From prose to painting to poetry, creative expression has always been a meaningful way to free the mind from pain and stress. At a time when our nation is in the midst of an ongoing mental health crisis, finding therapeutic ways to express ourselves creatively is especially important.
That’s why the Santa Barbara Mental Wellness Center has hosted its annual art show for nearly 27 years. Recently redesigned as the Artful Minds Art Faire, the exhibition takes place in May this year to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month. The event features the work of nearly 60 local artists living with mental illness. Using a variety of mediums such as painting, jewelry, sculpture, quilting and more, Artful Minds illuminates the work of these artists and celebrates their artistry.
“Any form of creative activity allows people to express emotions or thoughts that they may not be able to put into words,” said Annmarie Cameron, CEO of Mental Wellness Center, of why artistic expression is important to alleviate mental struggles. “Some of the most beautiful works of art are born out of profound personal experiences, both painful and joyful. This Artful Minds Faire will feature some personal and beautiful artwork.”
The Mental Wellness Center has worked to improve community well-being for over 75 years. From mental health education to community service and shelter, the Artful Minds Art Faire is just one of the many ways Wellness Center Santa Barbara supports and encourages. For many of the artists who will be exhibiting their work at the fair, the discovery of their artistry began when they joined the Mental Wellness Center’s Fellowship Club, a free recovery learning center for adults living with mental illness. At the club, a high caliber team of educators and specialists help participants to express themselves through creative work, and many Artful Minds artists have been able to discover their talents through these courses.
One artist, Rhonda Johansen, joined the Fellowship Club to find structure and support from her groups. Johansen has now specialized in watercolor painting as part of her art classes and has been exhibiting her work at the art fair since 2005.
“Painting helps me relieve anxiety and brings me joy,” Johansen said of how art helps them manage their mental health. “I appreciate the opportunity to share my art with others and I look forward to showing some recent work.”
Another artist, Kristine Kelly, has been attending the art fair for over two decades and was the featured artist at the fair last year. Initially starting out selling watercolor cards and jewelry, Kelly eventually discovered a passion for glass fusion after taking classes at Santa Barbara City College.
“I’ve been doing glass melting for about 20 years now,” Kelly said, “I look forward to sharing my art and meeting new people. I love talking to people about glass.”
Works by artists such as Johansen and Kelly will be featured and available for purchase at
Artful Minds Art Faire taking place on May 20th from 11am to 3pm at Chase Palm Park. Food trucks will be available with lunch, coffee, smoothies and more. For more information visit mentalwellnesscenter.org.