Victoria’s Janice Attwell shows off her painting called “Sunshine” at BeConnected Support Services.

Victoria’s Janice Attwell shows off her painting called “Sunshine” at BeConnected Support Services.

Art show celebrates locals with disabilities

When Victoria resident Janice Attwell talks about her paintings, her face lights up.

When Victoria resident Janice Attwell talks about her paintings, her face lights up.

The 32-year-old infectiously describes the number of paintings she’s completed including a Halloween-themed painting featuring a silhouette of a witch, as well as paintings with flowers and rainbows.

Painting has become a means of expression for Attwell, who has down syndrome.

“Special, loving and caring,” she said when asked how art makes her feel.

Once a month, she has the opportunity to get together with other residents at BeConnected Support Services, a multi-service organization offering a variety of services for residents on Vancouver Island with developmental disabilities, who create art during craft night.

More than 15 residents get to experiment with various art forms including tie-dye shirts, and painting bird houses and rocks.

“We have clients that are non-verbal that will come and paint. Even though they can’t verbally put out how they feel about us, they just sit there with their colours. In a way, you get an expression of how they’re feeling too,” said Luis DeSousa, course facilitator at BeConnected.

For the month of November, Attwell and pieces from 25 other artists will be on display and up for sale as part of the fifth annual BeCommunity Art Show at the Spiral Cafe in Esquimalt.

DeSousa said this year’s art show is the largest one they’ve done so far, with dozens of paintings on display and 40 already sold.

“The sales have been huge so far and community support is awesome,” he said. “I was just really proud. They’re talking to anyone that has interest in their work. They’re out there in the community and it’s accepted. There’s no disability — it’s art.”

Every dollar from the sales goes back into artists’ pockets and allows them to save up extra money to achieve their dreams.

“It also assists with dreams and goals and aspirations,” said Michelle Berkeley, coordinator of craft night and co-coordinator of the art show. “It makes them feel like they’re giving back. They’re helping people and giving them something.”

Last year, Attwell sold four paintings. This year, she has sold three with a little over a week until the show comes to an end.

After the art show, Attwell will set her sights even higher.

“I want to have any art show in Toronto. I can prove anything that I want to prove,” she said.

The paintings will be on display at the Spiral Cafe (418 Craigflower Rd.) until the end of the month.