By Wendy Nugent
Ethan Johnson likes to draw dragons, roses, trees, houses and sometimes clouds.
Johnson is a person served at ResCare in Newton who likes to create art.
“I just draw until I get it right,” he said, concentrating on an art project, carefully painting a rose with foliage using red and green paint Wednesday afternoon at ResCare. “Me and my uncle love to draw. He was an artist, and Mom thinks I’m going to be an artist when I get older.”
Johnson was quiet while doing his artwork.
“Ethan, are you always this quiet while you’re doing your art?” asked Cindy Combs, ResCare, Newton director of day and transportation services.
He quietly nodded his head “yes.”
ResCare provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the ResCare Center for Achievement in Newton, persons served get to take advantage of a variety of activities, including an art class and horticulture classes, and going into the community to do things like fishing and life skills, such as going to garage sales and doing volunteer work at Mennonite Central Committee. The purpose of the achievement center is for learning, Combs said.
“We have an art class,” Combs said. “All of the artwork that’s in our main office ... is from the person served. We had a talent show in June. Their artwork was displayed.”
On one of the pieces Johnson painted has a tree, house and windmill. He transfers the images he sees in his mind to paper and canvas.
Combs said ResCare would like to see the persons’ served artwork displayed at a local gallery.
“Some of (the art) is amazing,” Combs said. “Just for them to be able to sit down and focus on it, it really gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride. They really love it when people come and look at their work. They take a lot of pride in people coming to look at their work.”
An art class was started after the ResCare executive director sent out a challenge to the persons served to produce some artwork for the main office that was being redecorated.
“And from that, we discovered how many people actually have talent in the art area,” Combs said.
Persons served at ResCare have “always painted” on poster board and construction paper, Combs said, but have been painting on canvas for about a year using acrylic paint. Sometimes, the artwork is a group effort.
“The big picture like that one,” said day coordinator Crystal Eason, pointing to a large painting on canvas, “— like a whole group might work on it.”
That’s why parts of a painting might look different than its other parts.
Sometimes, persons served use other media. One time, a woman used coffee filters colored with marker and sprayed with water to make the colors bleed and spread.
“It’s really neat looking,” Eason said.
Some of the persons served are nonverbal, so they are able to communicate in different ways at ResCare, such as through art and singing.
“They love to do Karaoke,” Combs said.
ResCare has about 20 pieces of art made by persons served.
“They’re always working on more,” Combs said. “They’re just always doing all different types of artwork.”
The group had an art show on June 6 to which representatives from various organizations were invited, as were guardians. They plan to participate in the Halstead art show in September and another show in Hillsboro. At those, they’ll sell candles they’ve made and plants they’ve grown and some art. ResCare also sells plants and candles at Meridian Grocery in Newton and candles at Peace Connections in Newton. ResCare also has two garage sales per year and a Christmas bazaar.
The greenhouse at ResCare is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The public also is invited to view the artwork at ResCare.
By Wendy Nugent