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Patricia Tricolla of Crystal River works on a painting for the “Abilities” Art Gala. The second annual event is slated for Friday, June 28, at the Art Center of Citrus County.

The second annual FFRA “Abilities” Art Gala is a fine arts show for the developmentally disabled population. This invitational event, to be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 28, at the Art Center of Citrus County, is open to all artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The FFRA — Families and Friends Reaching for Abilities — a nonprofit organization, is all about public awareness of a situation that faces every community on earth. These mentally challenged adults, often referred to as “kids,” are generally cared for by their parents or guardians. The main concern and reason for the organization is to provide a meaningful life for these wonderful kids now, and to make plans for their well-being when their caretakers are not able to look after them.

FFRA has a monthly educational program for the parents and guardians, and a monthly art workshop for the kids. Both programs are designed to enhance the caregiving tasks and to expand the socialization activities for all of its members.

“Volunteers in the organization also take clients on informal outings and activities such as planting native plants at the wildlife park, making and flying kites and going to restaurants,” said Robert DeSimone, a 20-year board member. “They also learn to help the community at large by community service projects, and they helped a local veteran who needed repair work on his trailer home.”

According to DeSimone, these activities create awareness in the community. 

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Bruce McKinnell of Homosassa shows his watercolor painting.

The “Abilities” Art Gala is a regional, invitational, juried art show open to ARC organizations in Citrus, Hernando, Pasco and Marion counties. It highlights people who normally don’t get recognized for their talent and unique perspectives. It nurtures pride and growth, and builds relationships.

This event, held at the prominent venue, the Art Center of Citrus County, is a multi-day upscale event. There is an opening night invitational preview and pre-sale for exclusive buyers and collectors. You can mix and mingle with the artists and FFRA board of directors and committee members. Wine and cheese will be served at this dress-up occasion. Music will be provided by jazz pianist Sally Smith.

The art will be displayed in the gallery for the following four weeks for viewing and sale to the general public.

Participating artists may enter up to five original, signed pieces in any media at no cost. Art submissions will be accepted June 24-26 from 1-4 p.m. First-place winners get $100, second place wins $50 and third place wins $25. A People’s Choice award will take home $50.

For more information and to register, contact DeSimone at 352-628-5606.

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