'Artists with Hearts of Gold': Art exhibit at The Casements will help homeless families
Juan Echezabal has seen what Family Renew Community can do. After all, in 2013, the program helped his family out of homelessness.
| 2:00 p.m. November 13, 2020
Ormond Beach Observer
A fine art exhibit with a cause is now on display at The Casements in Ormond Beach, and the proceeds will benefit local homeless families.
Family Renew Community's second-annual Artists with Hearts of Gold exhibit and sale, presented by the Adams Cameron Foundation, will feature art pieces by 29 artists in Volusia and Flagler counties. The works have been donated by the artists to help raise money for Family Renew, a faith-based organization that helps families out of homelessness by providing them with housing and the necessary tools to become self-sufficient.
Artist Juan Echezabal knows their mission firsthand. His family became homeless in 2013 after he was in car crash that left him with injuries and no way to get to the Colombian restaurant he worked in as a chef. At the time, Echezabal had two young sons, and his wife was pregnant with their third.
He was looking for ways to help his family when he came across Family Renew.
“Family Renew was a really great place for my family because they gave me the tools to start," he said.
Expression through art
A political refugee from Cuba, Echezabal arrived in the United States in 2006. He'd been making art practically all of his life. At 7 years old, he started studying in an elementary art school in Havana. However, because of the country's political turmoil, he was unable to pursue art at the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts as he originally planned.
But he never stopped painting.
Art was his way of expressing his frustrations over his country's leadership. Now, it's a relaxing way to wind down in the evenings. He draws inspiration from his diverse heritage. The piece he donated to the Artists with Hearts of Gold exhibit is titled "La Rumba." It depicts the dance performed by the Cuban farmers, called guajiros, after a long day of work.
Ormond Beach artist Karlene McConnell, who is volunteering to curate the exhibit for the second year, also donated one of her pieces. Titled "Palm Row," the work is part of her "River Tapestries" series of paintings. Having lived in Ormond Beach since she was 14, and always near the Tomoka River, she finds the waterway has often been a major source of inspiration for her.
Last year's exhibit was a success, said McConnell, a former art teacher. Though restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus made them a little nervous in putting this year's event together, they're optimistic that by presenting the exhibit both in person and online will only further help Family Renew's mission by reaching more people.
“I think that it’s such a win-win situation that your money is going to help these homeless families with children and you’re getting to bring this beautiful piece of artwork home or to your office," McConnell said.
A hand up
Family Renew is a special organization, Echezabal said.
The best way he knows to spread the importance of the organization's mission is to tell his story. After he was accepted in the program in 2013, Family Renew taught him about saving money, helped his wife start studying at Daytona State College, provided necessary daycare and aided him with filing for disability assistance due to his injuries caused by the crash.
Family Renew's slogan is "Helping homeless families with a hand up, not a hand out," and Echezabal witnessed that. They changed his family's life for the better, and he said if they could do it with him, they can do it with anyone.
He continues to help around the Family Renew Community campus every way he can as a show of gratitude.
“For me it’s not Family Renew," Echezabal said. "It’s my Family Renew. It’s the family I adopted in the United States.”
Art for the sho can now be viewed online at familyrenew.org/ArtSale. The show, both online and at The Casements, will continue through Saturday, Nov. 21. The Casements, located at 25 Riverside Drive, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Raffle tickets are also available for purchase to win one of six prices. Tickets cost 410 each, or six for $50. Call 239-0861 for more information.