Community Illumination, a free art show by the Gathering Place, makes its sixth-annual showcase this year. It marks a time for joy and celebration in terms of recovery, art and mental illness. 

The Gathering Place, a peer recovery center located at 7 N. Congress St., will showcase art made by its members on Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Central Venue, 29 E. Carpenter St. The event not only showcases local art of every kind, but also celebrates recovery and brings awareness to mental illness. 

Usually, Central Venue will hold paintings for display, Andrea Fogt, director of administration at Central Venue, said, but work from Community Illumination will only be at Central Venue for one night only.  


If You Go:

What: Community Illumination 

When: Thursday, 5:30 p.m. 

Where: Central Venue, 29 E. Carpenter St.

Admission: Free 

The event is by and for people at the Gathering Place, Ginger Schmalenberg, executive director of The Gathering Place, explained. 

“The event is inspired by our members, as it is a peer-recovery center,” Schmalenberg said. “They get a big say in what we do in programming.”

The Gathering Place has lots of artistic members, Schmalenberg explained. People make art of each medium: paintings, music, poetry, drawings, murals and more. For her, Community Illumination truly shines a light on artists who have mental illness but are not defined by it. 

“We want people to see (our members) art and show their art,” Schmalenberg said. “The name came from illuminating — casting light onto the shadows of something so pervasive — mental illness.”

Schmalenberg stressed that another goal of the event is to show that mental illness doesn’t affect one type of person — it has no socioeconomic background, no race, no gender, she said. It’s something that touches most people, whether it be directly or indirectly. 

Community Illumination is a showcase of the Gathering Place but one that is much more comfortable for its members, Schmalenberg explained; it’s much more relaxed than something like a formal fundraiser, like a gala. 

Doors open at 5:30 p.m and Schmalenberg will give an introduction at 6 p.m. Then, an open mic featuring poetry and music is to follow. Afterward, the Gathering Place’s band, The Gatherers, will perform, too.

Andrew Holbrook, an assistant professor of instruction in music therapy, takes Ohio University students to do music therapy sessions at the Gathering Place 45 minutes a week. Some of his students wrote a song with Gathering Place members, he wrote in an email. 

“(The song) focuses on coping strategies and the need for social (support),” Holbrook said in an email. “This is what they will be performing at the Community Illumination event.”

Schmalenberg stresses that Community Illumination is not a fundraiser. Instead of monetary donations, the Gathering Place is asking for personal care items, such as lotion, toothpaste and feminine hygiene products. Schmalenberg explained that when people leave their stays at hospitals or recovery centers, they often leave with nothing.  

“When people leave hospitals, they don't have much,” Schmalenberg said. “They don't have an income.”

To her, that’s why it’s important to have a supply of donated items to help those who are getting back on their feet. For Schmalenberg, mental illness is something that everyone is touched by and can help with.

“It’s a community situation, not just an individual,” Schmalenberg said. “Recovery isn't about mental illness, it's about holistic wellness.”