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Showcasing Art’s Healing Power

By Robin Pierson, Special to the Independent
The art and personal growth of three current and former residents of the Friendship Shelter will be celebrated at an eclectic “happening” on Thursday, Dec. 16.
While maladies like addiction, homelessness and financial woes brought them to the shelter, through a new program known as the Artists’ Collective, the trio has had the opportunity to embrace, explore, and enhance their artistic talents.
“A year ago, we talked about a way to engage art and culture as a way to deal with practical problems and help people find their voice,” said Mark Miller, the Friendship Shelter’s associate executive director. The Collective is the newest support service provided by the Shelter, Laguna’s oldest rehabilitative program designed to help homeless adults achieve self-sufficiency.
In June, Randy Morgan, Cat Saxon and Darryl Gober began attending monthly meetings facilitated by local psychotherapist and photographer, Karen Redding. The intention of the meetings, said Redding, “is to inspire, support and collectively empower each other as artists.”
At “A Collective Happening,” the artists’ work will be showcased and paired with performance artists, including musicians and poets from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 16 at 1200 S. Coast Highway, next door to Laguna Beach Books. Art work will be on sale and proceeds will go directly to the artists. The impromptu store front space, donated for this special benefit by Friendship Shelter supporters, Joe and Jane Hanauer, will also be open Dec. 17-19 from noon to 3 p.m. and 5–8 p.m.
While Gober knew he had an innate artistic bent, only in prison did he find the time and tools to develop his gift. Drawing portraits of cultural icons, correctional officers’ kids and fellow inmates, Gober earned pocket money and recognition for his talent. He took his first art class two years ago at Saddleback Community College. His portraits convey the insight of a well-seasoned artist.
Saxon, a working artist for more than two decades, was creating three-dimensional wall murals in Venetian plaster in high-end homes when she suffered a debilitating injury. Now, she has scaled down her work, bringing the beauty of the natural world, especially the ocean, onto canvas.
For Morgan, who works months in isolation on his metal sculptures, the collective is a chance to “share the process and the pain that goes along with being an artist.”
Also on exhibit, will be Redding’s “Travels Through Humanity” portfolio, an exploration of the diversity and similarities of the human landscape.
Along with the support services, the non-profit human service organization provides a home and meals for 32 men and women. Since 1987, more than 6,000 adults have received its services. The organization is funded by donations from individuals, foundations and organizations throughout the area.

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