For local artist, anything is possible

WAKEFIELD — Cheryl Russo, an artist associated with the Horizon House on Water Street, took part in an exhibit recently at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Here’s her story, in her words:


SOME OF Cheryl Russo’s portraits of musicians are currently on display in the Gateway Arts Store in Brookline Village.

On October 18th, Catherine Taatjes – the program director of Horizon House in Wakefield – and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where several of my paintings were being displayed for the 50th anniversary of Gateway Arts in Brookline. Gateway is a program for individuals with various disabilities to create and sell artwork. 

“The event was called ‘The Art of the Possible,’ and it was a celebration of 50 years of Gateway, as well as the art and artists who have been a part of it.

“Catherine and I arrived fashionably early and enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres. We watched a slideshow of artwork created by Gateway artists, which included my own artwork. At the event itself, I had two paintings – one of Jerry Garcia and one of John Lennon and Yoko Ono – as well as a John and Yoko bandanna that I designed. The John and Yoko painting was displayed on an easel.

After I was done with my hors d’oeuvres, I stood in front of my painting and explained it to the audience that stopped by. A man came up to me and told me that, while he didn’t like John Lennon or Yoko Ono, he loved the picture so much that he wanted to buy it. It turns out that man was none other than Jonathan Kraft, and he did end up buying my picture! The fact that he not only loved my artwork, but bought it in spite of the fact that he didn’t like the people depicted, was deeply gratifying to me.

“Catherine is one of my favorite people, and it meant the world to me that she came to the event. Greg Liakos, director of Gateway Arts, Wakefield resident Myra Sessions, Vinfen’s director of Strategy, as well as other friends of mine from Gateway were also there. 

“Experiencing such an important event, surrounded by people I love, made this night one of the greatest of my life. I got to have my artwork displayed at the MFA – a dream come true.”

Vinfen’s Gateway Arts runs seven dynamic studios where artists with developmental, intellectual, psychiatric and physical disabilities, create works of art to exhibit, share, and sell to the public. Today nearly 100 Gateway artists work alongside a team of highly skilled artist facilitators who guide their professional development in a safe, supportive, creative workplace. Gateway Arts staff work cooperatively with behavioral health professionals, family, friends, and others to help the artists reach their potential as creators, individuals, and members of a community. Artists work in professional studios and exhibit and sell artwork in our onsite and online store and gallery. The artists receive a 50% commission on all art sales.

Cheryl Russo is one of those accomplished artists working in Gateway’s Studio A alongside Studio Facilitator Kaleigh Hansen. Her portraits of some of her favorite musical artists are currently on display in the Gateway Arts Store in Brookline Village.