Holiday Liftoff

“There’s no place like Matheny. We’re dedicated to all of you in this room.” Tim McLoone, founder and leader of Holiday Express, the all-volunteer band that gives 60 concerts between mid-November and Christmas Eve, helped kick off the holiday season with a November 22nd concert at Matheny.

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Tim McLoone and Matheny resident Rasheedah Mahali

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Matheny student Daniel Gaudreau and his mother Regina.

The Robert Schonhorn Arts Center rocked to sounds of Holiday Express favorites such as “All I Want for Christmas is You”, “Nobody Ought to be Alone on Christmas”, and “Run Run Rudolph”, written and sung by Bedminster resident Byron Smith. The Matheny Choir joined the Holiday Express band for two songs, “Jingle Bells” and “Let it Snow”, and will be reappearing with Holiday Express on December 10 at its annual benefit concert held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Founded by McLoone in 1993, Holiday Express has been performing at Matheny since 2001. The organization has more than 100 professional singers and musicians who volunteer their time and more than 1,300 additional volunteers.

Celebrating Matheny’s Arts Access Program

“I am so very proud of the work being done here. No arts program is more unique than Matheny’s.” With those words, Nicholas Paleologos, executive director of the New Jersey State Council of the Arts and honorary chair of Full Circle 2015: Perspectives, welcomed those who had come to see a stage presentation of dance, drama and creative writing at the annual celebration of Matheny’s Arts Access Program. The stage presentation was accompanied by a visual arts exhibition featuring the work of more than 50 Arts Access artists.

Members of the community were also treated to food and beverages donated by Café Azzurro and cocoLuxe Fine Pastries in Peapack; Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone; 3 West and Urban Table in Basking Ridge; and Village Office Supply in Somerset. Gold sponsor of Full Circle was Mr. and Mrs. Man S. Yu; Bronze sponsors were John and Maureen Dreher, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence H. Durr, Eagle Electrical Contracting Service, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Goldrosen, Melissa Heller, and Stephanie A. Young.

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“Zip A Dee Doo Dah”, a dance choreographed by Arts Access artist Dani Urso-King, was performed by Urso-King and professional dancer Patty Romano.

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Nicholas Paleologos and Arts Access artist Natalia Manning.

Eileen Murray, director of the Arts Access Program, emphasized that, “Every artist expresses a unique viewpoint. Art,” adding that, “art can change our perspective, or give us a new one.” Edana Desatnick, co-chair of Matheny’s Board of Trustees and parent of a Matheny resident, thanked everyone in attendance for their support of Matheny and the Arts Access Program.             

Grant from Kessler Foundation

Matheny’s  Arts Access Program has been awarded a Kessler Foundation Community Employment Grant of $100,000 to launch a unique vocational art project. Arts Access will partner with Arts Unbound, bringing together these two leaders in the realm of arts and disability to form Art Garden CSA. This CSA (community-supported art) project aims to connect artists with disabilities with art buyers in a way that has never before been attempted with this population.

Ten artists will be selected and commissioned to create original artwork that is unique to the Art Garden CSA. These works will then be distributed at three live pickup events around the state to anyone who buys one of the 25 available “shares”. At these pickup events, the shareholders will have the opportunity to meet the selected artists and see what awaits them in their box of limited edition art. The artists will work with the Art Garden team to learn and participate in important vocational practices such as blogging, thank you letters, self-promotion, relationship building, and many other entrepreneurial activities that are key to becoming a professional artist.

“We are so thankful to Kessler for supporting the Art Garden project,” said Eileen Murray, director of the Arts Access Program. “I’ve seen these artists work tirelessly to perfect their craft, and I’m so excited to see them move into careers as artistic professionals.” Margret Mikklesen, executive director of Arts Unbound, said, “With popularity spiking and community-supported art projects popping up all over the country, we are thrilled to launch Art Garden, which will be the first to exclusively represent artists with disabilities working within the state of New Jersey.”

A recent Kessler-led national study revealed that 68% of people with disabilities are striving to find work. Through its Community Employment Grant Program, Kessler Foundation funds non-traditional solutions that increase employment outcomes for citizens with disabilities. The arts fill this role by allowing individuals with disabilities to be self-employed and work on their own schedules. The Kessler Foundation is a public charity dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities.

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Arts Access artist Jessica Evans with Peapack-Gladstone businessman Tim Peters, who purchased her painting.

Arts Access is a unique fine arts program where individuals with disabilities can fully express themselves in the creative arts. Arts Unbound is a studio and gallery in West Orange, NJ, dedicated to the creative expression of persons with disabilities. Both organizations have been at the forefront of offering professional development opportunities for artists with disabilities through licensing and original artwork sales. The Art Garden CSA will launch early next year, and shares will be available for purchase in November 2015.