Stokes Opportunity Center Artists Transform Creative Ideas in to Art

Stokes Opportunity Center (SOC) day program participants are bursting with creativity.

Their artistic ideas are translated in a variety of ways. Papier-mâché creations, drawings, paintings and three-dimensional models are displayed in the SOC’s entrance hallway, art room and throughout the facility.

Community Engagement Team Leader Pamela Kreeger and Support Coordinator Sharon Kivette are proud of the attendees achievements and transition from contract work to their art-based day program. Kivette and Kreeger have brought in area artists to assist day program participants in learning a variety of techniques, as well as nearby Studio 651 Creative Arts Specialist Cheryl Witt who has visited to demonstrate how to dye scarves.

SOC attendee Marvin Gray sits quietly deliberating over which colors to incorporate into the day’s artwork. The progression of his artistic ability can be seen in a binder holding initial designs that were black-and-white sketches compared to today’s detailed, intricate and colorful drawings.

“He’s come a long way,” said Kreeger as she leafs through Gray’s binder. Kreeger says she sees patterns in day program participants’ works reminiscent of renowned artists in the techniques and designs used.

“I draw different things and stuff,” Gray commented, adding that he first decides on the animals, sketches the scene and then fills in with colors. Gray enjoys seeing his work of art framed and hanging for others to enjoy.

“I love these animals,” he said pointing to one of his drawings in his binder and stating his two favorite colors are blue and green.

A resident of Monarch’s Walnut Cove apartments, Gray, 50, grew up in Virginia. Gray is currently seeking assistance through the county’s Supported Employment service to find a new job.

James Joyce’s miniature town of cut-out, wooden houses creates a brightly colored neighborhood. SOC attendee Joyce, 46, continues to amaze Kreeger who describes him as “a man of few words” but many talents.

Joyce’s house designs typically have a door and two or three windows. SOC Direct Support Professional John Hartman cuts the house shapes out of wood in a variety of sizes so that Joyce can paint. The houses have been turned into wall hangings or connected to become double-sided and used as mail holders.

Joyce volunteers at Walnut Ridge Assisted Living Center at East Stokes Outreach Ministry and sings with the SOC group, The Varietones, and enjoys karaoke.

Anthony Frazier, 38, loves to use his imagination when creating artwork. “I put my mind to it,” Frazier said. The current picture he was creating was from a mountain scene of Swiss chalets in the Alps that he had seen on television.

“Anthony is very creative. He just jumped right in and created what he was thinking,” she said. “He puts his own flair on any project he is working on.”

Frazier, who loves to dance and sing, is an 18-year employee at Hardee’s where he works every other Saturday. A resident of Westfield, Frazier lives with his family and enjoys volunteering at the East Stokes Outreach Ministries folding cardboard boxes for the recycling center.

Frazier uses both color pencils and paints when creating with Kreeger describing his style as natural with a folk-art flair.

Kreeger is appreciative of day program attendees’ family support in addition to local retailers such as The Arts Place in Danbury and Oma’s Coffee Shop in Walnut Cove. Both outlets provide space at no charge to showcase SOC attendees’ art with a portion of the proceeds going to the artist.

Photo captions: Above right, SOC attendee James Joyce shows one of his many small wooden houses he paints in a variety of colors; right center, Marvin Gray likes to incorporate bright colors into his sketches; bottom right, Anthony Frazier holds one of his three-dimensional models of a house.  ​