NAMI'S alternative art studio unveils mosaic

by: MICHELE VEENKER Clackamas County’s National Alliance on Mental Illness opened an arts studio earlier this year, with participants creating a mosaic as their first major project. The arts studio and mosaic were made possible by the Sandy Mountain Festival Committee’s $500 donation last year. Thursday, art studio participants and leaders unveiled the mosaic during a Clackamas County Commissioners meeting.

Clackamas County residents living with mental illnesses have a new haven -- The Open Minds Arts Studio, located in the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Clackamas County's headquarters.

Though the arts studio began in early 2011, it's still gaining momentum. This week the studio celebrated completion of its first large piece: a mosaic supporting Clackamas County's Open Minds Open Doors campaign that fights the stigma of mental illness and addiction.

The arts studio and mosaic were made possible by the Sandy Mountain Festival Committee, which offers three grants up to $500 for organizations and projects focused on arts and community.

'I thought the art studio was a wonderful idea, and I'm glad we could help in getting it started,' said Vicky Mills, president of Sandy Mountain Festival.

'Open Minds Art Studio participants hope the piece will provide an opportunity for introspection to those who view it and challenge the stereotype of mental illness,' Michele Veenker, executive director of NAMI of Clackamas County, wrote in a release.

'Participants hope to see this through an even larger use of the piece, perhaps as part of a traveling show on mental health that can be accessed by the community.'

Veenker said the arts studio is open 1:30-5:30 p.m. Thursdays. Participants are welcome to drop in at any point and are invited to bring their own supplies if they wish.

Among the art projects participants can do are beading, creating cards, knitting, woodworking, creating collages and making birdhouses.

The group is run by several volunteers who take turns officiating.

'It's a warm and welcome place for people to gather,' Veenker said.

For more information about NAMI and The Open Minds Arts Studio, call Michele Veenker at 503-344-5050 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.