Bridges Foundation’s ‘Special Art Special Hands’ set for Adventure HQ and The Backyard Oct. 5

By  //  August 14, 2018

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event showcases creative talents of clients involved in Bridges’ art–studio program

Bridges Foundation Speical Art Special Hands committee members include, from left: Lori Levy, Chris Myers, Bonnie Rudolph, Kyle Heinly, Jeff Filipski, Buddy Favor, Jessica André, Carey Gleason, Scott Eller, Lois Pawley, and Monica Shah. They are at Adventure HQ in Palm Shores. Event sponsorships range from $500 to $5,000 and include various amenities at each support level. Special Art Special Hands raises money for Bridges’ wide range of programs and services. Bridges has served people with special needs in Brevard County for more than 60 years. (Image courtesy of BBN)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (BBN) – The third annual ‘Speical Art Special Hands’ fundraiser is set for Oct. 5 at Adventure HQ and The Backyard in Palm Shores. The event is put on by the Bridges Foundation in Rockledge.

Everyone loves art, whether it’s ceramics, drawing, sculpture, painting, or another form. And the Bridges Foundation, in a unique way, has crafted a successful fundraising event around artwork.

Now in its third year, “Special Art Special Hands” has been embraced by the community. The event showcases the far-ranging creative talents of clients involved in Bridges’ art–studio program. Bridges is a nonprofit entity in Rockledge that has served people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities for the last six decades.

The art program at Bridges was started by community volunteer Ruthanne Heinly and her disabled son, Kyle Heinly, about four years ago.

“We are really excited about how far it has come,” said artist, musician, and writer Kyle Heinly, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. “The program is something special. It provides disabled people — and I think that is the correct term to use nowadays — the opportunity to build self–confidence and really feel like they are contributing to the community.” Their artwork will be up for sale at this event.

He added, “The participants in Bridges’ art program get great satisfaction out of being involved in ‘Special Art Special Hands.’ It gives them a sense of community and a sense of pure joy. Hopefully, that is what the people who attend the event will also get.”

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“This event is incredibly unique in the region because it actually involves the clients of Bridges,” said Chris Myers, a member of the Special Art Special Hands event committee.

“They play an integral role themselves in this fundraiser. They are the ones who are producing the artwork. So they know they are active participants in this event, and that’s what sets off this fundraiser in the area.”

Myers, who is the branch manager for CenterState Bank in Melbourne, has been involved with Bridges for years.

Bonnie Rudolph, the board chairwoman of Bridges, said “it’s wonderful for our clients to be able to display their art to the public and to feel good about some of the things they’ve learned at Bridges.”

She continued, “The Bridges Foundation is an amazing organization. All the board members are very appreciative of the work of the Foundation. This is going to be another exciting Special Art Special Hands event.”

Special Art Special Hands will be held from 6–9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, at Adventure HQ and The Backyard in Palm Shores. The address is 5270 N. U.S. Highway 1.

Adventure HQ is a 33,000–square–foot facility that features a wide variety of activities, such as rope–wall climbing and bouldering, a ninja obstacle course, and the “Crazy Climb” area. The business also offers fitness classes.

The Adventure HQ and the building are owned by entrepreneurs Frankie and Lois Pawley. Terry O’Grady runs The Backyard, the 321 Escape Room, and the café with his wife Tammy and son Tyler.

“We are thrilled to be hosting this event with the O’Gradys for such an outstanding organization that’s doing great work in Brevard County,” said Lois Pawley, who is a member of the Special Art Special Hands event committee along with Frankie Pawley.

“We are thrilled to be hosting this event with the O’Gradys for such an outstanding organization that’s doing great work in Brevard County,” said Lois Pawley, who is a member of the Special Art Special Hands event committee along with Frankie Pawley.

Joining the Pawleys on the committee are: Akaila Amara, Cindy Dropeski, Scott Eller, Buddy Favor, Jeff Filipski, Bob Gabordi, Lori Levy, Ruthanne Heinly, Kyle Heinly, Eric Hostetler, Mike McBride, Chris Myers, Gary Neal, Jessica Neal, Bonnie Rudolph, Alec Russell, Monica Shah, Rebecca Shireman, John Sluder, Debbie Thomas, David Wilkison, and Carey Gleason.

“The process is a little easier this year because last year’s committee and the one before it created a framework that is now in place,” said Jessica André, who is co–chairing the 2018 benefit with Hope Chanda. “I’m very excited about the event and the fact that it has been gaining visibility in the community each year.”

“I had the privilege of volunteering at last year’s event and just really embraced what Bridges is doing as an organization,” added Scott Eller of Rock Paper Simple, a graduate of Full Sail University with a degree in film and video production.

“I’m happy to be involved in this years’ event. Bridges is a great community organization.”

The Special Art Special Hands program will include food and beverages, raffles, artwork, and music.
“This fundraising event is put on by an amazing group of community leaders, with Jessica André and Hope Chanda serving as the co–chairwomen this year,” said

Carey Gleason, executive director of the Bridges Foundation, the fundraising organization for Bridges.

“This year’s program has a different twist in that we will have ‘Celebrity Artist Mentors’ Derek Gores, Fritz Van Eeden, Jeff Filipski, and Kyle Heinly, taking part in the event, which will feature the unique artwork of the clients of Bridges’ studio–art program. The clients will be working with our Celebrity Artist Mentors to produce some exquisite art for this event. It’s going to be a fun evening. We are looking for more sponsors to be part of Special Art Special Hands and really help make the event a big success,” added Gleason.

Sponsorships range from $500 to $5,000 and include amenities at each support level. For example, the $500 Norman Rockwell Sponsorship includes four reservations for the event and logo and name recognition for your business.

For more details on being a sponsor for Special Art Special Hands, contact Gleason at 690–3467 or send an email to CGleason@MyBridges.org

The sponsors, as of press time, include: Georgia O’Keefe, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Intercoastal Insurance Inc., Berman Hopkins Wright & LaHam, CPAs and Associates, Florida Eye Associates, Health First Inc., Dick and Ann Kessel, Malcolm and Jane Kirschenbaum, Margo Lozito, Raymond and Mary Carol Poynter, Bob Waters,
and Nick and Donn Witek.

The event has also received donations from Rebecca Crook, Delores Diiulio, Eulan and Colleen Middlebrooks, Bill and Lisa Troner, and Ralph and Theresa Paylor.

One of the Celebrity Mentor Artists, Jeff Filipski, is a local artist who works with clients in Bridges’ art program. He volunteers his time as a mentor. A former U.S. Navy Seabee, Filipski has a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“Everybody has art inside them and it’s all waiting to be let out. And you can see this with the clients at Bridges. They really open up when they are working on art. You can see their eyes light up. They are working with a bit of added joy because they are able to express themselves through their art which, perhaps, they hadn’t been able to do in the past. The art process shouldn’t be controlled. With art, you have to unleash your creativeness, and that’s what the clients do at Bridges,” he said.

Filipski added that Special Art Special Hands “presents an opportunity for the artists at Bridges to expand their horizons and really enjoy themselves in the process.”

One of the Celebrity Mentor Artists, Jeff Filipski, is a local artist who works with clients in Bridges’ art program. He volunteers his time as a mentor. A former U.S. Navy Seabee, Filipski has a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from the State Univerity of New York at Buffalo.

Kyle Heinly does abstract expressionism painting.

“I started painting about seven years ago and I am mostly self–taught. The clients in Bridges art program are taught to express themselves in a way in which they feel most comfortable. I think that is more liberating than just being instructed to do a particular piece of work.”

Abstract expressionism is a term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in New York City after World War II. It’s sometimes referred to as the “New York School” or, more narrowly, as “action painting.

Abstract expressionists are best known for their large-scale paintings that break away from traditional processes. “I just love doing abstract expressionism paintings,” said Heinly. “Pablo Picasso was one of the first abstract expressionists. I am really anxious to see what will come out of the collaborations at this event because we will have different styles of art.”

Kyle Heinly does abstract expressionism painting. “I started painting about seven years ago and I am mostly self–taught. The clients in Bridges art program are taught to express themselves in a way in which they feel most comfortable. I think that is more liberating than just being instructed to do a particular piece of work.”

He added, “The only way I can describe the artwork of Bridges’ clients is that it’s ‘pure magic’ because it’s unfiltered. It’s just pure freedom of expression. Big and colorful indeed.”

Art enhances lives in many ways, especially for people with disabilities. Nearly 28 million U.S. adults have some type of disability related to hearing, sight, cognition, walking, and other activities of daily life, according to a report by the federal government.

Art gives people a platform to express their feelings, use their creativity, and narrate their life story in some fashion.

Adults with disabilities are just as likely as all Americans to create visual art and do creative writing. Bridges has long championed the idea that people of all abilities should be included in all aspects of the arts.

– Story by Ken Datzman, Courtesy of Brevard Business News

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