Santa Barbara's Mental Wellness Center Hosts 26th Annual Mental Health Arts Festival – Santa Barbara Independent

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Annual Arts Fest Back to Spotlight Local Artists
The enduring connection between art and mental health has served as inspiration for some of our most treasured artists (Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Louis Wain) and the artistic gifts of local creators with mental health disorders will once again be on display at the Mental Wellness Center’s (MWC) 26th annual Mental Health Arts Festival. Celebrating a return to in-person events after a two-year hiatus, the event will follow a similar format to past years, displaying the work of local artists in an array of different mediums, including paintings, drawings, jewelry, poetry, sculpture, and arts and crafts.
While the majority of the artists have been exhibiting for years, there will also be work on display made by members of the Mental Wellness Center’s Fellowship Club, who create their work in the MWC’s art room. This festival gives them the opportunity to showcase their artwork.
This year’s featured artist is Kristine Kelly. Her depiction of an underwater scene is reproduced on the festival poster. Kelly creates fused-glass artwork, often focusing on nature scenes, and was recently awarded first place in the National Glass Expo for a depiction of Yosemite. 
The purpose of the Art Festival is “for artists to display their work and showcase their talent to the community in a way that is positive, productive, and meaningful for them,” explains Darcy Keep, MWC board member and Administrative Director of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine at Cottage Health. Keep began her career advocating for people impacted by mental health disorders before joining the MWC board more than 20 years ago, and she saw the Arts Festival as a way to continue that goal. “It’s hard to express how much I love and admire the MWC clients…. While others may see their differences or limitations, we at MWC see their artistic gifts, their strengths, and their resilience,” she says. 
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The 26th annual Mental Health Arts Festival takes place Saturday, July 16, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at De la Guerra Plaza. See mentalwellnesscenter.org.
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