United States Department of Veterans Affairs


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Creative Arts Festival Information


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Out of the Darkness - Imagine yourself behind the wheel of a large truck, towing a travel trailer, over a mountain pass. You're almost home from a long trip. As you begin the descent downhill, suddenly… everything goes black, lights out; your vision is gone. Sounds like the plot of a dramatic movie doesn't it? Unfortunately, this isn't Hollywood, it's real life and it's what happened to Michelle Tuengel. (10/22/2011)

All Aboard! - There was excitement in the air as busloads of Veterans and staff waited in anticipation to board the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad train on Thursday. The train ride was one of many alternate activities planned this week. (10/21/2011)

Piano Man… Ray - While walking through the ballroom/rehearsal area that our performing artists are using this week… simply put, I was looking for a story. What I should have been doing is listening. Out of nowhere, because the entire area was empty, I heard the prettiest piano music being played. (10/21/2011)

Art, it’s a Beautiful Thing - Two Creative Arts Festivals, two gold medals for Vietnam Veteran Harold (Bud) Smith of Newburyport, Mass. When Smith returned from Vietnam he knew something was wrong, but he didn’t know what. PTSD wasn't mentioned back in 1962 when he was discharged from the Air Force. (10/21/2011)

Music… A Life Time Journey - "My first choice was Air Force, but I was past the age limit, so Army it was" said Joey Wilson of Austin, Texas. Wilson was a single mom with two young children when she joined the military. A musician since she was a young girl, the military helped her to stabilize her life, her music helped her to make a living. (10/20/2011)

Healing Myself through Art - Army Veteran Judy Hill served her country for 23 years, from 1977 until she retired in 2002. After returning to home to Monroe, Louisiana, Judy obtained an Art Teaching Certification in the event that she needed to work. It turned out that teaching was too stressful and she decided not to pursue teaching. (10/20/2011)

The Art of Deception - They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The true essence of any art form is its ability to evoke emotion. These emotions can range from humor to profound grief, all natural human emotions. How about hunger? Even better, how about hunger in a fish? Believe it or not, there is an art form for that too. (10/20/2011)

Writers Read Work to other Veterans - While creative writing has been a category for four years at the Festival, this is the first time an interaction session was held where artists were able to share their writings with others. On Wednesday evening, several Veterans gathered in the Commerce Ballroom to hear poetry, short stories, and personal experience essays with topics ranging from military life, recovery, PTSD, humor, patriotism, and life's journey. (10/20/2011)

Meet a First Timer - Sometimes hobbies lead to great things. First time National Veterans Creative Arts Festival attendee Richard Beck can attest to that. Richard is a Vietnam Veteran who originally started to draw when he was a child. (10/19/2011)

Rock & Roll - Gary Satchell has performed in numerous bands in the Denver area for years playing lead guitar and singing vocals. He has also volunteered for a couple years in the nursing home at the Denver VA Medical Center, where his brother Charles is an employee. (10/19/2011)

Veteran Feeling Blessed - "It's a gift and it could be gone tomorrow" said Joshua Moreaux, an Air Force Veteran, of his musical talent. His beautiful voice placed him first nationally as a soloist in this year's and last year's competition. (10/19/2011)

Still Helping Out with Assists - Sure, she's not sweating it out on the court, driving to the basket or aggressively rebounding anymore, but Michelle McKenzie is still a big star with the Veterans she helps. McKenzie is the lead recreation therapist at the New Mexico VA Health Care System. She is also a former college and professional basketball player! (10/19/2011)

Generations Bridged - When one thinks of father and son activities, they generally imagine a day of fishing or even playing a game of catch in the backyard. Most people would not conjure an image of two men giving a dramatic dialogue performance piece with the subject matter being as visceral and moving as "What is a Veteran?" (10/18/2011)

The Therapeutic Arts Scholarship… and the Winners Are - The Therapeutic Arts Scholarship is a recently added opportunity for Veterans who enter the Creative Arts Competition. During the local competition phase (January 1 – April 1), VA staff persons had the opportunity to nominate one Veteran from their facility for consideration to attend the Festival based on a therapeutic objective. (10/18/2011)

Road Scholars - It is almost comical in the way it starts out like an exam question from a college prep test: One van is traveling 750 miles from Battle Creek, Mich., to Rogers, Ark., with four Veteran artists (complete strangers) on board. The trip takes two days with a stopover in St. Louis, Mo. What is the sum…of their knowledge of each other? (10/18/2011)

Artist Sharing with Other Artists - For the past 14 years, the Artist Interaction Session held at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival has provided artists the opportunity to showcase their work and discuss their entries. At Tuesday’s session, Veterans were also able to share their personal military stories amongst fellow comrades. (10/18/2011)

Navy Veteran Enjoys Making Rugs - World War II Veteran Everett Booten enjoys making rugs when he has the time. His entry, "Midnight Wolfs," which he said took him six months to finish, won first place at the 2011 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in the Latch Hook category. (10/17/2011)

Artistry in Motion - It has been a long road to Fayetteville, for artists attending the 2011 Veterans Creative Arts Festival, but with all the activities planned for this week, it will be well worth the trip. (10/16/2011)