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Posted on: July 9, 2018

Delonis Center Art Exhibit at County Administration Building

Art Break Studio Article


Press Release –

Washtenaw County Administration partners with the Delonis Center’s ArtBreak Studio for client art exhibit. 

7/9/18 – For Immediate Distribution – please share freely with your listeners/readers.

The Washtenaw County Administration Building at 220 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor will be welcoming an ArtBreak Studio exhibit from Monday, July 16 until Friday, August 3.  It promises to display the diverse talent and creativity of our local artists.  Building hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 p.m.  We’re hopeful you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy this meaningful presentation.  

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“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”  
                ~ Leo Tolstoy 

The Robert J. Delonis Center in Downtown Ann Arbor provides more than just shelter to the area’s homeless population.  The staff and volunteers work tirelessly to offer services that have a meaningful impact on the lives of those they serve.  In addition to providing life skills, it is unanimously understood that equally important is affording opportunities for the clients to express themselves in a creative and productive manner.  In May of 2017, Becki Spangler and generous volunteer artists from the community launched ArtBreak Studio, a weekly drop in art program at Delonis that has evolved into an amazing, mutually rewarding partnership. 


If you stop by the Delonis Center between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. any Wednesday afternoon between September and May, you’ll likely find the dining room abuzz with a group of individuals working on art projects.  The size of the assembly varies from week to week, but once gathered and provided instruction on the week’s project, the group transforms from homeless clients to an artist’s colony.  Quiet conversation begins, like old friends catching up, they discuss their children, their dreams, their challenges and life in general.  They discuss the symbolism of their projects, and they engage with the ArtBreak volunteers who come from all walks of life, some from Ann Arbor Women Artists, a handful of retired art teachers and a few other creative, crafty types, all of whom are working to inspire artistic expression.  For just a few hours, these clients are not homeless, they are artists; painters and sculptors who use paint, watercolor, wire, paper mache, clay, produce, and even fish to create their beautiful works.  The energy in the room is contagious, and as the afternoon winds down, the finished projects are compared and discussed, with eager ears learning about inspiration, enthusiastic compliments abound and occasionally, there’s even a chuckle or two if something just did not go as planned.  

As the artists help to clean up, the conversation moves to anticipation about the projects they’ll be working on in the coming weeks.  They inquire about when and where their latest piece will be displayed in the Center, and linger for just a little while, making small talk with one another.  The volunteers often receive hugs as gestures of gratitude, with assurances that it’s not good-bye, because next week isn’t very far away.  Then, in the days that follow, the ArtBreak Studio volunteers come back and find the perfect location for the work, often enlisting the assistance of the residents who are self-proclaimed non-artists, and prefer to ‘just’ help identify the best wall space for each piece, offering a careful eye to ensure proper alignment and balance.  When the day is done, the walls of the Delonis Center are brightened by the creations of their own clients.  Art that tells stories and shares life experiences, provides therapy and helps to heal old wounds.  Art that is beautiful.  

Of course, all of this would not have been possible without the incredible support of Deloris Center’s Executive Director Dan Kelly and Operations Director John Schippers, they provide the space for the artists to work as well as storage for the art supplies.  The Delonis staff and volunteers collectively work to inform the residents of the program and encourage participation knowing that creative self-expression is a necessary building block that helps to build a solid foundation, and it is that foundation that allows clients to build a life of independence.  The weekly art classes are an opportunity for the clients to grow by learning creativity, confidence, problem solving, focus and perseverance.  Skills that promote growth. 


If you’d like to offer support, encouragement, time, money or supplies, please visit the ArtBreak Studio website. Questions about the program?  Please contact Becki Spangler at spangler@umich.edu . 


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