Feeding talent

Spaghetti and artwork may seem like an odd combination, but organizers hope it’s a recipe for success at the Ely Chapman Center where the institution’s first Taste For Fine Art spaghetti dinner and art auction were held Sunday.

“We’ve been trying to come up with an annual signature fundraising event, and rather than just serve a meal we wanted to also include something representative of what the Ely Chapman Center is all about,” said Alice Chapman, founder and chair of the Ely Chapman Education Foundation.

Students from the center’s after-school program created 65 pieces of art that were framed and auctioned off to the highest bidders following Sunday’s dinner event.

Seven-year-old Taylor Perry of Marietta was among the young artists whose purple lion was displayed for Sunday’s auction.

“I don’t really like lions, I just decided to draw one,” she said. “I like to draw things.”

Taylor’s mom, Traci Perry, said her daughter is a “hands-on” type of artist.

“She’s an arts-and-crafts kind of kid-she loves to cut, paste and color,” Traci said.

Tommy Kerenyi, 9, also from Marietta, submitted his drawing of a king cobra for the auction.

“When cobras get scared their heads grow really big,” he said.

In addition to student artwork, other items were contributed for Sunday’s auction.

“We had works donated from local artists and Marietta College, as well as items to be auctioned from area businesses and organizations,” Chapman added.

One piece of artwork was donated by former Ely Chapman Center student Elizabeth Parr, 20, of Parkersburg, now attending West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va.

“She really had the opportunity to express herself while attending here,” said Pam Parr, Elizabeth’s grandmother. “She had a gift, but this after-school program helped her to develop it. Now she has also worked with other kids in the summer camp program.”

Elizabeth, now a speech pathology and audiology student at WVU, said she still draws “just for fun,” and credits artistic grandfather, Nathan Parr, for encouraging her to keep up with her drawing.

“But I owe pretty much everything to Alice Chapman and my grandparents who helped me along the way,” she said.

Chapman said proceeds from the sale will go to provide scholarships for the center’s Sensational Summer Camp program that runs from June through August this year.

“Between 5 and 10 percent of the students who participate in our after-school program are developmentally disabled, and without scholarships they could not otherwise attend the summer camp,” she said.

Chapman said she hopes the Taste For Fine Art will become an annual event for the community.