This is the story of a nonprofit organization and a downtown cultural scene uniting for an arts awareness event. On one side, there’s Opportunity Village, a work-training program for people with intellectual disabilities and the Valley’s best-known charity group. On the other, Emergency Arts, the Vegas hot spot that has been the main reason for much recent press about our Sin City arts scene.
OV Loves Downtown showcases art created by the 60 folks enrolled in Opportunity Village’s art program. The program is only a small part of what the organization does, given that there are 1,600 clients who do everything from shredding paper to packaging meals. But when Emergency Arts co-founder and event co-host Jennifer Cornthwaite heard about the art-enrichment component, and toured of the group’s facility on the corner of Buffalo Drive and Patrick Lane, she knew she had to invite these artists into her own downtown community.
“I was really inspired by what I saw there, and I wanted to let people know about this specific program,” Cornthwaite says. “Opportunity Village isn’t just about the Magical Forest during the holidays. There are artists there who are very talented. They’re excited to show what they’re doing.”
RC Wonderly, manager of Opportunity Village’s Art Enrichment Program, took the participants to downtown last month so that artists could snap reference photos for their paintings, illustrations and sketches.
“Our artists are locals, too,” Wonderly says. “Many of them draw inspiration from what they have seen and experienced around town—signs, architecture, showgirls, souvenir shops and slot machines.”
The show consists of 20 pieces, including the mediums of watercolor, marker, acrylic, digital photography and latex on papier-mâché. Cornthwaite plans to display the photos that the artists took for inspiration next to each piece as a way of revealing each person’s creative process.
The artists receive 50 percent commission on the sale of their work with the other 50 percent going back into the Art Enrichment Program to purchase supplies for the studio. “Hopefully, we can help these artists sell some of their work,” Cornthwaite says. “We want to organize a larger street fair and fundraiser in late summer or early fall.”
“Downtown Vegas is my favorite place,” Opportunity Village community outreach manager Barbara Molasky says. “It’s where my heart lies. And Opportunity Village is so happy to be a small part of all the exciting things happening there. We’re thrilled to see how the people like the Cornthwaites are making it work and developing an artistic community.”