The Rotary Club of Mead art exhibit to raise funds to help end polio

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A room upstairs at the Mercantile Exchange and Provisions – a Mead delicatessen, butcher, and café – turns into an art gallery.

It is here that the Rotary Club of Mead will sponsor an art gallery this week to raise funds for the eradication of polio worldwide. The opening reception for the Fall Celebration of Art will be on Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Mercantile Exchange and Provisions, 4340 Colo. 66 in Mead. Art will also be available for purchase from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Between 15 and 20 artists, including those from Weld and Boulder counties, will sell a variety of art, including sculptures, paintings and photographs. Artists will be able to choose how much of their sale they wish to donate to the cause.

Ernesto Amaranto, president of the Mead Rotary Club, is leading the effort. Amaranto encouraged people to support the artists.

Lori Hughes, owner of Mercantile and member of the Rotary club, echoed this.

“In this time of pandemic, I think people are missing out on opportunities to get involved in their communities and support their communities,” said Hughes. “I think that’s one way to progress. And, we have a lot of great art.

Funds raised will support Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio. On its website, Rotary International said polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The virus destroys nerve cells in the spinal cord and can cause paralysis and death. It usually affects children under 5 years old.

A founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International’s first project was to immunize children against polio in the Philippines in 1979, according to its website.

Amaranto was previously a faculty member at New Jersey Medical School, also known as Rutgers, where for 30 years he served as director of student mental health. Prior to that, he attended medical school in the Philippines, where he graduated in 1964. He said he saw with his own eyes the toll of the virus on his community and family members, including a cousin. germain who, according to him, caught the disease.

“At least we need to get (polio) under control,” Amaranto said. “I don’t know if we can eliminate it like smallpox, but controlling it is really important.”

Elaine Waterman, Executive Director of the Firehouse Art Center in Longmont, helps organize the exhibit.

Among the works on display is art created by Arthur Short Bull, a Lakota watercolorist. Amaranto is also exhibiting several of his own works, including a 9/11 painting based on a New York Times photo.

Amaranto, who was working in Manhattan during the attack, painted a black and white interpretation of the consequences, with the addition of a brightly colored American flag to signify hope.

Along with international efforts, Amaranto said the service club is working hard to give back to its community by embracing the streets, feeding the homeless and offering scholarships. He said the club is looking for new members. Those interested can find out more about the club and how to get involved by visiting meadrotary.org.

Although this year’s show is an event for the first time, Amaranto hopes to make it a tradition. He encouraged people to support the show.

“I think they will find that if they share some of their blessings it will be good for their spirits and for the people they help,” said Amaranto.

Artists who wish to participate can call Amaranto to see if seats are available. The deadline is Thursday at 6 p.m. They can reach him at 973-479-1838.


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