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Buying art for a cause

Valerie Brooks’ smile was infectious as she watched art lovers buying artwork Saturday at The Factory.

“I’ve sold two so far!” she said. “One is the peppermints in a bowl and the other is a land and seascape.”

The Friends in Action Fourth Annual Art Exhibit, a fundraiser for Project Clubhouse, opened at 3 p.m. By 4:30 p.m., the event had raised $700 from art sales.

“I keep hearing that this year, the talent has really raised the bar,” said Anna Portell, psychosocial rehabilitation center coordinator at the Friends in Action Clubhouse in Park Hills.

The clubhouse offers classes, support and activities for people who deal with mental illness or serious emotional issues, many of whom live in residential care facilities. The goal is to help the members be as independent as they can.

Members of the clubhouse began the art exhibit to raise money for a new building for children and adults with mental illness. Members come from St. Francois, Washington and Iron  counties.

About 200 adults and children split their time at the current 2700-square feet facility in the morning, afternoon and evening. By law, adults and children may not share the clubhouse at the same time. A new facility would provide separate areas so everyone could be there at the same time.

The art exhibit is one of several fundraisers throughout the year to raise funds for the new facility. Saturday’s event attracted a large crowd. We’re worried that we wouldn’t have enough food and artwork to last to 7 p.m.,” Portell said.

Betty Wood, a prolific artist, was disappointed that two of her pieces were not in the exhibit. The two use a new technique for her, and involved layered painting.

Politte explained that the Project Clubhouse committee chose the art for the exhibit to make sure everyone had an opportunity to exhibit their work. Unsold work will remain on exhibit and for sale for a month. With Saturday’s sales numbers so high, Politte said the extras might be added to the display.

The display will be open on the second floor of The Factory during regular business hours.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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