Portraits of abuse survivors form art salon core - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Portraits of abuse survivors form art salon core

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Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2008 8:30 pm | Updated: 10:09 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Their pictures aren't what you'd expect.

There's a white-haired grandmother and an award-winning photographer, a lop-eared dachshund mix and an Army soldier. Each is a survivor of domestic violence.

Vickie Florschuetz, Ralph Brekan, Jim Covarrubias, Bravery Project
Vickie Florschuetz

"When people find out I do portraits of domestic violence survivors, a lot of times the response I get is 'Ewww,' " says Valley artist Vickie Florschuetz. "They're expecting to see a battered woman, someone who's bloody and bruised. But I don't want to show that, and most of the survivors want to be smiling, showing their face with pride. It's sort of about coming out of darkness and celebrating how far they've come."

Florschuetz has created 29 of the portraits, each depicting a victim who has escaped violent circumstances and chosen to share his or her story with the artist. The portraits are on exhibit today through Sunday at a free art salon in Chandler. It's the only scheduled display of all of the artworks in one place.

The salon, held in a 5,500-square-foot luxury home near Ray and Kyrene roads, gives the public a chance to stroll through a mini art gallery of sorts, admiring works by Florschuetz and artists Ralph Brekan and Jim Covarrubias. Brekan's pop art works are popular internationally, and Covarrubias is a well-known Southwestern artist with Chicano and Native American ties. The artwork will be for sale.

Covarrubias will create a painting at the event, and several musicians will play throughout the weekend. There's also food, drink and a silent auction for everything from teeth-whitening services to a $1,300 gift certificate to an East Valley medical spa. The art salon is designed to raise money and awareness for several charities, including Bravery Project, the nonprofit organization Florschuetz founded to go hand-in-hand with her portrait project.

"Portraits are one of my favorite things to do, and I kept telling my husband that I really wanted to help people with my artwork," says Florschuetz, an ASU graduate. "He came up with the idea of doing survivor portraits, and now, in the last year or so, it's kind of turned into my life's work. No one else is doing this, and (the portraits) provide healing for the survivors."

To create each piece, Florschuetz, 38, works with survivors, hearing their often stomach-turning stories and pinpointing the sources of inspiration or hope that carried them to brighter days. One subject, now headed to law school with plans to become a judge, appears in front of an image of the Supreme Court building. Another, who relied on music in her darkest days, is shown strumming her guitar.

The portraits are done in a media of the subject's choosing, from graphite to pastels. Survivors contribute a narrative to accompany their portrait, and they receive a copy of the artwork. The original portraits are part of Bravery Project's awareness efforts.Florschuetz says the art salon will be a good chance to engage with art on a small-scale, unintimidating level, as well as get an eye-opening look at who can fall victim to domestic violence.

"These people aren't losers. These are people just like you and me who found themselves in a very bad situation for various reasons, and have fought to come out of it on top. I want people to look at these and think, 'Wow, it really could be happening to just anyone,' " says Florschuetz.


What: Nibble hors d’oeuvres and take in fine art to the sounds of live music, including a performance by KJZZ’s (91.5 FM) jazz maven, Blaise Lantana, at this private art show and sale. Artist Jim Covarrubias will paint at the event.

When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. today; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: 6052 W. Victoria Place, Chandler

Cost: Free, but proceeds from art sales, silent auction and donations benefit Bravery Project, Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society, Voices Take Flight and Tempe Dollars for Scholars charities.

Information: (480) 785-4995 or http://braveryproject.org/artsalon.aspx



6 p.m. to 10 p.m.: silent auction; live blues/roots/Americana music by Mikel Lander and Meridith  Moore


11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.: live painting performance by Jim Covarrubias

Noon to 3:30 p.m.: Ms.  Arizona USA 2008 appears

6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.: live contemporary jazz by Larry Munoz and Melody Perry

7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.: live classical music by Darlene Charles and Sandy Wallace


Noon to 4 p.m.: live jazz performance by saxophonist Clay Thompson and KJZZ (91.5 FM) radio personality Blaise Lantana


What: Twenty portraits of domestic violence survivors will be on display at this reception, which includes music, refreshments, a prize raffle and a presentation about the artworks’ creation and inspiration.

When: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 10

Where: Fresh Start Women’s Resource Center, 1130 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix

Cost: Free

Information: (480) 785-4995 or http://braveryproject.org/artsalon.aspx

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