Pasco County celebrates kids next month with two exhibits at local galleries. "Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco" returns to the Rao Musunuru, M.D. Art Gallery at Pasco-Hernando Community College on Oct. 3 and Downtown New Port Richey Art Gallery welcomes the October exhibit "Small World, Big Love" on Oct. 4.
The national nonprofit traveling exhibit "Heart Gallery" features professional photographs of children who are eligible for adoption. More than 70 professional photographers volunteer their talents to the Pinellas and Pasco branch of the organization, some even donating make-up and new clothes for the kids' photo shoots. Each portrait showcases the child's personality and is accompanied by a list of his or her favorite things, along with a description of ideal adoptive parents.
"We try to take these children and make them real," said Heart Gallery spokesperson Carol Hughes.
A traveling exhibit allows more families to learn about children who need new homes.
"There have been people who will go to an event and we'll happen to have (the photos) on display and they'll see it and it just touches them," Hughes said. "They start thinking, 'Well, maybe our family is ready to adopt.' "
Since Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco was founded in 2006, the organization has spotlighted more than 300 eligible children from Eckerd Community Alternatives, about half of whom have been placed in permanent homes.
"I personally believe that as a community it is our responsibility to take care of our children," Hughes said. "These kids have been through a tough time. (The Heart Gallery) reaches out to these children to give them happy lives."
Downtown New Port Richey Art Gallery celebrates both kids and animals in "Small World, Big Love," which displays mixed media artwork and photography from local artists. There will also be portraits of local children wearing tutus, floppy hats, newsboy caps and lace ruffled rompers by photographer and featured artist Paula Showen.
Kids aren't just the subject of the gallery's exhibit, they're also artists. Artwork by the kids at Day Spring Academy Middle School will be on display.
Oil painter and gallery volunteer Fran McLean will be part of "Small World, Big Love," submitting two paintings to the show.
Also on exhibition at Pasco Arts Council in Holiday is "Very Special Art," a collection prepared by VSA Florida, the local chapter of a national organization that provides art experiences for people with disabilities ranging from limited mobility to mental illness.
"The arts are a tool for the able bodied as well as those with disabilities," said Marian Winters, executive director of VSA Florida. "The arts are part of our world and VSA tries to make sure that people with disabilities are included in that world."
The exhibit features members of VSA Florida's artist registry. "These are professional artists, they just happen to have a disability," Winters said.
The exhibit includes two- and three-dimensional work in oil, acrylic, watercolor, mixed media, digital art and prints. There will also be digital art created by high school students.
"When the opportunity came up for us to sponsor the VSA exhibit, we seized the opportunity," said Laura Knox director of Pasco Arts Council. "The result is a lovely exhibit with a variety of media featuring some local artists that are connected to this wonderful organization that promotes arts for the disabled."
Samantha Fuchs can be reached at (727) 869-6235 or [email protected]