RISE Art Purchased for Credit Union Decor

October 29, 2020

When Mary Moore began searching for Steuben County art to decorate a branch of 3Rivers Federal Credit Union opening soon in Angola, the first place she turned was Easterseals RISE.


RISE staff member Renee Crawford runs a program called Just Be Artistry that’s popular among a talented circle of people the agency serves. Before the pandemic, 20 to 30 people took part in these explorations in the arts. About half that number are still involved, said Easterseals RISE Executive Director Crystal Church-Stavitzke.


Moore, project support coordinator for 3Rivers, had a lot to choose from. Participants in Just Be Artistry had recently finished several pieces on the theme of love. Moore selected two paintings for the 3Rivers branch, scheduled to open for business by the end of 2020: “And Love,” a red-and-white ampersand on a background of swirling colors; and “A Man’s Best Friend,” a large portrait of a dog’s face, executed in an electrifying array of brilliant colors.


Although the credit union’s branch will be open by the end of the year, Moore said, finishing work will continue after it opens. Hanging art in the new office will be among the final touches in the new branch, and Moore doesn’t know when that will happen. She said 3Rivers purchases or commissions art for all of its locations as they open, and the Easterseals RISE pieces will join the work of more than a dozen area artists in the branch. Other pieces will include a rendering of the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park and illustrations of wildlife common in the lake country north of Fort Wayne, such as foxes, swans and deer.


The credit union won’t be the first place where art produced by Easterseals RISE participants has gone public in Angola. Nikki Hile, a supervisor at Easterseals RISE, said other works have been exhibited in local galleries, for example. For about a year, a mural painted on aluminum composite material was displayed in an alley in Angola devoted to public art, said Maria Davis, downtown services coordinator with the city of Angola.

Davis was the person who suggested to Moore that she should check with Easterseals RISE if she was shopping for Angola art. Davis is impressed with the artworks produced in the Just Be Artistry program. She’s glad to see the artwork reaching broader audiences. It contributes to her efforts to make public art a bigger part of life in Angola.


“It’s a part of getting everybody involved in the creative economy,” Davis said. “It’s all connected in our community development.”


Participants Frankie, Brandon and Brianna created this portrait of a dog as part of the Just Be Artistry program. Staff member Renee Crawford projected a photo of the dog onto the canvass, then the artists traced lines in the projected photo. That sketch of the dog became their guide as they painted.


Participant Art — that’s his name, as well as his talent — painted “And Love” for a project in which participants produced artwork on the theme of love.