Ben Watts shows off an intricate work in progress. | Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

Slingshot / Alpha Art Studio is celebrating a decade of art and community at its new studio (1911 De la Vina St., Ste. B) with a special retrospective art show on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Titled Ten for 10, the exhibition, curated by gallery director Jessica Schlobohm, highlights both the art and the artists that defined and continue to refine the studio. 

Madison Gobbell working on a colorful geometric painting. | Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

On a recent visit to the studio — a spacious, flexible, and accessible space that supports approximately 40 artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities — several artists were hard at work preparing pieces in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, textiles, and ceramics. 

I got to meet Brian Douglas Wheatley, an artist who started as a teenager at the original Alpha Art Studio program of adult day-services in the 1980s, and now works at Slingshot. The standalone center was founded in 2013 and, in addition to the physical space, also provides artists with access to materials, techniques, and essential accommodations. The name Slingshot comes from a former artist, Kimberly McDaniel (1969–2020), who described the way in which she felt catapulted toward her aspirations as an artist within the program. 

Brian Douglas Wheatley, who has been part of Alpha Art Studio since the 1980s, with program manager Kelly Cottrell. | Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

“For this sale, we’re going to emphasize prints,” said Schlobohm, who curates collections of different types of work for each exhibition. For the Ten for 10 show, they’ll have a “special curation of work from the last 10 years,” as well as an online sale of art (see afterward. 

“It will be a busy month of art sales in general from us,” said Kelly Cottrell, Slingshot program manager, who noted that the sale connects with the annual Alpha Resource Center Circle of Life fundraiser ( on Sunday, May 21.

“Most of our artists are here pretty part-time, a couple days a week. Some folks just come in for one morning a week for a little bit of me time. But then we do have a few who are here all day, every day,” said Cottrell. One such artist is Ben Watts, a painter who during my studio visit was working on a highly intricate piece, which they explained that he began at home during the pandemic, when the facility was closed and the Slingshot team regularly delivered supplies and encouragement to the artists.

The gallery is now happily open to the public Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., and they even have their own parking lot. 

“It’s an open environment; the public can come visit whenever they want,” said Cottrell. “Some of the artists will be stoked to show off what they’re working on. … Visitors are always well-received [I can attest to that]. Artists love a good visitor.”


The Slingshot Gallery | Credit: Leslie Dinaberg


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