Local artist shares his time with participants at Monarch day program in New Bern
Local artist Ben Watford recently spent a morning painting with participants at Monarch’s Health Drive day program in New Bern. Watford shared donated pieces of bisque pottery collected by his friend, the late Gloria Morello, with some of the people Monarch supports at the day program serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
As part of the Community Artist Will Inc. (CAW), a nonprofit that Watford and several fellow artists established, he and others visit area community centers, assisted living and nursing facilities to help people explore the arts.
“We firmly believe that art is for everyone, regardless of income, social status or role in the community,” Watford said.
The bisque ware was donated by Watford’s neighbor, Tony Morello, who offered to share a room full of unglazed pieces collected by his late wife. The collection was valued at approximately $40,000, and Watford calls the outreach the Gloria Morello Project to honor his friend’s memory.
Watford and his fellow artists deliver the bisque, paint and other necessary supplies so that community residents can decorate and keep their item once it dries and has been sprayed with fixer.
Watford, who has been making pottery for 50 years, visited the Health Drive day program following an invitation from John Smith, a developmental specialist at Monarch.
“The residents and staff of Monarch treated us as if we were special, which we are not,” Watford said. “We are just a group of citizens trying to make a difference in one small corner of our universe. It was a real pleasure to bring art to a group that really appreciates what we are trying to do.”