Café the Lodge hosted an Open Mic Night and reception for the opening of the community artist showcase, which highlights the work of Zach Kleemeyer on April 20. Café the Lodge offers a supportive community and vocational opportunities for adults with mental health challenges. (Sara Boyd/B&W Staff)

Café the Lodge provides art recovery for community members

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Artist Tara Shuey suffers from Trigeminal Neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that affects her facial nerves. When she paints, however, she doesn’t feel pain.

When she’s not painting, Shuey works as a peer specialist at Café the Lodge and makes prints of her work so people can afford something nice to put in their homes.

Shuey is one of the artists featured in the Lodge’s Artists in Recovery Exhibit. The exhibit opened at Café the Lodge, a local Bethlehem coffeeshop, in late January, and features artwork from residents, staff and community members.

The Lodge helps its members establish independent living arrangements and wholesome lifestyles, offering employment and volunteer opportunities and recreational and educational events. The cafe provides employment opportunities for people with and without mental illnesses.

Ian Panyko, the director of the project, thinks art is important because it is a nonverbal expression of concepts that can be hard to vocalize. He hopes to reach more members of the Bethlehem community by bringing in local artists.

The Lodge has already sold 11 paintings, bringing in more than $1,000.  For each painting sold, the artist gets 85 percent of profits and the rest goes to the Lodge.

On April 20, the Lodge hosted a reception for Zach Kleemeyer, a local artist who has been working with wood for almost three years. He’s worked with other art media previously, but this is the only art he’s publicly shown. Kleemeyer found out about this opportunity through the SouthSide Arts District.

Most of the art is displayed in the main dining room, but his is in the Cappuccino Room.

The reception also included an Open Mic Night hosted by Kevin Coomer. Coomer hosts open mic nights at the cafe every first and third Friday of the month.

Kleemeyer, whose grandparents were artists, said he was encouraged to be artistic his whole life. He said working with wood the way he does is playful for him.

“I think people are really interested because (my style) seems different,” he said.

He said creating his art reminds him of playing with Legos as a child.

Café the Lodge is located at 427 E. Fourth St. and serves breakfast, lunch and coffee and offers catering. The cafe is open everyday until 3 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Fridays.

Panyko hopes to feature as many artists and their artwork as possible. The cafe hosts monthly events like drum circles and live music.

Kleemeyer’s artwork will be in the cafe through the end of June. He wants to continue to build on the idea of community.

“Art and recovery go well together,” he said. “They’re a perfect fit.”

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