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Red Apple students create ‘happy’ art exhibit

Pasco-Hernando State College exhibit featuring artwork created by adult students with developmental disabilities
Red Apple student Anna Mattingly, 27, checks out the work of fellow students on display at the Rao Musunuru, MD, Art Gallery at Pasco-Hernando State College. “It’s very nice, especially since all the money goes back to the school for supplies because we do a lot of crafting,” she said. The "Masterpiece" exhibit, on display through Oct. 9, features artwork from students at the school, which serves adults with developmental disabilities. [MICHELE MILLER | Times]
Published Aug. 22
Updated Aug. 28

NEW PORT RICHEY — Butterflies and flowers. A slice of watermelon and the American flag. A well-painted still life with shadows in all the right places. A smiling dog.

All that and more is on display through Oct. 9 at the Rao Musunuru, MD, Art Gallery at the Pasco-Hernando State College New Port Richey campus.

“The Masterpiece,” features the artwork of some 40 Red Apple students. The school, located on three separate campuses in New Port Richey, serves adults 18 years and older, with a wide range of developmental disabilities.

As shows go, this one has a different feel, said staff assistant, Maria Rhew. She’s been hanging the revolving exhibits for years at the college gallery.

“I’ve been rearranging them constantly because they’re so much fun,” she said at the show’s opening reception on Aug. 21.

“I think it’s a happy show — well, it makes me happy,” she said. "There’s innocence and love and life in all these things. It’s engaging, heartfelt and inspiring.”

The kind of exhibit you should take a walk through, Rhew said, when you get to complaining about your own problems.

'White Pelican,' painted by Jennifer B., is one of some 45 pieces of artwork on display at the Rao Musunuru, MD, Art Gallery at Pasco-Hernando State College. The "Masterpiece" exhibit, on display through Oct. 9, features artwork from students at the Red Apple School, which serves adults with developmental disabilities. [MICHELE M | Times]

Red Apple student Anna Mattingly, 27, is a self-taught artist who also plays the violin. She created an abstract, as well as a portrait painting, for the show and was hoping one of the others would sell.

“It’s very nice, especially since all the money goes back to the school for supplies, because we do a lot of crafting,” she said, as her mom snapped pictures with her cell phone.

“I’m amazed,” said Shelly Mattingly. “These are all so great. This painting — this artistic stuff — really helps students with autism.”

It really does, said Trudy Acevedo, quality assurance coordinator for Red Apple. During her tenure, she’s arranged for student artwork to be on display at city hall and the local library as well as New Port Richey downtown galleries.

“For months they’ve been doing this, a little bit at a time,” she said. “It gives them the opportunity to be creative. To try something new. Some students come with an idea of what they want to paint. Others, we just hand them a canvas, and some paint and they create.”

"This happy dog," painted by Monin L., is one of some 45 pieces of artwork on display at the Rao Musunuru, MD, Art Gallery at Pasco-Hernando State College. The "Masterpiece" exhibit, on display through Oct. 9, features artwork from students at the Red Apple School, which serves adults with developmental disabilities. [MICHELE MILLER | Times]

If you go: The Masterpiece will be on exhibit through Oct. 9 at the Rao Musunuru, MD, Art Gallery at the Pasco-Hernando State College, (Building J), at 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday. Free admission.

To help: The community is welcome to purchase student artwork with proceeds supporting the school arts programs. Monetary and art supply donations are welcome, as are volunteers. Contact Trudy Acevedo at (727) 846-6100 or email trudy-redapple@hotmail.com.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Maria Rhew and has since been updated.



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