In 2011, the Olive Hyde Art Guild Board of Directors wanted to reach out to what it felt was an underserved segment of the community with respect to art instruction classes. With the help of an ARTSFUND Grant from the Alameda County Arts Commission, the guild worked with Fremont Recreation staff and devised a plan to offer a 13-week painting class to developmentally-disabled adult clients of Serra Center.
Serra Center is a non-profit agency providing housing, services and compassionate care to adult individuals with developmental disabilities living in Fremont, and other locations around the Bay Area. Since that first year with nine students, the program has grown to 22 students completing the 13-week Art Workshop this year. A second grant from the Alameda County ARTSFUND Program helped fund another year of classes, and funds provided by the Niles Rotary Foundation made possible framing to the students' work.
The Serra Center Art Workshop has been taught by City of Fremont art instructor Haroon Ansary, who commented that his involvement with the students has been an eye opening experience.
"I have never been in the presence of such truth, humility, kindness and love ... the students are extremely self-motivated, enthusiastic and incredibly brave," Ansary said. This year the students' art work will be included in the "Hidden Treasures/Local Talent" exhibit in the Olive Hyde Art Gallery on display Sept. 12 through Oct. 11. A public reception in honor of all the exhibit's artists will be held at the gallery 7 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 12.
The success of this program has been a collaborative effort of the Olive Hyde Art Guild, the City of Fremont, Serra Center, the Alameda County Arts Commission and the Niles Rotary Foundation.
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Gail Blalock is president of Olive Hyde Art Guild.