Work of heART Exhibit

Judy Jones is one of the Open Hearts Art Center  artists whose work will be on display.
Judy Jones is one of the Open Hearts Art Center
artists whose work will be on display.

The artists at Open Hearts Art Center have been diligently working on creations to be displayed at the Satellite Gallery in February.

From February 9 through the 22, the gallery will host the Seventh Annual “Work of heART” exhibit, an eclectic collection of work created by differently-abled adults who are the artistic talent behind Open Hearts Art Center.

“You work hard on your art for months. Having things out in the community helps people buy our art and show that they care for us and that they understand how hard we work on the art,” commented Open Hearts artist, Dawn Thomas. Thomas enjoys painting primarily religious images, she says, “because I love the Lord.”

She recently completed her piece for the upcoming show, an acrylic painting that she calls, “Hallelujah Jesus.” Thomas holds it out to me in its brushed golden frame, smiling with obvious pride at the results of her hard work. The icon in the painting holds up an index finger, causing the viewer to pause and consider the message.

Open Hearts Art Center is a day habilitation program, serving adults with developmental, mental, physical, and emotional disabilities. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2005 with one of its goals being to redirect the focus from what the artists who attend are unable to accomplish and, instead, to emphasize their many and vast abilities.

These artists’ abilities are apparent upon viewing the works on display in the Open Hearts Art Center Gallery. Over the years, many of the artists, who create pieces often referred to as folk or outsider art, have developed a distinct style.

Merlin Strivelli is one such artist, who focuses mainly on comic book characters and super heroes for his subject matter. Strivelli has exhibited at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center, he has taught workshops for art organizations in other states, and he consistently receives commissions, which he completes during his time at Open Hearts.

Interested in checking out work by Open Hearts artists? The opening reception at the Satellite Gallery is from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, and is sponsored by Highland Brewing Company and David’s Auto House.

This reception gives community members the opportunity to directly speak with Open Hearts Art Center artists about their creations, to appreciate the stories and inspiration behind each piece, and to purchase artwork by the artists. It is a chance for the artists to be recognized for their contribution to our community and, together, to celebrate their hard work.

For more information on the Open Hearts Art Center visit

An opening reception for Work of heART will be held Saturday, February 9 from 7 to 10 p.m. Satellite Gallery, at 55 Broadway Street in Asheville. More details by calling (828) 505-2225, or visit