Seven artists in Aspire's iXpress arts program had the chance to meet the community and showcase their talents recently at Roberto's at the Ironstone.
In a few weeks, the community will be able to place bids on their artwork - and that of seven more iXpress artists - and take it home with them.
The meet-and-greet event was in preparation for Aspire's second annual ''Art on Ice Celebration,'' which will be held at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena on Friday, July 22. Michael Holley, director of development for Aspire of WNY, said that the event is based upon one Aspire has been hosting in Amherst for the past seven years.
Henry Wesley, an Aspire iXpress artist, poses with his painting ‘‘Light Comes’’ during a meet-and-greet event at Roberto’s at the Ironstone recently.
P-J photo by Dave Emke
''We want to showcase and celebrate the extraordinary and amazing talent of these artists,'' Holley said.
Sara Michalak, the iXpress program's art facilitator, said that the artistic work being done through Aspire isn't about therapy - as the agency employs physical and occupational therapists who do that work - though the work does end up becoming therapeutic for everyone involved. Instead, she said, it's about having fun and working on drawing upon skills that clients already possess.
''We focus on having fun, on trying new things, on finding existing skills and honing those skills, and we look for opportunities to introduce a process to somebody who may have had no art experience whatsoever,'' Ms. Michalak said. ''So it runs the gamut, but the focus really is on fun.''
The artwork that was displayed during the meet-and-greet event at Roberto's recently was of different media including painting, drawing, pastels and collage, as well as mixed media including the utilization of caulk and other unorthodox techniques. Ms. Michalak said the individual and collaborative work of 14 artists will be auctioned during the Art on Ice Celebration on July 22, and that smaller pieces such as notecards, jewelry, tote bags and aprons created by many other artists will also be available for purchase during the event.
The celebration, scheduled for 5 to 9 p.m. July 22, will also include local wine and beer tastings, food, and sled hockey and figure skating demonstations, as well as free skate rentals for anyone who wants to get out on the ice and skate for themselves. Universal Mind, a band created through the program and consisting of people with disabilities, will also be performing during the celebration.
Tickets for the celebration are $20, with family packs - good for two adults and two children 12 and under - available for $50.
The meet-and-greet at Roberto's was the second of three scheduled such events, with the first having been held at the Athenaeum Hotel at Chautauqua Institution. The third will be held at Ellicottville Brewing Company West in Fredonia on Tuesday, June 28, at 4 p.m.
Ms. Michalak said that while Aspire is based in Buffalo, a local committee has worked hard to make the Art on Ice Celebration a success.
''This has really happened because of local commitment, and it's been wonderful,'' she said, specifically crediting Mary Gabalski for spearheading the local group.
For more information about the Art on Ice Celebration or the iXpress program, contact Aspire of WNY at 505-5510.