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Great State: Unique Art Show Offers a Chance for OKC’s Homeless

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA --

They rarely paint where they are, victims of circumstance, of hard lives and bad choices.

Nearly every artist in this small studio creates where they'd like to be.

Billy Padoka can't work outside in subfreezing temperatures so he came in to paint Medicine Park on a clear, warm day with a peace pipe floating overhead.

Padoka points out, "Mt. Scott and some tepees by the lake." "I'm from Anadarko so I go there all the time. I was born in Lawton."

Willis Gavette spent ten week creating a complicated wilderness diorama.

He's never been to a spot like this in his northern Michigan home, but he's thought about it.

"It's a creating out of my head that I've seen for a longest time," explains Willis. "But I never took the time to bring it out into three-dimensional form."

Twice a week a group of artists gathers at this day shelter run by the Oklahoma Homeless Alliance.

Kathy Rawdon has run the fresh start program for the past eight months offering an artistic outlet to homeless people who need a safe place for a little while, and a chance to express themselves productively.

She says, "It's a great opportunity for them to relax. It's a nice, quiet, peaceful environment, a good place to create."

Chassidy Beecraft is here a lot.

Today's watercolor painting is one of many by her that contains the word Hope. It's also the name of her daughter who died at the age of 12.

"She passed away in 2011," explains Chassidy. "Doing this just kind of keeps her memory going."

Some of this is therapy.

Much of it is escape.

But there is a profit motive for them too.

Nearly 40 artists submitted 100 works to the Home and Heart Community Art Show.

Selling something could mean a little extra money.

Organizers say they find 'diamonds in the rough' all the time.

Rawdon says, "I am amazed at the talent we have in this program. We have so many people who have these hidden gifts."

Art is many things to many people.

In here it's an escape to a better place and, maybe, an avenue as well.

The Home and Heart Community Art Show begins Friday, January 9 at noon in the Homeless Alliance WestTown Resource Center Lobby at 1724 NW 4th Street in Oklahoma City.

For more information on the art sale or the Homeless Alliance go to

http://www.homelessalliance.org