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Lockport gallery uses art to raise awareness about domestic violence

Voices of Violence 2015 exhibit

Voices of Violence 2015 exhibit

LOCKPORT – Art truly imitates life, and ART247 Gallery in Lockport is using art to encourage discussion and awareness of domestic violence as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Art, poetry, music and the words of those who have been touched by domestic violence will be the theme throughout the month at the gallery at 247 Market St.

Gallery owner Heather Grimmer called the issue a personal one. She said she is a survivor of domestic violence and called her last two relationships "toxic."

"I wanted to advocate for domestic violence awareness. This also helps me heal. I can give voices to others," said Grimmer.

Grimmer said awareness was especially important in the Western New York area, where the statistics for domestic violence are so high. She said she has been working with the Lockport Police Department Domestic Violence Unit, which has been "inundated with new cases."

"We need to start talking about this. It can't continue," added Grimmer. "The hope is to put this in front of people's faces so they really can't ignore it."

The gallery will feature the  second annual “Voices of Domestic Violence” exhibit, produced by the gallery and No Vanity in Violence, from Oct. 15 through Nov. 13. A reception on Oct. 28 from 5:18 to 7:18 p.m. will include interviews with Erie and Niagara county domestic violence professionals and advocates that were hosted by Jessica Cassick for WBNY 91.3 FM. The station will be live on location from 3:18 to 5:18 p.m. and can be heard over the air, its online website, or via the Tunein app. Artists, poets and musician are invited to an open microphone during the free, public reception. Food and refreshments will be available.

Cassick, who is also a domestic violence survivor, collaborated with Grimmer on several of the upcoming events. Cassick is the director of public affairs and underwriting for WBNY, the radio station at SUNY at Buffalo State, where she is a graduate student.

Cassick called these events a way for victims of domestic violence to heal and also be unified.

"It's important to share domestic violence advocacy so people know they are not alone and they know (what resources) are out there," said Cassick.

Hotlines and pamphlets will be available during the receptions and exhibition, said Grimmer and Cassick.

Western New York businesses are also invited to show their support by decorating their store fronts in purple and displaying slogans such as "#ALLWNYPURPLE," "Raising Domestic Violence Awareness" and "October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month."  Storefronts must be decorated for the entire month of October to compete in a contest. Winners will receive two months of radio spots on WBNY 91.3 FM and a $100 ART247 gift card. Second place is a $50 gift card and third place is $20. Photos must be posted by Oct. 18 on the Facebook page called  All WNY Purple.

Also coming up this month, the Lockport Police Department Domestic Violence Unit and the YWCA will sponsor an exhibition of Lockport students' art work at ART247. The exhibit will open on Oct. 22 and a public reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28. The exhibition closes on Nov. 13.

The student exhibit will focus on the theme, “What a Happy Family Looks Like.” Submissions of student artwork may be submitted for consideration through Oct. 18. Contest submissions will be divided into three age categories from kindergarten to fourth grade, fifth to eighth grade and ninth to 12th grade. Only Lockport area school students may participate.

"This is a positive approach to looking at domestic violence and talking about awareness. It's very difficult to talk about this heavy topic with children. This contest enables parents to approach this topic - or not - whichever they choose," said Grimmer. "But it opens up an avenue to discuss this, especially when domestic violence is in the home of children and even teen dating."

The ART247 gallery  is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information on ART247 is available at www.theART247.com.

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