Art in the Park

A remarkable year for an artist with autism culminates with a juried art show at McMichael Park

William Brewer’s year-long project, “Everyday Artist” ended on June 10th with a colorful burst at McMichael Park in East Falls as William and several other artists with disabilities displayed their work. The show, and William’s project, grew out of his winning a national fellowship for his art from SARTAC (Self Advocacy Resource & Technology Assistance Center) in February 2020. The award financed a whirlwind year of teaching workshops, writing a resource book for artists with disabilities, and presenting to a national conference, while also creating his art in various analog and digital media. He also was able to obtain an art studio on Scotts Lane. Perhaps most importantly, the fellowship also helped him amplify the voices of other artists with disabilities.

The McMichael Park show was a tribute to William’s talent and his selflessness as he helped other artists shine at the juried art show. His biggest fan and supporter, Eugenia Morse, a teacher who’s recently relocated to East Falls, was on hand at the show to celebrate William and the other artists! She also was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about William and the event.

How did you choose McMichael Park for the event?
At first we had actually planned for it to be held indoors on September 18th, 2020. William had won the fellowship in February of that same year. Only a few weeks after he had put together his one-year goals, we received the news of COVID-19. We were hoping that things would be safe by September, but as we all know, that wasn’t the case. We struggled to find a more open venue that could accommodate more than a handful of people. (Most venues were confused as to why we were trying to host an art show during a pandemic!)

When we finally got the approval to move the date to June 10th of 2021, my husband Michael suggested we host it outdoors at McMichael Park. There were a few reasons we kept McMichael Park in mind:

  • My husband and I had moved to East Falls in July 2020 and fell in love with the community spirit.
  • William wanted to, and still plans to, move to an apartment in the area, and
  • We loved the park! It was a friendly space for venues (my husband plays the fiddle and often jams with fellow musicians there). When we reached out, we were immediately welcomed and accommodated by Rich Lampert (President of the Friends of McMichael Park) I knew from the first meeting with Rich that we made the right decision.
From left to right: Cindy, proud sister-in-law; Kristen, proud sister; in front of them, Kaitlin Gong, one of the artists in a stylist hat; behind her in a white blank shirt is Jane, an artist; Sharon wearing sunglasses and a ‘Proud Mom’ T-shirt; in front of her is Gretchen in an Everyday Artist T-shirt as one of the judges; Eugenia kneeling in front wearing a ‘Proud Teacher’ shirt; the child behind her is Lottie, William’s proud niece; behind her is William’s mother, Teri; Alethia, wearing a ‘Proud Aunt’ T-shirt; behind her is William with his hands stretched out smiling; the man next to him wearing a black t-shirt waving back is Josh, an artist in the show who placed first; behind him are Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens and Amy Millars, judges in the show. (Photo by Stacey Salter Moore (SSM Photography)

We’d love to know all about the musical act. Also the refreshments. Did we see hoagies?!
My husband was playing fiddle with his fellow friends and musicians, John Anthony Demaio on guitar and Richard Myers on mandolin.

And the hoagies are local! East Falls Deli was our first local sponsor and donated the hoagies 🙂

Kaitlin Gong, artist. (Photo by Stacey Salter Moore (SSM Photography)

Did William have any part in the planning of this event?
Boy, did he. William chose the artists, designed the space, the artist bios, chose the artist gifts, and designed the website for his project. He also hosted free workshops (and encouraged/guided the other artists in apply for his art show) and edited the videos. He chose the judges, the food, and made the checklist for the judges when making their decision.

Eugenia with Gretchen, a judge. (Photo by Stacey Salter Moore (SSM Photography)

When and where will we get a chance to view more from Everyday Artist?
We were lucky enough to raise the necessary funds to host a show next year, so we are looking forward to June 2022 🙂 We also recently were approved by a non-profit fiscal sponsor; so we will be applying for grant funding to cover our studio costs and future workshops.

Photo by Stacey Salter Moore (SSM Photography)

A Great Cause
Everyday Artist is a coalition of artists with disabilities in Philadelphia. They operate locally in Sherman Mills and organize the annual art show, Everyday Artist, a juried show supporting fellow outsider artists. They were able to raise funds to host the show next year, but their artists still pay out pocket for a studio. Check out their GoFundMe page (“Save our Art Studio! Outsider Artists”) to lend a hand. For more info about the artists and the cause, visit everydayartistpa.com and dreamjobspa.com.

 

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