Veterans Creative Arts Festival showcases the healing power of art
Filmer Kewanyama's "Hopi Ceremonial Calendar" swept the top awards at the Veterans Creative Arts Festival, winning the people's choice award, best of show, and first place in acrylic painting.
"I wanted to show in this modern age with all this technology, we still in our daily lives are connected to each other and our traditions," Kewanyama said of the paining that, he explained, represents the Hopi way of life.
Seventy-five artists who are veterans submitted 133 artworks for the show, held at the Bob Stump Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Prescott.
"One of our artists said, 'When I get up, I work on my art and it starts my day out the best,'" said Paula Moran, supervising recreational therapist at the VA. "We promote art as a form of healing."
"I have talked to so many artists about how therapeutic art can be for our veterans," said Donna Jacobs, VA medical center director. Addressing the participants, she added, "Thank you for your dedication to your art, and know you have given others inspiration as well."
Jorge Moreno's sister was his muse for his radiant portrait "Andrea," which won first for oil paintings and placed second in best of show.
Catherine Huston, a veteran who volunteers at the VA, won first in beadwork for her "Navajo Wedding Basket" necklace and earrings. "The line to the outside of the basket is to remind you that no matter how much darkness you encounter, there is always a pathway to light."
Jacob Bender, who served two deployments in Iraq with the U.S. Marines, said he searched the Bible until he found the verse for his third-place drawing "Romans 8:28" of Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the flag during the battle of Iwo Jima.
Danny Moss, who served 22 years in the U.S. Navy, earned third for his carving of the Last Supper from several different woods, while LeRoy Gill, who served in the Army during Vietnam, earned third in leather carving/tooling for his graceful frame "Friends."
Kellogg Patton's quilt, "Snake River Whimsy," with ceramic snakes attached, earned second in applied arts mixed media. The quilt traces a river from its icy source to its pebbled depths.
"They are so talented," said Ben Castro, a VA employee, as he toured the show while on break.
The Creative Arts Festival is sponsored by Help Hospitalized Veterans, which has provided more than 27 million arts and crafts kits free of charge to VA and military medical facilities since 1971, and the American Legion Auxiliary, which volunteers thousands of hours to help veterans and raises millions to support programs and charities.