Esther Forte, 36, talked to a reporter on the phone from Malvern, where, after only four years’ experience painting, one of her works was on exhibit in a juried show at Malvern National Bank. Her florals in tempera on paper are cheerful, her brushstrokes are lively, her palette bright primary colors.
“I like flowers,” Forte said; they remind the viewer of “springtime and of being happy.”
Forte, who is friendly, outgoing, sings in her church choir and is a diagnosed schizophrenic, is looking forward to May 5, when she and other members of Birch Tree Communities will exhibit their work at the “Expressions Art Show and Sale” at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
More than 175 paintings, photographs and books of poetry will be sold at the event, which runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the church, 1000 N. Mississippi. All sale proceeds go to the artists. Corporate sponsors and private contributors help put on the exhibit. Dizzy’s Grill and Bistro will provide hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer will be served, and the jazz group Wine and Roses will play. Julia Grayson of KATV, Channel 7, will be the host of a live auction of selected pieces starting at 7:30 p.m.; other works will be priced. Tickets are $20 each or $35 per couple and may be purchased at the door.
Birch Tree’s therapeutic Expressive Arts program teaches its members — all of whom suffer from severe and persistent mental illness — painting, sculpture, photography, poetry, filmmaking, acting, dance and music. Instructor Jim Tindall said the programs boost members’ “emotional well-being” and offer them a way to present themselves in the community as something other than persons with mental illness.
The need to express oneself artistically — in writing, art, music or drama — is universal, Tindall said. “The needs of our members are the same as our needs.” But Birch Tree’s members haven’t had the same means or opportunities to experience the arts; Birch Tree tries to rectify that by taking them to plays and galleries and other events that Tindall called “normalizing.”
Birch Tree, a private non-profit, contracts with the state to serve 300 members in nine locations.
? The Arkansas Arts Center opens two major exhibits Friday, April 29: “Piranesi: Master Etcher of Rome” and “Richard Jolley: Glass Sculptor.”
Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an 18th- century printmaker known for his fantastical, romantic drawings of Rome’s architecture, both ancient and contemporary to his day. The 12 works on exhibit include recent gifts to the Arts Center’s collection by Dr. and Mrs. James Guthrie.
Tennessee artist Richard Jolley made his mark in the national glass scene with a molding technique he developed in the 1980s. He creates glass busts and torsos; he stacks them up in his “Totem Series.” The show runs April 29-July 3.