Developmentally disabled given opportunity to showcase work

Jorge Gomez looks at his painting with admiration and pride at the Art Enabled Exhibition at 57th Street Gallery on Feb. 4. Sasha Tivetsky | staff photographer

The 57th Street Gallery in Oakland opened its doors for a night of diverse artists and incomparable pieces crafted by the clients of East Bay Innovations, a San Leandro-based non-profit that assists individuals with disabilities.

Over 100 people gathered Feb. 4 to see the exhibit dubbed “Art Enabled: Creative Empowerment for our Community,” that gave the artists the opportunity to display their specific subject interests by presenting their perspective of the world.

“We believed an art show would be a self-esteem builder and would give them a chance to show off their work,” said community support facilitator Selina Moses. “This is the first time we’ve ever done something like this.”

Each displayed piece featured various material ranging from a collage of a birthday cake to an unusual take on Charles Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution,” which displayed a chicken-footed monkey evolving into man – and then devolving back into a primate.

Hans Hatlen-Shore, 35, created five of his pieces showcased throughout the exhibit. Hatlen-Shore incorporated his fascination with trains into his artwork.

One section of his artwork featured a set of numbers drawn in the structure of a railroad track; another showed numerous locomotives taking up nearly every inch of space, save for a bit at the top where he had inscribed “Philadelphia Phillies.”

“He’s loved trains since he was 16 months old; we’ve taken him on trains all over America and Europe and they’re a very big part of his life,” said his father Bruce Shore. “It is interesting to see how structured the results of his artistic endeavors are.”

EBI client Jorge Gomez was thrilled to detail his work to viewers.

“I saw a horse in my mind and wanted to draw it,” said Gomez, 45, who had three of his pieces displayed.

Each of Gomez’ pictures featured a variation of a stone-faced sun staring down on a horse freely galloping through a pasture.

“Drawing is a very big part of his life, and he loves the sun and nature,” said Mike Vaughn, a support worker for Gomez. “His enthusiasm for art is great.”

Many event organizers were enthusiastic about the event.

“This is wonderful,” said Lynnel Wells, EBI director of supported living services. “We don’t usually get a venue for our clients, and this is a great outlet for them to showcase their talents.”

The host 57th Street gallery filled to near capacity at times and given the public response, the staff and clients at EBI are looking forward to future shows.

“Given the turnout, we’re going to try and plan another event in a few months,” Moses said.