Kennedy Center calendar celebrates 30th anniversary

The vibrant colors and unique designs that are hallmarks of The Kennedy Center’s annual calendar can be spotted hanging up in cubicles, offices and homes throughout the region and beyond.

“A Unique Perspective: The Kennedy Center Calendar” celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, with the publication of the 2014 calendar. The Trumbull-based Kennedy Center supports 2,400 individuals with disabilities annually with vocational, residential, educational, therapeutic, social, and recreational services. The calendar has become a central part of the center’s efforts to raise awareness about people with disabilities and the work the center does to support its clients.

“It all began with Lynn McCrystal, who was an art therapist at the time,” Kennedy Center President and CEO Martin Schwartz said. “She recognized the talent of the many people with intellectual disabilities that we serve.”

The idea blossomed into the start of an annual calendar, and pieces of artwork were chosen to accompany each month. The calendars were first sold in local bookstores, until People’s United Bank became a sponsor. The People’s United Community Foundation is now the calendar’s main sponsor, supporting the printing of 25,000 copies each year and distributing most of those to its customers.

“It’s distributed to all these people who may have not had exposure to individuals with disabilities before, allowing them to appreciate their talents,” Schwartz said.

The calendars are also important for the artists chosen.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to showcase their talents and feel really good about seeing their artwork in print,” Schwartz said.

The recent unveiling of this year’s calendar is a big celebration for the center and includes all the “paparazzi,” usually the artists’ parents and families, according to Schwartz.

“It’s like the Academy Awards for our artists,” he said.

Wendy Bloch, a project manager for the calendar, said choosing the art can be a challenge, since there are roughly 100 artists in the art program.

“I, personally, love them all, It’s like choosing between children,” Bloch said of naming a favorite piece.

Artwork featured in “A Unique Perspective” covers a variety of themes, ranging from abstracts to still lifes, according to the center. This year’s artwork is varied; some works are explosions of color and shapes while others depict landscapes and animals.

Photos of the artwork to be used in the calendar were taken by Kennedy Center clients Michael Donohue of Trumbull and Darlene Sexton.

The artists in this year’s calendar are Tremaine Wilson, Todd Carboni, Michael Daly, Alice Dubois, Christine Bevans, Debra Jean Willis, Marquis Eady, Ryan Curl, Ryan Gall, James Graves, and Lisa Ellis. The artwork with the month of December was a colloboration by Michele Russell, Jean Polynice, Dominick Giordano, Russell Koehler and Francis Maher.

The color calendar was designed by Meghan Gerety, a freelance artist in Marfa, Texas, and was printed by Imperial Graphics of Stratford.

The work of about 75 Kennedy Center artists that didn’t make the calendar this year were still on display at the recent calendar reception at City Hall Annex in Bridgeport at Gallery@999 and will remain there until the end of January.

Artists Cooperative

This year’s calendar celebration highlighted the Kennedy Center’s planned expansion to its arts program with the creation of an Artist Cooperative in Bridgeport. The Co-Op will create a collaboration between local art organizations, artists without disabilities, local universities, the community at large, and Kennedy Center clients. The Co-Op will offer an array of classes, exhibits, performances, poetry readings and more.

The location of the Co-Op hasn’t been decided yet, but the center is looking for community support to help get the idea off the ground. A major fund-raiser for Artist Co-Op is the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival, which runs from Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 8. This year’s festival, titled “A Celebration of the Human Spirit,” is at the Burr Homestead, 739 Old Post Road, and includes a holiday boutique, photos with Santa and more. Visit for more information.

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