Local artists lend hands to Easterseals' Art & Soul

Posted: October 29, 2017 at 2:20 a.m.

Artists Erin Dees (left) and Emily Cobb are teaming up for Art & Soul, the Thursday fundraiser for Easterseals Arkansas. Works of art will be for sale that were created by adults in the organization’s Artistic Realization Technologies Program.

A splash of red paint here, a dribble of yellow there, add a little texture and an abstract artwork worthy of hanging is created. Works of art created by adults in the Artistic Realization Technologies Program (A.R.T.) at Easterseals Arkansas will be the highlight of Art & Soul, a Thursday fundraiser for the nonprofit.

Local artists Erin Dees and Emily Cobb are co-chairmen of the event which will also feature artwork from other Easterseals programs and local and regional artists. At least 75 artworks will be in the live and silent auctions.

The two got their start as volunteers with Art & Soul several years ago when both were asked to donate art for the auction.

"I just got hooked," says Cobb, "I thought it was awesome."

Cobb's artwork will be in the live auction this year, along with works by Barry Thomas and Don Bearden.

An abstract artist, Cobb went to school on an art scholarship but ended up with a journalism degree. "I learned I didn't like three-hour classes and drawing eggs for the whole semester. I thought, I can write, so I can at least make good grades and then do art when I want to and how I want to."

In addition to the auction at Art & Soul, Cobb's work can be seen at Local Colour Gallery.

Dees was asked to volunteer by Cobb -- the two are neighbors. Dees says she knew of the programs at Easterseals because her children attended preschool there although they didn't receive services.

At the time, the preschool classes were a 50-50 mix of children who needed services and those who didn't. Dees' husband has volunteered with the Easterseals spring fashion show. "My whole family has been involved with Easterseals," she says.

Dees, who is a schoolteacher but teaches painting on the side, will donate an art class to the auction.

"I teach kindergarten, but my creative outlet is teaching art classes on the side -- Deesigns by Erin." She teaches children and adult classes, has summer camps, birthday parties and fundraisers. "It's therapuetic," she says.

The art-focused fundraiser will have many artists in attendance including those in the A.R.T. program, which was brought to Easterseals Arkansas by Mary Lynn Nelson.

The program relies on trained volunteers to help the A.R.T. artists.

"They have trackers," Cobb says, "So, if I was the tracker, the person who is the artist would tell me exactly what they want me to do." Some of the artists can give vocal commands, others rely on a laser placed either on their hand or their head to point to colors, where to splatter paint or what tool to use to create texture. "This gives them the freedom to have a creative outlet."

Kristen [the last names of Easterseals artists are not shared to protect their privacy] will be the featured artist and has been with the program since 2013. Her work is featured on the event invitations and will be in the live auction.

Other live auction items include a Bentonville Weekend Getaway for Six including a two-night stay with three deluxe rooms at Hotel 21c, dinner at Preacher's Son and a VIP tour of Crystal Bridges; Art Night Out, a private after-hours tour of two art galleries with wine, appetizers and dinner; and a custom chandelier by James Hayes.

Heavy hors d'oeuvres will be served by At the Corner. Drinks will be from Flyaway Brewery, which is serving Bluewing Berry Wheat; Poteet and Keet will serve the signature drink made with Rocktown Vodka, lavender chamomile and blackberry smash; and other beverages will be from Lost 40 Brewery, Golden Eagle Distribution and Custom Beverage.

"It's pretty casual," Cobb says. "It's just a fun event. It's one of my favorite events of the year. If you like art, it's a great way to see a ton of people's art."

Dees agrees, "It's a great way to get some fabulous art and a great way to support Easterseals."

Money raised at the event will support all of Easterseals Arkansas, which provides services and resources to people and families challenged by disability. Services for children include developmental preschools, an autism classroom, pediatric outpatient physical therapy, early intervention services for premature babies with special needs and inpatient rehabilitation. Besides, the A.R.T. program, Easterseals provides a variety of services for adults, too, including job training and placement, independent living apartments and the Butler Adult Living Center.

Art & Souls is 6-9 p.m. Nov. 2 at Christ the King Catholic Church Family Life Center. General admission is $50 and reserved seating is $100. Ticket are available at artandsoulevent.org. For more information call Kathryn Norton at (501) 227-3706.

Artists Erin Dees (left) and Emily Cobb, co-chairmen of Easterseals Arkansas Art & Soul event Thursday have been volunteering their skills — and works...

High Profile on 10/29/2017