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PALO ALTO — Jill Matranga knew exactly what to do when they first put the bright yellow hard hat on her head, with the paint brush cleverly protruding through the brim. Just because she can’t hold a brush, doesn’t mean she can’t paint. They don’t do “can’t” at Abilities United, a nonprofit that’s finding unique ways through art to empower adults and children with physical and developmental disabilities. Most Tuesdays, they gather at the weekly art class inside a Palo Alto building that once housed an indoor swimming pool but now resembles the cluttered, chaotic creativity of a SoHo artist loft pointe shoe brands for wide feet.
For Matranga, the act of painting itself is a delicate and complex ballet. She has cerebral palsy and can’t speak, but she communicates the colors she wants by purposefully blinking brilliant hazel eyes. When Micha Stoneham squares up the palette to her brush, she swivels her neck and cranes her head and magically … paints. “I think most people who would meet her would right off think that Jill doesn’t have a personality, that she’s just going through the motions,” said Stoneham, a gentle bear of a man with a thick beard who serves as one of the non-profit’s instructors. “When you go back later and show her what she’s created, she lights up.” pointe shoe brands for wide feet.
Each stroke is an extraordinary achievement that the exceedingly patient instructors at Abilities United never take for granted — but always look for ways to improve. A donation through Wish Book will help pay for supplies, instructors and innovations. “There are a lot of moments that make you grateful to be here,” said Shay Barnett, the art program coordinator whose pedigree includes a degree from the University of the Arts London pointe shoe brands for wide feet. For more than a decade, Abilities United has been connecting promising young artists — some with speech delays, autism or cerebral palsy — to First Friday art walks and museum exhibits and to art dealers and patrons who sometimes pay hundreds of dollars for their works..
“We teach them more than art,” said Wendy Kuehnl, Abilities United’s marketing director who started the art program in 2001 with the help of a local artist. “We teach them how to represent themselves, to curate their work, to prepare for an exhibit.”. One of their artists, Phillip Ma, sold a painting of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco for $700 now on display at an E-Trade office pointe shoe brands for wide feet. Daniel Arroyo’s portrait “Who’s Who” of a face split between a man and woman was featured at the Walt Disney Family Museum. And Ingrid Lai still can’t get over the places her artwork is taking her..
“It brings me surprise after surprise,” said Lai of Palo Alto who suffers debilitating joint pain from Lupus and started painting as a therapeutic activity. Two of her oil paintings hang in the Scotts Valley home of Valerie Elliott, including a still life of lemons as bright as sunshine now beaming above the buffet in Elliott’s dining room. The painting filled Elliott with memories of growing up on a dairy farm when she saw it at one of Abilities United’s art auction luncheons shortly after her father died pointe shoe brands for wide feet.