Artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities will premiere their sentimental interpretations of various U.S. landscapes at Open Door Art Studio & Gallery’s all-encompassing “Coast to Coast” exhibition Feb. 11 from 5-7 p.m.
Located at 1050 Goodale Blvd., “Coast to Coast” will remain on display Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through March 3 with free admission. The exhibition features a variety of mediums — including acrylic paintings, graphite drawings, pastels and watercolors — Program and Gallery Director Sean Moore said. The exhibition will showcase a range of iconic American destinations in every artist’s medium of choice, he said.
Open Door is an organization that offers care, support and services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to its website . It opened the gallery in 2007 and operates other programs intended to provide career experiences and opportunities for every individual based on his or her specific passions or aspirations, according to the website.
“Coast to Coast,” Open Door’s first exhibition of the year, will include works from a selection of the gallery’s artists, giving them a chance to freely explore personal meanings behind memories of past travels and experiences, Moore said.
“We try to really make things kind of egalitarian so that everyone can take part in the exhibition’s expression, express themselves as they want to express themselves,” Moore said.
Moore said what differentiates “Coast to Coast” from other exhibitions is the way it comprises both figurative and nonfigurative artistic styles.
“We really try to conceptualize exhibitions that can kind of offer opportunity and encompass all — regardless of medium and regardless of artistic direction — of point of view, subject matter,” Moore said.
For example, a nonfigurative piece that’s green and yellow could in fact be algae from the bayou, Moore said.
“They’re incredibly talented,” Moore said. “They’re creative in a way that sometimes even baffles me.”
Program Exhibition and Volunteer Coordinator Claire Smith said “Coast to Coast” highlights themes of travel and represents an appreciation for past explorations, usually including both abstract and objective landscape scenes.
“These artists are artists that have experienced fun times on vacation or are from different places and have moved back to Columbus,” Smith said. “It’s kind of based on state to state traveling, vacation, some roadside attractions, things like that — kind of like a nostalgia about America.”
“Coast to Coast” was designed by Open Door’s staff not only to be easily received by every Open Door artist, but to provoke thought about which places are significant to them and why, Moore said.
“Something that was important to me for whatever memory or childhood reference I have may not be important to someone else,” Moore said. “So, I like seeing what is selected by our artists and what is important to them and then hearing why it’s important to them. I like that kind of background story because it makes me even more connected to the artwork.”
Moore said “Coast to Coast” is an exhibition that cultivates this growth and expressive freedom.
“I think in a traditional space, very figurative works would be important,” Moore said. “I think that us really kind of branching out and allowing for more interpretive pieces that maybe are not direct depictions of something, but that could elicit a feeling of something that someone may recognize, I think that most certainly drives our mission.”
Smith said “Coast to Coast” contributes to Open Door’s goal by providing every artist an opportunity to share something they’re proud of.
“It really helps them feel accomplished in their goals of making artwork and being able to exhibit it places,” Smith said.
All artwork on display in the Coast to Coast exhibition will be available for purchase, Moore said. Artists receive 60 percent of all sales, while the remaining 40 percent goes back into the studio to pay for supplies and materials, he said.
Smith said she plans on contributing to “Coast to Coast” herself with a watercolor painting and hopes visitors will attend the exhibition, not only to experience the U.S. as each individual artist sees it but to see the additional studio art that isn’t a part of the exhibit.
“Our art is affordable. And it’s a great jumping off point for people that want to collect art or need art for their houses,” Smith said.
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