Each year, the pieces in the Spiral Gallery's January show have a unique story behind them.
The Estacada gallery kicks off the new year with its annual student art show, in which artists of all ages are invited to have their work shown. Among those featured in this year's show are several artists at Infusion Gallery, which allows adults with disabilities who are interested in art to explore their craft. The Troutdale-based gallery offers supplies for painting, drawing and sculpting and gives participants a chance to display their work. Attendees earn commission when one of their pieces is purchased.
Infusion Gallery is a program organized by ALSO, a nonprofit group that provides supported living, residential and vocational services to individuals with developmental challenges.
Mike Marble, an artist at Infusion Gallery for the past five and a half years, has participated in the Spiral Gallery's student show for two years. He enjoyed viewing the show last year.
"There was a lot of different types of art, and all different varieties and all different levels of stuff," said Marble, adding that he was excited to participate in the show again.
Infusion Gallery Art Director Parris Foley believes art is beneficial to everyone because of its egalitarian nature.
"When you're an artist, you don't feel like you're anything different. Because they're not different," she said."They have the ability to make amazing art. That way, the public recognizes not as someone who's disabled (but as) an amazing artist."
Foley and her fellow workers at Infusion Gallery are eager to help participants find new ways of engaging with artistic techniques as needed.
"So maybe you can't hold a brush like I hold a brush, but we can use velcro, or we can do what we need to do," Foley said. "We just need to find a way we can achieve the same technique. When a student comes up and says, 'I would like to create this particular
image,' we go, 'Ok," maybe knowing that they can't do particular techniques but we just have to think outside of the box. The outcome is still amazing."
At Infusion Gallery, other artists come to the location and teach those who participate in the program. Among these volunteers is Estacada-based painter Connie Athman, who visits the gallery several times a month.
"It's a really enjoyable and fun place to be. I always look forward to going there," said Athman, noting that her favorite part of being at the gallery is "when someone finishes working on a painting
and they're just so happy about it."
This year, five attendees of Infusion Gallery have work featured in the student show at the Spiral Gallery.
Tanysha Quade, one of the featured artists, is happy to have art in a new show. For the show at the Spiral Gallery, she created a watercolor painting that featured fall leaves on aquabord. She noted that using this type of canvas for the first time was an interesting process.
"The bord was more intense than paper," she said. "It took a lot of layering and time for it to dry."
Foley said Infusion Gallery's participation in the student art show at the Spiral Gallery is valuable for several reasons.
"It's exciting for the students to see. It's more meaningful," she said. "When they get to go to a different location it's empowering."
Foley also appreciates the awareness that the art show facilitates.
"It's amazing that we're able to work with Spiral Gallery because it gives us the opportunity to show our work outside of Infusion Gallery, and expands the territory where we can help raise awareness," she said.
Marble said that participating in the Spiral Gallery show and other events through Infusion Gallery has allowed him to delve deeper into his artistic pursuits.
"It's opened up a whole bunch of new avenues of creation I never thought I could do," Marble said. "Without the creative avenues, I wouldn't know what to do with myself."