Marysville YMCA hosts Summer Art Fair | SLIDESHOW

MARYSVILLE — While event organizers acknowledged that it got off to a slightly modest start, the Marysville YMCA’s first Summer Art Fair was soon bustling with onlookers in the parking lot outside of the Y and its adjacent Youth Development Center on the afternoon of Saturday, July 27, taking advantage of the milling crowds that had been drawn by the flea market in that same location.

Half a dozen Puget Sound visual artists demonstrated their craft, including chainsaw carver Ken Ballenger of Seatttle, who sculpted a hummingbird statue from wood while fellow Seattle artist Tora Hennessey, a former native of Marysville, returned to her old hometown to involve curious kids in her interactive artwork.

“I do relief printmaking,” said Hennessey, before she guided a trio of teenagers in carving pictures and patterns into pieces of linoleum. “You can take these prints and send them to a commercial press, or hand-press them yourself onto walls, cloth or paper.”

Hennessey offered both flooring linoleum and softer linoleum, the latter for those who preferred an easier carving material, and touted relief printing as a cost-effective method of reproducing images over and over.

“Not everybody can purchase their own art prints, so this makes it more affordable,” Hennessey said.

“I’m getting to like this style of art,” said 18-year-old Emily Barrett, as she and her 16-year-old sisters Bella and Elizabeth joined her in carving out fine lines in their squares of linoleum. “The process of creating this art is very thoughtful and relaxing.”

“It’s very peaceful,” Elizabeth Barrett agreed.

At the next table over, two students from the Marysville YMCA’s Minority Achievers Program — 12-year-old Marina Lysova and 13-year-old Angelica Kupriyanov — contributed to a collaborative painting that will eventually be displayed in the Y’s front lobby, praising both the day’s events and their Russian MAP coordinator, Liya Orbeladze, for making the program enjoyable for them.

“We’re not expert painters, but making things is fun,” said Kupriyanov, who had already shopped for jewelry at the flea market earlier that day.

Event organizer Scott Ballenger, who serves as the Marysville YMCA’s adaptive personal trainer, echoed Emily Barrett’s insistence that “it’s the idea behind art that’s most important” by explaining that the Summer Art Fair at the Y was designed to cater to all ability levels, including those with disabilities.

“You can see it with the Voices of the Village as they perform,” Ballenger said, as Jon Dalgarn led the Village Community Services band of adults with disabilities between the Marysville YMCA and its Youth Development Center. “You have professional musicians working with people with disabilities. Jon told me that music is an equalizer, a unifying tool that removes the boundaries of ability and the divisions of skill levels. What we’re trying to show here is that other art is the same way.”

Ballenger estimated that approximately 30 people with disabilities can be found using various services at the Marysville YMCA at 10 a.m. each day, Mondays through Fridays.

“The Y has become a community center for the disabled,” said Ballenger, a 55-year-old wheelchair-dependent paraplegic who broke his neck diving into shallow water at age 15. “We serve people with everything from spinal injuries to multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. This Summer Art Fair is providing introductions to art and integrating them for people with and without disabilities. The skill levels of this art are all over the map, but it doesn’t really matter. If art itself is the focus, it doesn’t matter whether you’re producing fine art or not.”

Sarah McDonald took her daughter Kaela, a young teen with cerebral palsy, to the Summer Art Fair, and was impressed with both its selection of art and its message.

“Kaela does a lot of stuff on the computer at home, so it’s cool to check out what other kids have been able to do here,” Sarah McDonald said. “There’s not a lot she can make, but she has a head-mouse that she used to make a calendar, so we liked looking at all the things that other people with disabilities can do.”


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