Multiple senses are engaged when enjoying artwork, but probably none more than sight. But just because someone doesn’t have the luxury of sight, doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the beauty of art.
That’s the premise behind Art in the Dark, the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind’s (SALB) fifth annual event, set at the dazzling new DoSeum, San Antonio’s museum for kids, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Thursday, June 18.
Nancy Lipton, the director for public relations and events for SALB, came up with the idea for Art in the Dark.
“I sound a little like Martin Luther King. I had a dream – literally. I wanted to do another event during the year, and I woke up in the middle of the night and thought … Art in the Dark,” said Lipton, whose other events are a run/walk and a golf tournament with blind championship golfers.
“The first year we had about 125 attendees. Last year – during Game 5 of the Spurs NBA finals – we had over 600,” Lipton said.
The way Art in the Dark works is simple. Artists donate pieces of their work; this year there will be 50. Each piece is draped, and the artist will discuss the piece and show some of their other work. Guests can touch the art – but cannot look at it. They’ll experience the art the way a blind person would.
Lipton said several of the featured artists are back for their fifth time. Artists include Alicia Tapp, Janan Mosses, Linda Perez, Lyn Woods and Pam Amaduri. There will be pottery, sculpture, jewelry, and for the first time, the Glass, Quilt and Weavers Guild is participating. Lipton said every piece of art has been sold the past two years.
In addition to the artwork, guests will be able to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, dessert and drinks. Some of the participating restaurants include Bob’s Steak and Chop House, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Godai Sushi Bar and Japanese Retaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Texas de Brazil, The Boiler House at the Pearl, and many more.
The evening’s entertainment is rounded out with a performance by the San Antonio Lighthouse Choir.
All the proceeds from the event go to the Lighthouse’s Blind Children’s Programs. This program serves blind/legally blind children from birth through 14 years, and also offers support groups for families. One of the programs that benefits from Art in the Dark is the Blind Children’s Education Program. It includes Braille training, computer assistive technology skills, mobility training, and assistance with daily life skills – all intended to help prepare these children for mainstreaming into the public school system.
“This is such a unique event. Attendees can touch and feel the art but not see it – maybe for just a moment it puts vision in perspective. Blindness does not mean you are not capable or able,” Lipton said. “All children have hopes and dreams, but a child who is blind needs to overcome challenges to get there. That is what the Blind Children’s Education Program is all about – to meet those challenges head on!”
Since the program started in October 2013, it has already provided service to more than 600 blind/low vision children in the San Antonio area.
“The Blind Children Education Program offers children the opportunity to learn in a creative, supportive environment. Our Blind Children’s Center, located at 310 Eads Avenue, contains state-of-the-art equipment and toys that foster creativity and fun,” Lipton said.
“We have so many success stories,” Lipton said. “One in particular is little Elizabeth. We were instrumental in her receiving a closed circuit monitor to take home and keep. It has a camera for close-ups. When she saw her mommy on the screen, she was so excited because she could see her mom’s face for the first time.”
Danny is another success story.
“He is a fraternal twin, but his brother, Marty, born one minute earlier, is dark haired and very protective of Danny. They call themselves salt and pepper. Danny was born with Albinism and has little or no pigment in his eyes, skin and hair – he is legally blind,” Lipton said.
Lipton said Danny is participating in Braille and assistive technology programs and learning everyday life skills to ensure he will have the opportunity to achieve independence and success in both school and life.
“Danny calls himself a ‘cane’ walker and when starting with the Lighthouse’s Blind Children’s Education Program, Danny was happy to know that there were other ‘cane’ walkers out there.”
Braden Graham, event chair and SALB board member said Art in the Dark combines spectacular artwork, food, and people, all while raising funds to help the San Antonio Lighthouse achieve its mission of empowering the blind and the visually impaired.
“This event has grown tremendously in the past couple years, which is great because it provides high-quality exposure and much needed capital that will be used to fund programs such as the Blind Children’s Education Program, and many other important initiatives,” Graham said. “I highly doubt any person will regret attending Art in the Dark.”
*Featured/top image: Elizabeth looks at a close-circuit monitor which features a camera for close-ups. Photo courtesy of San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind.