The Future of Artists With Disabilities

Connie Martinez Events, Visual Arts

As Gil Scott-Heron said, “The revolution will not be televised.” But according to artist Mark Anderson, “The Martian Invasion Will Be Televised!” Anderson’s artwork is part of a group exhibit in the Community Room Gallery at the Armory Center for the Arts called “The Future.” On June 16, 2016, the Armory held it’s opening reception for “The Future” which showcases the artwork created by adults with disabilities who are a part of the Pasadena Adaptive Recreation Art Program. This long standing partnership between the City and the Armory has produced numerous exhibits including last year’s show with the theme “The Sky is the Limit” which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Pasadena Adaptive Recreation program is a weekly art program that currently serves twelve artists with disabilities, says Jackie Scott, Adaptive Recreation Specialist. The themes each year are created by the adults in the program for the next exhibit at least a year in advance. Their art teacher, James Trivers and assistant Maria Gonzalez, steer the artists into creating the art for their themed exhibition by providing art instruction and guidance. Trivers gives the artists suggested ideas and themes, but ultimately, the ideas and themes are based on the artist’s own experiences.

The collection of artwork is each beautifully different and unique just like the artists themselves. With a simple medium of sharpie markers and watercolor paper, each artist creates a vibrantly colored work of art that is often influenced by their personal experiences. Scott says that artist Mark Anderson, has volunteered at the Los Angeles County Arboretum for approximately 30 years, created a picture about futuristic gardening at the LA County Arboretum.

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My Martian Flower Garden, by: Mark Anderson

Throughout the arts and culture scene nationally there is growing awareness for the need of full inclusion for both performing and visual artists with disabilities. In fact, here in Los Angeles the UCLA National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) is a leader in promoting the full inclusion of audiences and artists with disabilities into all facets of the arts community. Collaborations between cultural organizations and civic entires like the Armory and the Adaptive Arts Program are “The Future” of this effort by giving greater exposure and visibility to the artwork of artists with disabilities.

The Adaptive Recreation Program is supported by the Spero Foundation, and each year when the art show is held, the foundation funds the production of an annual art postcard and exhibit catalogue.  Along with Spero, parents and guardians, friends/families and the artists themselves are also supportive to the program.


Artist Michael Karam standing next to his art work (bottom piece), “Solar Power,” with family.

Over the past seventeen years, the Adaptive Art Program has expanded from being a basic art class, to developing an annual exhibit. Scott says, “We discovered that the artists enjoyed having their artwork displayed and in the beginning, we held an annual exhibit at the Coffee Gallery in Altadena.”  At the time, the city funding was limited to two art shows per year, one at the Armory Center and a second one night exhibit at the Central Library during Pasadena Art Night. Additional funding is made through the Spero Foundation and the Pasadena Recreation and Parks Foundation where people can provide a donation directly to the Adaptive Recreation Art program.

This exhibition in the Armory’s Community Room is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 PM and will be on display until September 9th. Visit the Armory web site for more details.

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Connie Martinez

Connie Martinez

Consuelo Martinez, is a graduate of Pasadena’s John Muir High School, and just finished her freshman year at Pasadena City College. She is a first generation Mexican-American and also a first-generation college student. Within the past year and a half, she found her voice in writing, poetry and public speaking and essentially found who she was: a poet, writer, artist and feminist. Connie plans on a writing career and hopes to be an English teacher, as well as a role model for young Latinas who come from a background similar to hers.
Connie Martinez

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