of these pieces will be priced reasonably. Hopefully people will come in, pick one, and just buy it.”
According to Bolger, there may be as many as 100 artworks in the show. The work will be in a variety of formats, primarily acrylic and watercolors, but there will also be work using magic markers, small sculptural pieces, and fabric pieces. Most of the work will be hung on the walls.
Pinksaw said that visitors to the show will see unique and inviting work from more than 25 artists ranging from 21 to 65 years old. “It’s under the tag name right now of outsider art or raw art,” she said. “Most people in this situation haven’t gone to art school, so it’s all instinctual, self-directed art work.”
Bolger said that she has already seen a lot of the work. “It’s beautiful, bright and warm. Their art is becoming known across the state. It’s going to be a rewarding experience.”
Bolger said she hoped that a lot of people would come to the opening on Sept. 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. and show support for Bridges. “It’s an amazing group of people. It’s nice to see the interaction of the Bridges staff with the people there. It’s a wonderful organization to have in town and I hope we get a lot of town support for it.”
In October, Bridges is planning to open a gallery and store attached to their studio on Clinton Avenue. The space will be staffed by the artists who create the work for the gallery.
Pinksaw spoke about her hopes for the show and what people from the community will take away from it.
“I hope that the show raises the bar for what they expect of people with disabilities,” Pinksaw said. “That they see them as gifted, talented, hard-working, intelligent, quick-minded, quick-witted, graceful people. I always hope that there is some connection that happens with people when they have something to talk about that few people like to.”