It is fitting in honor of Veterans Day in November to shine a spotlight on local vets. If you’re new to the area you might not know that the Veterans Outreach Center at 447 South Avenue bought the Richards Building at South Avenue and Cypress Street in March 1999. It is dedicated to the late Reverend Thomas B. Richards who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1942-1946 as a chaplain and later dedicated himself to helping homeless and neglected people in Rochester.
For seventeen years, Richards House and Otto House at the corner of Cypress Street have quietly served homeless male veterans. The facilities serve up to 28 residents in a safe homelike setting. Six years ago, VOC began using the small office space at 785 South for art therapy.
From their website: “VOC opened its own art gallery, Our House Gallery, to showcase veteran artwork. By the very nature of the work, art therapists empower veterans to express their experiences by offering choice to a wide variety of materials, giving control over the therapy process and pace, and creating opportunities to mold, shape, paint, cut, sew, glue, draw, and in the process transform cognition’s, emotions, and recollections of combat experiences. The aims of the gallery are in-line with those of the art therapy program. By inviting family, friends, and the community, the therapeutic benefits of the art exhibit are increased. The gallery provides a space for the community to support our local veterans in a unique way by attending shows and renting the gallery.”
The recent First Friday opening on Nov. 4 was for two photographers, one a vet, the other not. Michael Thaxton, the vet, does black and white photography of rustic subjects; Mark Bangs does images related to vets’ issues. Since Our House has been linked with the First Fridays site, attendance at their monthly openings grew to 100 people in October.
If you are a painter, photographer or other kind of artist looking for a gallery, Roderick Castle, art therapist at the VOC’s main campus, invites you to team up with a veteran for a paired show. The gallery is also available to community artists with the rental fee going directly to support the gallery and Arts Therapy program.
You can get a history of the gallery at: www.vocroc.org. It includes a moving video about their prize-winning mask program.
Our House Gallery
785 South Ave.
Hours: Tuesday 5-7 PM
Fridays 1-3 PM or by appointment