The Vella Group to Host Detroit’s First Gallery Dedicated to Artists with Disabilities
by The Vella Group
The Vella Group has formed a unique philanthropic partnership with Services to Enhance Potential (STEP) to present the first Detroit gallery dedicated to artists with disabilities. STEP provides supports and services to those in Wayne County with developmental disabilities and mental health needs.
From May 6 to September 24, we’ll host four exhibits at our Detroit office featuring artists from STEP’s Progressive Art Studio Collective (PASC), a program that supports professional artists with disabilities. By turning our first-floor office space into a temporary gallery, we’re making it possible for these artists to connect with members of the public in new ways.
Since its launch a year ago, PASC has moved quickly to establish disabled artists as part of the Detroit and global art community.
“Although we are very young, we are filling a huge need in the Detroit and Wayne County community to provide exposure to artists with disabilities and advance disabled creative expression.” – Anthony Marcellini, PASC program manager
Opening Exhibit: Liberty Realm
Curated by Detroit artist James Benjamin Franklin, the first exhibit, titled Liberty Realm, will feature the work of 13 PASC artists. The exhibit’s public grand opening runs 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 6 – Register to Attend. From May 7 to June 5, the exhibit will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
“Since being introduced to PASC, I have witnessed amazing work come to life and the incredible joy it brings to the artists, especially when it is shared with the public. This program has such a positive impact on the community because it shows the magic we unlock when people are shown a path to express themselves creatively.” – James Benjamin Franklin
Proceeds from art sales will be shared between the artists and PASC. The full pop-up gallery schedule is as follows:
- May 6 to June 5 – Liberty Realm grand opening May 6. Curated by James Benjamin Franklin, Detroit artist, represented by Reyes/Finn Gallery
- June 10 to July 10 – Curated by Anita Bates and Thomas Pyrzewski of artists, curators and educators at Wayne State University
- July 15 to August 28 – Curated by Bridgett Finn, partner at Reyes/Finn Gallery
- September 2 to 24 – Curated by Tyrrell Winston, an artist represented by Detroit’s Library Street Collective Gallery
This exhibition series has been partially funded by a grant from Michigan Arts and Cultural Council. Visit the PASC website for more information on the Liberty Realm exhibition and stay tuned for more information about upcoming exhibits.
Liberty Realm Featured Artists
The following is a sampling of the artists featured in the Liberty Realm exhibit. For full details about all the artists and to purchase art online, visit the Liberty Realm exhibition page on the PASC website.
Stanley Brown makes his mixed media drawings through an intensive process of heavily layering on patterns of media, starting with graphite, followed by colored pencil, then ballpoint pen, with a final layer of bold linework using an acrylic marker. This process gives his drawings an almost three-dimensional appearance, with each layer existing as a plane in a separate Stanley space.
Lewis Foster makes drawings featuring neat rows of serial images of objects from modernist furniture, to vehicles, to archaeological artifacts. He usually works from art, design and anthropological history books and depicts his catalog of objects in precise and tightly detailed renderings using colored pencil.
Mandy Demorest is a skilled draftsman, with a distinctive cartoon-like, whimsical style. Her artwork is thematically wide ranging, focused on myriad subjects like sports, Disney, historical themes, even abstraction, sometimes all within the same artwork. Yet all her artwork, even when representational, is tied together through an underlying grid or geometric structure.
Darlene Mahan is a natural geometric abstract painter. She has a beautiful sense of color and form, and plays with composition where brightly colored shapes are curiously juxtaposed off each other. Whether a grid of colors or a composition of triangles, circles, squares and lines, Darlene renders her objects in dynamic style that gives them a comic and almost animated quality.