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Paintings and Silkscreens by the “United Cerebral Palsy Center” Art Group of Staten Island


November 15th, 2012 - December 31st, 2012

Program Locations:

This exhibit consists of a series of images created by the art group members who attend the Adult Day Habilitation Center in Port Richmond “United Cerebral Palsy Center” on Staten Island.

The United Cerebral Palsy of New York City introduced an art program in 2004 with artist Eve LeBer as their teacher. Her teaching philosophy can be summed up as follows; “It’s all about them, their ideas, and their work. My job is to teach, encourage, guide and support their adventure in the art room.”

In the beginning there were a few hurdles and challenges. Many of these artists were never exposed to drawing and painting. Each person has their own unique physical, intellectual or emotional challenges. It did not take long before these individuals were excited by attending the art group. Several of the artists in the exhibit have been with the group from the beginning.

Here are some brief profiles of some of the artists in the group:
Cathy McCarty’s journey began with pencil drawing on paper. She then began drawing on canvas before painting. LeBer suggested trying a different technique – “Try drawing with your paint brush”. She said “I can’t do that!” She let her know that many artists find a confidence and freedom is using a paint brush to draw their images on the canvas. Now Cathy will proudly tell a visitor “I draw with paint now”.
Derrick Walbrook is the only artist in the group who has mastered the challenge of creating with pastels. Derrick says, “I love color!” His roommate Vinny (Frank Massaro) attends art group where he socializes with his artist friends, listens to music and draws hot dogs and hamburgers.
Douglas Desterdick’s visual impairment does not stop him from working on developing his perspective techniques. His most important tools are a ruler and pencil.
Manny Varisco joined the art program two years ago. He is 23 years old and has several physical challenges. He needs assistance with setting up his art supplies and getting his wheelchair under an adjustable table. The strength he lacks in his body, he makes up for with his mind and humor.
A long time ago, Mitchell Bruce was a Willowbrook resident. He now lives at the SIGGSO (Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Services Office) residence on Staten Island and attends the Day Program at the “United Cerebral Palsy Center” five days a week. Being deaf does not stop Mitchell from drawing wonderful images that are now limited editions “Cry Baby” and “Woman in Waiting”, now on display.
Orsola Wilcox lives at home with her mom. She loves to draw birds, animals and flowers. She was born on Halloween and is 38 years old.
Freddy Brown also lives at home with his mom. He is an excellent draftsman.
Kathleen Hanson works from images in National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine and other art books in our art room.
Alfred Borrell lives in Rossville on Staten Island in a supported apartment. He is new to the group.
Shellyfeld and Hatigje Elezi are both abstract artists. Both have a pure love of paint. Shelley and Hatigje approach the canvas with no hesitation.
Leroy T. McAlister is 74 years old. LeBer exclaims, “People always think someone else draws his pictures!! He draws his own images and worlds with colored pencils. It might take him a long time, but it’s all his hands. “
Four other artists: Michael Quirdango, Anthony Puglisi, Nader Mansour and Kathleen Hanson attend the work readiness program in the same “United Cerebral Palsy” center. Part of their schedule allows them to express their artistic side.
Michael is an excellent comic artist. His sister Cristina is his mentor. His drawings show fantastic worlds, filled with images of aliens, animals, rocks and weird environments. His silk screen is one of those underwater worlds.
Anthony created 50 drawings before we selected 2 to turn to into silk screen editions. His sweet, gentle, nature, is revealed in his titles “Fun in Paris”, “Magnificent Map”, “Happiness”, “Seahorse” and “Fabulous Fabric of the 50’s”.
Nader, Jonathan, Elizabeth and Matthew now only produce silk screens, they also are involved in the screening process by assisting in the printing process.
For more information about the art program and about the work the “United Cerebral Palsy Center” does, click here
or call 877-UCP-CONNECT (877-827-2666).