Some of the work that will be on view at the Artful Minds Art Faire on May 20 at Chase Palm Park | Credit: Courtesy

From prose to painting to poetry, creative expression has always been a meaningful way to relieve the mind from pain and stress. Finding therapeutic outlets to express ourselves creatively is especially important at a time when our nation is in the midst of an ongoing mental health crisis.

Some of the work that will be on view at the Artful Minds Art Faire on May 20 at Chase Palm Park | Credit: Courtesy

That’s why Santa Barbara’s Mental Wellness Center has been putting on their annual art showcase for nearly 27 years. Recently reimagined as the Artful Minds Art Faire, this year the showcase will take place in May in line with Mental Health Awareness Month. The event will include the work of nearly 60 artists in the area that live with mental illness. With a wide variety of mediums such as painting, jewelry, sculpture, quilting, and more, Artful Minds shines a light on the work of these artists and celebrates their artistry.

“Any form of creative activity allows people to express emotions or thoughts that they may not be able to articulate in words,” said Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center, about why artistic expression is important for alleviating mental struggles. “Some of the most beautiful works of art are born from profound personal experiences, both painful and joyful. This Artful Minds Faire will display some personal and beautiful works of art.”

The Mental Wellness Center has been working to improve the wellness of the community for over 75 years. From mental health education to community service and housing, the Artful Minds Art Faire is just one of the many ways that the Wellness Center supports and uplifts Santa Barbara. For many of the artists who are to display their work at the faire, the discovery of their artistry began when they joined the Mental Wellness Center’s Fellowship Club, a free recovery learning center for adults who are living with mental illnesses. At the club, an all-peer staff of educators and specialists help participants learn to express themselves through creative work, and many Artful Minds artists were able to explore their talents through these classes.

Some of the work that will be on view at the Artful Minds Art Faire on May 20 at Chase Palm Park | Credit: Courtesy

One artist, Rhonda Johansen, joined the Fellowship Club to find structure and support from their groups. Having been a part of their art classes, Johansen now specializes in watercolor paintings and has been displaying her work at the art faire since 2005.

“Painting helps me alleviate anxiety and brings me joy,” said Johansen about how art helps them manage their mental health. “I appreciate the opportunity to share my art with others, and I’m excited to show some recent work.”

Another artist, Kristine Kelly, has been participating in the art faire for over two decades and was the featured artist at the show last year. Having originally started by selling watercolor cards and jewelry, Kelly eventually found a passion for glass fusion after taking classes at Santa Barbara City College.

“I have been doing glass fusion for about 20 years now,” Kelly said, “I am looking forward to sharing my art with others and meeting new people. I love talking to people about glass.”

The work of artists such as Johansen and Kelly will be featured and available for purchase at the 

Artful Minds Art Faire, which takes place at Chase Palm Park on May 20 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Food trucks will be on hand with lunch options, coffees, smoothies, and more. For more information, visit


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