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Gallery’s show offers a glimpse of uniquely composed art

Dan Bailey shows some of his artwork recently. He is among the artists with art in a showing at the Arts of Snohomish Gallery on First Street ongoing through May.

SNOHOMISH — A May art exhibit is giving visitors a unique view into the life and work of locals with disabilities.
The Work Opportunities exhibit is a partnership between the nonprofit employment agency for differently abled adults and the Arts of Snohomish Gallery.
The exhibit features the work of several Snohomish County artists, including Dan Bailey.
Bailey has a seizure disorder and reading disability. The longtime Work Opportunities client is a man of few words, but he speaks through his art. He sits at the interview surrounded by paintings of waterfalls, mountains and the sea.
Growing up in South Dakota and Colorado with Sioux, Cherokee and Choctaw grandparents and ancestors influenced much of his painting. His exhibit works, on slices of wood or canvas, have a strong traditional Western theme. Covered wagons and horses with feathered headdresses coexist with eagles and cougars in the prolific artist’s mind.
Bailey has turned to himself as a canvas, too, etching tattoos of roses into his skin. Butterflies appear both on his arms and his paintings.
“I draw eight or nine hours a day,” Bailey said. “It kind of calms me down.”
He’s so practiced after decades of painting that he can turn out a piece in 10 minutes, while others take several days.
While artists like Bailey work primarily in oils and acrylics, Monroe High School alum Brianna Brady invents in florals. Samples of her wedding bouquets, barrettes and graduation arrangements at the gallery showcase a delicate, feminine aesthetic.
Work Opportunities clients aren’t in-the-box job seekers, and neither are their employees. While the agency does source traditional 9-to-5 jobs, employment specialists Dara Pierce and Jessica Pesci have booked everything from senior center concert gigs to art displays on restaurant walls.
The agency serves about 500 clients.
“It makes me feel really nice, to find not only jobs but other opportunities. They have a lot of interests,” Pierce said of her clients. She came to the work after a career at the Snohomish School District, both jobs inspired by her son, who has autism.
Client Nick Baker also has autism and is blind. He expresses his artistic side through singing and keyboard performances. A May 12 concert at the art gallery was just one of many he plays throughout the region with help from Pesci and his No. 1 fan and mom, Kathy Passage.
When asked how playing makes him feel, Baker said there were “almost a billion answers,” but energetic was number one. He will be bringing that energy to performances at the 50th annual Special Olympics USA Games starting July 1 at the University of Washington.
The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at 1024 First St. in Snohomish. The Work Opportunities exhibit runs through May.


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