SOUTHINGTON – People of all ages put paint to canvas at the Art Studio of Connecticut Saturday to benefit the Greater Bristol Special Education PTO.
With a palette at their side and a brush in hand, each attendee transformed the once blank canvas into a multi-colored heart.
Stephanie Hongo, the studio manager, directed them to use light colors first and then add more as they went along.
“It’s fun. It’s something to do on a Saturday that is productive,” said Audra Talbot, president of SEPTO. “This type of venue is very friendly to the disability community.”
“We just wanted to give places something to do that’s on the creative side,” said Dawn Toce, owner of the art studio. A couple of times a month the studio partners with different charities to help them raise money. The business has been doing this since they opened in April 2018.
“Fundraising is a big part of what we do,” Toce added.
“This is our first stepping out and doing something like this. I think it’s just going to keep getting bigger and bigger,” said Talbot.
SEPTO is a nonprofit organization made up mostly of parents that hosts educational seminars and events to help support Special Education. Talbot said the money they raised today and at their other fundraisers will be used to pay for speaking events. At these events, parents of children with disabilities and teachers can learn about the disabilities and how to advocate for their kids and students.
“We exist to empower parents through knowledge,” said Talbot. The money will also help parents with childcare and set up a scholarship to send a parent to a conference on disabilities.
“You have to learn about it because it’s part of the job of being a parent of a child with disabilities,” Talbot said. The organization also hopes to soon fund some special education training for teachers.
The painting event also featured raffles with prizes donated from ESPN, Imagine Nation, A Museum Early Learning Center, Spare Time and the art studio. One prize was tickets to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
The Art Studio of Connecticut has helped animal rescues, schools and other organizations through their fundraiser partnership. They also hold numerous other events, such as Paint your Pet, Wine Glass Painting, Senior Classes and Coffee and Canvas.
Artists and people who have never picked up a paint brush come to the programs.
“A majority of our clientele aren’t artists,” said Toce.
Toce said the events are great for first-time painters and give people the opportunity to de-stress. Some people come into the studio and then love painting so much they start their own studio at home, said Toce.
The studio is BYOB so people can bring their own drinks and food. The studio provides the art supplies and instructions. In addition to the studio manager, there are four part-time artists who teach at the events.
The studio also doubles as an art gallery. Paintings, drawings and metal sculptures hang on the walls and are available for sale.
The next fundraiser paint event benefits Treasure Time and is on March 2 at 6:30 p.m. Treasure Time grants wishes to parents with life-threatening illnesses who want to create a memorable experience with their kids.
Michelle Jalbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.