Holiday Express: just friends and family

For Tim McLoone, founder and leader of Holiday Express, bringing his band to Matheny is like visiting old friends. He and his band of merrymakers have been visiting Matheny since 2001, and McLoone, left, knows a lot of the patients and students on a first-name basis.

This year’s concert, held Sunday, December 11, in Matheny’s Robert Schonhorn Arts Center, featured traditional holiday songs, along with the group’s signature song, “Nobody Ought to be Alone on Christmas” and the always challenging audience participation on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” During the performance, McLoone chatted up patients in the audience, telling them that Matheny is one of his favorite places.

Bedminster resident Byron Smith sang an original composition, “Santa’s Comin’.” Matheny father Jim Yedloutschnig of Cedar Grove played a hot trumpet, the Matheny Choir joined in and Holiday Express vocalist Pam McCoy displayed an incredible energy level, bounding all over the auditorium to encourage Matheny students and patients to join in the fun. Over the years, the concert has developed into a family affair as more and more parents and siblings of Matheny students and patients come to listen and become part of the interactive audience.

Holiday Express’ mission is to deliver music, food, gifts, financial support and friendship to those in need during the holiday season. The organization is made up of about 1,300 volunteers including more than 80 professional musicians. This year’s schedule encompasses 55 concerts between Christmas and New Year’s.

Below, adult patient Amanda Kochell receives a present from one of the Holiday Express elves.

Coming full circle

When Eileen Murray joined Matheny Medical Center’s Arts Access Staff in 2001, one of her first jobs was to design the invitation for the first Full Circle event. This year, her first as the Director of Arts Access, marks her 11th Full Circle event, which has become an annual celebration of the program.

Murray, shown here working with Arts Access artist T.J. Christian, became Director in August 2011. She describes Full Circle as, “a culmination and celebration of the work that has been done by the Arts Access artists. Some of it’s new; some of it is work that just hasn’t been shown previously. The main goal, though, is to showcase the artists and their work.”

The title of Full Circle 2011 is “Dimensions,” which, Murray says, is meant to represent, “the different dimensions of each of the artists. They may be painters; they may be playwrights; they may be dancers or choreographers. Arts Access gives them the opportunity to sample all that and to find their one passion or several different passions. The work that’s performed and exhibited is a reflection of the multi-faceted dimensions of the program.”

Full Circle 2011 will be held Saturday, November 5, in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center on the Matheny campus. It will consist of a reception for visual art, from 3-4 p.m., followed by a stage presentation featuring dance, drama and poetry and concluding with another hour devoted to showcasing the visual art. “We hire professional actors and dancers to perform the work as our artists direct,” Murray explains. “The goal is to present the work in the most professional manner true to the artist’s vision.”

To register for the Full Circle show, log onto and click on Full Circle Dimensions under What’s New or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

Art with Soul

“People with disabilities,” says Dan Fenelon, “have exactly the same feelings as you and I. Art is a way for them to express those feelings.”

Fenelon, a Madison, N.J.-based artist, is the curator for the visual arts exhibit at Full Circle 2011 Dimensions, the annual celebration of the Matheny Medical and Educational Center’s Arts Access Program to be held November 5 in Matheny’s Robert Schonhorn Arts Center.

Some of the artwork selected by Fenelon for Full Circle will be
what he describes as “representational art. It’s very emotional work.” The Arts Access artists, he says, “are becoming more sophisticated. There’s more expressionism, rather than abstract expressionism. They’re starting to let the walls down a little. There is a deeper level to this art. It’s very

For people who have never been to Full Circle or seen art created by Arts Access artists,  says Fenelon (left), “Get ready to be surprised. This is as good as art you’ll see anywhere. These people are true artists. Their work is very soulful.”

Thirty-nine pieces of visual art will be displayed at Full Circle. Food and beverages for the receptions have been donated by Ciao restaurant, Basking Ridge; cocoLuxe Fine Pastries, Peapack; Due Terre Enoteca, Bernardsville; Gladstone Tavern, Gladstone; 3 West Restaurant, Basking Ridge; and Village
Office Supply, Somerset.  Admission is $25.

To register, log onto and click on Full Circle Dimensions under What’s New or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

Artistically able

Want to see paintings and digital art that “challenge the senses and push the boundaries of what you think of as art?” Check out the painting on this page by Arts Access artist Shaleena Tomassini at Matheny.  Madison-based artist Dan Fenelon describes the Arts Access artists’ work as “exciting” and Matheny President Steve Proctor says these artists “refuse to be defined by their disabilities.”

The artwork was created as part of the Arts Access Program, which provides professional “artist-facilitators” to help the disabled artists translate their visions into reality. The art will be on view at “Full Circle 2011: Dimensions,” an annual celebration of the program set for November 5 at the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center on the Matheny campus. The show will be curated by Fenelon, a painter, sculptor and muralist whose work includes a mural on the side of the Luna Stage Building in West Orange.  There will also be a stage presentation highlighting other art disciplines such as dance, drama, prose and poetry. For more information about Full Circle, call 908-234-0011, ext. 260, or download this flyer.