Event showcases artistic talents of area adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities

(St. Charles, MO, Oct. 29, 2019) St. Charles-based Willows Way, a non-profit organization providing support to area adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), will celebrate its annual Art of Wine event 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14 at Willows Way, 800 Friedens Road. The FREE event is open to the public.

During the event, Art of Wine attendees will be treated to wine and appetizers and have an opportunity to view and purchase original photographs and paintings created by clients in Willows Way’s Mentor Arts program. The artists receive 100% of the proceeds from the sale of their art. This year, eight photographers and five painters will be exhibiting their work.

“This is the coolest event! Their talent blows me away and the thrill of watching the artists sell their work is something you won’t forget. You’ll meet the artists, fall in love with one their pieces and walk away with an amazing story to tell,” said Willows Way Executive Director Joy Steele. “Our Mentor Arts Program brings out the social and creative side of our clients, which is really great to witness.”

Willows Way started the Mentor Arts Program in 2014 as a tool for its clients to express themselves, socialize, gain an appreciation for art and build their self-esteem. The program consists of a painting class and a photography club.

Participants in the painting class are mentored by professional artists and learn how to select subject matter, mix paints and use different brush stroke techniques to create their original paintings. Participants also explore the works of various artists during the weekly class.

Jodi A. of O’Fallon, MO has participated in the painting class for the past two years. She says she wanted to join the class because she has been interested in drawing and painting for as long as she can remember and wanted to learn some new skills. She sold five paintings at last year’s Art of Wine event.

“I like painting animals and buildings and I enjoy painting with other people and seeing other people’s artwork,” she said of her experience in the class. “I learned some new techniques and more about mixing paints.”

Willows Way’s photography club meets regularly and participates in various photo shoot outings throughout the St. Charles and St. Louis areas. In the past, the photography club has visited the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, The Butterfly House in Faust Park, Soulard Market, a horse farm and 370 Lakeside Park in St. Peters. Professional photographers volunteer their time to mentor the clients and chaperone their photo shoots.

Marie C. of O’Fallon, MO has been in the photography club for the past three years. She sold four pictures at last year’s Art of Wine event. This year’s event will feature photographs she took of a log cabin in Civic Park and cars at Fast Lane Classic Cars.

“I like taking pictures of stuff and I am very photogenic. Being in the club gets me out of the house and I get to hang out with my friends that I have met through Willows Way,” Marie said. For more information about Art of Wine, visit www.willowsway.org/fundraising-events-news.

About Willows Way

Willows Way promotes independence and personal growth for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) through a variety of social-service programs. These include: Realities, which provides up to eight hours of individualized services per week; Individualized Supported Living, which provides up to 24-hour-a-day support to allow individuals to live independently based on their needs and goals; Reaching Independence Through Social Engagement (RISE), which offers participants daily structured activities designed to promote social networking, community involvement, volunteerism and physical activities; Individualized Skills Development/Community Integration, which offers services to build independent living skills while developing friendships and community connections; and Project HEART, which provides stimulating, person-centered health education classes, skills training and resource information. For more information about Willows Way, visit willowsway.org or call 636-947-6591.