"We started about 25 years ago, working with the homeless, just directly serving sandwiches and kind of reaching out in the community," says Art from the Streets executive Director Kelley Worden, describing the early years of the organization founded by Heloise Gold and Bill Jeffers. "And as they connected and reached out, they brought pencil and paper ... and found out that there were some amazing talents living on the streets."
In the years since, Art From the Streets has used art as a sort of therapy for Austin's homeless population, and also as a way to help them earn a little money. Artwork created by the artists in the program is sold online and at an annual Homeless Art Show and Sale, with 95 percent of the proceeds going to the artists.
Crystal Mayes has been creating art with the program for about five years now. "I had always been in art, off and on, but it was just a hobby," Mayes says. "I had taken some classes in school when I was younger. At the time I was staying at the Salvation Army, and a couple of artists from there invited me over to the class and that's how I got involved."
She's been painting ever since. "I started doing landscapes, and from time to time, abstracts," she says.
Mayes will be one of the dozens of artists showing works at this year's art show, which is this weekend at the Austin Convention Center. "We love having each of them there," Worden says. "Everybody wants to hear their story. It's just kind of a showcase."
"It's a fantastic opportunity," Mayes says. "It gives us an opportunity to show our work and also inspire one another and motivate one another to keep going."