Art Jam in Aurora brings out young artists at Phillips Park
By Jenette Sturges email@example.com September 21, 2013 5:08PM
Brothers Jonah and Kaden Helfrich, ages 10 and 7, add to the collaborative canvas as a part of Art Jam, a fundraising event for The Light of the Heart art therapy group. The event included participatory art activities and live music Saturday at Phillips Park. | Jenette Sturges ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2013 6:26AM
Love and art were in the air Saturday.
Music and art lovers gathered at Phillips Park in Aurora for Art Jam, an afternoon of live music and participatory art — face painting, caricature, tie dye and other shared art experiences.
The event was a fundraiser for The Light of the Heart, a nonprofit that provides art therapy throughout the community. That includes a project with patients at Rush-Copley Medical Center facing debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s, workshops with teenagers at Triple Threat Mentoring, and a recent community-made mural unveiled last month in downtown Aurora.
Next, the group hopes to work with students at East Aurora High School, said Melissa Hedlund, founder of The Light of the Heart.
“Almost 80 percent of those students are low-income; 10 percent have truancy issues — they’re dropping out. There’s just a lot of need,” Hedlund said. “We really want to go in and provide art therapy, and help them, keep them in school and out of trouble, off the streets, and remind them that all things are possible no matter who you are.”
In order to supply all the paint and paper, Hedlund and her fellow art therapists and volunteers organized the Art Jam with three live bands and half a dozen different ways to get hands-on with art in the park.
Among the younger artists were brothers Jonah and Kaden Helfrich, who added to the Art Jam 2013 collaborative canvas. Where a previous artist had drawn in a dragon holding a paintbrush, 10-year-old Jonah drew alongside, giving the dragon an accessory.
“It’s an easel, so he can paint something,” Jonah said. “He had a paintbrush, but he was just hanging out with nothing to paint on.”
Seven-year-old Kaden, meanwhile, added another dragon at the other end of the canvas.
At another table, artists of all ages spread the love through a “heart exchange,” each person designing a heart with pastels, stickers and a number of other media, then placing them in a box for another artist to pull out and take home.
“The reason I like pastels instead of crayons is they have a better texture,” said 9-year-old Brett Clay as he colored in and explained his design of concentric hearts. “I just do something, and it goes from there.”
Bands played throughout the afternoon, including FUE, a DeKalb-based five-piece band that performed alternative folk in full electric set-up on a blanket under the trees.
Lead singer Joanna Rutzky said the band was happy to add its music to the party because of the contribution that The Light of the Heart is making to the community.
“Art Jam is really celebrating art and community,” Rutzky said. “What they’re doing for people is really important. I process things that I’m feeling by writing and singing and making music, but some things you maybe can’t write. But you can draw or paint or create them, so art therapy is an awesome way to do that, and we were really excited to come out and support them.”
In addition to Art Jam, which Hedlund said she hopes to make an annual event, The Light of the Heart holds smaller fundraisers throughout the year, including an art sale planned for this December. More information on The Light of the Heart is at www.thelightoftheheart.org.