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Artists in residence, Mary Beth Dillon & Lela June Schwark


Mary Beth Dillon with her red "bingo" hat and her painting of a winter scene.

In 2009, The Arts Council of Kern started the art cart program at San Joaquin Hospital in Bakersfield, Calif. The purpose of the program is to provide and engage patients with art projects that will help heal their spirits, create conversation, and make meaningful interaction. Recently the Council has brought the program to the Adventist Health Medical Center of Tehachapi.

For the past few months, Mary Beth Dillon and Lela June Schwark have been creating art from their bedsides. Lela June or June as the residents call her has been at the Medical Center for a little over a year. She said "God put me where I had to be when I had to be there. It's like family here. There are a lot of wonderful people and I have nice friends. It's like a college dorm. " June has always loved art and used to draw and paint when she was younger. She is currently working on a series of Tehachapi landscapes. Her plan is to paint the mountains in summer, spring, winter and fall. A stroke victim, June paints with her left hand even though she is right handed. She is proud of her work and is starting to get commissions.

June Schwark with her painting of a California beach scene with sand dunes.

Mary Beth Dillon has been a resident at the center for the past four years. She says she is very happy there and has made a lot of wonderful friends. "I love to paint because it's exciting. You can see things come alive. I look forward to it every week." Mary said she never painted before but she used to do line drawings when she was younger. Her paintings are colorful and fun. The first painting she did was a rendering of Winnie the Pooh for her son. She said he always had a Pooh bear when he was a boy. Mary also likes to play bingo with June. The two of them have several hats that they wear to the bingo games. The girls claim they have "hat-attitude".

Activity director, Zoila Schrader, says the patients have been enjoying the art program. "The painting brings back good memories and talents the residents thought they couldn't achieve again. Their work also provides a point of interest for them to share with others," said Schrader.


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