By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – During the month of October, the Paseo Arts District will hold an art show at The Paseo Plunge featuring work by artists who are experiencing homelessness. The opening reception will be held on October 6 at 3010 Paseo in Oklahoma City during Paseo’s first Friday art walk.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, the Paseo Plunge exhibit is free and open to the public.
The featured artists participate in “Fresh stART,” a program of the Homeless Alliance and City Care designed to provide people experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City with a supportive environment for creating art.
Research shows that there are many benefits from open studio art programs. In addition to providing the artists with a potential source of income, art therapy programs allow them to have a creative outlet, helps to manage emotional issues, and develops social skills while interacting with others in a positive environment. It also creates self confidence and skills that can be used in daily life and in employment opportunities.
“I like to make art,” said Lee, a Fresh stART artist. “It takes my mind off everything else going on in my life. It is nice and peaceful here.”
Lee took an art class with her mom in high school and found that she loved to paint. After getting married and having children she let her artistic interests go for a while and didn’t paint for some time.
After she experienced homelessness, Lee found her way to the Homeless Alliance’s Day Shelter where she began attending the Fresh stART studio. She revived her interest in art and has been painting ever since.
“You see people who don’t normally communicate with others talking in class about art, and sharing techniques with one another,” said Kim Woods, deputy director at the Homeless Alliance.
Fresh stART artwork covers a variety of mediums including mixed media, collage, water color, acrylic and colored pencil.
“Art allows people to temporarily escape their difficult situations and provides an opportunity to interact with peers in a positive environment,” said Dan Straughan, executive director at the Homeless Alliance. “When an artist sells something that they created, it really helps build their confidence knowing that someone else values their work.”
Fresh stART hosts studio time twice per week at the Homeless Alliance’s Day Shelter located on the WestTown Homeless Resource Campus. It relies on the community to donate art supplies and funding to operate the program.
Originally built as a public swimming pool in the 1930s, The Paseo Plunge is currently being transformed into a multi-purpose art space supporting a variety of creative disciplines. More information about the gallery and hours of operation can be found at www.PaseoPlunge.com.
A 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization, the Homeless Alliance operates several housing programs for families with children and coordinates a community effort to house veterans and people who are chronically homeless. The Alliance also publishes The Curbside Chronicle ,a magazine that employs and empowers homeless and low-income individuals in Oklahoma City.
The Homeless Alliance owns and operates the Westtown Homeless Resource Campus which includes a Resource Center with offices for multiple nonprofit and government agencies, a Day Shelter that serves an average of 300 people each day and a housing complex.
For more information about how to help, call the Homeless Alliance at 405-415-8410 or visit homelessalliance.org.