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Art exhibit to benefit project for mental health healing

BRADENTON — Susan Curry describes the artwork she will exhibit beginning Friday at the Still Life in G gallery as “nightmarish, but childlike.”

It’s fitting then that the monoprints she created in 1992 will benefit a new project that helps those struggling to overcome mental illness.

Curry endured her own bout of personal doubt and alienation while dreaming up the colorful, often frightening artwork.

During that period, Curry often drove to pastoral Myakka to work on her art. An encounter with a bulldozer inspired the five-print series that features heavy mechanical equipment disrupting serene scenes.

“It’s so beautiful out there,” Curry remembered Tuesday. “One day, there was a bulldozer in the middle of all that beauty, about to start digging it up. It’s more about things being displaced, people being displaced.

“It was really, really tough. Part of it was I was going through a divorce. I moved into a little cottage I bought. It needed a lot of work. My home was uprooted.”

Monoprints are made by running designs etched on a plate through a large press.

Curry and seven of her artist friends — Jean Blackburn, Richard Thomas, Woody Candish, Linda Molto, Rick Grice, Ines Norman and Karen Klosky — have contributed pieces for the exhibit.

The show begins at 6 p.m. Friday with a grand opening to coincide with Village ArtWalk and will continue through Feb. 27 at Still Life in G.

The show is free, but proceeds from the purchase of artwork will support Manatee Glens’ Healing Wall Project. Tax-deductible donations to the project also will be accepted at the gallery.

Gallery owner Deb McKeever, a licensed mental health counselor at Manatee Glens, started the Healing Wall Project in August.

With funding from Manatee Glens, clients have painted scenes depicting recovery on 110 of the 350 tiles McKeever hopes will one day cover an interior wall at the group’s hospital and addiction center on 26th Avenue East.

The funding has run out so McKeever is raising money for remaining tiles, glazes and framing materials. Sixty-eight of the completed Healing Wall tiles will be on display during the exhibit.

“The idea is if clients can make a healing intention concrete, it leads them in a direction toward recovery,” McKeever said.

Curry’s path to recovery has not always been smooth, she said. She often used her stays at hospitals or mental health facilities as an opportunity to paint in a calm, relaxed atmosphere.

She admitted to a “touch of fear” about attending the exhibit opening but plans to go upon the urging of daughter Emma, 21, and son Jasper, 17.

But Curry said the feelings of chaos and alienation depicted in her monoprints have faded through the years.

“I’m not there anymore,” she said. “I feel a lot better. As you get older, things just get softer and nicer.”

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