Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Art show supports water of life

Matty, Heather & Paulette
PANAMA CITY — The parking lot was full and the lobby was crowded last Friday evening at Northstar Church, where literally hundreds of people gathered for the fourth annual Art Show and Sale.

“Art speaks in a language all its own,” said a post at the Northstar website promoting the event. “It has the power to provoke, inspire, and give hope. It is a powerful force that rules the Internet, the airwaves, and demands the square footage of thousands of museums and private galleries. Art is important to us as individuals and to our culture, and we believe it should be celebrated.”

Art was celebrated last week in the form of paintings, mixed media, photographs and drawings created by many of the area’s better-known talents — including Jennifer Bonaventura, Heather Clements, Matty Jankowski, Heather Parker and Paulette Perlman — as well as many lesser-known names and student artists. The show included 314 pieces; 47 pieces sold for a total of $2,566.

Of the sales, 90 percent of the money went directly to the artists, while 10 percent was kept to support the church’s mission to Kiu, a village in Kenya.

“We have an ongoing relationship with the village of Kiu,” said Lee Baker, arts pastor at the church. “A couple of years ago, we built the bore pump there, then installed solar panels to power the pump. This year, they’re installing tanks on top of a hill — every year, it gets bigger.”

Kayla & Nick
According to information provided by Northstar, the community of Kiu is a market town divided by a major east-west rail line. Buying and selling of produce is the major economy, with basket and rope weaving also contributing. The village has eight churches, one school and a small medical clinic located at the center of the community on the five-acre grounds of the African Inland Church. The clinic serves people from Kiu and neighboring villages.

“The village is big,” Baker said. “We couldn’t walk across it easily, because of terrain and how extensive it was.”

Access to water is a major issue in the community and people often walk hours to fetch their daily water. The water project was started in 2010 and is nearing completion. With access to clean water on the horizon, the leadership council is shifting their focus to the significant educational challenges that exist in the community.

Meanwhile, church members plan to return later this year to lend a hand.

“We will be working in the community of Kiu with projects that can range from the construction of a water project or school, digging ditches, laying water pipe, building stone walls and putting up fences,” the church website says. “Whatever it may be, we will be working directly with the Kenyan people and the relationships with them are more important than the project.”


(This is my Undercurrents column for this week.)
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