Valley Arts Council in Derby lands $3,200 grant

February 9, 2017

Helping area veterans express their creativity through artwork helped the Valley Arts Council land a $3,200 grant this week.

The grant comes courtesy of the state Department of Economic Development’s Office of the Arts’ Regional Grant Initiative Program, or REGI, and supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A ceremony was held Monday, where Valley Arts Council President Richard DiCarlo was presented with the check from Diane Ploch, administrator for the Arts & Culture Collaborative, Waterbury Region, which facilitated the review process in awarding the grant.

The grant was bestowed on Valley Arts Council for its “Visions from Veterans” art exhibition, which was showcased at the council’s E Street Art Gallery on Elizabeth Street last Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and ran through Jan. 3. The event, DiCarlo said, featured 35 pieces of original artwork created by local and regional veterans, and ranged from seascapes to photography and digital collages.

DiCarlo said he was inspired to create the veterans project here after the E Street Gallery’s participation in a regional art therapy program at the Veterans Hospital in West Haven. He said he was introduced to veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder who put paint to canvas or who shot pictures and created beautiful works of art.

“We were introduced to a vast, untapped source of talent in our local veterans,” DiCarlo said.

With help from Seymour resident/artist and Marine Corp Veteran Bob Kuekel, DiCarlo said area veterans were contacted and asked to participate in the art show, which DiCarlo said resulted in a “wonderful expressive exhibition.”

“We were introduced to some amazing people with amazing talent and the stories to go with them …and all along they were walking amongst us, untapped unrecognized by the community at large,” DiCarlo added.

Ploch said during the check presentation this week, she met some of the veterans who participated in the show, and was able to view some of their artwork.

“From what I heard and saw, it seems like the Valley Arts Council’s REGI project enabled a number of veterans to exhibit their artwork and express their creativity, while providing a healthy, therapeutic outlet to explore ideas and emotions,” Ploch said.

State Sen. George S. Logan and state Rep. Linda Gentile were also on hand for the event to celebrate Valley Art Council’s achievement. The grant will cover the cost of the art show.