Katz JCC was filled with color for the Appel Art Gallery show

The halls of the Katz JCC were filled with colorful pieces, created by members of the Katz JCC ACHaD (Achieving Community Hopes and Dreams) and Samost TOPS Program of JFCS’ (Jewish Family and Children’s Services) Special Needs Department in the Appel Art Gallery showcase.

Cherry Hill residents were encouraged to delve into the minds of artists in the community last Wednesday. The halls of the Katz JCC were filled with colorful pieces, created by members of the Katz JCC ACHaD (Achieving Community Hopes and Dreams) and Samost TOPS Program of JFCS’ (Jewish Family and Children’s Services) Special Needs Department in the Appel Art Gallery showcase.

The Appel Art Gallery, an annual event, is an opportunity for special needs artists to express themselves and show off their talents. Everything from jazz-themed artwork to African masks was displayed, and the artists were eager to talk about it. Artist James Parfitt expressed his joy of creating his displayed piece, “Meadow,” and his deep-rooted passion for art.

“I was 3 or 4 when I first started to draw,” Parfitt said. “I love drawing.”

Parfitt was just one of the many artists who had their work up for viewing. Approximately 75 individual pieces and seven group pieces were on display at Wednesday’s gallery opening and will remain up until March, according to Eileen Elias, special needs director of the Katz Jewish Community Center. With some pieces for sale, all proceeds earned throughout the event will go to the Katz JCC ACHaD department and the JFCS TOPS program.

Eilas encouraged community members to drop by the Katz JCC to che

ck out the artwork and get a sneak peak inside the artist’s vision, free of charge.

“They are so excited to have their art on display for two months and very proud of all their artwork,” Elias said. “It gives people the opportunity to express who they are.”

Katz JCC art teacher Karen Spieker had been working with the artists from the JCC ACHaD for 10 weeks before putting the work on display. Supporting the idea art is meant to be shared, Spieker enjoyed the opportunity to work with the members.

“We share our ideas and that’s how we get these beautiful, beautiful projects,” Spieker said.

The art show helps commemorate the 10th anniversary of Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month in Cherry Hill, which begins in February, according to Program Director for JFCS TOPS Jane Abesh. In alignment with Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month, the Appel Art Gallery encourages residents to stand united as a community and appreciate the efforts of the artists.

“This is the time to show we are all more alike than different, no matter what our shapes, colors, religions or ages,’’ Abesh said. ‘’We know that they can do it and you can see it tonight on the walls.”

The exhibit will be up on display throughout the month at the Katz JCC, 1301 Springdale Road. The gallery is open to the public during the JCC’s hours of operation, which can be found at katzjcc.org. For more information on the special needs program and the Appel Art Gallery, contact Elias at eelias@jfedsnj.org or call (856) 424–4444.