The pandemic didn’t stop Veterans from submitting visual art and creative writing to the annual Lovell Veterans Creative Arts Festival. However, COVID-19 did change the way entries are being shared with the public this year.

“Diane,” by Jerry Zabel, first place in the mixed media category.

The performance part of the festival, usually a energetic afternoon of live music, dancing, and dramatic readings at the local community college, was cancelled and the rest of the event was moved online.

Lovell FHCC received 30 visual art entries and nine creative writing entries (five eligible for judging). Artwork photos can be viewed in an album on the Lovell Facebook page.

Creative writing entries – including poems, essays and short stories – can be found on the Lovell FHCC website by scrolling to the bottom of the “Veterans Creative Arts Festival firsts announced” feature page.

“Peace & Journey” by Patsy Delp, won first place in the Black & White Photography category.

The first-place winners, listed below, now will be considered for entry into the 41st National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, which takes place April 18-25, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“Talented, brave and creative Veterans”

“Every year, I have the great honor to present our talented, brave and creative Veterans,” said festival co-coordinator Tricia Stewart, art therapist. “I’m so proud of their achievements and now we can forever display their creativity on our Facebook page. Thank you to the staff who are continually supporting our Veterans’ creative endeavors.”

Arts painting of actress Elizabeth Taylor

“Elizabeth Taylor,” by Nick Pantele, first place, digital art category.

Stewart said expressive arts like the ones featured in the festival were what kept many Lovell Community Living Center residents going through the long period of isolation and limited activities due to COVID-19.

“Residents really looked forward to occupying their time with art and music,” she said. “Many were inspired to try new things and let their creative sides out.”

Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in a local creative arts competition. The competition includes visual art categories that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. There are categories in writing as well as performing arts including dance, drama and music.

Art has far reaching effects on health and well-being

After judging at the national level, selected top finishers are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, co-presented by VA and the American Legion Auxiliary, and hosted by a different VA facility each year. The national competition results will be announced in December 2021.

VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into therapy programs to further the rehabilitation goals for both inpatients and outpatients. The festival recognizes the progress and recovery made through that therapy and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of Veterans.

“While COVID-19 continues to impact our lives daily, we know the benefits of creating art can have far reaching effects on one’s overall health and well-being,” said National Veterans Creative Arts Festival Director Ann Kimbler. “Studies show that spending time on a creative arts project can relieve stress, strengthen thinking skills and improve memory. Through art, you can inspire and encourage others. No matter how far apart we are, art can help us to relax and bring us closer.”

Lovell VA first place winners:

  • “Diane” by Jerry Zabel, Mixed Media
  • “Elizabeth Taylor” by Nick Pantele, Digital Art
  • “Ember” by Joshua Zoeller, Colored Drawing
  • “Little Girl” by Danta Planta, Color Photography
  • “Peace & Journey” by Patsy Delp, Black and White Photography
  • “Starburst” by Ralph Barzowski, Watercolor
  • “A Village Called Bob” by Paul Revis, Short Story
  • “My Responses (Bug Story)” by Paul Revis, Humor
  •  “Let Us Reverence God in All Ways,” by Bobbie Blackwell, Poetry Non-Rhyming

By Jayna M. Legg is a public affairs specialist for the Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago

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Published on Nov. 7, 2021

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