Kaleidoscope has been a labor of love for Editor Gail Willmott and after 36 years, she decided to retire. Friends, family members and co-workers gathered on August 23 to celebrate her incredible contribution to the magazine. Suspended from the ceiling in the UDS Training Room were the covers of every magazine she has worked on during her tenure with the agency—an impressive array—evidence of an amazing career.
Gail's sister, brother-in-law and niece came all the way from California to be a part of the festivities and her sister, Donna, said, "It was such a beautiful tribute to Gail and the impact she's had in the world, and to the power of Kaleidoscope to connect people with disabilities (and their families) through the arts." In recognition of her passion for the arts and her dedication to writers and artists with disabilities, the agency has established The Gail Willmott Art Award in her honor. A piece of art, created by a person with a disability, will be purchased annually and added to the collection at UDS for the public to enjoy. Kaleidoscope explores the experience of disability through literature and the fine arts and recognizes the amazing, diverse talents that people with disabilities possess and we look forward to continuing the work Gail started by supporting artists who have disabilities.
The first piece of artwork has been purchased and was unveiled at Gail's retirement party (pictured above). Italia Spectra! is a canvas print of a stunning, brightly-colored watercolor scene painted by artist Catherine Bennett who was featured in Issue 64 of Kaleidoscope. Catherine has Parkinson's disease and says, “It is important to support artists with disabilities because we are challenged to create art and the support gives us the inspiration to drive forward.” The artwork will hang right off the lobby at the main office, near the elevator. As each piece of work is purchased annually, the new work will be featured in this location and the former piece will be moved to another part of the building.
If you'd like to support The Gail Willmott Art Award, visit our online donation form and select "I would like to support a specific UDS program" and enter Art Award to contribute.
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