AUSTIN (KXAN) – A nonprofit that provides studio space to people experiencing homelessness is hosting its 31st annual art show this Saturday and Sunday at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar in central Austin.
Art From The Streets sells thousands of pieces created by artists at risk of homelessness. Ninety-five percent of the money earned in the show goes directly back to the artists.
“They work all year, they paint all year, they create all year, and then we’re able to offer this amazing collection of work,” said Kelley Worden, executive director of the nonprofit. “They get an amazing amount of self-assurance and validation.”
“They’re very anxious to be here. But they love being able to talk [and] express their feelings [of] how they feel about their work,” Worden continued.
Clients attending Art From The Streets are concurrently working on getting their basic needs met – like food, services and housing. Worden said coming to the studio offers folks a reprieve and a creative outlet.
“It’s therapeutic,” she said. “It means so much for them to move out of what’s going on in the streets and into this positive community.”
Jefferson Bright was showing his art at the gallery on Saturday. He said he’s been painting at the nonprofit studio for over a decade.
Bright is a veteran and said he was in Iraq three times. When he got back to the U.S., he said living on the streets was an “obvious” choice because he couldn’t relate to anyone anymore.
“I’m good [now] because I take my medication, and I have a healthy sleep routine,” Bright said. “You got to do the work, along with therapy, [which] I have every Friday.”
Bright said he was surprised by how many pieces he sold by early Saturday afternoon.
“It’s validation that I’m on the right track,” he said. “When they like it and buy it, I say, ‘Ah, they see what I see.’”