Scattered among the various and sundry items in a store called Latitudes and Longitudes, on Main Street between Grape and Cotton streets, are an assortment of colorful artistic works featuring architecture, plant-life and some other personifications of the artistic mind.
The Salvation Army’s Developmental Disabilities Program recently featured a gallery of artwork by members of its Creative HeARTS Program. The Creative HeARTS Program started in 2007 in partnership with the Delaware Division of Arts and is designed to help cultivate the talents of artists with developmental and cognitive disabilities and to inspire them to learn more about their passions. This is done through several classes and various exhibitions of member work. The program started out with only five people in its weekly classes but has since grown to welcome 15 or more students regularly. Through the program, members are able to improve their techniques and put on display their hard work for others to admire and even purchase.
For many of its members, the program is much less about profit or recognition, however, and more about finding an outlet for personal hurdles and improving as an individual.
Latitudes and Longitudes owner, Meredith Podob, recently displayed the artwork of members Marvin Walston, Sarah Bosco, Todd Meyer and Kim Smith proudly in her store.
“It’s amazing,” she said of her first-time experience hosting the group. “t’s so heartwarming to see them talking and interacting with everybody and basically be so excited to have their artwork done.”
Podob, however, was not the only one beaming with excitement at the spectrum of artistic aptitude adorning her walls. The artists too seemed overjoyed at the opportunity to inspire others with their work. Joined with the friends they’ve made through the program, the artists enjoyed a relaxing night of refreshments, good company and the satisfaction of the debut of their masterpieces at a new location.
“I like water colors,” said Sarah Bosco, one of the night’s featured artists. “I do a lot of trees, the tree of hope. And I do a lot of vines and butterflies sometimes.”
Bosco also went into detail about how much art means to her and how she wants her artwork to affect others.
“My favorite part is for the kids’ awareness of the tree of hope,” she said. “I love art so much. It helps me with my heart, my soul and my hands.”
Christy Cugno, director for the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Program, explained how the Creative HeARTS Program helps the individuals involved and how it impacts the community as well.
“It has brought an opportunity for our individuals to show their creativity and to grow and to find ways of having self-esteem,” she said. “And it lets the community know that they have a lot of abilities and not just disabilities.”
Podob became connected to The Salvation Army through a friend she had met there. This particular art show had been the result of months of back-and-forth communication between the organization and Podob, who said it took about a year to get to the point when they were actually able to do the art gallery.
Latitudes and Longitudes, however, is not the only place in which these artists have garnished the existing interior design. The group also had their work displayed in a similar fashion at Salon 1522 in North Philadelphia in December 2012.
The artwork will be displayed on the walls of the store for the entire month of November and proceeds from any of the artwork sales go directly to the artist. For more information about the Creative HeARTS program or The Salvation Army go to: www.salvationarmyusa.com.