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Blind artist returns for Arts & the Park festival

April 2, 2016 at 4:00 a.m.
Submitted photo INSPIRE: Blind artist John Bramblitt and his loyal companion and guide dog, Echo, will return to Hot Springs for the Arts & the Park festival April 29-May 8. Bramblitt also attended the 2015 festival, teaching workshops and performing artist demonstrations.

Artist John Bramblitt and his loyal companion and guide dog, Echo, will once again be included in the Arts & the Park 2016 lineup April 29-May 8.

Bramblitt has twice been to Hot Springs, first as a guest artist for Arts & the Park 2015 and again when the documentary made about his life, "John," premiered at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival last fall.

Bramblitt lives in Denton, Texas, and his art has been sold in more than 30 countries, according to a news release. He has appeared internationally in print, television and radio, on "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric," ABC, NBC, FOX, Discovery Channel and BBC Radio and TV, has been featured in The New York Times and Psychology Today.

He has designed the artwork for numerous magazine covers and artwork for major film productions. Bramblitt is the subject of the award-winning documentary shorts "Line of Sight" and "Bramblitt." His work has received much recognition including the Most Inspirational Video of 2008 from YouTube and three Presidential Service Awards for his innovative art workshops, the release said.

The author of the award-winning book "Shouting in the Dark," Bramblitt is the subject of the Texas Governor's Disability Employment Awareness poster. He works as a consultant for museums in developing programs that are designed to include everyone, no matter their ability or disability.

"Shouting in the Dark" is the story of Bramblitt's life, his journey navigating through this new territory of blindness, and how he ultimately rekindles his joy, passion and relationships through art.

Before his blindness, Bramblitt studied at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, where he graduated with honors. When Bramblitt lost the last of his vision in 2001 due to complications with epilepsy and Lyme disease, his hopes of becoming a creative writing teacher were shattered and he sunk into a deep depression, the release said. He felt disconnected from family and friends, alienated and alone. But then something amazing happened -- he discovered painting. He learned to distinguish between different colored paints by feeling their textures with his fingers. He taught himself how to paint using raised lines to help him find his way around the canvas, and through haptic visualization, which enables him to "see" his subjects through touch. He now paints amazingly lifelike portraits of people he's never seen, including his wife and son.

While art was always a major part of Bramblitt's life, it was not until he lost his sight in 2001 that he began to paint, and it was then that he said "art reshaped my life," the release said. Bramblitt's paintings are intensely personal, and are mostly taken from real people and events in his life. His workshops are unique in the art world in that they not only span the gap between beginning and professional artists, but also include adaptive techniques for people with disabilities. According to Bramblitt, "everyone has an artist somewhere in them; sometimes they just need a little help letting it out."

There will be several opportunities to see his work, meet him, and even see a screening of the film of his inspirational life during Arts & The Park.

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is partnering with Maxine's, 700 Central Ave., to show the documentary, "John," at 6 p.m. May 3. Following the screening a Q&A with Bramblitt will take place.

On May 4, Bramblitt will visit Gardner Magnet School and the kids will be able to hear his story and meet Echo. He will hold two programs, one for kindergarten through second grade and one for the third and fourth grades.

Last year, Bramblitt conducted a workshop for the adults at First Step and, according to the program director, "Our adult clients in our Art AJAR workshop welcomed Mr. Bramblitt with open arms and with much enthusiasm and the workshop went off without a hitch. Our clients were blown away to learn that Mr. Bramblitt was blind and still able to create amazing pieces of art using other senses rather than sight. A big part of what we do at First Step is to help our clients find creative ways to be as independent as possible, which is what Mr. Bramblitt brilliantly did, not only for our clients during our workshop, but for himself throughout his life. Mr. Bramblitt was presented with an original art piece created by one of our adult clients in Art AJAR Program as a thank you for his time and the gifts he shared with our clients. First Step looks forward to following Mr. Bramblitt's amazing career, and hopes to expand our relationship with the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance."

Bramblitt will conduct another workshop at First Step for the adult clients on May 5.

There will be a special showing of "John" at the Ponce de Leon Center in Hot Springs Village at 10 a.m. May 6, followed by a workshop. Workshop admission is $20. Visit for more information about reserving a spot for the film or workshop.

The Arts & the Park celebration of the arts will culminate with a weekend outdoor arts festival May 7-8 at Hill Wheatley Plaza in downtown Hot Springs. Bramblitt's work will be on display at the event and the public will have an opportunity to meet him and see him at work.

Arts & the Park is a 10-day celebration of the arts sponsored by the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance that includes a launch Party, Studio Tours, a pop up Gallery, Gallery Walk, and other arts events sponsored by other arts and nonprofit organizations.

Visit for more information and a complete schedule of events.

Entertainment on 04/02/2016

Print Headline: Blind artist returns for Arts & the Park festival


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