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Last year’s NAMI art show focused on avian imagery.

NAMI-WRV (that is, the Wood River Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) has announced that it will bring back its annual Journey to Wellness Art Show one month from today.

On Thursday, March 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., the nonprofit group will unveil its 2020 art show at the Ketchum Innovation Center.

The NAMI art show committee—consisting of Poo Wright Pulliam, Marie Stewart, Kirk Anderson and David Rau—has this year selected the theme “Gratitude,” and will select artworks that support this idea and suggest “the manifestation of health and wellness from a mentally challenged life,” to use the wording of the official announcement.

NAMI also put out a call for artists’ submissions. Beginning on Feb. 17, artists can drop off their works at the NAMI-WRV office in the Community Campus, 1050 Fox Acres Road, Hailey.

The office is open weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. NAMI will take submissions there through Friday, Feb. 28. On that day, representatives from the organization will also be accepting artworks at the Ketchum Innovation Center, 180 Sixth St. W. in Ketchum.

The official call for artists stipulated that artists can “share in their own creative style, a piece of art, large, small, whatever medium, with a title (preferably) and focused on the theme of gratitude.” As with previous Journey to Wellness art shows, this approach is expected to produce a diverse selection of works on display.

As much as this show offers an excellent opportunity for local artists to showcase their talents and styles and for residents of and visitors to Blaine County to appreciate those talents and styles, the primary objective is to promote a positive approach to mental health and help inspire the show’s theme—gratitude.

Reflecting upon the show, the mission of NAMI and the benefit of taking a moment to consider the things for which one is grateful, the art show committee members shared examples of their own gratitude.

“I am grateful for the natural world around me and that I have the ability to put brush to paper as well as teach about birds and wildlife, sharing my passion with others,” Pulliam said. “Being in nature is my solace.”

Stewart expressed her appreciation of art, saying, “I am grateful for a lifetime of pursuing my passion in artistic, creative endeavors.”

Rau had similar sentiments to express, saying, “I practice gratitude every time I get the chance to paint. I lost the ability to paint with my right hand, and after some trials and many tribulations, I am grateful that I can still paint using my left hand.”

Inspiring gratitude is key for NAMI-WRV as it strives to improve the public understanding of mental illness and offer support to those who face mental health challenges.

The “Gratitude” show will be NAMI’s fourth art event since 2017’s “Starry Night” show. Each successive program has built upon that groundwork, expanded outreach and yielded greater results. The committee hopes to continue that legacy of success and end the stigma against mental health challenges in the community.

Kirk Anderson shared an anecdote that synthesized the group’s vision.

“I was traveling in Australia and noticed painted blue trees. They honor those we’ve lost to mental health challenges and suicide. It’s called the Blue Tree Project,” he said. “I am grateful that I was able to capture [on my camera] these works of art, yet the message was clear—the community wanted the viewers to know it’s OK not to be OK, to seek out help, get treatment, get support, and that’s what NAMI provides in our community with their support groups.”

As actor Vincent Price—a fine arts connoisseur, as it happens—put it, “Evil consists of the supreme act of ingratitude—to not be grateful for your life, not to be grateful for your love, for your sharing with people your ideas and accepting from them their ideas—lack of gratitude is the No. 1 sin in the world.”

Community members and artists can learn more about the show, the work of NAMI and what they can do to help at namiwrv.org/art.

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