TEUTOPOLIS — CSS Consumer Artists paint it for the annual Community Support Systems Art Auction to be held Friday evening at the Teutopolis Banquet Hall.
The CSS Art Auction is held in conjunction with the CSS 60th Anniversary Community Celebration. Proceeds from the art auction help support the CSS Art Program.
A special reception is held at 5 p.m. for anyone wishing to meet CSS Consumer Artists, followed by the annual CSS Art Auction at 6 p.m. Activities continue with a magic show featuring Sally the Clown and Captain Rat and the Blind Rivets taking the stage at 7 p.m.
Barb Kessler, CSS Community Day Services Coordinator, said there will be 41 consumer artist paintings and one large group special painting up for auction. The CSS Art program has two art teachers, Karen Weber and Jan VonBokel.
“They are both professional and talented teachers,” Kessler said. “They have helped our consumers develop incredible skills.”
Kessler said it’s important to focus more on consumers’ abilities rather than their disabilities, and the art program is one of CSS’s programs that addresses that need.
“A lot of artwork is way better than I could ever create,” she said. “The reason I’m so passionate about the art program is that it allows us to show off their skills and abilities. It’s phenomenal what they can do.
Community Support Systems offers art classes to 41 consumers on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
“Consumers love participating in the art program,” Kessler said. “Each year, the artistic program continues to expand. In order for our consumers to be able to do what they love, which is to paint, we have decided to fundraise each year to raise money to pay for the paints and whatever is necessary for this program to be a success.
She said the art program could not survive without community support. Kessler said that for the past two years CSS has held its auction online due to the COVID pandemic and hopes to have an in-person, live auction this year.
“We are very happy to return to the live auction,” Kessler said.
Kessler said the CSS Art Auction is usually part of the Craft Fair, but this year is special with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Community Support Services.
She said the art program also has therapeutic value for consumers.
Kessler said, “It lifts their mood and brings a lot of joy into their lives. It gives them a sense of self-worth. They are really proud of their paintings.
CSS Consumer Artist Tina Cohen working on a 60s-style “Pop Art” painting of a butterfly said she really enjoyed participating in the program.
“It helps me focus on my life,” Cohen said. “It helps us do things to focus on other people…and the teachers are wonderful.”
A consumer artist puts the finishing touches on her three-dimensional painting of a vase and flower on a table.
“Classes make me happy,” said CSS consumer artist Lori Poehler. “I like to paint.”
Amy Lohman, host of the CSS Art program, said consumers love having the opportunity to participate in art classes.
“I usually tell them when they get off the bus and they’ll just go put their things away and they’ll knock on the (art room) door,” Lohman said. “They are ready to go.”
Art teacher Karen Weber said she lets each consumer choose what they want to paint.
“I found out that you don’t tell them what they want. I like that about them,” Weber said. “Some like to paint animals and some like to paint landscapes. You let them choose that when you let them choose the subject of their paintings.
She said each of her classes lasted an hour.
“COVID kind of put a damper on everything, but we’re back,” she said.
“And thank goodness we’re back,” adds Kessler.
Kessler said the support from the Effingham County area and beyond has really made a difference over the years.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of the community and they’ve been extremely generous with us over the years,” said Barb Kessler. “We are blessed.”