Friday, April 29, 2011

Artists at work

Finally winter's snowpack melted and we were able to venture forth from our house. Gaining access to state programs for the developmentally disabled has been extremely slow, and I have little hope that Marcus and Tevis will actually get any services. Apparently the only folks who actually get help are those whose parents have died and who have nowhere to go. So I set my mind to finding other community programs for the guys.

Fortunately, while searching on the internet, I found the Turner Center for the Arts. Located in the quaint old downtown area of Maplewood, with other studios and shops, the studio provides an open studio for artists with and without disabilities. Most of the artists are autistic or developmentally disabled. I knew this would be right up Tevis' alley, as he has always loved any type of art: drawing, painting, glueing, cutting, crafts. So initially I took only him. I admit that the first time he went, I breathed a great sigh of relief when I dropped him off. This was the first time I had had three hours to myself since we moved to St. Louis! Ahhhhhhh! And I only had to pay $10 for him to participate for three hours. He enjoyed the artwork immensely, so he began attending regularly twice a week.

I didn't really think Marcus would be interested. He used to draw quite a bit when he was young, but hadn't shown any interest in art since then. But he decided to give it a try, probably just to get away from the house after being housebound for so long during the severe winter. Surprisingly, he enjoyed himself and wanted to keep attending.

On a warm spring evening recently, the studio held an art show. The guys were proud of their displayed work. I was proud, too, and not only of the finished products. I was proud that Tevis has been able to go to a community activity without any behavioral issues. I'm proud that Marcus was able to get out of his rather rigid routine to try something new. And I really appreciate this center that gives folks with disabilities the opportunity to express and discover their creative talents.