Trees of the Season: Celebrate the Spectrum

Published 8:57 am Monday, November 21, 2016

Arts Center holiday exhibit showcases groups serving individuals with disabilities


Community Arts Center

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When picturing a holiday-themed art exhibit, an evergreen adorned with bright pink pigs might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But the festive porcine Christmas tree is just one of the many delights that await visitors to the Community Arts Center’s 2016 Trees of the Season exhibit.

This year’s exhibit – titled Celebrate the Spectrum – is the result of a partnership with the Special Persons Advocacy Network (SPAN). SPAN provides educational and support opportunities for developmentally disabled citizens and their families, seeking to promote a sense of dignity and community involvement, including recreational and social opportunities.

Earlier this year, SPAN received an Arts Access Assistance Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council to facilitate arts programming for individuals with disabilities. Using these grant funds, SPAN was able to coordinate with the Arts Center to host ornament-making workshops with groups in Danville that serve individuals with disabilities. Thanks to additional funding from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, the Arts Center also conducted ornament-making workshops with special education students in the Danville and Boyle County schools.

“The Arts Access Assistance grant was developed to support organizations that work on behalf of specific underserved communities,” says Sarah Schmitt, community arts and access director for the Kentucky Arts Council. “We want to reach people who may have limited access to the arts through these organizations. It was obvious to the panel who reviewed fiscal year 2017 grants that the Special Persons Advocacy Network and the Community Arts Center already had a strong partnership, and they could work effectively to ensure artistic excellence and meet the participants’ unique needs and goals.”

The result of the partnership is a beautiful exhibit featuring ornaments made by nearly a dozen community groups and classes.  The trees are decorated monochromatically to represent the color spectrum with the title of the exhibit also giving a nod to the missions of the participating groups. The 2016 exhibit is presented by The Advocate-Messenger with major support from Farmers National Bank and United Structural Systems.

“Everything about this exhibit is a community effort,” says Mary Beth Touchstone, Executive Director. “We’re grateful to SPAN for their partnership and support, to all the people who made ornaments, and to our sponsors whose funding made the exhibit possible.”

For many of the groups who participated, visiting the Arts Center can be a challenge. Libby Suttles, director of the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, says, “Due to transportation challenges and mobility issues for several children, exploring is not always possible.  We are so fortunate to host Community Arts Center staff in our setting! It created moments for our children to gather round the table, be intentionally messy and complete a pink pig —each pig different from another.”

Lori Short, a board member with the Special Persons Advocacy Network is pleased with the results of the project. She says, “I’m always excited about opportunities to involve special needs individuals in our community. Raising or being a caregiver for a special needs child or adult, although frustrating at times, can be extremely rewarding. You learn how to celebrate small steps forward. I’m particularly pleased that the exhibit includes information about local support groups so that the community can be informed about what’s available or ways they can get involved.”

Groups that participated in the 2016 Trees of the Season exhibit include: Advocate Homes, Pioneer Vocational Services, Family Ties, Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, A Brighter Choice, the Special Persons Advocacy Network, Boyle County High School, Danville High School, Bate Middle School, Woodlawn Elementary, Perryville Elementary and Toliver Elementary.

There will be an exhibit reception and tree-lighting 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26. The reception is free and open to the public. Everyone is invited to celebrate the individuals whose hard work went into creating this exhibit. There will be cookies and hot chocolate and a working model railroad on the second floor of the Arts Center.


My New Kentucky Home,    a photography exhibit by Emma Jackson that explores the struggles and triumphs of Kentucky’s resettled refugees. Exhibits open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 27, suggested donation of $5.


• Holiday Ceramics Show, noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3; this one-day exhibit will feature student work completed in fall adult and youth ceramics classes along with professionally-created pieces by Arts Center instructors. The show is free and open to the public and many pieces will be for sale.

• Holiday Hours for Paint-Your-Own Pottery, 3-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays; no registration required. Pieces start at $4 plus studio fee.

• Cookies for Santa Plate workshop, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3; $20 per plate. No registration required. Stop by the Arts Center and an instructor will help you create a special Cookies for Santa plate. Free Christmas cookies for all painters!

• Starry Night Studios:

Starry Snowman — 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26; $25

Father Christmas – 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6; $30

Angel of Love – 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13; $25

Go from blank canvas to finished masterpiece in a single class. An instructor will guide you, step-by-step. No experience required

More information or register   at