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Closter Museum Displays Work Of Artists With Special Needs

Andrew Weatherly with two of his abstract paintings.
Andrew Weatherly with two of his abstract paintings. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
An exhibit with works by artists with special needs and disabilities is showing at Belskie Museum in Closter.
An exhibit with works by artists with special needs and disabilities is showing at Belskie Museum in Closter. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule

CRESSKILL, N.J. — The Belskie Museum in Closter is showcasing the work of artists who have special needs in “Arts Unbound” through Jan. 24.

The majority of the 60 pieces in the show — made with an array of mediums — are for sale.

Among them is the work of Andrew Weatherly, a 23-year-old Closter native who has Down’s Syndrome.

“I started the program and loved it,” said Weatherly. “It’s acrylic. It’s all abstract. I’m not thinking about anything when I’m painting or doing photography. I take pictures of anything.”

The program is based in Orange, New Jersey and is run by two professional artists.

“Take the word disability off [and] look at the work — beautiful work,” said Kurt Haiman, the president of the Belskie Museum.

“It makes you feel good to do a show like this and give people a visual voice to show their work."

The program offers visual arts instruction, and helps market professionals work so that they can develop resumes, portfolios, and career guidance.

Many artists that come to the organization already have a body of work that they are looking to manage.

“Some of the artists speak through their work to their disabilities - but a lot of them don’t,” said Margaret Mickelson, the executive director of Arts Unbound.

"I would say 70 percent, it’s not a part of their work. Some do, like one woman with multiple sclerosis," Mickelson said.

"For some it is a part of who they are but not what they are sharing with the world.”

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