Mental Health & Art

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The Incredible Intensity of Just Being Human, is a progressive art exhibit currently on view in the main lobby here at Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue, and in its Anne Focke Gallery, on level L2. The exhibition runs through Friday, February 27.

Attend the opening reception this Friday, January 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Lobby of Seattle City Hall. Speakers include Randy Engstrom, Director of the office of Arts and Culture; Bernie Agor Matsuno, Director of the Department of Neighborhoods; State Representatives Tina Orwall and Brady Walkinshaw; and exhibit curator Kate Vrijmoet.

When I met with Kate Vrijmoet this past summer on the topic of this rather unique exhibit signart exhibit, a melding of art and mental health, Kate asked if I could help spread the word.

Intrigued by her exhibit’s potential for revealing connections between creativity and disorder, I put her in touch with the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities, the Seattle Arts Commission, and the Parks Foundation and Parks Board of Commissioners. I also provided access to the City Council Chamber for one of her participating artists to record portions of a video presentation for the exhibit.

Kate’s goal was to bring together the City of Seattle, King County, local non-profits, businesses, as well as artists in an attempt to de-stigmatize mental illness.

The artwork itself is displayed slightly off kilter — a little too low, a little too high, not quite level — to convey the idea that people living with mental illness inhabit the world differently from those better able to observe socially constructed norms.

The exhibition includes a series of lunch-hour tours co-lead by an exhibiting artist and a mental health advocate (detailed schedule below).

For more information visit:

Complete the exhibit survey:

Lunch-hour Tours:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 12-1 p, Double Trouble: Dual Diagnosis of Psychosis and Addiction. Installation Artist June Sekiguchi & Mental Health Professional Eli Hastings, MFA, MA co-lead an exhibit tour and talk about the dual diagnosis of Psychosis and Addiction. Eli Hastings is a father, counselor, author and Seattleite. He rolls with a crazy 4 year old named Pax, an ancient Golden named Kaya and is married to a doctor much smarter than him. He has published two nonfiction books and many smaller pieces and is now Assistant Director at Pongo Teen Writing and serves clients through Changing Stories Counseling.

Friday, January 23, 2015, 12-1 p, Acts of Recognition. Performance Artist Ezra Dickinson & Mental Health Professional Doane M. Rising M.D. co-lead an exhibit tour. Dr. Doane Rising started her career in the arts then completed training to become a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst.  Worked in community psychiatry and is now in private practice. Has several family members with major psychiatric disorders which, like so many of us, set her on this particular path in life. Ezra Dickinson is a multi-disciplinary artist who began dancing at the age of four and trained at Pacific Northwest Ballet for twelve years on full scholarship. Ezra regularly practices and is commissioned in performance and choreography, ceramics, visual art, murals and film.

(Note: my legislative aide, Frank Video, told me he was blown away by Ezra’s 2013 street performance, Mother For You I Made This)

Friday, January 30, 2015, 12-1 p Crooked thoughts. Mixed Media Artist Holly Ballard Martz & Mental Health Professional Gillian Vic co-lead an exhibit tour. Gillian Vik, MA, LMHC is a psychotherapist in private practice on Capitol Hill where she treats individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, trauma, grief and loss, post divorce issues, insomnia, and other life transitions. She currently volunteers for the Clinic Without Walls and the CG Jung Society. She is a Seattle native.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 12-1 p Youth in crisis: from homeless to home, finding a way out. Mixed Media Artist Valaree Cox & a YouthCare Representative co-lead an exhibit tour. For 40 years, YouthCare has been a leader in providing effective services to Seattle’s homeless youth. YouthCare builds confidence and self-sufficiency for homeless youth by providing a continuum of care that includes prevention, outreach, basic services, emergency shelter, housing, counseling, education, and employment training.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 12-1 p Compassionate companionship: from isolation to connection. Curator, Painter and Social Practice Artist Kate Vrijmoet & Mental Health Advocate Judy Lightfoot co-lead an exhibit tour and talk about companioning. Judy Lightfoot writes for Crosscut about how the region’s people face challenges in a time of economic stress and diminished expectations. She often draws on her weekly one-on-one coffees with individuals sharing our public spaces who are socially isolated by homelessness or mental illness. Formerly a teacher and professor, she also writes about books, education, and the arts.

Friday, February 20, 2015 12-1 p. Forget Me Knot: Anxiety disorders and caretaker care. Artist Holly Ballard Martz & Mental Health Professional Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti co-lead an exhibit tour. Tanya Ruckstuhl LICSW is a clinical social worker in private practice in the Seattle area. She specializes in anxiety disorders including PTSD, runs a monthly social skills group for adults with social anxiety disorder, and also works with adult attention deficit disorder. Tanya works with individuals, couples and families.

Friday, February 27, 2015 12-1 p. Dissociative Identity Disorder Demystified. Artist Lynn Schirmer & Brian Moss, MFT co-lead an exhibit tour and discuss Dissociative Identity Disorder. Brian Moss, MA, LMFT is a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor of the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy. Based in Seattle, he consults internationally—working in partnership with clients and their therapists regarding the seldom-discussed aspects of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

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