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Creative Arts Therapy Festival Winners Announced In Chicago VA

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The pandemic hasn’t stopped veterans from submitting visual art and literary creations to the annual Lovell Veterans Creative Arts Festival. However, COVID-19 has changed the way entries are shared with the public this year.

“Diane”, by Jerry Zabel, first place in the mixed media category.

The performance portion of the festival, typically an energetic afternoon of live music, dancing and dramatic readings at the local community college, was canceled and the remainder of the event moved online.

Lovell CHF Canada received 30 entries in visual arts and nine entries in creative writing (five eligible to be judged). Photos of artwork can be viewed in an album on the Lovell Facebook page.

Creative writing entries – including poems, essays and short stories – can be found on the Lovell CHF Canada website by scrolling to the bottom of “Veterans Creative Arts Festival Premieres Announced.” feature page.

Patsy Delp’s “Peace & Journey” won first place in the Black and White Photography category.

The first place winners, listed below, will now be considered for entry into the 41st Veterans National Creative Arts Festival, which runs April 18-25, 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Talented, courageous and creative veterans”

“Each year, I have the great honor to showcase our talented, courageous and creative veterans,” said Festival Coordinator Tricia Stewart, Art Therapist. “I am so proud of their accomplishments and now we can always show their creativity on our Facebook page. Thank you to the staff who continually support the creative efforts of our veterans.

Art painting of actress Elizabeth Taylor

“Elizabeth Taylor”, by Nick Pantele, first place, digital art category.

Stewart said expressive arts like those featured in the festival were what got many residents of the Lovell Community Living Center through the long period of isolation and limited activities due to COVID-19.

“The residents were really looking forward to spending their time with art and music,” she said. “Many were inspired to try new things and let their creativity run wild. “

Across the country, each year, veterans enrolled in VA health care facilities participate in a local creative arts competition. The competition includes visual art categories that range from oil paints and leather goods to paint by number kits. There are categories in writing as well as the performing arts, including dance, theater, and music.

Art has tremendous effects on health and well-being

After being judged nationally, the top selected graduates are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, co-presented by VA and the American Legion Auxiliary, and hosted annually by a different VA institution. The results of the national competition will be announced in December 2021.

VA medical facilities integrate the creative arts into therapy programs to promote rehabilitation goals for inpatients and outpatients. The festival recognizes the progress and recovery made through this therapy and increases the visibility of the creative accomplishments of veterans.

“As COVID-19 continues to impact our day-to-day lives, we know that the benefits of artistic creation can have far-reaching effects on overall health and well-being,” said Ann Kimbler, Director of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. “Studies show that spending time on a creative art project can relieve stress, strengthen thinking skills, and improve memory. Through art, you can inspire and encourage others. No matter how far away we are, art can help us relax and come closer.

Lovell VA First Place Winners:

  • “Diane” by Jerry Zabel, Mixed media
  • “Elizabeth Taylor” by Nick Pantele, Digital Art
  • “Ember” by Joshua Zoeller, color drawing
  • “Little girl” by Danta Planta, color photograph
  • “Peace & Journey” by Patsy Delp, Black and white photography
  • “Starburst” by Ralph Barzowski, Watercolor
  • “A village called Bob” by Paul Revis, short story
  • “My answers (Bug Story)” by Paul Revis, Humor
  • “Let Us Worship God In All Ways”, by Bobbie Blackwell, Poetry Non-Rhyming


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