Veteran musicians and artists from the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin areas are preparing their creative talents for the Annual Veterans Creative Arts Festival at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center on March 6.
"The talent we see each year at the competition is amazing," said Kenny List, Lovell FHCC voluntary service officer. "The judges, and everyone else who comes to this festival, are very impressed every year with the caliber of the talent, skill and creativity of the veteran artists and performers."
The competition is designed to provide veterans receiving treatment at Veterans Affairs facilities the opportunity to participate in creative self-expression in the arts -- including music -- as part of their therapy, and to gain recognition for their accomplishments.
Categories this year include music and applied/fine art such as painting, drawing, sculpture and photography; as well as art kit categories such as "paint-by-number" and needlework. Special categories include "Special Recognition," for veterans who overcome physical or mental health challenges to create their art; "Military Combat Experience," for veterans who create pieces related to their combat experience; and "Digital Art," for art created using digital technology.
Veterans must be enrolled at a VA medical facility or outpatient clinic to be eligible to enter the competition. Veterans may compete in the Creative Arts Festival at only one VA medical facility. First-place winners have the opportunity to compete in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, hosted this year by the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System in Reno, Nevada, the week of Oct. 21-27.
"It's true our festival is the first step toward national recognition, but we find that our participants usually are most excited about sharing their many talents with others at the facility -- not to mention the bragging rights that come with winning locally," List said.
There is no fee, but interested veterans must register prior to the March 1 deadline. Registration hours are 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, Feb. 18 -- March 1, in Building 131, Room 101, at Lovell FHCC. Artwork division entries must be dropped off by March 1. Music division entrants are required to participate in a dress rehearsal/videotaping at 5 p.m., March 5.
For more information about entering, call (224) 610-1126 or (224) 610-4201. More information about the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival can be found online at www.va.gov/opa/speceven/caf.