Family Service Agency Creates Awareness For Program

By On June 9, 2015

Event organizers increased awareness of an art therapy program while raising funds for it during an auction and dinner on Friday night.

It was the third art auction to benefit Family Service Agency’s Healing Arts therapy program at Cartoon Network in Burbank. Welcoming guests were the agency’s Executive Director Laurie Bleick, co-chairs Marsha Ramos and Zita Lefebvre and host Brian Miller, senior vice president and general manager of Cartoon Network and a member of the agency’s board of directors.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Family Service is really an amazing agency and my hope is to raise awareness for the agency,” Miller said. “We’ve had a great turnout and it’s been a success!”

More than 140 artworks donated by local animators and fine artists were up for bid in the silent auction during the reception on the first floor of the Burbank animation studio. Guests headed up to the rooftop for a breathtaking view of the city and the buffet dinner of Mexican favorites like tamales and soft taco carnitas.

Three artists, who are also authors, received the Spotlight Award and signed their books. They are Alice Asmar, who paints in acrylics, oils, pen and ink and pastels; Nancy Rae, who creates Chinese brush paintings; and Tom Warburton, animator, producer, writer and designer, best known for creating the animated television series “Codename: Kids Next Door”.

Asmar was delighted to receive the Spotlight Award because she once served on the Family Service Agency’s board of directors and knew of the great work they do providing counseling to individuals and families.

“I’ve sent people over to the agency from the senior center who were having family problems,” Asmar said. “I told them ‘go over to Family Service Agency — they are great!”

Animators rarely show their work in a gallery setting, so Warburton was enthusiastic about having his work in a show alongside other artists he admires, he said.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“So to have your work up on the walls it’s really cool,” he said. “It’s great to be amongst so many other people’s artwork. In the big room now they’ve got all these people I work with and all these sketches they did and there is some pottery and just a great mix of artwork that’s raising money for this amazing charity.”

Proceeds will go to Family Service Agency’s Healing Arts therapy program that focuses on young victims of abuse, Lefebvre said.

“It is an amazing program to help people who have such deep pain they cannot verbalize it, ” she said.

Some of those who are in the program are kids who have been sexually molested.

“They can’t talk about it and have been told not to talk about it — no body would believe it,” Lefebvre said. “As they sit and draw it during a therapy session, it gives the therapist a handle on how to move forward and treat them. It’s an unbelievable tool for the therapist to help these kids to start a healing process.”

The cause hit close to home with Moorpark artist Darla Marino, who signs her work with the name Darino. The art piece she had in the show was a collage made of spices and herbs. She calls it “Spiceherba”. It features a moon kissing the sun and is done in white clay, Moroccan red clay, turmeric, chalk, charcoal, peppermint, lavender, chamomile and Sedona cathedral rock sand along with handmade paper from Nepal.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I started out in my garage doing paintings not knowing that I would later be diagnosed with bipolar and art is pretty much the only reason why I’m here because I was able to get it out and express myself when I didn’t know what was happening to me,” Marino said.

“And so this the Family Service Agency healing arts program hits home and it means so much to me to be a part of this. I’m so happy to be here and to be here with my daughter Stephanie. We are surrounded by memories of her childhood — Codename (Kids Next Door) — it’s perfect. This is a night I will always remember.”

When Marino first started painting, she said, her work was very dark. She wouldn’t show it to people and when she did, people told her they were worried about her.

“And now her work is very positive and inspiring,” said her daughter Stephanie Marino, 19. “You can see and feel her emotions and her journey through the art.”

Doing art on a daily basis is therapeutic, Darla Marino said.

“It helps you heal and be able to deal with life’s stresses and go on, and on and on, and be semi-normal,” she said. “So art is everything to me.”

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