You’re invited to the Art After Dark Paso opening art reception of Veterans’ Voices II at Studios on the Park on March 2 from 6 to 9 pm. Bring your toe-tapping shoes as veteran DJ Ed Morris will again rock the house. Come back throughout the month to enjoy and support the veterans who’ve supported us. Every branch of service is represented, with viewpoints as varied as each participating veteran. Our intention is for veterans to visually share thoughts, feelings and ideas. Can we foster understanding and respect for each other through art? The exhibition runs March 2 – 31, 2019.
As program director and curator, I’m grateful for support from the California Arts Council and for the team of dedicated veterans, artists and like-minded volunteers who helped in presenting this important art exhibition and all of the workshops along the way.
The first Veterans’ Voices evolved from a 2017 Paso Robles town hall meeting with Congressman Salud Carbajal. We listened to veterans speak about their challenges: securing housing, recovering from PTSD, balancing mental health, difficulties receiving benefits and more. Feeling compelled to take action; I initiated the Veterans’ Voices art program in 2017. People put their lives on the line for us. Now they need our support.
Other artists volunteered along with me to provide a year of art immersion for veterans and their families. The art experiences culminated in a month-long exhibition of veterans’ art in January 2018 at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles. Veterans visually expressed themselves in safe ways thru creative journaling sessions and art immersion activities. In leading the art sessions, we listened, experienced healthy dialogue via the art experiences, heard one another and built friendships.
In its second year, Veterans’ Voices II is abundant with heartfelt artworks, new and evolving stories, interesting participants and surprises. Remarkable friendships surfaced. We were fortunate to listen as two Paso Robles residents told stories of their active engagement in the Paso Peace Community and WWII. Dick Bloomquist was a WWII Air Force pilot, when Hart Junge, was a youngster living in Dresden, Germany. Look for their story and artworks as we celebrate Mr. Junge’s 81st and Mr. Bloomquist’s 102nd birthdays, during Veterans’ Voices II opening night reception.
Where does Peace Literacy place in a Veterans’ Voices art exhibition? Paul K. Chappell, West Point graduate, Iraq War veteran, and former army captain shows why people need to be as well trained in waging peace, as soldiers are in waging war. We’re fortunate to have Paul return during the exhibition on March 23rd, 10 am to Noon for a FREE presentation. Email me at Deprise585@gmail.com to reserve your spot, space is limited.
Then meet LTC Gregory Arenas, now retired. He was the co-curator for the first Veterans’ Voices in 2018 and continues as the program’s military advisor. In his active retirement, Greg is working with falconry and podcasting. Come see the birds of prey and find out how birds and veterans help each other. Check the Studios online calendar at www.StudiosOnThePark.org for the VFI falconry meet and greet March 23th from 1 to 3 pm.
Continuing this journey of building bridges through art is a privilege. Friendships grow with open dialogue around life, love, war, help, healing, trust and letting go of trauma. We have monthly collaborations with veterans’ organizations, bronze casting sessions for veterans from VetArt.org, Veterans’ Outreach events with face and rock painting at SLO Thursday night farmer’s market and Cuesta College Veteran Resource Fair, and facilitate art sessions for veterans and their families. The Veterans’ Voices II art exhibition is part of a year of impactful programming.
Come to Veterans’ Voices II. If you would like to support the next round of Veterans’ Voices, you can! Work begins June 2019. Kindly send your tax-deductible donations to Arts Obispo 1123 Mill St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Designate - VIA, Veterans’ Voices 2019-2020 matching funds reserve. Or contact me, the curator and program director, Deprise Brescia at Deprise585@gmail.com.
We’re all connected. When we help others, we help ourselves.