ENCINITAS — The pieces of ribboned artwork on the walls of City Hall have some incredible stories behind them. The paintings, drawings and photos on display were created by paralyzed veterans and civilians.
Art is a means for those with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and other disabilities to communicate and explore their creativity.
The “Reflections” exhibit is an inspiration to viewers.
Ray Zambo, who took best in oil and show, has been a quadriplegic since he was a teen. He paints detailed portraits with limited use of his hands.
Zambo said his neighbor taught him the technique of tuning a canvas upside down and creating shapes and shadows, instead of trying to draw or paint a nose outright. Zambo continues to meet with his neighbor who has become his mentor.
“A show like this shows what I can do despite my limitations,” Zambo said.
Zambo’s artwork has been recognized in numerous shows.
Claudia Verano Guzzy-DaMetz, who won first in photography, got polio as a teen that left her a paraplegic. Her disability has not crushed her unstoppable spirit.
“Being a teen paraplegic was surprisingly not as hard as people might think,” she said.
Among her accomplishments, she has taught digital photography at the Arts College in San Diego.
Paralyzed Veterans of America Cal-Diego Chapter puts together the annual art show, which includes veterans’ works. The nonprofit operates out of the Veterans Hospital in La Jolla, and engages veterans in stimulating activities that help increase their motor skills. Other activities include bowling, archery and water sports.
John Plaza, Jr., the nonprofit’s special projects coordinator, said the best part of his day is seeing the smiles on veterans’ faces, who due to their their disabilities took three hours to get out of the door to get there.
Artwork is created by disabled veterans throughout the year.
“Not everyone wants to play wheelchair rugby,” Peter Ballantyne, Paralyzed Veterans of America Cal-Diego Chapter executive director, said.
The annual exhibit is held at a different location each year to give the artwork and program greater exposure.
Cash awards are given by the nonprofit to artists for best in mixed media, photography, oil, drawing, watercolor and show.
A silent auction of additional pieces, and sales of show artwork help raise funds for the nonprofit’s programs that serve 500 veteran members. Artwork is on display at City Hall through May 4.