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Thanks to Jim Quirk of Sun City Hilton Head for sharing the inside story on how local artists have brightened the lives of everyone who lives and works at The Veterans' Victory House in Walterboro.
This 2-year-old "Home of the Greatest Generation" is a 220-bed nursing care facility for veterans. The Sun City Veterans Association spearheaded a communitywide effort that led to the dedication last weekend of almost 300 pieces of locally made art now gracing what were bare walls at the Victory House.
Following are the details, as told to the crowd at the dedication March 14:
SUN CITY VETERANS AND ALLIANCE TEAM DELIVER ART FOR VICTORY HOUSE
The words of the state liaison as she left the Sun City Veterans' November meeting: "It's a beautiful place but the walls and corridors are empty and bare."
This project was the brain child of Brian Cripps of the Sun City Veterans Association. As he lay awake several mornings after that meeting he kept thinking, "Yes, I can make a difference."
Having been the gallery manager at the Society of Bluffton Artists gallery, he had the distinct pleasure of meeting a great number of very special artists from all walks of life who showed at the majority of the Change of Show event every six weeks.
Next question: Where to start? He picked up the phone and called a few of his associates. The immediate response to donating art was spectacular.
Terry Brennan of the Hilton Head Art League said, "I can guarantee at least 30 art pieces." A personal friend who is a professional photographer, Ben Ham, was contacted next. His reply was, "I will donate a piece." Then he talked to Dave Dickson of the SoBA. Dave said, "Yes, we are in as a group." Then Brian called Michael Pearson of the Beaufort Art League. She said, "What a wonderful idea." Brian also called Janet Izzo of Sun City's All About Art club. She said that she would definitely like to participate.
The final cog in the wheel would be the invitation to the Bluffton High School AP Art students. Andre Pejeau, the talented art teacher at the high school, committed her students to the project.
Jim Hines, a Sun City veteran and personal friend, was pulled into the fold as procurement manager. Interior director Diamond Riegel was convinced to be logistics manager, and experienced artist Carol Snyder was asked to assist her.
The Alliance Team now had all the leaders in place to move forward.
The first team meeting was held in early January at Cripps' home in Sun City. Team members were eager to get going and some already had jumped the gun and solicited artwork from their members at-large. A rough count of art pieces was around 100.
At the meeting, Ed Funk, a professional photographer and member of several photography clubs, would organize the photographers at the clubs to possibly donate their special photographic works of art.
Database and inventory control would be done by Cripps. Certificates of appreciation, tax donation forms and a letter from the veteran's commander would be sent to all participating artists. Plaques would be presented to the student body of Bluffton High School.
Jim Hines put together a pickup schedule agreeable by all parties. This schedule was based on availability of the trucks and driver Jack Skelley from the Hardeeville Thrift Shop and Second Helpings. This kind donation was starting to integrate the community into the overall goals of the project.
Several more businesses -- including Lowe's, Wachovia and Sherwin-Williams -- and friends would come forward with art and/or special project items. A family in Sun City, Mr. and Mrs. Hachett, would donate through their son-in-law, owner of Hilton Head Glass Company, mirrored icicles to be used to compliment artwork produced by the students.
The last piece of the puzzle required a large floor space, and the perfect solution would be the National Guard Armory at Beaufort. Sun City Veterans Association Commander Tom Schneck and retired Maj. Gen. Roger Sandler would visit the armory and secure the services and loan of the armory for the project.
The scope of the students' involvement was presented by Cripps at the school. Each student selected a part of the project they would like to tackle. Thumbnails and sketches were reviewed by Brian and the project was left to their imagination with some small requirements, such as color schemes using jewel colors, and graphic presentations not being too busy. The results have been imaginative, abstract and colorful.
The first pickup was at the All About Art room Feb. 22, and then the pickup team moved on to Beaufort Art League. The first 126 pieces were delivered to the armory in late afternoon.
On Feb. 25, the Sun City carpenters moved into the armory and constructed a mock-up alcove. They painted it the colors to match the alcoves at the Victory House, which has 36 alcoves throughout all its buildings.
On Feb. 27, pickups at SoBA and the Hilton Head Art League totaled 154 more pieces of art. The delivery in the late afternoon to the armory resulted in some 280 pieces in place around the outskirts of the armory.
'WE MADE IT AS A TEAM'
The focus then turned toward Walterboro. On Feb. 28, the planning team assembled to get the job done, including Riegel, Snyder, Cripps, Vincent Taylor, recorders Judy Schneck and Pat Lohery, and helpers Tom Schneck and Ellis Stearns. The building floor was laid out from the plans on the armory floor, and art was selected for each wall and alcove.
The hanging team located, measured and hung in place about 130 pieces the first day for Building A. The recorders entered all of the data in the building inventory list while photography and cataloging was being performed by Mike Cotterill.
The first day was a little slow going, but the team accomplished its goals. On March 1, with fresh help from Bob Kazanski and Dennis Snyder, the other two buildings were completed by 4:30 p.m.
Now came the task of placing art in each room at Victory House. A total of 369 pieces were in storage in an environmentally friendly room. After lots of preplanning, coordination and modification -- and with plenty of helpers -- everything was hung March 13.
It was close, but we made it as a team.
At the dedication ceremony March 14, Capps said:
"From my heart as project manager this was a fantastic project completed in eight weeks and with so many people who contributed with knowledge, expertise, labor and technical skills.
"All I can say is, 'Thanks a million' and I hope that our veterans at Victory House find some happiness in their surroundings while spending their days under the supervision and care of so many dedicated and wonderful people on the staff at Victory House."
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