A lawmaker visits Matheny

Congressman Leonard Lance chats with Arts Access artist Luis Rodriguez.

Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) took one look at an untitled painting by Arts Access artist Jason Christie and exclaimed, “If you had told me that was a Jackson Pollock, I would have believed you!”

Rep. Lance toured Matheny recently, starting at the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center where he praised staff members, students and patients for being awarded a 2013 Fast Track Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

He visited with artist Luis Rodriguez in the visual arts studio and then watched Rodriguez work on his choreography with two dance facilitators. “I was pleased to talk with staff and patients at Matheny and learn more about the facility’s first-class art program for residents,” Lance said. “I was also impressed with the high quality of care that is provided to patients at this top-notch facility in Peapack.”

Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators. The NEA grant was awarded to help support the 20th anniversary of Arts Access, which will be celebrated in November.

An accomplished artist

“Woman” by Cheryl Chapin.

What’s the difference between art created and performed by artists with developmental disabilities and those who are able-bodied? Sonya Kimble-Ellis, the writing facilitator in Matheny’s Arts Access Program, has noticed that, “aside from infusing personal and life experiences into the work, the beauty, intensity and integrity remains the same. Artists with developmental disabilities, however, also aren’t afraid to take risks that often lead to unexpected results.”

For example, take the art of Cheryl Chapin, a resident of Matheny’s group home in Basking Ridge and a participant in the Arts Access Program, which enables people with disabilities to create fine art assisted by professional-artist facilitators. Chapin’s work includes paintings, digital art, dance and dramatic and poetic writings. She has been creating art for more than 18 years, and according to Kimble-Ellis, “Her passion for reading and conversation is infectious. She also gets joy from creating acrylic paintings and digital art.”

Her visual art pieces have been on display at the Atrium Gallery in Morristown, NJ; the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton; the Wallace Art Gallery at Overlook Hospital in Summit; and Johnson & Johnson in Raritan. One of her pieces, titled “Lights in a Far Off Galaxy,” can be seen on a traffic box in Warren Township, NJ, at the intersection of Mountain Avenue and Stirling Road.

Chapin will have her written pieces showcased in the stage presentation at the rescheduled Full Circle 2012: Unexpected Art, a celebration of the Arts Access Program now being held from 3p.m.-6 p.m. on December 1in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center at Matheny. She will also have two pieces of visual art on display: “Woman” (pictured) and “Falling Leaves.” The visual arts exhibit has been curated by Dan Fenelon, a Madison, NJ-based, award-winning artist who continually gives back to the local community.

All reservations originally purchased for November 3 will be honored December 1. To purchase tickets for the first time, email pcats@matheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260. If you purchased a ticket but are unable to attend on the new date, refund requests will be honored by contacting Patricia Cats at email address/phone number above.


Moving forward

“Blue” by James Lane.

All of us at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center hope that our friends and supporters are recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

Full Circle 2012: Unexpected Art, the annual celebration of our Arts Access Program, has been rescheduled for Saturday, December 1.  Matheny will be donating 50% of all proceeds from the sale of Arts Access merchandise to support hurricane relief efforts.

We are pleased to have this opportunity to honor and showcase the Arts Access artists and their creative spirits. Please join us from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. on December 1 in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center at Matheny for a fine art exhibit and stage performance featuring all original works by Arts Access artists in painting, digital art, sculpture, drama, dance and creative writing..

To purchase tickets, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260 or email pcats@matheny.org. To purchase tickets online, click here (https://events.matheny.org/FullCircle2012). If you have already paid for your tickets, we will apply your registration to the new date. If you are unable to attend, you may request a refund by contacting Patricia Cats at the phone number/email address listed above.

Full Circle will honor the life and memory of  Robert Schonhorn, the late Matheny president whose vision and love of the arts brought this groundbreaking program into prominence on a state and national level.

Arts in Healing Coalition

“Church in PA” by Cindy Shanks.

Two of the artists in our Arts Access Program, Cindy Shanks and Jessica Evans, have had artwork accepted in a juried exhibition to be held by the Arts in Healing Coalition from Oct. 17 through Jan. 14, 2013, in the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center.

Shanks says her painting style is “about having fun. It’s also about love. The painting titled ‘Church in PA’ is about a place that I went to as a teenager. I came up with the name first and then did the painting.” When Evans does her artwork, it allows her to get out “what I’m feeling. When you’re in a doorway or room, and you can’t get out, you feel trapped and confined. That was the idea behind the painting, ‘Trapped and You Can’t Get Out’. It’s how I was feeling that day.”

The Arts in Healing Coalition at Atlantic Health System, which also includes Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, and Newton Medical Center, was created by a group of passionate people from the community who recognize and understand the value of the arts in the healing process. Members of the Coalition educate, inspire and encourage people to participate and share the healing benefits in the creative process.

Matheny’s Arts Access Program enables people with disabilities, such as Shanks and Evans, to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators. The Arts in Healing Coalition will hold a combination reception and holiday party from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on December 11 in Auditorium B at the Morristown Medical Center.

“Trapped and You Can’t Get Out” by Jessica Evans.


Prepare to be impressed

“Out Any Place” by Jason Weiner.

“If I saw this show in Chelsea, I would be impressed.” That’s how Dan Fenelon, curator of the visual arts exhibition at Full Circle 2012: Unexpected Art, describes the visual art that will be on display in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center at Matheny from 3 p.m.—6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3. Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators. Full Circle is the annual celebration of the Arts Access Program.

Forty-five pieces of contemporary visual fine art will be on display in a gallery reception beginning at 3 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. stage presentation showcasing choreography/dance, drama and poetry, all created by Arts Access artists. Fenelon is an award-winning artist who continually gives back to local communities. His work has been shown in galleries in New York, Miami, Boston, Philadelphia and Santa Fe, and he recently completed The Peace Summit Mural in Newark. “You can expect to see the work of some very impressive artists at Full Circle,” he says. “And the work is moving from the geometric abstract style to aspects of folk or urban art.”

“Mom” by Michael Arin.

For more information about Full Circle or to order tickets, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260, or email pcats@matheny.org.

Artwork that makes a difference

Isabell Villacis and T. J. Christian with their painting, “Healing Life.”

Amy’s Treat is a non-profit foundation that was created in December 2007 in memory of Amy Maliszewski, who died from cancer. The Dover, NH-based organization was founded by Maliszewski’s daughter Rachel O’Neill and is dedicated to providing solutions to the day-to-day difficulties of living with the disease. According to its website, www.amystreat.org, it offers “unexpected treats to renew the spirit.”

One of those “treats” is a painting called “Healing Life” created by Arts Access artists T.J. Christian and Isabell Villacis. Christian is an adult medical day patient at Matheny. Villacis participates in Arts Access twice a month as part of the Self Directed Services program of the Lakeview School in Edison, NJ. Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.

Coincidentally, Christian met Maliszewski’s sister Mary Beth Seaman a few years ago when she was working in the now defunct Somerville gift shop, What’s in the Icebox. Seaman is a direct support professional caring for people with developmental disabilities, and Villacis is now her client. When she brought Villacis to Arts Access for an initial visit, she was reunited with Christian, and Villacis and Christian also became friends. When they learned about Amy’s Treat, both artists wanted to do something to help cancer patients and decided to collaborate on a painting. “We wanted to give a treat to cancer patients,” says Christian. Adds Villacis: “We felt we could make a difference with our artwork.”

Unexpected art

At Full Circle 2011, actress Alexandra Hellquist read “My Pakistani Princess,” written by Mike Cornely, right.

You would never expect to see a painting by someone who cannot hold a brush, hear a poem written by someone who has never spoken a word or see a dance choreographed by a person who has never walked. Yet, that is precisely what occurs at Matheny’s Arts Access Program, where the unexpected happens every day.

The artists with disabilities at Arts Access use unique methods employed by the Arts Access Program to overcome their disabilities and express themselves in multiple artistic disciplines. Full Circle 2012: Unexpected Art, being held from 3 p.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, November 3, in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center at Matheny, will celebrate the unlimited artistic abilities of these unexpected artists.

To order tickets, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260, or email pcats@matheny.org.


Birthday painting

From left, Teddy and Maura Sommers, Jessica Evans holding her painting and Grace Sommers.

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Sharon Held and her sister Maura, both of whom lived in Mendham, NJ, were regular volunteers at Matheny. Sharon, inspired by her experience at Matheny, went on to become a physical therapist and now lives in the Buffalo area where she is an associate professor at Daemen College in Amherst, NY.

When her sister, now Maura Sommers of Bridgewater, NJ, visited the Arts Access exhibit at the Bernardsville, NJ, Public Library in July, she decided to buy a painting as a special birthday gift for Sharon from her five siblings, parents, nieces and nephews.  Sharon’s 50th birthday was July 3.

Maura selected “Soaring So High You Can’t Even See It,” by Jessica Evans. The artist met with Sommers, her daughter Grace and her son Teddy to record a video interview that will be presented to Sharon along with the painting. Evans explained that the circles in her painting, “show my personality, and I love glitter. It shows me how I was feeling that day.”

Sommers hopes Sharon will be able to visit Matheny in December when she will be in New Jersey for several days.

Arts Access makes it possible for people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.

Special visitor

Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, left, and Steve Proctor, Matheny president, admire an untitled painting by Arts Access artist Michael Martin.

New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula (D) recently visited Matheny to familiarize himself with our mission and to better understand the needs of people with disabilities in the state.

Touring the entire Matheny facility, the assemblyman finished up in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center, where he learned about Matheny’s unique Arts Access Program, which enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.

Chivukula, who is deputy speaker of the Assembly and chair of the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, is running for Congress in New Jersey’s Seventh District, opposing incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance (R). Chivukula was elected to the Assembly in 2002.

NJ Arts Council grant for Arts Access

“The Ice C” by Arts Access artist Ellen Kane.

Matheny’s Arts Access Program, which enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators, was awarded $31,152 by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  The grant was given for “general program support.” Matheny’s grant was one of nearly 800 given to arts organizations throughout the state on July 31.

The awards were announced at the NJSCA’s annual meeting held at the War Memorial in Trenton. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, commenting on the grants, said, “Investing in the arts is critical to New Jersey’s future. Today’s grants will serve as a catalyst of economic growth and jobs, not to mention a key contributor to improving our overall quality of life.”

Untitled by Arts Access artist Faith Stolz.

Freedom of expression

Natalia Manning with Johnson & Johnson vice president Arun Kumar.

“My art makes me feel free.”

Using an automated communications device, Arts Access artist Natalia Manning told a roomful of Johnson & Johnson employees what creating art means to her. The occasion was the opening reception for a special exhibition of Arts Access artwork at the J&J Information Technology Building in Raritan, NJ. More than 50 works of art created by 20 Arts Access artists are on display through the end of October on all four floors of the building. The exhibit includes paintings, digital art and sculptures.

Three other Arts Access artists – Jessica Evans, Chris Saglimbene and Alex Stojko – accompanied Manning to the reception, along with several members of the Arts Access staff.  Matheny’s Arts Access Program enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.

Arts Access at Bernardsville Library

Untitled, by Faith Stolz.

Twenty paintings by 15 different artists in Matheny’s Arts Access Program will be on display at the Bernardsville, NJ, Library from July 2-30. An opening reception will be held from 2-3 p.m. on Monday, July 9.

Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.  Paintings featured in the exhibition will be small and medium-sized abstract works on canvas. This display will provide Arts Access artists the opportunity to share their works with the Somerset Hills community. All proceeds from artwork sales are split 50/50, with half the funds going directly to the artist and the other half going to Matheny to cover the cost of art materials, stretching and framing of the work.

"The Ice C," by Ellen Kane.


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