Event offers work of local artists

COLUMBIA CITY — Than Bouttel says art makes him happy, and through his photographs he likes to make other people happy too.Connie Brockup finds that art is good relaxation and likes to paint most of all.Robin Elsner likes to re-create what she sees in nature — flowers, birds, rainbows, trees.Through Passages’ art program these clients and many others get the chance to use their artistic talents, and on March 17, they are selling their works of art during the “Paintings, Pickles and Patrick” fundraiser.The fundraiser, which includes a silent auction of juried artwork in several mediums, and Irish food in honor of St. Patrick’s Day from Pickles Café, is planned for 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Touchstone Energy Center at Northeastern REMC in the Park 30 business Center.At the fundrasier, guests will find one-of-a-kind works of art that are suitable for home or office. Most will be framed and ready to hang.Candy Pease oversees the program that got its start about 18 months ago. Twice a week, Passages’ resident artists gather to create. Nearly 100 clients use the program.“What we were searching for was to give clients an opportunity for expression,” said Tom O’Neill, president of Passages. ”We all look for vehicles for our expression and it’s important for everybody to have a way to express themselves.”The program provides more than just an opportunity for expression.O’Neill relates the story of a client who was having a problem. The upset client went into a staff member’s office to vent. Afterward, the art teacher saw the client and sensed that something was wrong. She asked the client if she wanted to draw and through art, the client was able to express what was going on in her head.“There’s value to the program,” O’Neill said. “It’s a healthy outlet to deal with a variety of issues.”The opportunity to express themselves has resulted in some amazing pieces that will be available at the fundraising event.With the proceeds raised from “Paintings, Pickles and Patrick” the goal is to not only expose the community to the talents of Passages’ clients, but to raise money to expand the program into other mediums.“We’ve been severely impacted by cuts in state funding,” O’Neill said. “There’s no reimbursement for the art program, so we need to be creative in finding grants and fundraising.”O’Neill said one of the goals of the fundraising event is to expand what is offered to provide more opportunity for self-expression.“Paintings, Pickles and Patrick” is open to the public, although an RSVP is requested by March 14. To RSVP, call 244-7688 or e-mail digney@passagesinc.org.