Visionary Photos Are Meaningful at Circle of Light Exhibit

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The photos are stunning, no doubt about it. But the annual Circle of Light photo project and exhibit surpasses artistic achievement and becomes extraordinary when you learn about the photographers. Each and every one was blind and now able to see as the result of a cornea transplant. For the fifth year, Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank asked cornea recipients to simply photograph something they were grateful to now see. The result is a collection of photos that covers subjects such as landscapes, animals and activities with a fresh, new viewpoint.

Photographer-exhibitor Ray Catalano

On Friday, March 10, around 250 guests gathered at Artwork Network in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe, and enjoyed music by DJ Philip G, delicious passed hors d’oeuvres by Footers Catering & Events, and a variety of craft beers as they strolled through the gallery. Event organizers drove home the need for tissue donors with a hands-on experience that demonstrated how the simplest tasks become monumental for those with corneal blindness.The festive reception atmosphere became especially poignant at times when guests had the chance to meet donor family members who attended. The exhibit is open to the public until March 15.

Participating at the hands-on corneal-blindness experience

As the nonprofit organization responsible for the recovery and transplantation of donated eye tissues in Colorado (all 64 counties) for the past 33 years, Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank is the nonprofit organization that carries out the promise of eye donors in Colorado and Wyoming to help others overcome blindness. The eye bank has carried out this wish for more than 41,000 eye donors in Colorado and Wyoming by facilitating more than 40,000 sight-restorative transplants locally, domestically and throughout the world. RMLEB never turns away anyone needing a transplant, and either discounts or waives its reimbursement fee 60 percent of the time.

RMLEB is very proud to also increase eye, organ and tissue-donor awareness, engage in advocacy, and secure and provide resources for anyone to “Share the Circle of Light” through eye donation. For more information, please visit: www.corneas.org.

Circle of Light Photo Display Celebrates the Gift of Sight

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Imagine trying to simply tie a shoelace when you see it (and everything else) as only an unrecognizable mass. Then imagine the miraculous results achieved by corneal transplants that allow patients to see. At this year’s Circle of Light reception and photo display, guests could take part in, quite literally, an eye-opening, interactive “corneal blindness experience” to help understand the journey of corneal-transplant patients. Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB) hosted the fundraiser that featured photographs taken by cornea recipients who went from blindness to sight. Their subject matter? The things they are most grateful to see.

Cornea-transplant photographer John and Patsy Capra by John's work "Fish."

Cornea-transplant photographer John and Patsy Capra by John’s work “Fish.”

On Thursday, March 10, almost 200 RMLEB supporters attended the annual reception and photo display held at Space Gallery, beginning with an hour-long VIP champagne soiree. Guests included doctors, sponsors, cornea recipients and donor families—all able to appreciate the artistry and finesse of the photographs, as well as the story of each photographer. The photos were available for purchase throughout the evening as part of the silent auction, which also included travel and entertainment packages, and some winning sports collectibles.

Everyday tasks aren't so easy, as this "corneal blindness experience" guest discovers.

Everyday tasks aren’t so easy, as this “corneal blindness experience” guest discovers.

The exhibit photos were part of the eye bank’s Circle of Light Photo Project, taken by people from all around the state who received cornea transplants from an eye donor in Colorado or Wyoming. Through this project, recipients have a chance to give back, honor their donor and show the world just how big an impact tissue donations can be. All proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, the nonprofit organization responsible for keeping its promise to help others see again through eye, organ and tissue donation.

Cornea transplants are a cure for corneal blindness, which accounts for about 10 percent of all blindness. Each year, approximately 600 people in Colorado and Wyoming receive sight-restorative transplants. In 2015, the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank facilitated the donation and transplantation of corneas from 2,355 eye donors in Colorado and Wyoming—those donations resulted in 2,220 sight-restorative transplants. Since 1982, RMLEB has facilitated over 40,000 transplants.

RMLEB, the recovery agency for donated eye tissue in Colorado and Wyoming, continues to serve eye donors and their families, and provides for sight-saving transplantation locally, nationally and worldwide. For more information, please visit: www.corneas.org.

Aurora Mental Health Center's 9th Annual Student Art Contest & Show

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The Aurora Mental Health Center this year celebrated its 40th Anniversary along with its 9th Annual Student Art Contest at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora.

A record 450 artworks from 23 Aurora-area schools displayed the power of creativity from K-12 students, recognized for their imaginative contributions. In total 14 award ribbons went to students followed by recognition of teachers, staff and board members.

“It’s phenomenal!” said AUMHC board President Peter Cukale, “Every year this event gets bigger and bigger.”

AUMHC was founded by a group of concerned Aurora residents lead by Ellin Mrachek who were determined to bring mental health services to the city in the mid-1970s.

The 9th Annual AUMHC “Living Life to the Fullest” student art show and contest featured works based on this year’s theme of “What Fills Your Heart with Joy?”

The annual event, sponsored by Citywide Banks, selected first and second place winners in each of the 4 grade categories from Kindergarten to 12th grade, as well as four Director’s Choice Award recipients, a holiday card selection, and teacher recognition for four instructors. Winners received a certificate and were recognized on stage before a crowd of more than 200 guests, friends and family members and several Aurora and Arapahoe county representatives.

First Place Winners were:
K-3: Dakota Fink
4-6 Annie Nuetzel
7-8 Emily Merrell
9-12 Janet Najar

2nd Place Winners:
K-3: Mackenzie Price
4-6 Munirah Kramer
7-8 Lexi Lowe
9-12 Renee Pugh

Honorable Mention Winner: Justin Roach
Holiday Card Selection: Mariana Carvallo
Teacher Recognition: John Breeding, Brooks Mullen, Genevieve Deits, Sarah Grundemann

Director’s Choice Award Winners:
Taylor Davidson, 2nd grade, High Plains Elementary
Caitlyn Bradley, 4th grade, Altura Elementary
Grace Ko, 8th grade, Fox Ridge Middle School
Taryn Montgomery, 11th grade, William Smith High School

Near the close of the event, Dr. Stith handed a letter from Colorado Senator Michael Bennet to Board President Cukale who read it to the crowd. Bennet’s letter praised the organization’s commitment to expanding mental health services and recognized its four decades of award-winning service. Staff and board recognition and awards were followed by board elections.

Founded in 1975, Aurora Mental Health Center provides community mental health services through 16 clinics, residential facilities, schools, and county human services. AUMHC has more than 400 employees and about 100 volunteers–recognized as among the best by the Colorado Division of Mental Health.

For more information or to donate please visit www.aumhc.org or call 303-617-2300

ArtReach 7th Annual Dine & D'Art

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The ArtReach 7th Annual Dine & D’Art proved once again that the passion of Denver artists, long-time supporters, volunteers, and donors are more important than a fancy, sophisticated venue. Creative artistry (or wizardry) converted an old, abandoned Walgreen’s on Colfax Avenue in Lakewood into a kaleidoscope of colorful artworks from some of Denver’s most creative painters, mixed-media artists, sculptors and ceramicists, to name a few.

Some 300 guests attended the event for ArtReach, a 41-year old non-profit that provides access to Denver art venues and exhibits with its free ticketing program and arts education through after-school programs and summer art camps.

Established  nearly a decade ago, the Dine & D’art event allows participants to review artworks during a cocktail hour, enjoy dinner and at evening end get called in an auction system to run or “dart” to select their selection.

This year more than 60 artists donated nearly 100 pieces with a minimum value of $400 for auction.

Emcee Lauren Whitney of CBS4 introduced guests to the proceedings while artists Lonnie Hanzon and Brad Ramsey worked throughout the night on live paintings on multiple canvases spread some 30 feet across the back of the room.
Executive Director Karla Johnson-Grimes thanked guests and urged them to be polite as they raced to claim and capture a favorite painting or customized wooden furniture piece, ceramic platters or mosaics.

ArtReach Board Member and Event Chair Jeff Horvorka of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts described the organization’s impact and Board Member Brad Ramsey provided first-hand stories of working with at-risk youth. Auctioneer Tracy Weise lead the live auction and coaxed multiple bids from long-time supporters.

This year’s sponsors included CBS4, 92.5/The Wolf , Mix 100.3, Kool 105, Jay’s Valet, Callahan & Associates, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, The Denver Post, Frame de Art, The Wizard’s Chest, Liberty Waste Management, Table Mountain Inn, Scott and Shannon Pope, Cindy and David Hayes, Swingle, and Mesch Commercial Real Estate.

ArtReach’s unique ticketing program works with local schools and other organizations to access to the visual and performing arts and venues throughout Denver by providing free tickets to various cultural events including theatre, concerts and exhibits. ArtReach also funds and organizes after-school programs, art workshops, and summer camps to increase exposure to the arts for at-risk youth, developmentally disabled, seniors and other groups.

Hovorka announced the return this December of ArtReach’s Festival of Trees, a key signature event and popular citywide Denver attraction in the 1980s and 1990s. On hiatus since 2005, guests cheered their approval for the revival of the December holiday exhibit/fundraiser that auctions off decorative holiday wreaths and Christmas trees created by Denver artists. For more information about the organization visit artreachdenver.org.

 

Alzheimer's Association Art Auction Draws Broncos and New Supporters

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When emcee Kim Christiansen asked how many of the 800 attendees at this year’s Memories in the Making Art Auction were new to the event, at least half raised their hand. Admittedly, there was a curiosity factor that helped sell tickets—this was the first event ever held at the Denver Broncos’ brand-new fieldhouse, and former and current players and coaches were there. Pat Bowlen’s daughter Beth Bowlen Wallace was event chair. But even those who may have come for the Broncos factor inevitably were drawn into reason for the event: the incredible talent of the Alzheimer’s-afflicted artists and their poignant stories.

(l to r): Erin and Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler, with event chair Beth Bowlen Wallace and John Wallace

(l to r): Erin and Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler, with event chair Beth Bowlen Wallace and John Wallace

The evening began with a cocktail reception and extensive silent auction of the displayed artwork of 100 artists from the Memories in the Making program—individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Some paintings were paired with the work of a professional artist. The auction also included a collection of palettes creatively painted by the pros, and there was a small selection of reproductions of displayed artwork—those who missed out on a silent-auction favorite could own a replica for a $50 donation. Epicurean Catering servers circulated with passed hors d’oeuvres, and there were a number of buffet stations lining the vast dining area, along with fully stocked bars.

Palettes creatively embellished by professional artists were up for bid.

Palettes creatively embellished by professional artists were up for bid.

Event chair Bowlen Wallace spoke to the crowd about her father and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, asking the crowd to remember his accomplishments rather than his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Then auctioneers Chuck and Bryson Miller entertained the crowd and enticed high bids during the live auction of artwork. Among the pieces up for bid was a Pat Bowlen tribute to his Broncos success story, created by iconic Denver sports cartoonist Drew Litton—amazingly, the cartoon was published the day before the public announcement regarding Bowlen’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The signed artwork, which became the signature piece of the event, was purchased by Bowlen Wallace for $7,000, while Litton looked on in the audience. At auction’s end, dessert for this crowd was nothing short of spectacular: a 5×5-foot opera cake donated by Bar Red.

Memories in the Making (MIM) is a creative art expression program for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Some people with dementia have lost the ability to use words, and through painting are often able to express thoughts and emotions, and to share beloved memories. The MIM experience offers an opportunity for the essence of who they are and what they care about to shine through. All of the proceeds from the auction help fund programs and services at the Alzheimer’s Assocation of Colorado. For more information, please visit: alz.org/co .