VSA Florida showcases artists with disabilities through our Artist Registry. All art forms are represented including visual art, performing art, and literary work. Artist Registry members receive:
- Announcements for Calls for Art
- Invitations to exhibit or perform for VSA Florida events
- Opportunities to be a paid Collaborative Artist in our artist in residence programs
- Opportunities for informational webinars
- Periodic newsletters
The registry is a FREE service. Click here for an application.
For more information, please contact Sandra Sroka, Adult Program Coordinator, at email@example.com or 813.974.0721.
I was born on November 2, 1953 in Rockford, Illinois. I was born two months early. because of this, I have mild spastic cerebral palsy in all four limbs and am blind in my left eye. when I was a kid, these birth defects kept me from playing organized sports (the excuse was insurance rules). I started taking guitar lessons instead. I took lessons for six years, until I was eighteen. After that, I just played music with my friends (mostly rock and blues).
I dropped out of college in the mid-70's to seriously go after a career as a musician. after seven years of this, I began following Jesus Christ and started college again. I finally graduated in 1990 and went on to teach in a middle schools which lasted for two years. I moved on to teach Pre-Kindergarten for eighteen years in the Headstart program.
I was laid off in 2012 from this job with over 300 other people due to the program being privatized. I am currently semi-retired. Over the years, I also learned to play the banjo, mandolin, and some violin. I have been happily married to my wife Lynn for 25 years and we have a beautiful 24-year old daughter, Leah.
Photos by Mark Seamonson:
Matt Weihmuller is a jazz saxophonist who completed both his undergraduate education in music (magna cum laude) and masters of music at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. He was a member of the FSU Jazz Ensemble I and various jazz combos, as well as a regular performer at various Tallahassee jazz venues.
Matt recently relocated to the Tampa area, where he is the saxophone and jazz instructor at the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Matt also provides private music instruction from his home. He currently tours with a band, called UNRB, featuring original eclectic music with elements of funk, jazz, rock, and reggae, in addition to performing locally with a jazz trio when his schedule permits.
Via performance and workshop experiences, Matt has had the opportunity to gain from the direction of many noted jazz professionals, including Marcus Roberts, Bunky Greene, Jason Marsalis, Buster Cooper, Bill Kennedy, John Lamb, Chick Corea, Eric Alexander, David Hazeltine, Don Braden, Jim Snidero, and Walt Weiskopf. He was fortunate to receive his early music instruction in Tampa, Florida where he attended the H.W. Blake High School of the Arts, and benefitted from the instruction of the University of South Florida saxophone instructor, Valerie Gillespie.
At The Florida State University, he was a member of the Phi Beta Lambda honorary music association, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Gold Key scholars, as well as a number of professional music associations.
Matt is also a composer, utilizing specialized music technology for the blind. His greatest personal goal, however, is to champion the cause of increasing Braille music literacy for young blind musicians.
Mancini Media/Michele Mancini
Graduate of CN School of Broadcasting.
Full Production including: editing /audio / music / narration / scripting & studio “package production”
Radio On-Air / Music / Voice-overs / Narrator / Creative Writer (published articles) / Video Documentaries
As an artist, Mindy works in a variety of art media and enjoys teaching what she has learned over the years. She currently holds a Masters Degree in Visual Communications with a major in Clinical Art Therapy. Mindy is currently teaching art at a private school for gifted and learning disabled students. For now, her art work can be found on facebook under the title "artzy".
Hello, my name is Monai Willett. I am a student at the University of Central Florida. I began painting as a therapeutic vessel for sublimation. Art has helped me establish an identity and a concept of self through expression & introspection. My goal is not to be rich nor famous. My passion is to touch lives through creating art. I have open arms to many people in my community. My greatest achievement has been to draw awareness to the benefits of art for those who suffer from mental and/or physical disabilities, but also to adolescent children. I love to use several different techniques, which I have learned through experimentation. I find perfection in imperfection! My journey has been a long one, but every day I learn something new about myself, and I would like to be an advocate in helping others gain piece of mind, relaxation, fellowship, and acceptance with not only my art, but also through supplies provided to those eager to express themselves artistically! One person can not change the world, and not all people make history, my passion is to create beautiful art and impact as many lives as I can. "I have come a long way from where I been and I'm still on a continuing journey to where I'm going!"
Techniques include Digital Collaging, Assemblage, Canvas Installation, Functional Art, Abstract Expressionism, Expressionism, Acrylics, Oils, Golden Mediums and Gels.
Pamela Davis was recently involved in the expressions of Courage Program and has service as Vice President of Art and Humanities. She taught art for Elementary and Library Programs under DAHC. Currently, Pamela is showing 9/11/01 and Nature art series throughout Florida.
Paul E. Gavin is a Drummer and Percussionist in Tampa, FL. He performs, teaches private and group lessons, and writes marching percussion arrangements and cadences. He's currently a Junior at the University of South Florida double-majoring in Music Education and Jazz Studies. At USF he is a member of the Graduate Jazz combo, Jazz Ensemble II and Trombone Band I. The USF Jazz department will be traveling to Italy this summer to play at several Jazz Festivals and events.
His professional work includes playing regularly with the Southwest Florida Symphony in Ft. Myers, FL as a percussion sub/extra and doing drum set and percussion work for musical theater companies in Naples.
He has been teaching private lessons and groups since his senior year of high school and continues to keep private teaching a central part of his musical endeavors. His students have won places in honor bands, gone on to march drum corps and major in music in college. He teaches group lessons on marching percussion and Latin hand percussion as well as coaches percussion sections for the Florida All-State convention and Hillsborough County’s Honor Bands. This year was his third year teaching the Sickles High School marching percussion section of Tampa, FL and they’ve consistently earned the highest ratings at MPA since he began working with them.
He also writes marching percussion cadences, show music and warm ups. He writes regularly for the Sickles percussion section and has written for schools in Atlanta, Georgia and Ft. Myers, Fl.
Paul McAuliffe is a world/ethnic flute player, flute maker, drummer, storyteller, songwriter, social services worker, autism advocate and short story writer. He's given dozens of presentations throughout the Southeast, including at the University of Central Florida, the University of Alabama, Florida State and the University of Mississippi. He recently gave his "Flutes & Autism" program at the Center For Disease Control in Atlanta, and has been featured twice on CNN and on various National Public Radio affiliates. He's given his "Flutes & Storytelling" program at a variety of elementary schools and Boys & Girls Clubs.
Paul plays djembe (West African hand drum) with the Mother Earth Drummers. He's the founder and facilitator of the Bay County Asperger's Support Group, and serves on the Constituency Board of the Florida State University Center For Autism (FSU CARD.) He performs regularly with the Bay Storytellers of Panama City, FL. He loves to serenade the Florida Panthers (an endangered species) at Bear Creek Feline Center, a sanctuary for big cats that cannot live in the wild for various reasons. His latest/third CD is entitled "Young Cat Dreams:" http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/paulmcauliffe2
Paul's current Presentations are:
1. Flutes, Autism & A Different Way Of Seeing: I discuss my own autistic journey of self-discovery, play quiet, soothing music on a variety of world/ethnic flutes, discuss what it's like living on the autism spectrum in a "neurotypical" world, and explain why Asperger's Syndrome (high functioning autism) kids will be the world's future inventors and innovators. To the best of my knowledge, this is a totally unique program.
2. Flutes & Storytelling: Along with my passion for world/ethnic flutes and autism advocacy, I love to tell stories; I perform regularly with the Bay Storytellers of Panama City. In this program, I tell a variety of original tales interspersed with performing soothing, peaceful flute music. Through the ancient art of storytelling, we weave words, we teach one another, we learn from one another, we laugh, we acknowledge our humanity, we realize others have the same foibles we do, and we grow into a better understanding of the world.
3. Flutes Of The World: Goes into more details about the flutes themselves, including longer flute solos, and more info about the history and special challenges of each flute. If there's time, I also play and discuss the djembe (West African hand drum.)
4. Flutes, Autism & Creative Focus: I've put out 3 CD's of all original music, create flutes out of bamboo, and am finishing up my first book of short stories, poems and essays. I'll discuss the creative process from an Aspergian perspective, and play a wide variety of wooden and bamboo flutes.
Pete enjoyed a successful career in the advertising business as an art director and creative director. Some products he worked on were Wrangler Jeans, Garanimals Childrens clothing, Mateus Rose, Monet Jewelry, Gucci Perfume, Nicorette and Nicoderm, and a host of other drug products launches which garnered a number of industry awards.
Battling NY traffic and health issues prompted him to cut short his career and retire his magic markers in 1995.
Pete continued to pursue his creative talents through watercolor, pastels, and Photo Impressionism, which are original photos taken over a lifetime, including many recent ones from South West Florida.
Recently, Pete discovered an interest in acrylics and only regrets that he didn't start years sooner.
Philip began his painting vocation because of his great love of color. His themes generally encompass local sea and scenery of the waterways and beaches of the Brevard county area. His love of painting is something in which he feels he can always express himself and his great love of the sea and natural surroundings.
Philip’s style is one of a natural primitive artist ripe with the intuitive love of color and composition similar in the style of the folk arts of early New England seascape painters. His balance of both local scenery and Floridian atmosphere create a peaceful blending of old Florida and its natural surrounding beauty.
I would like to introduce Rachel Barcellona. She is 20 years old and a student at St. Petersburg College studying exceptional student education. An advocate for those with disabilities she created her platform, The Ability Beyond Disabilities, to inspire those that have challenges to strive for their dreams as well as to educate those around us to understand the challenges we face.
As an individual with Epilepsy and Aspergers syndrome - a form of autism, Rachel often felt like she could not do anything, but because of my life and social experience, I have overcome many challenges. Today I am the International spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida (CARD-USF) and was just elected to the constituency board.
Rachel is a member of the International Thespian Honor Society for theater an honor student and vocalist and author. Recently she won the title of Miss Florida International and will complete for the national title this summer with women from around the world. She also work's with several organizations that provide services to individuals with disabilities including therapy such as occupational and physical along with music and art therapy. My plan for the future is to graduate from the University of South Florida with a PHD in education, open her own school and work with children with disabilities.
Reagan was born in Washington, DC and lived the first 38 years of his life in and around Baltimore County and Columbia MD. As a young boy a stigma developed around Reagan making him fodder for any and all the bullies in the neighborhood. Nonetheless, despite the beatings and gross humiliations there was something about art, particularly the art he saw at the museums in Washington that fascinated him. The way Picasso would paint a leotard arm of a girl forming ninety digress, but under the arm his use of a dry , almost chalkish yellow, suspending her arm in space. Specific memories like these fascinated Reagan as a child and stayed with, not just as sight, but more, as feeling he FELT that arm being suspended above the girl’s place of standing.
Reagan is a colorist. But he doesn't want to oversimplify. Yes, when he is in a new environment, the color is the first he FEELS AND SEESI But there is more to color then swashes of colored paint. Color is the point of the painting but is as well supported by composition, shape, texture and all else And by depth Reagan means an apparent overpainting to make an apparent dark canvas-but that’s not really dark so colors emerge in the darkness. This is where he is, at this point..
Reuben Gilbert is an amazing man with many interests and abilities. Although he is a performer and has been part of the Pyramid Players for two years, Reuben is mainly interested in visual arts. His work mostly consists of human figures painted in bold colors and fragmented lines which often overlap and follow unrestrained patterns. Even though, Reuben Gilbert uses reference images to create his work, his use of color and shape make him a unique illustrator and painter.
Richard Davis has had the opportunity to express his thoughts and feelings using various mediums. His recent work has been to share his life of living with epilepsy. In the last four years he used his ability to do paintings to raise money for the Epilepsy research in California and resides in Spring Hill, Florida.
I am 20 years old. I was born in Miami, FL. I have non-verbal autism and my ability to communicate is very limited. My mom and dad assist me with the activities of daily living. My art is a direct expression of creative source and is unencumbered by personal agendas or secondary intent. I work on a piece slowly and deliberately, looking at it from many angles, until it feels just right to me. Then I release it into the world.
I'm a self taught - self represented South Florida Landscape artist, working with acrylics and paint rural landscapes with a surreal feel to them. I also like to experiment with abstract surreal renderings of Still Life, Pop Art Portraits, Nudes & Figures and Floral. Original Acrylic Paintings, done in an Impressionist style, (but with an abstract/surrealistic touch.) Subjects primarily include Landscapes (Plein Air and imagined). I hope to express the beauty of God's creation with my brush and paints. Painting is my way of getting back in touch with that inner child and help with my own personal recovery. Art, Painting, Writing & Music is good medicine and I have used all as a form of therapy and healing. I know I'm alive and breathing only by the grace of God.Additionally, I read and study the (Bible) daily, Old and New Testament. In my opinion the greatest book ever written. Enough said. If you have any questions regarding any of the Paintings, Drawings or Commentary or Books, please contact me.
Since age 6 Romona, a New Jerseyan, has been an artist. She often recalls her mother and grandmother encouraging her to keep painting saying, “you have a gift”. When other kids were getting fancy stuff for birthdays and holidays--little Romona wanted paint. It seems, she says, “I just believed that I shared the same talent for creating beauty that I saw in the museums and galleries”.
Traveling throughout the U.S. has also deeply imprinted Romona’s style. Her creations reflect the beauty and elegance of a world only she is privy to—some of her portraits are colorful and jovial while others a bit stoic and somber. Even her greeting cards reflect a simple yet profound brilliance for the serene way she accepts life.
With an unapologetic style and unique technique, Ms. Johnson transcends traditional artistry by incorporating recycling materials as tools for her award winning creations.
1994 Greeting Card Contest Tarpon Springs
1995 Greeting Card Contest – 1st Place
2000 Florida Sentinel Painting 100 “Bottle of Beauty” 1st Place
2005 Florida Sentinel Painting to Raise Awareness of Bone Marrow Donors
2007 Tampa Tribune “Brushing Aside Chronic Pain”
2008 The Able Trust Greeting Card Contest Tallahassee, Florida 3rd Place
2009 Scholarship Dunedin Fine Arts Center
2009 Matthew Art Gallery Ybor City, Florida showing of 6 abstract paintings
2009 MacDonald Training Center “101 Pieces of a Dream” Juried Show – 2 pieces auctioned
2012 Antelope Valley Press “Turning pain into Beauty” front page
2014 HCC Performing Arts Building in Ybor City, Forida Creativity is Boundless” exhibit – 3 pieces
Hello friends! I am a reuse artist who has been creating from reclaimed materials since childhood. Following the example of my ever-resourceful parents, I began making Christmas ornaments from scrap materials in grade school in the 1960s. I created my first scrap quilt and eggshell mosaic in my teens.
Fast forward through life (filled with regular jobs and raising a family) to 2005, when my reuse art pursuits eventually became more focused. I started volunteering at The Scrap Exchange, a creative reuse art center in Durham, NC. Here, I continued to develop as a reuse artist, got hired on as staff, and participated in multiple solo and group exhibitions in their Green Gallery and Cameron Gallery. I taught creative reuse technique classes through The Scrap Exchange's Creative Classes program and Duke University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program. In other pursuits, I also organized the arts and crafts program at summer camp for the local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for several years.
In 2015, my husband and I moved to Bradenton, Florida, where I am super excited to finally pursue a career as a full-time artist. My current work can be best described as mixed media reuse art inspired by nature. The natural world in Florida just blows me away!
Sandy Olson-Hill is an award winning artist (Academy of American Poets, Big River Poetry Review, Open Doors Short Fiction) published in poetry, fiction, and journalism and an animal rescuer and social activist for democratic policies. A graduate of Rollins College, she relocated to Gulfport to attend the University of Tampa’s writing program, do freelance journalism for Beachlife publications, and become more involved with grassroots’ community endeavors and progressive social media.(Sandy) Olson- Hill has created, organized, and facilitated numerous ( cross genre art) writing groups in mental health facilities, and community outreach centers, in addition to the VSA Florida teaching artist( in which she was honored to participate).
Physically disabled in 1996 due to Osteoporosis,(Sandy) Olson-Hill was then diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2001. Unable to physically tolerate the generally prescribed treatments, she awaits the new medicines with a great deal of faith and hope. Her literary works can be viewed online: Red Paint Hill Wordgathering, SpecsJournal, BigRiverPoetryReview, BlazeVox,OurStories, and BohemianPupilPress among other notable publications.
Welcome to my new creative outlet after being disabled by Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis over 7 years ago. Having always been a creative person, when my hands started to fail me, I was devastated. I heard about quadriplegic's painting by holding the paint brush in their mouth, but I was hesitant to try. I haven't seriously painted in nearly 30 years by hand so I was skeptical to try it by mouth. It took me a few months to get the courage to start. I knew it would be a challenge, but with all setbacks with MS, I didn't want to be discouraged again. Thanks to my friends and family for the support I will continue to paint. Some paintings are much better than others as I get better each day. Thank you for viewing.