Jon Pietrzak has a passion for painting seascapes and landscapes. He creates serene blue backgrounds using gentle, drawn out brushstrokes.
But for a while, when it came to adding the details of flowers and trees, Jon would freeze up and say: “I can’t do that.”
Maria Guevara, ADEC’s art coordinator, would not accept that answer.
“Many of our clients have probably been told throughout their life that they can’t do this or they can’t do that,” Maria said. “But we need to remember to look at the people we serve and think about what they can accomplish. You never know what can happen when they take off with an idea.”
Jon has since embraced the “I can” mentality, and it has paid off. Several of Jon’s landscapes and seascapes, as well as pieces from eight other ADEC artists, will be on display at a fine art gallery in downtown Warsaw for the entire month of June.
The exhibit, which will be on display inside The Gallery at 123 W. Center St., will kick off with a special opening night reception from 6-8:30 p.m. June 2.
The partnership between ADEC and The Gallery started several months ago when Juli Eckel, who owns the gallery with her husband, Marc Eckel, was drawn to a painting she saw by an ADEC artist. She reached out to ADEC to see if there was a way to highlight more of ADEC’s work.
“What ADEC does is a little different form the norm. It’s something that’s cool and something that we want to invest in,” Marc said. “There’s good work in here, and you don’t have to put a label on it that it was created by someone with a disability. People will think it’s neat and interesting, and they can see the talent that’s on display.”
Maria, a professionally trained artist who started at ADEC in February, was eager to work on the project. As ADEC’s art coordinator, Maria’s job is to help clients develop new techniques to express themselves through art while also showing direct support professionals how they can support ADEC artists.
She spent her first month on the job getting to know the hundreds of clients ADEC serves at its five day service locations in Bristol, Goshen, Elkhart, Middlebury and Mishawaka.
“I really enjoyed the process and getting to know the clients,” Maria said. “I think about them and what they have overcome, and I think about the choices and possibilities that their art will bring them.”
Some ADEC artists have already demonstrated their talent and have had their work commissioned for hotels in Muncie and other special events. Maria made it a goal to select artists for The Gallery who had not been featured in the past.
She worked with managers and leaders at each location to identify clients with potential and passion.
“I was able to meet them where they were and guide them in a way they could thrive,” she said.
The artist started by browsing Pinterest for inspiration. Some would be drawn to abstract shapes, one loved anything with glitter or sparkle and another wanted to focus on dragons and lizards.
“What I found so amazing is each of these artists picked a theme they were drawn to and they took off with it,” she said. “I think that is incredible.”
Maria spent several weeks working one-on-one with the artists, developing new techniques the artists enjoyed using and helping them make their vision come to life on the canvas.
“As they became more comfortable with me, great things started to happen,” Maria said. “They enjoyed the work they were doing and they wanted to do more of it.”
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jon: Jon created seascapes and landscapes using a pallet knife to spread blends of blue and green paint across the canvas.
Ricky: Ricky was drawn to circles and patterns. Maria started by guiding Ricky where to paint, but “he kind of took it in his own direction.”
Marlin: For The Gallery, Marlin created beautiful paintings of animals with names like “Strength” for a lion or “Stand Tall” for a giraffe. “The patches of color are just beautiful,” Maria said. “He would just brighten up and you could tell he really enjoyed his work.”
Buffy: Buffy enjoyed painting and drawing flowers. She enjoyed making the paint crackle and peel a little bit for a unique effect.
Beth Ann: “I want sparkle,” Beth Ann told Maria when they began working together, so her pieces incorporate gold leaf paint.
Kris: Kris started working on painting pieces, but Maria learned that Kris had created a sculpture at home and encouraged him to try sculpting something for The Gallery. “He was open to new ideas, but he wanted to steer where it went, which was nice.”
Scott: Scott was drawn to abstract pieces, so Maria showed him how to use cardboard to spread the paint out across the canvas to create sunbursts. “He is very calm, quiet and open to instructions, but he would have his own ideas and take the initiative to venture out on his own.”
Michael: Michael can draw anything that is put in front of him. He likes to draw characters from films. His pieces at The Gallery were created using a red pen and paint markers to color in his line drawings.
Barbara: Barbara is very quiet, but Maria noticed that she would come to the art room every day. “She loved being there,” Maria said. Because Barbara has a shaky arm, Maria worked with her to find a medium that did not require fine motor movement. Barbara’s work includes tissue paper, which bleeds to create vibrant colors, with acrylic paint.
ABOUT THE GALLERY
The Gallery is a creative space intended to help people experience and celebrate the arts.
Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Address: 123 W. Center Street, Warsaw
ABOUT ART BY ADEC
With woodworking, baking, painting, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and custom cards, ADEC has become an arts vendor with a meaningful cause.
In each of our five day service locations, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities work with dedicated and skilled staff members to complete high-quality art projects on a daily basis.
For many people who come to ADEC’s day services, creating art pieces, baking dog bones or assembling woodwork projects is their everyday job. When asked, “What is your job?” they’ll respond right away with, “I’m an artist.”
When you purchase Art by ADEC, 50% of the proceeds go to the artists involved. The remaining 50% is used to fund ADEC’s art programs so more people can learn to use their creativity.
Visit our Art by ADEC store at 19670 S.R. 120 in Bristol from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or Gaining Grounds Coffee House (Goshen & Middlebury) to purchase Art by ADEC year round.