Buzz Worthy

Village hosts Easter Seals’ dynamic art

One of the great things about art is that it doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can do it, no matter the limitations.

Art doesn’t care if you’re homeless, if you have a college degree or even if you’re physically or developmentally challenged.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the artwork of the clients in the Easter Seals Southwest Florida’s Art Initiative Program. They will have a special exhibition beginning June 4 at Marina Adair’s Gallery #11 in the Village of the Arts, 925 12th St. W., Bradenton.

Featured will be roughly 30 works of art — in the form of amazing paintings, collages and abstracts created by people living with a variety of developmental disabilities.

In art teacher Karen Davenport’s eyes, her students are living portraits. Artists.

There’s David, who can paint vibrant animals and scenery; Arnetta, who could be the next Georges Seurat in the making. Then there’s Cindy, who can draw exceptionally well, said Davenport — but no one knew how well until the art teacher began working closely with her.

Davenport has been teaching art at Manatee County-based Easter Seals for five years. The program was initially created to help clients — ages 14 through late 80s — gain better coordination. But since its start, the program has morphed into a self-esteem builder, too.

“It’s so fulfilling when they get something finished; then I put it in the frame and it hangs somewhere,” said Davenport, a graduate of Ringling College of Art. “They can look at it and be proud to show people.”

The walls of the art room are filled with works of various animals, flowers (some of the Georgia O’Keeffe-like variety), replicas of Mona Lisa and original designs. Much of the art sells at exhibitions at a range of $15 to $600. Proceeds go to the artists and the art program. The program also runs on art supply donations — including old paintings, which are cut up and remade into collages, said Caroline Tanner, income development director for the organization.

Easter Seals art has been hosted in exhibitions at ArtCenter Manatee, Art Center Sarasota, the Women’s Service Club Antique Sale and elsewhere.

Tanner said the arrival of Easter Seals at the Village of the Arts has had other Village galleries interested in displaying the art, too. The public is invited to the Easter Seals opening reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 4 at Adair’s gallery during the monthly ArtWalk. .

Visit to view a few of the pieces that will be in the month-long show.