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Spirit of Art group to showcase work at Nov. 18 fundraiser at McMullan’s Irish Pub

Henderson resident Karen Wheeler believes that creating her own art group, Spirit of Art, three years ago saved her from depression after a close friend died.

Although she has curated art shows to showcase her fellow members’ latest works, Wheeler herself has yet to present a new art piece to the public.

Wheeler was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that affects her nervous system and limits her movement. Wheeler said her condition has worsened as she’s gotten older, as her muscles lose their strength.

As a result, it’s been harder for Wheeler to hold her brushes and to keep steady when adding fine details in her watercolor paintings.

The 68-year-old artist believed she would not able to create a new painting at the same level of quality as her past works, until a friend asked her to paint him a potrait of his pet. Feeling she was no longer an artist unless she produced a new piece, Wheeler gave it one last try.

All seven Spirit of Art members, including Wheeler, will unveil never-before-seen pieces at their upcoming art show from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 at McMullan’s Irish Pub, 4650 W. Tropicana Ave., Suite 10. The show will benefit St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for childhood cancer. The artists take on various mediums, including photography, watercolor painting, digital painting and 3-D art.

“We create art, and we do that for ourselves and for each other to inspire each other and share ideas, and we like to include community,” Wheeler said. “We are giving back and just keeping art alive.”

For Wheeler, the upcoming show is a personal milestone. This painting will be the first she has completed in three years and has motivated her to start another one.

“I like showing the public that I am productive because I think people as a whole look (at) people with disabilities like they can’t do anything, and I am always happy to prove them wrong,” Wheeler said.

Artist and creativity coach Bonnie Kelso drew her inspiration for her latest piece, “The Stream Towards Transformation,” from her students enrolled in her art workshop at Las Vegas Rescue Mission, 480 W. Bonanza Road. The students are a part of the organization’s addiction recovery program. When they began their art projects, the students wondered why Kelso was not working on a piece alongside them.

Kelso said she thought it was a great idea and started working on her own collage.

“I feel like I am on a journey with them,” she said. “It’s amazing to see them transforming because people are usually intimidated by art. They say, ‘I’m not creative. I can’t draw,’ but then I tell them, ‘Look, you’re doing it.’ ”

Visit karenwheeler.com or creatingyourexperience.com.

To reach Southwest View intern reporter Rocio Hernandez, email rhernandez@viewnews.com or call 702-387-5233. Find her on Twitter: @rociohzz.

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