>re.view< Visionaries + Voices
A Review of Double Vision 3
By Jeremy King
Ten years ago, two case managers for county boards of Developmental Disabilities services began coming into contact with self-taught artists. Soon a small collective of these “outsider” artists formed and from there, Visionaries + Voices began.
Nestled in the heart of Cincinnati, this non-profit organization provides artists with disabilities an environment to create, collaborate, and support other artists. Their studios provide outsider artists a place to create, exhibit, and sell their artwork: artwork that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.
“We’ve been very fortunate [to have the support of the local community,]” says Christa Zielke, Marketing Director for V+V. Engaging the artists in the community is an integral part of what V+V does. Collaboration with other artists in the community creates an inclusive atmosphere, fights discrimination and segregation against artists with disabilities, and provides mentorship to develop professional skills.
By 2007, V+V had more artists than space and began looking to expand. They opened a second studio in the Tri-County area, in a warehouse that now welcomes artists from two additional counties.
On April 21st, I attended V+V’s annual fund raiser at the historic Memorial Hall in downtown Cincinnati. A few hundred people were already there when I arrived. It began with a silent auction on the first floor. Bidders wrote in their bids to numerous items donated from the community. This also gave potential bidders a chance to see the artwork for the live auction on display.
As I wandered through the displays, I noticed that most of the pieces were collaborations between two, three, sometimes four artists. Sometimes these were mentorships, other times each artist brought their own individual style to the pieces. “Mentorship works both ways,” Zielke says. Artists learn from each other in this environment.
Later, the live auction was held upstairs in the Memorial Hall Auditorium. Live music was provided by Magnolia Mountain during the transition from downstairs to upstairs, from silent auction to live auction. The hall was full and the atmosphere was lively with chatter and people finding their seats. Once the auction began, the auctioneer kept the bidding fast and exciting, while giving bidders time to waffle over their decision to go ten, twenty, fifty bucks higher.
The crowd cheers when a hundred dollar mark was reached, and cheers even louder when the thousand dollar mark is reached with other pieces. Half way through, a short intermission was taken while a Michael Jackson impersonator performs to celebrate a few memorial works of Jackson and Whitney Houston.
Visionaries + Voices hold several shows during the year and their galleries are open Monday through Friday. Hours and times can be seen on their website.