Images of Inspiration luncheon to benefit Paint A Miracle

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 2, 2012

 Paint A Miracle artist Yianni Kiriazis of Pleasant Ridge works on an acrylic painting.

Paint A Miracle artist Yianni Kiriazis of Pleasant Ridge works on an acrylic painting.

Photo provided

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ROCHESTER — If you ask Paint A Miracle Executive Director Shelly Tyshka, the Images of Inspiration luncheon is “one of the most inspirational afternoons of the year.”

Paint A Miracle art studio — 400 Water St., Suite LL4, in Rochester — has been teaching art to children and adults with special needs for 10 years. Most Paint A Miracle artists cannot maintain gainful employment due to the nature or severity of their disability, according to Tyshka, who said Paint A Miracle provides them with meaningful work, a sense of community and scholarships for those artists that cannot afford to pay for classes.

“Our artists have all gone through various struggles in life, but they’ve decided to take their struggles and turn it into something beautiful,” she said.

Tyshka has seen first-hand the effect the program can have on someone’s life.

The organization’s origins date back to 1985, when Tyshka’s father, Dr. Dale Propson, was hit by a drunken driver and suffered a massive brain injury that took away most of his eyesight.

“He had been a children’s dentist, and really his whole life was his family and his work, so after he suffered the car accident, he was really left with long days with not a lot to do,” Tyshka said. “One day, one of his aides took him to an art studio in Lake Orion and coaxed him out to go see the place.”

Initially, he wouldn’t get out of the car, telling the art studio’s owner, Helen Cuniff, that he couldn’t paint because he can’t see.

His life was forever changed, according to Tyshka, once Cuniff explained that an artist doesn’t need to use his or her eyes to paint — the image “goes from your brain to your heart to your hand.”

“She coaxed him in, and he started painting, and it basically transformed his life, because he was able to redefine himself as an artist and start exhibiting and selling his work.” Tyshka said. “It was just life changing for him.”

Soon after, he suggested opening Paint A Miracle art studio, so others could benefit as he had.

“In 2002, we started our first class. It was at the Rochester Community House, and we only had four people enrolled. We’ve now grown to serve about 125 people over the course of a year now,” Tyshka said.

Dale Propson’s wife, Annie Propson, said Paint A Miracle has been a gift to the family.

“We are so grateful to find that it is also a gift to the community,” she said.

This year, the Paint A Miracle studio offers seven adult studio sessions, two ceramics classes and two young adult classes, in addition to private lessons and workshops. Some of the artists attend up to six classes a week.

Tyshka said Paint A Miracle’s success wouldn’t be possible without the help of donations, sponsors and volunteers.

The organization is gearing up for its largest fundraiser of the year, the seventh annual Images of Inspiration spring luncheon May 7. Images of Inspiration is a full luncheon at the Royal Park Hotel, with a gallery stroll that allows guests to see and purchase the art of Paint A Miracle students through silent auction. A raffle will also take place during the luncheon.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year and also our biggest exhibit of the year, so we’re going to have about 350 pieces of original works of art created by our artists up for exhibit and sale at the Royal Park,” Tyshka said. “We’ll have lunch, a silent auction, we’re raffling off an iPad and then we’ll have artists’ works for sale.”

The artwork ranges anywhere from $25 to $300 in price, and Tyshka noted that 60 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the pieces goes back to the artist. In 2012, the studio also plans to launch an online store of its artists’ works to give the artists another opportunity to earn income from the sale of their work.

Proceeds from ticket sales, the silent auction and the remainder of purchase price of the artwork goes to Paint A Miracle.

“Our proceeds are going to go back into our program, so it will help provide scholarships for those low income artists that might not otherwise be able to afford a class, and it’s also going to help us provide new opportunities for our existing artists,” she said.

Paint A Miracle is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity, and all donations are tax deductible.

Over the years, Annie Propson said, the fundraiser has “really built up to be a wonderful event.”

“We are just grateful for all the people who do the volunteer work to make it happen because each year it grows,” she said.

Doors will open at 10 a.m. May 7 at the Royal Park Hotel for silent auction viewing. Tickets, which are $45, can be purchased by calling Paint A Miracle at (248) 652-2702 or clicking on the events tab at www.paintamiracle.org.

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