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The 34th annual Mary Free Bed Fine Arts Exhibition is April 18-August 31, 2016.

This exhibition focuses on the contributions of Michigan artists who are physically challenged. The event seeks to promote community awareness and education while providing a showcase for artists.

The Mary Free Bed Guild will purchase selected works from the exhibition for permanent display in the hospital. The remaining works, at the discretion of the artists, may be available for sale.

Click to view a gallery featuring the 2016 pieces, prices and availability. Learn more about this year’s artists by clicking the names below.

 

Marci Carrara

Marci Carrara is an artist who enjoys working with animals, both wild and domestic. Her finest work is her graphite rendering, but this artist also is comfortable with oil, acrylic, watercolor and ink. She prefers to choose the medium that will produce the effect she is seeking. She also enjoys working with unusual mediums like stones, birch bark, burlap, feathers or interesting pieces of wood. Hunters and breeders have long sought her out at her Cadillac area studio for paintings of their dogs. Marci’s portraits often capture that special, tender tie between the person and the animal.

Having been closely associated with outdoor service organizations for many years, Marci is well known at fundraisers and banquets to benefit wildlife, hunting, fishing and trapping where sportsmen eagerly seek her donated original pieces. Marci is mostly self-taught, though she does hold a degree in design from the Baker College system. Among her many laurels, the ones she treasures are her first, that came to her at age 9, and the People’s Own Award, judged by guests at a large wildlife art show in Michigan’s western UP.

Following a catastrophic health event a few years ago, Marci has been able to recapture her creative energy, learn new facets of her talent and go on with life as a full-time artist and teacher in the Cadillac area.

David Chupp

My involvement in the art world actually started more than 30 years ago when I was in my teens. During the 70s and early 80s, I took all the art classes I could in high school and went to art shows and received a number of awards for my art. I loved many types of art but was strongly encouraged to pursue other areas of training and work instead of being a starving artist. In 1980, I decided to pursue a Bachelors of religious education degree. The college I went to had no art department.

I trained to do some kind of ministry, then teaching and then construction. I have worked in a few different ministries and non-profit organizations. I really enjoyed working for 12 years at Mel Trotter Ministries where I was the support services director.

While working at Mel Trotter, a couple things happened that drastically changed my life. First I had a couple leg injuries damaging the nerves in my right leg. I developed chronic pain in my right calf. This has since progressed to include both my legs and up to the middle of my back. I am always in pain, sometimes crippling pain.

Then on January 12, 2001, I had another work-related accident. The PTO driver on a tractor hit me in the head. I received a closed head injury which resulted in me needing to leave a job I had loved. Now I could not work like I did before, I cannot concentrate, have very little short-term memory and have other problems related to the head injury.

A strange thing happened after this accident. I started to draw and paint more and more. I found myself enjoying doing art more than ever.

Wesley DeVries

Wesley DeVries was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type IV in 1996. Wesley worked in tool and die for many years, but as his muscle atrophy progressed he was no longer able to work. Wesley turned to painting and is inspired by images from the world around him including manufacturing, nature and space. Wesley is married and has one son.

Wesley’s paintings are frequently abstract and rich in texture and color. He enjoys painting large scale but has turned to smaller canvasses due to the atrophy in his right shoulder and arm. Although right handed, Wesley frequently paints with his left hand or uses his left hand to support his right hand.

Lawrence W. delLiefde

I started painting realism then my art evolved into abstract. Before my spinal cord injury I was making sculpture. I attended Minneapolis College of Art and Design for undergraduate work. I did my graduate work as a teaching assistant at Syracuse University in sculpture. After college I became an entrepreneur until my accident. Due to my disability and retirement I began making large paintings to keep physically active and flexible. I also ride a recumbent bike.

June DeWind

My artistic ability surfaced when I was very young with a passion to paint on canvas. Much later I attended Junior College for advanced watercolor instruction. I took watercolor workshops from professional artists such as Anita Engels, Judi Betts, Linda Baker and Maggie McClellen.

I also enjoy using the media of pastels, oils, and carbon and colored pencils. I paint from my photos in studio sometimes using several for a composition. I hope to draw the viewer into my work simply for pleasure. I lost my leg in an auto accident and spend more time painting when I’m in a wheelchair.

Jodie Dilno

Art has been a part of Jodie’s life for a long time. After high school and during college, she did several murals for an elementary school in Hastings, Michigan. She went on to obtain an art degree from Kellogg Community College. Art was put on the back burner while Jodie pursued other interests. Her passion returned when she moved to Key West, Florida. While there, she returned to painting murals and found that she also enjoyed creating sculptures. The enjoyment of sculpting came about when she entered Mystery Build contests for several years, picking up a second place Award of Excellence in 2011.

In January 2015, Jodie was involved in a serious auto accident, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury, an injured right arm and a long convalescent time in bed. While lying in bed, she attempted painting with her left hand, and so began her year of “left-handed art”. She returned to her hometown in May for therapy and recovery. She has kept herself busy throughout recovery further exploring with acrylic paints, her medium of choice. She has accepted commission pieces for both individuals and several businesses around Hastings.

Michael Donahue

The Lord put a desire for drawing in me from as far back as I can remember, so I must give Him the credit for any talent I have. I attended Kendall Art School (where I met my wife!) but some time later found out that I had multiple sclerosis. MS eventually made it impossible for me to hold a pencil or brush, so now my “paintbrush” is a computer mouse.

Nothing in my artwork is copied and pasted from anywhere, but is all created from a few basic tools in my computer’s painting program toolbox. And even though a painting project takes nearly a year to complete, I enjoy every minute of it.

I currently live in Comstock Park with my (both sweet) wife and daughter.

Glee Fenby

I took an art class when I was a senior at Cadillac High School, however I also grew up in a family that loved art. My favorite uncle was a professional artist and my mom greatly influenced me. She learned to paint because she wanted original artwork hanging on the living room walls. Also lately my sister has taken an interest in drawing. I have been a member of the Cadillac Area Artists’ Association and through them had many opportunities to pursue different techniques and mediums.

In February 2009, I had a left knee replacement and in November 2009, I had a right knee replacement. On the day before I was to get the staples taken out of my knee, I fell. Slowly, my knee swelled up. The next morning when my doctor performed surgery on it, it had been without circulation for 12 hours. Back in the nursing home, the nurse noticed that my knee had turned black and wanted the doctor to look at it. June 9, 2011, I stepped over a threshold that was higher than I first realized, fell and found out I had shattered my knee caps. Because shattered knee caps are in so many pieces, they are no longer attached to the leg muscles. One must constantly keep both legs straight. My doctor is Dr. Brian Pack at Mary Free Bed. 2011 was an eventful year for me. I found out I had type 2 Diabetes, breast cancer and shattered knee caps. Through all these traumas, I had plenty of opportunity to pursue my creative interests.

I am a colorist who is strongly influenced when I see how one color interacts with another that is in close proximity. I especially like to see how light colors on a fabric reflect the darker colors encircling them. My favorite subject matter is portraits. However, I have discovered whatever the subject matter animals, landscapes, still life, buildings, or figures-one can learn something new with each experience.

As an artist, I started out with oil paint, went on to acrylics and then my favorite became fluid acrylics by Golden. I am also interested in watercolor because it is so unpredictable. Lately, I’ve been intrigued by drawing with graphite pencils. It is far more difficult than just painting because it is important to build the foundation of the subject especially with portraits.

Reyna Garcia

I am Reyna Garcia, an artist originally from Mexico City but now living in Grand Rapids. I was diagnosed with polio, which affected my left leg, when I was six years old. That’s when my life changed. While my parents tried to support me by taking me to a rehabilitation hospital for therapy for a few years, I didn’t understand the situation and I struggled with walking and the thought of losing my leg.

But my strength and persistence grew as I became an adult. After moving to New York, my dreams came true. I met a doctor in New York that performed surgery on my leg so that amputation was out of the realm of possibilities. I’m grateful to the Little Brothers of the Gospel that helped me get to doctor appointments and helped with translation.

Moving to Grand Rapids was another way for me to get additional help. Mary Free Bed was the reason for my relocation. At Mary Free Bed, I received financial support to have shoes specially made for me. Now I can walk with confidence.

My art, which is based on the empowerment of women, is a direct representation of my triumph over adversity. I began painting at the age of 15 and studied art at Bellas Artes School in Mexico. You may contact me at reynami07@yahoo.com or visit my blog spot at www.reynaart.blogspot.com.

James A. Herdegen

Jim is married to his wife Judy. They have 3 children, 7 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. At 24, Jim had an industrial accident that resulted in the amputation of his left hand. He did not let this keep him from his love of fishing and hunting. His guns and poles were adapted to accommodate different situations, in the field and on the water. Jim also enjoyed golfing in leagues as well, and did so for many years. At the age of 50, Jim needed his shoulder surgically rebuilt. At that time he gave up strenuous activity and turned to his other interest, photography for leisure time fun. Jim takes pictures to enlarge and decorate his home. He also uses his photos to make greeting cards for his family. Nature, barns, and old structures are his favorite subjects. Recently he took the photos for his community calendar.

In 2009, Jim was encouraged to show his photographs in the Mary Free Bed Art Exhibition and continues to participate. Jim never leaves home without his camera, and takes many day trips in search of the perfect photo opportunity.

Derrick Hollowell

Derrick Hollowell was born February 23, 1965, to Patricia Hollowell and Rochelle Atkins. During his formative years he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents, Rev. and Mrs. Howard Hollowell. As a child he split his interests between sports and art. He was a tremendous student and was advanced directly from 4th to 6th grade. He was very influenced by his uncle, James Hollowell, who was studying art at Grand Valley State College.

When Derrick was about 10 years old, during one of his rocket league football games, his uncle perceived that he was running with a slight limp. His mother noticed the same change in his gait while watching him play later that summer. This change led to numerous medical visits, examinations and diagnoses. A specific medical conclusion was never confirmed. Eventually a spinal cord surgery was attempted to correct Derrick’s new disability.

After unsuccessful attempts at rehab, Derrick continued his education. He graduated Class President from Creston High School. He went on to Grand Valley and earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis on Printmaking. He also began a prolific music career based on his exposure to Hip-Hop music in the early 1980s. His group, Euro-K, signed a record label deal and filmed a music video for MTV.

Derrick has traveled much of the U.S. promoting music and art. He has dabbled in radio broadcasting, voiceover and acting. Over the past few years Derrick has been heavily involved in youth mentoring and community building. He worked as Program Director for The Hattie Beverly Tutoring Center and was lead youth instructor for The Grand Rapids Art Museum and Creation House. He currently operates a community art gallery (The Gallery at 742 Franklin), and serves on the board of directors for several community based organizations.

Artistically, Derrick is growing exponentially. Along with a constant demand for portrait work he is exploring new areas of Expressionist Line Drawing. He is absorbing new influences to complement his longtime affection for Japanese Printmaking, Impressionism and German Expressionism. In terms of new ground, he is blending his interests in Hip-Hop music with visual interpretation. Derrick plans to continue to influence young people through the arts and build community through Art and Education-based economics.

Elaine J. Hoogeboom

I was born on June 12, 1954. I grew up, and stayed in Grand Rapids, Michigan area all of my life. I received a BA in 1982 from Aquinas College. I went on and obtained a Masters of Social Work in 1984 at Michigan State University. I then worked in the Social Work field for over 25 years. Due to a childhood injury I struggled with increasing back pain which inevitably lead to three successive back surgeries within four years. I began taking pictures while participating in physical rehabilitation following my first back surgery. I would walk a minimum of two miles a day always carrying a camera and taking shots of birds, flowers, butterflies, and anything that caught my fancy. I did not have any formal training in photography but did seem to have a good eye for the beauty of nature. I have been shooting pictures for the last 6 years and use these pictures as a reference for my paintings.

I began working with watercolor pencils about 5 years ago after my third back surgery left me with many hours of solitary time. The anesthesia left me with aphasia and I withdrew into the world of art and images. After a year of speech therapy I am now beginning to show the world the gift I feel I received from the adversity of the complications of the last surgery. I have had no formal training in the field of art. I won three Guild Purchase Awards from the Mary Free Bed 27th, 28th, and 29th Annual Art Exhibits. I have gained entrance into the Celebration of the Arts, a Festival of Spiritual Arts in 2008 and 2009. I won the Legacy Trust Prize in 2010 and 2011. Finally I have shown pieces of my work in Art Prize 2009, 2010, and 2011 and several pieces in Art Peers 2009. I continue to practice and work with my gift on a daily basis. I have had no formal training in Art and was unable to paint prior to the unfortunate circumstances of the last surgery. I believe that my ability to draw and paint is the gift I received in exchange for the loss of my speech.

Karen Klawiter

My name is Karen Klawiter. I have had Multiple Sclerosis since 1983. I was married for sixteen years and have three children. I went back to school in 1992 to study Architecture. Shortly after, I started a business designing barrier free and universal design homes. I also consulted for Disability Advocates reviewing blue prints for builders and homeowners to make their homes more user friendly. I have tried many art mediums and entered three paintings in the Mary Free Bed Art Show about twenty-five years ago and sold them all. I’ve tried colored pencil, acrylic paints etc. none of which satisfied me like oil paint. I like fine detail so for a while did miniature floral design with small artificial flowers. I tried 3D origami last year then hit on polymer clay embroidery. It satisfied my affinity for fine detail and is forgiving of mistakes and like oil paint can be left to finish another day. I don’t believe in giving up, just modifying.

Janet Long-Baker

I was born and raised in Lower Michigan. I now live in Northern Lower Michigan and have always been involved in art in one way or another since I was a child. I took art classes all through high school. Although I seldom painted then, I did life-like sketches of animals and birds. It wasn’t until years later that I began to paint with acrylic in art classes at West Shore Community College. Since then I have taken classes in oil painting led by well-known artist, Robert Salo. Recently, I have been in classes given by a well-known Michigan artist, Rod Lawrence.

In February of 2000, I injured my back in a fall. Later that year I underwent surgery. Since that time, I have had limited motion.

I love painting wildlife and scenery and love re-creating God’s creations, on canvas. I just love the out of doors and all it has to offer. I hope that my work will make people look at nature, the wildlife and their surroundings in a whole new light, appreciate it even more and want to preserve it.

Carole McNitt

Carole McNitt has been creating crewel embroidery pictures for nearly ten years. Similar to embroidery, crewel work uses yarn rather than embroidery thread. Having no previous art education or training, Carole taught herself by following the pattern provided with each picture. A trip to Joann Fabrics led Carole to discovering crewel work and inspired a desire to learn the craft. Chronic back pain and arthritis has resulted in multiple surgeries requiring extensive physical therapy. Being able to create crewel embroidery art allows Carole to focus on something other than the pain. She often will make pictures for family and friends as well selling it at an annual art fair. Carole recently received in-patient therapy services at Mary Free Bed following her latest back surgery.

Kathlene Melvin

I was born in 1965 on a hot July day in Rota, Spain at a navel base. I grew up in Michigan. I was born premature which presented many years of health problems and more as I get older. I was diagnosed at the early age of 14 with arthritis and a heart abnormality called mitral valve prolapse. I started drawing as an outlet and found out that I had a talent for the arts. At the age of 20, I was diagnosed with epilepsy, right partial lobe seizures, thought to be brought on by carbon monoxide poisoning from a car I had been driving. I didn’t let that stop me. I raised 3 wonderful children and worked as an EMT and a nurse assistant. Then the day came when my seizures became worse and more frequent to the point that I could not work even on medication.

In 2004, I decided to show my kids that you can do anything you put your mind to so I started college. I went for an associate degree in Interior Design. I had a rough time between trying to remember what I learned the previous semester, raising a family and suffering with seizures through the process. I graduated with a business degree in interior design. I couldn’t have made it without the support of my sisters, parents, my children and instructors who devoted extra time to me. I then moved to Grand Rapids and married my high school sweetheart.

Due to severe arthritis, sjogren’s syndrome, heart problems, COPD, diabetes complications, uncontrolled seizures and memory problems, I am unable to work. I have been disabled since 1999. To cope and live, I paint!

I am now a new grandma with a young granddaughter and am expecting two more grandchildren in the next couple of months. Along the way, I have learned that even though life throws you barriers, with strength and determination you can make it and become a better person.

Darryl Nero

In 1981, Darryl’s senior year at Cooley High School in Detroit, he was awarded Delta Sigma Theta 1st Art Scholarship. Instead of college, he chose to join the US Navy to acquire a degree in Architecture.

Darryl was injured in a car accident on May 4, 1986. He was diagnosed with a closed head injury. He lost his memory and had to be rehabilitated.

Before that date, Darryl was a talented artist and showcased in various art exhibits. He sold his paintings on a regular basis at Wild Wings Gallery in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

After the accident, he could barely draw a straight line. He went through an extensive program of cognitive therapy. Darryl is still on the road to recovery, but he is getting better as the days progress.

God has blessed Darryl to return with his gift four fold. His ability to express art in detail is remarkable. He exhibited at Mary Free Bed in 1989, as part of his therapy. Since then, his desired to draw and paint has accelerated.

Jan M. Ortiz

The year was 1972. In May, I had an indication that my life might not turn out the way I had planned. My husband and I had a nine-month-old son, we had just moved into a new apartment, and were getting settled when my right shoulder became so painful that I could not do the simplest chores.

A doctor diagnosed bursitis. Over the summer months, the pain gradually disappeared, and I thought I was home free. Little did I know that I was about to have an equally painful time with my feet. By December my feet hurt so bad that I could hardly walk, and I was afraid that I might have arthritis. I refused to entertain the idea, though it kept trying to poke itself into my consciousness.

By January 1973, I was in agony. I would not know for another month, when I was finally able to see a rheumatologist, that it was indeed rheumatoid arthritis that had begun to ravage my body. We did not have health insurance and treatment was expensive, so I treated myself for four years, during which time most of the joint damage was done. Finally, in 1976, I was forced to find an internist, whom I have been going to for the last 23 years.

In spite of the RA, including 13 surgeries to repair joint damage, I have accomplished many things. Among them are: (1) my return to college, whereupon I was graduated in 1984; (2) the successful rearing of our son; (3) a satisfying career; (4) work toward a master’s degree; (5) a love for photography; and (6) a happy and fulfilling life.

I would not have accomplished anything with my life, however, had it not been for my husband, who has stood by me and supported me throughout the entire 27 years of this journey with RA. I would not have been successful at raising our son were it not for his gentle personality – he made being a parent fairly easy. I also would not be where I am today but for the grace of God.

Loretta K. Rolison

Loretta Rolison was struck with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in mid-November of 1996. Initially she was totally paralyzed, but after 2 ½ years of extensive inpatient and outpatient therapy, she advanced to walking with AFOs and a cane (which she still relies on to walk today). Although she has recovered most of her fine and gross motor skills, she still has physical complications and experiences frequent bouts of fatigue due to the GBS.

She attributes her recovery to the knowledgeable, caring treatment she received from medical personnel, and therapists, and the support and prayers of family and friends. Two verses that brought her comfort and gave her courage during her paralysis and recovery were.“… with his stripes we are healed”, (Isaiah 53.5) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, (Philippians 4:13).

Although Rolison previously painted with traditional oils, she now paints with oils thinned with water rather than turpentine. With the water-soluble oils, clean up is easier and there are less toxic fumes to inhale. She loves the smell, texture and colors of paint and creates her paintings from photos, memory and imagination.

Although she previously signed her paintings Heppe (her maiden name) and MFW for My Father’s World showing her appreciation for the beauty of “the earth (that) is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein”, (Psalm 24:1), she has gotten lazy and now simply signs them with her initials: L.K.R. (Loretta Kathryn Rolison).

Miles Scharfenberg

The first time Miles was presented with a large canvas, an easel, and bright paint colors, he was very excited and the result was “Miles e-MOTION”; named for the exuberance, and joy that set his arms and paint flying. This was about two years ago.

Being visually, hearing, and motor impaired, Miles requires a variety of adaptive equipment, and significant assistance, but when this is provided he is elated. We consider Miles work, in general a collaboration, that he engages in with his aides who are all occupational therapy students from WMU. They excel in adapting his environment, and assisting Miles to make his own choices, so as to make his art as much his own as possible.

Miles uses brushes with built up handles, and an easel that presents the canvas right at his level. The student therapist helps by rotating the canvas, so that he can reach all areas of the canvas, and presenting him with a variety of paint colors. He will hand you the brush when he is through with a particular color. Lately, we have been doing a variety of collages, with bright colored tissue paper, and newsprint, that requires only tear and place, to create a riot of bright colors for a background for him to paint on.

Miles was a preemie, born fifteen weeks early. He had a ventricular bleed which caused cerebral palsy, and hearing impairment probably caused by the use of the antibiotic gentimyacin. Miles had retinopathy of prematurity, and has undergone at least a dozen eye surgeries. He has a baclofen pump, and has endured multiple surgeries, spinal, brain, and hip fracture. He remains extremely determined to be his own person, participate in life, and express himself. Miles’ work was recently featured in the new OJOT, The Open Online Journal of OT, published by WMU.

Becky Sue Schroeder

I was born with spastic cerebral palsy. I have little control over my hands and arms and use a wheelchair. I am so near sighted that I am legally blind and my spastic face and chest muscles make speech difficult for me. The only part of my body I have dependable control of is my head.

I have always been interested in art and tried many forms and methods. Even when I was successful in achieving the image I desired it was frustrating and tiring because it was so difficult with my spastic muscles.

A Baclofen infusion pump surgery a few years ago resulted in a great reduction in my spasticity. I am delighted to learn that I was now able to paint using my own fingerprints — although sometimes I need assistance to hold my arm in place so I can put my fingerprints exactly where I want them to go. I began taking art classes 3 years ago and am learning to paint with head gear… and a special device developed for me by my Occupational Therapist called a “roller skate”. I am also learning to paint with my head gear on a computer touch screen.

With a computer and the assistance of a loyal and caring staff, I am able to incorporate my art into designs that can be applied to items that I hope are found attractive and useful — such as note cards and greeting cards, baby bibs, household linens…and even some jewelry items.

I am able to operate a sewing machine with my chin and enjoy sewing items. For larger sewn items, I rely on my staff..my contributions to these items being my art that is applied to them.

I sell my art and the items my art is applied to through my own business.

Phillip M. Siegel, Sr.

Phil was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the second oldest son in a family of 8. At the age of 3 years old he contracted infantile paralysis (polio) which paralyzed his right side. After a hospital stay of 6 months, he was able to return home. A number of operations were required through the years and the last one being a total hip replacement. At the present time he is able to get around with aid of a cane.

A self-taught artist with an awareness of nature and the beauty of Michigan’s out-of-doors is reflected in many of his drawings today. Phil did not start working on fulfilling his dream of being an artist until after he was 30 years of age. His subject matter ranges from Michigan’s old barns, lighthouses, scenic landscape to lovable birds and animals that we see every day, with a real interest and concern for the endangered wildlife of our world.

As a graphic artist for a number of years, pen and ink drawings became a natural way for him to express his love for animals and the things around him. Phil’s talent as an artist is a God given gift.

Through his artwork, Phil expresses his feelings and his love for God’s wonderful creations.

Cathy Searing (Stehouwer)

I was born with a congenital birth defect (no arm below the elbow on my left side) which has provided many challenges, but finding my own way to do things has allowed me to lead a very normal life. I’ve had a supportive family, both now and when I was growing up.

I have a degree in graphic design from Kendall College of Art and Design and have been employed at Spartan Stores Graphic Services for over 20 years. I enjoy the work on a computer at Spartan, but drawing and painting are my first love.

David Thinger

I have been disabled since an accident in ‘92 which TBI/head injury caused me to lose my memory and have an uncontrollable seizure disorder. My brain surgery in ’94 unfortunately failed, but left me in a more difficult memory situation. I do feel comfortable how University of Michigan Hospital is constantly giving me the latest medicines and surgeries. I’ve learned to accept life the way it is and to use my disability as an opportunity to expand my art talent.

I’ve won various art contests, have shown in various galleries, taken many years of various art classes, including oil painting ten times. I surely hope I will eventually recoverand be able to return to work though. Grand Valley Artists have helped me tremendously because working with them has increased my art ability and connections.

My art is being written about by a Harvard Neurologist. He has been researching how my medical condition has been with many artists in history, including Leonardo da Vinci. This has already started some clients interested in using my art. I’ve been trying to enter the field of professional illustrator because my art seems to be my only talent not affected by my disability.

In the meantime I’ve learned to love life the way it is and to realize everyone out there has various difficulties of their own.

Jim Thompson

I worked as a wedding portrait photographer from 1993 until September of 2010. At that time I did retire from any commercial photography and began pursuing the creation of photographs for my viewing pleasure only. Soon I found my previous love of the black and white image resurfaced, and pretty much that is what I have specialized in since my retirement. My work is all done with a large format film camera, and the images are produced in a conventional darkroom, which gives me traditional archival prints as an end result.

My health problems were created by a fall down my basement steps on May 4th of last year. From what the doctors tell me I landed on my head with sufficient force to crush some vertebra in my back, as well as some pretty serious brain damage. After spending a week in Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, I was transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. Within two weeks I was able to continue the rehabilitation as an outpatient at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, to bring me to my current status. I still have pain in my back, limited movement, and am only able to be on my feet for a short amount of time. Usually 30 to 45 minutes is the maximum. Also my brain limitations have recovered to the point that I can reason well, but still have problems with short term memory and balance.

Joan Brunais Thompson

Joan resides in Caledonia, Michigan at Station Creek, a Porter Hills Community.

On December 12, 1999, Joan was involved in an automobile accident and suffered a closed head injury and a contusion on her spinal cord, and she completed her therapy program with Mary Free Bed Hospital, but continues to require medical and therapy programs because of accident-related physical difficulties. In 2003, she was diagnosed with a neuropathy pain disorder, related to those injuries.

Joan has been given a number of opportunities to display her works of art in local art galleries, as well as a northern gallery, along with other artists, who have experienced some of the disabilities, that life will sometimes give. Joan knows, without a doubt, that she has been greatly blessed by God and her recovery, so far, and is very grateful for His often moment-by-moment provisions. She is so thankful to all who have supported her, and for the opportunity to share that thankfulness with friends and family, through her artistic abilities.

In April of 2003, Joan was chosen as the featured artist, for the Mary Free Bed 21st Annual Fine Arts Exhibition. Year 2008 is the ninth year that she has been entering and selling her works in that exhibition, and each year becomes a new highlight in her artistic pursuits.

Joan also enjoys writing poetry and short stories. She is now attempting to write and illustrate a Youth’s Historical Novel, titled “the Telling,” that deals with the tragedies and triumphs of slavery through the late 1880s. The story line has evolved from the painting that she entered in the MFB Art Exhibition in 2005, titled “Isaiah’s Goat.”

Jan Watters

I was born with spastic Cerebral Palsy. I am 38-years-old, formerly contracted through Mary Free Bed Outpatient Therapy Center as a Medical Transcriptionist. I have been using my mouth (or a mouth stick) to write, type, paint, draw and perform ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) since the age of 12. I enjoy drawing still-lifes, landscapes and architecture as well as portraits. I work from pictures or something I’ve seen. I have dabbled in oil paints, watercolors, and colored pencils, as well as graphite pencils and have found simple graphite to be the easiest and least messy medium for me. Some have said that I have shown great skill in watercolor as well, considering that I am self-trained. Much of my work is intricate and detailed. Most have considered my previous work to be realistic as opposed to abstract. Several of my pieces are part of the permanent collection in this facility. I recently came up with my own logo for my artwork. It is “3Gs” and stands for Giving God Glory. I have placed it in each of my latest pieces… I invite you to look for the logo!

Jeannie Wessendorf

From crayons to college, I’ve always loved art. Born in Berrien County, and raised in Van Buren County, Michigan, I’m a graduate of Hartford High School 1963; with further art training at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Michigan. In the year 1996, I obtained an associates in Graphic Arts from SMC, also Phi Theta Kappa (International Honor Society). My college internship was at Whitcomb Towers in St. Joseph, Michigan where I taught an art therapy class. I also taught a summer acrylic painting class at Hartford High School. My weakness and pain with post-polio put a stop to my teaching and many dreams. I now focus on helping others and started a polio/post-polio support group in Hartford, Michigan.

I had polio in my teen years as a freshman in high school 1960 and later was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome in 1986. Besides being a polio survivor, I am also a breast cancer survivor 1999 to present time. Fellow support group members of the “Chemosabies” and I were in the Berrien County Relay for Life. There were many volunteers to push me in a wheelchair because of my inability to walk long distances. I walk but with the aid of a cane. My paintings reflect my inner feelings and my love for God.

Kirk Wyman

I was admitted into Mary Free Bed after removal of a golf ball size tumor on the back side of my brain. I received therapy to not only strengthen muscles to help with stability but also to ensure nothing else was lost in the procedure.

I had learned water coloring techniques while attending architectural school during the late 70s and did painting during this time up to the early 80s when other interests started to interfere.

I picked up the brush again in 2015 as a promise to my daughter to do some work for her as a graduation gift and found my interest in the media again and found my old subject material to continue the process of relearning what I had achieved prior and picking up new techniques that I had seen used by other artists in the media.