Project Jumpstart Art: artists helping artists

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Losses caused by Hurricane Michael are hitting the art community hard. Local artists have faced challenges ranging from finding supplies to creating art.

"We watched the upstairs come into the downstairs, we looked out the window and watched my work shed just disappear like somebody took an eraser and just erased everything," local artist, Ricky Steele said.

"Multiple trees were falling into the house, the front of the house was being ripped off and all of my work and all of my income for this year was destroyed," local artist, Samantha Stalnaker said.

Many local artists share similar stories about the hurricane. With no space to create art and no supplies, there's no money to be made.

"Being in the hurricane, living through it and surviving in the house wasn't the worst part. The aftermath was much more real and difficult to deal with," Stalnaker said.

But one woman wasn't going to let art and culture die because of the storm. Helen Ballance with the Beach Art Group had an idea.

"Let's get art supplies from people, all artists have supplies that they don't use, they never are going to use, so, I got ahold of a lot of my different art friends and started putting out that we need art supplies and donations," Ballance said.

In no time, supplies and donations, totaling close to $4,000, came pouring in from all over the country.

Artists are welcome to take any supplies they need for free and for those artists who can't come all the way to Panama City Beach, a gift card to an art supply company is sent to their home.

"She's helped me more than I could ever dream with Project Jumpstart because I honestly couldn't have asked for more, I've gotten essentially everything I needed to get restarted," Stalnaker said.

Project Jumpstart Art is also finding space for artists to create and venues to sell their work.

"I'm really excited because this is an opportunity to grow the arts and culture for our community," Ballance said.

"I think Marilyn Monroe once said, 'Sometimes good things fall apart so great things can be put back together,' and I think she's that great thing for us, she's putting us all back together, you know, it's inspiring to have your spirit lifted by someone like her," Steele said.

Spirits lifted and an art community creating a brighter future.