Art show promotes creative vision of legally blind

May 19, 2011 9:59:03 AM PDT
A tradition is continuing for a Chicago organization that has given some of the best blind artists the opportunity to showcase their work at a unique exhibit.

This is the ninth year for Guild for the Blind's Passionate Focus art show. It promotes the creative artistic vision of artists who are legally blind.

Colorful paintings. Detailed drawings. Photographs of reflections. These are some of the art works that have been selected by a panel of art experts for the 2011 passionate focus exhibit.

David Tabak is executive director of Guild for the Blind.

"It's really interesting, just the more professional artists are starting to submit their work because they know that this is the one if they're going to be submitting," said Tabak.

Thirty-five pieces by 19 artists were selected out of 30 who entered.

"When we started it was primarily a Chicago-based art show, people we basically knew," said Tabak. "It has grown into now an international art show."

Artist Susan Gustafson from Vancouver, Wash., is back for the fourth time. Two of her paintings were selected this year. One is called "Raising Ebenezers"

"It was inspired by my trip to Moab, Utah, and the rock formations there, slick rock formations, and so they reminded me of rocks stacked to lead the way," said Gustafson.

"Passion for Poppies" speaks for itself.

"I paint in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, and lots of poppies there," Gustafson said.

All of the art is for sale. Thirty percent goes to the organization and 70 percent to the artist.

From Oakland, Calif., artist Charles Blackwell's abstract is called "Passengers on a San Francisco Street Car."

"I think it's about a woman on a San Francisco street car," said Blackwell. "I used inks, I used my fingers, I used an ink spout, and I was doing slashes with a squirting ink on paper and drip, drip I used drips also and loud colors."

"It's incredibly inspiring," said Tabak. "It's just, on one hand I am just in awe of what these people are able to do with vision loss, and on the other hand it's amazing how quickly I forget that they're disabled."

Passionate Focus will be at Zhou B. Art Center until Friday, May 20. The address is 1029 W. 35th Street in Chicago. If you want more information, go to

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