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Home of the Arts for Freedom program

“Building a Healthier Community through Personal and Professional Example”

Peer Recovery Art Project is our continuous campaign to end stigma, revitalize downtown areas, while implementing new strategies for an all-inclusive and, therefore, healthier community.

Volume 5

Issue 6

EXECUTIVE OFFICER NOTES Summer is simmering across the downtown region we call home. After many years of hosting the successful, MAMA award-winning Modesto Blues Festival, we are changing it up a bit this year. We will celebrate our heritage by featuring the vintage and distinctive beat of Boogie Woogie and Rockabilly. We pull out the trump card on this event and bring back Rod Piazza and His Might Flyers, MOFO Party Band, The 44s, Tony T and His Rockin’ Cats, along with Tommy and The Edsels. This Saturday, June 22, event is FREE and open to all ages to help revitalize downtown Modesto. The hard work of Peer Recovery Art Project staff and volunteers has sustained us but as any well educated recovery organization should know, we cannot and will not rest on our laurels. How would it be if young people, or young at heart for that matter, who have never ventured to the downtown gallery scene, could now have art and music delivered to their neighborhood? For this reason we built the “International Arts Exhibition.” It’s an amazing idea that has been welcomed by many including Stanislaus County Office of Education as well as Ceres Unified School District’s Project YES. We have traveled to Harvest Hall for Youth Grad, to Patterson for the Teen Center anniversary, to Turlock Recovery Services, and to the Behavioral Health facility at 500 North 9th Street for live art and music mini festivals. Our mobile unit is an outstanding delivery system for spreading live art and music throughout the Valley. We won’t stand still! We will stand up proudly for who we are trying to become. There’s a party going down! If you have a rat rod or lowrider or badass custom Harley, contact me (985-0467) to show at our June 22 event.

June 2013 Bring a chair but be ready to jump up because we will be dancing! You Can Dance Company will be dancing and giving group lessons so we will party all evening! All ages but, please no outside vendors. Downtown Modesto biz merchants have plenty of food, drink and merchandise to serve even the most distinguished shopper/dance party festgoing Rockabilly, Blues, Boogie Woogie patron who comes to this community-building event.

Our secret weapon, “International Arts Exhibition” is our healthier community arts and music road show! Peer Recovery Art Project’s innovative approach to building an all-inclusive and therefore healthier community. Music and Art are magic. My mother was a school aide and my wife was a school aide. As a child I needed aides just to get to class. But here we are nothing but cool, working with the school. Thank you, Project YES, the Ceres Youth Employment Service rocked. We can’t wait till we return for our monthly healthier community art and music fairs! Yes, young people matter and, Ceres, we believe! ~ John Black, CEO

Peer Recovery Art Project Renaissance

WELCOME NEW TEAMMATE, BENJAMIN PHELPS Benjamin Phelps is an inspiration and welcome addition to our Peer Recovery Art Project team. Ben has experience in the behavioral health field and educational credentials as well as his most amazing talent as a song writer and exceptionally skilled artist. We are proud to have Benjamin on our team. Come by our gallery on Thursday eves and join in Ben’s own production, an open jam. We are sure you, too, will value his contribution to our local arts scene. Benjamin also appears the second Tuesday eve, 5 till 8 p.m., in the Sounds and Suds series at Vito’s on 13th, just steps from the gallery. Here is Ben’s bio: Hello, my name is Benjamin Phelps. I am 26, an independent songwriter and an artist. After having lived throughout California, Montana, and Washington due to my split home, I currently reside in Modesto, CA, to be close to my family (dad, mom, and five siblings). As a six-year-old, I developed my artistic interest while drawing imaginary super heroes inside blanket-forts. The artistic fire continued to grow as I delved into sculpture, acrylic paint, watercolor and drawing. In college I found my niche in mixed media and using recycled materials to make art, and at the age of 23 I began studying and practicing the art of tattoo. During my youth, I simultaneously developed an interest in music, learning to play the baritone at age 11, the French horn at age 12, guitar at age 13, bass at age 16, banjo and harmonica at age 18, classical vocal training at age 21, and drums at age 22. I grew up playing instruments at church and led worship for youth bands and recovery bands from the ages of 16 to 25. Due to a split home and a history of abuse, I developed mental problems, including anxiety, depression, and paranoia. I sought help in church, recovery, counseling, medication, and psychotherapy. I studied psychology in college and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 2010. The following summer I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety. I decided to get a job at a mental hospital and took on a caseload of about 14 patients, all with schizophrenia and a handful of other diagnoses. After working there for about a year and having grown close with many of the patients, relating to them in their mental illness, I became restless and full of angst within my soul and felt a need to escape from normal life despite responsibilities and obligations in an attempt to find myself or something. I quit my job, left the church, and went wandering throughout California and Oregon.


Whilst wandering I had various encounters with homeless individuals who also battled with mental illness. I began to recognize that my purpose was to write and share music with these types of people. I returned to Modesto in February 2013, and began working on song-writing and art, both with an undertone of the brokenness of humanity and inherent mortal coil that we all face daily. In April 2013, I collaborated with my brother Bryan on some songs I had written and proceeded to record and release a 13-track original album self-titled, “Defective Machinery,” handmade self-produced albums. I have since been sharing these songs with people throughout town at local bars, cafes, street corners, graveyards and other venues. I have since partnered with the Peer Recovery Art project with the goal of sharing my music and art with the world. Together we are sharing our talents with people at mental facilities around town and hope to travel to facilities throughout the state in the near future. I am excited for the future, and am grateful for all the people in my life who have inspired me. I look forward to all the people I will cross paths with further down the road. Cheers.

Not all who wander are lost. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Four young men - Miguel Hererra, Mark Travis, Eron Phal and Kevin Phal - painted this restful mural in the new BHRS IT training area.

June 2013 THANK YOU, PEGGY! Thank you, Peggy, so much for all of your hard work. Your passion was an unexpected perk. We never could have asked for a more dedicated volunteer and words cannot express how grateful we are to have you here. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with you. Peggy’s art gardens and painted rocks are collected from different calming areas like the mountains, oceans, rivers and other places of nature.


Lane Elvgrew’s creative talent will be missed by many artists, friends and family from Peer Recovery Art Project. A special relationship Lane formed with Pinky Patch will live and last forever. Whether an artist, singer, writer, a dancer, a playwright, a storyteller, a quilter, a seamstress, a gardener, a cook, a poet, a teacher, a musician, a sculptor, a photographer, a composer, an advocate, or a volunteer—each of us possesses our own special talents and creative gifts. Creative endeavors following a loss can be very therapeutic and help the grieving find a means of expressing grief or remembering someone we’ve lost. Creative expression through art can help lift one’s spirits; it can also help the grieving, which can surface the inner chaotic emotions deep inside and find original ways of expressing the deep emotions generated in grief. At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.

-Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

OPINION: Join us for 3rd Thursday Art Walk, June 20!

Peer Recovery Art Project and Modesto View Magazine are proud to report the completion of our latest Classic Community Mural project. This is our fourth mural project with more to come. This amazing project with Peer Recovery Art Project, McHenry Village and artist Tom Nye, celebrates our classic history. Take a look today, between Kirin and Verona restaurants in McHenry Village. If you have any mural ideas or potential locations, let us know.

We still have a long way to go in our fight to end stigma but we are making strides. In many locally published newspaper and magazine articles we see pictures and stories about our Modesto Graffiti mural and most stories credit the artist or some kind of political messages and give the address of our corner of 13th and J Street. However, when politicians and journalists are celebrating, they fail to report that this great mural as well as three others in our community were all done under the direction of Peer Recovery Art Project in our attempt engage youth and improve OUR community’s image. I am at this point uncertain if those journalists do not see our logo and signatures on these works or if that ignoramus, “Stigma“ is raising his ugly head.


Peer Recovery Art Project Renaissance Peer Recovery Art Project gallery, home of the ARTS FOR FREEDOM program is located at:

1222 J Street, Modesto CA

Email, call or text: (209) 581-1695 Open Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; 3rd Thursday Art Walk nights, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find us at the intersection of 13th and J Streets between the State Theatre and Crow Trading; right next door to the Camera Center. Arts for Freedom is sponsored by Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and Stanislaus Behavioral Health and Recovery Services

LINDA PICs: This painting by Rita Barbano invokes in Linda a feeling of being caught up in one of many challenges women go through. These challenges can affect a woman’s soul. The struggle to believe there might be a power greater or even a loving God that can help us with the support of one another is what makes a woman grow.

1209 McHenry Ave Modesto, CA (209) 522-1003

PEER RECOVERY ART PROJECT, INC. EXECUTIVE BOARD AND TEAM MEMBERS John Black, CEO, Arts for Freedom Administrator, Operations Manager Ken McCall, Chief Financial Officer Pacific Media Group Carol Jo Hargreaves, Corporate Secretary, Editor Jodi McClure, Bookkeeper Team Members: Michael Anderson, Art Director Betty Barnes, Arts for Freedom Program Coordinator, Fundraising, Special Projects Linda Hornsby-Black, Special Projects Manager

Renaissance now available on-line @ Send your TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS to: Peer Recovery Art Project, Inc. PO Box 5354, Modesto, CA 95353 Drop us a line or send a request to be included on our list of supporters.


June 2013  
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