Mains’l exhibit teaches art in a different way


Caitlyn Young

Left to right: Misha Cutburth, Alex Parra, Gerry Hansen, Cody Glotfelty and Mo Martin stand in front of some of their art.

Nestled between Cherry and Orange Streets is a simple blue warehouse that, at a first glance, seems insignificant. However, go through the door and there lies an art gallery filled with paintings, sculptures and many other kinds of media. This gallery is utilized by The 7th Street Center for the Arts which is owned by a company called Mains’l.

Mains’l is a company that has been around since 1989 which, according to their website, provides “innovative person centered approaches to help you chart your course and identify which supports would be a good fit. You are in the captain’s chair — and we are your crew.” In other words, Mains’l specializes in supporting people who might need a little extra help.

The main goal of Mains’l is to help people achieve a customized life of their choosing. According to their website, there are a few programs offered such as Person Centered Planning, Participant Directed Services, and Health and Wellness Services.

Some of the main values of The 7th Street Center for the Arts are to ensure that all people are able to achieve a life of purpose and dignity, and having an outlet to express oneself creatively. Part of this includes teaching their students how to pursue a careers as artists.

Artist Cory Smith now takes commission for his beautiful pet portrait paintings. Along with the art gallery, they provide performing arts opportunities including choir, poetry and dance classes, as well as journaling. The students are able to choose whether or not they would like to take part in any of these activities, but many of them decide to participate enthusiastically and passionately.

One of their main goals is to integrate the students’ art into the greater Chico community and create a more whole society rather than separating people with different abilities from the rest of society.

Art teacher, Morea “Mo” Martin, who started working at the foundation in April, says “That’s part of my job, to integrate them into the community, just as any other community member, as any other painter, as any other artist.”

Many of the students have been selling their work in the gallery to earn money and pay for supplies used in the art classes. They have used many different mediums and have gotten extra creative when thinking of ways to recycle art materials. When the art center had leftover leis from a luau-themed party, they took off the flowers and painted over them to create a unique texture for their canvases. They also learn about art history, and how to utilize different media such as sculpture and papier-mache.

Another main emphasis at the center is utilizing art as a form of therapy. Martin says “Especially for some people who have anxiety, it can be very relaxing. I put jazz on, and it creates a great calming environment.”

Self expression through art has been found to improve a variety of emotional issues, including self-esteem problems, anxiety, and depression.

“If there is a trauma being experienced, or an issue that day, they will paint it,” Martin said.

The students are also able to get one-on-one time with their art teacher during the day to work without distractions that come alongside with being in a classroom.

Go see their next art show and performance on Dec. 13 and 15 at 820 West 7th St.

Caitlyn Young can be reached at [email protected] or @Orion_CaitlynY on Twitter.