Exhibit highlights talents of artists with vision loss

May 20, 2010 9:58:06 AM PDT
Eight years ago, a local not-for-profit organization created a best-of-shows art exhibit for artists who are blind to promote the unique artistic vision of artists with vision loss.

Passionate Focus, sponsored by the Guild for the Blind, is a week-long exhibit that takes place in different art galleries around the city. This year it's at River North's 233 Gallery.

Thirty-five pieces by 15 artists were selected by a panel of art experts to be part of this year's passionate focus.

Two of Nora Devane's photographs were selected, "Alcatraz Imprisoned" and "Dragonfly on a Wire". "Alcatraz Imprisoned" won the top award.

"We were actually at another show, the Guild for the blind in San Francisco, and my husband stopped and he said, 'You have to get out and take this picture,' and he kept telling me when the light on the light house shone and then, 'Take a picture, take a picture,' " said Devane.

It is amazing to see what she captured in the photo.

"I have about 8 degrees vision... I can see (in front of me), but I don't see anybody beside me or to the side of me."

"Angels Abound", a watercolor painting by Susan Joy Gustafson, has an interesting story.

"I was meditating one morning in December and I just started seeing the painting in my eyes. I jumped up, went to the sink, dipped the watercolor paper in the water," Gustafson said, "and I started mixing the colors that I could see, green and yellow and red, like Christmas, and I started pouring, and I swirled it around, took some sea salt, hit it and walked away for two hours."

With only 2 percent of vision, Julie Bruno's painting "Church" is done with specific details.

"In this picture I examine the windows and I focus on the patterns in the stain glass, and that's why I paint or I look for the shadows where there's architectural details and cutouts," said Bruno.

All the art is for sale. Thirty percent goes to Guild for the Blind and the rest to the artists.

Executive director David Tabak says the exhibit gets better every year.

"It's just one of the things I truly enjoy, is when the artists come and see their work, and the thrill that they have in knowing that the art has been judged no differently that anyone else," said Tabak.

Friday, May 21, is the last day of Passionate Focus.

233 Gallery is located at 233 W. Huron. For more information about the exhibit and the organization go to www.guildfortheblind.org.


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