Port Townsend: Gatheringplace artists gain public acclaim

PORT TOWNSEND — Three years ago, Craig Rogers started taking art classes after physical problems forced him to close his landscaping business. Today, he is planning to open a studio and sell his paintings, as well as reproduce his artwork on note cards.

“I would love to be able to make a living at it,” Rogers said.

Rogers, who was born with spina bifida, developed his artistic talent at classes given by Gatheringplace, an organization that provides activities for adults with disabilities. Funded by a calendar featuring works by local artists, Gatheringplace is becoming known for the success of the artists.

“It was such a perfect match with our program,” Linda Ferris said. “We turned towards art for the potential for exposure in the community. We didn’t know we’d be selling it.”

Ferris founded Gatheringplace 10 years ago to provide a private care residence and social opportunities for her daughter and other adults with developmental disabilities who cannot work. Art was always incorporated into the activities, but for the last three years, participants have been taking classes in painting and drawing, collage and crafts.

“It enhances self-esteem to find something that they can be known for or identified with besides their disability,” said Lisa Doray, arts coordinator. “There’s also a therapeutic value. Art improves tactile development and increases attention spans.”

One of her students is Chip Wesley, an autistic, non-verbal person who at first, could draw only vertical lines with a marker in a compulsive manner.


The story appears in Monday’s Peninsula Daily News.

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