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The Healing Arts Redefined:

The phrase “healing arts” took on a whole new meaning at The Lowe Gallery on Wednesday, September 19, when Step Up on Second displayed artworks produced by its residents and patients at its 4th Annual Art Heals event.

Three hundred guests attended the benefit, themed “Building Hope, One Step at a Time,” that featured the artwork of individuals living with diagnosed mental illness. Step Up is a nonprofit that for 23 years has been providing assistance to individuals, housed or homeless, who have schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, severe depression, and those dually diagnosed (living with a mental illness and substance dependency).

Principal sponsors (among many sponsors) of the event were Bingham McCutchen, LLP, an international law firm with offices in Santa Monica, and Santa Monica’s Morley Builders. This is the second year that The Lowe Gallery has hosted Step Up’s Art Heals show, said the gallery’s Laura Clemons. “The gallery is interested in the spiritual and psychological connections in all the work we represent, and so we are involved with events that raise awareness of human plight and human experience,” she said.

The featured artworks, all for sale, were mounted on easels and portable walls, displayed amidst the regular collection of the gallery on Broadway. A colorful acrylic on paper priced at $205 caught this reporter’s eye shortly after entering the gallery, but 20 minutes and a few noshes later it had been marked “sold.” Failing to acquire the artwork, I sought out the artist.

Matthew Lord is a 28-year-old who grew up in the Palms area of West Los Angeles; he describes himself as suffering from a now dormant bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. Matt was introduced to Step Up when his social worker at the Edelman Westside Mental Health facility became a team leader at Step Up, and Matt began attending group therapy and getting into art there.

He did the painting that I missed out on while he lived at Daniel’s Place, a Step Up residence for 18- to 30-year-olds, which he describes as “a treasure chest of possibility and potential to thrive again.”

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