Creating Outside the Lines

JAMESTOWN — It seems there is never a dull moment at the Out-of-the-Box Art Studio operated by Bridges Inc.


Rhode Island artists with developmental disabilities are in and out of the studio on Clinton Avenue throughout the day. Their paintings, sculptures, fabrics, collages and other works fill the studio.

It recently received a $2,300 grant from the John E. Fogarty Foundation For Persons With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. With that funding, the

It recently received a $2,300 grant from the John E. Fogarty Foundation For Persons With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. With that funding, the goal is to help brand the studio as it’s own entity.

Bridges, Inc. hired someone to create a logo to put on banners and tablecloths. It also used the funding to buy equipment to help transport and display the artists’ work.

“Bridges has always been well known in the community. Now we want Out-of-the-Box to kind of stand on its own,” said Casey Weibust, the studio’s art coordinator.

Bridges, Inc. runs 12 residences throughout southern Rhode Island where more than 70 adults with developmental disabilities live and have 24-hour support. This is the nonprofit organization’s 30th year in operation.

The art studio was created to give artists with disabilities the resources and freedom to create. When the artists are there, no limits or restrictions exist.

Tonya Tengco of Portsmouth spends every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the studio. She said she’s been going there for about a decade and really likes to create still life art and using the printing press.

Matt Vars lives in one of the Jamestown residences run by Bridges, Inc. He goes to the studio on Saturdays and Tuesdays and likes to create abstract paintings with watercolors.

On Tuesday, he sat in his wheelchair and gripped two paintbrushes taped together, painting to the beat of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” as it played over computer speakers.

Bob Stengel of Newport is another of the studio’s artists. The two things he loves the most are maps and circles. He’s currently working on a piece that features a giant map of Jamestown with circles in a variety of colors painted in rows.

It will be among the works in the Jamestown Arts Center’s Bridging Patterns exhibit, which will be displayed from Jan. 20 to March 11.

Tengco said her favorite part of the studio is socializing. She likes to help Weibust assist the other artists, hang some of the art pieces and carry art supplies to the sales.

“I wouldn’t be able to get all this done if it wasn’t for the artists’ help,” Weibust said

She started working at the studio a little more than a year ago. She grew up in Jamestown and graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston with a printmaking degree in 2010. Wiebust started teaching classes at the Jamestown Arts Center and worked at the Paul W. Crowley East Bay Met School in Newport with the art advisory.

Through those jobs, she learned about the local art scene. She took that knowledge and has used it to the studio’s benefit.

After receiving a grant in 2015, the studio started “Artistic Collaboration,” a series of workshops by local artists. One of the workshops was led by Tracy Jonsson, the founder of the Newport Art House, who demonstrated how to hand-dye pillows with markers and rubbing alcohol.

Colin Howarth, Newport Daily News
Friday, January 20, 2017

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Jamestown Arts Center | Location: 18 Valley Street, Jamestown, Rhode Island 02835 | Mailing Address: PO Box 97, Jamestown,
Rhode Island 02835 | for more Information call: (401) 560-0979 or email


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