We are now hosting a series of lessons for home-bound artists featuring our Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia! This week she teaches us all how to break the boredom. You can follow along with any nearby art supplies – whether it’s crayons, pastels or even colored pencils.














Want to share your designs with us? Email to Nancy at More videos coming soon!


Community Outreach Director Nancy Raia reached out to long-time pottery student Miss Adele to see how she’s doing during #SocialDistancing


“Here’s a bright spot in my week for you. I made a phone call a few days ago to my friend Miss Adele. I was looking for a picture in my file to share with you of her, but this will have to suffice. She is my bright spot every time she comes into the Art Center, she is my sunshine in the day, always bringing joy and cheer, reminded me of her when I found this in my photos.

I called her to ask how she is doing in Isolation in her assisted living facility. She sounded cheerful, thrilled to hear that I called. She told me she is well and handling everything. She chooses to go get her meals in person (for the exercise). They come in styrofoam containers since the dinner room is closed to them.

She talked about a new resident where she loves likes to read one of Watt Keys books over the closed circuit TV for the residents to hear. We chatted how it was like the old live radio broadcasts.

Our conversation took us on a fun journey, to what she is watching on TV, how she finds the channels she wants with her low vision issues. She rattled off a whole list of her favorite shows and was so excited when she talked about the show American Pickers. She started telling me about how she loves it when they find Antiques and repurposes them. She says she gets really close to the TV screen to see what they found or made. ‘I just love that! Finding old things in a barn or shed and making something out of it!’

Did I tell you she is an amazing artist? She painted and taught for years, and she volunteered for us bringing in beautiful centerpieces for our monthly art openings, often linking her 3D floral display with the theme or colors on display. She is constantly creative and loving to talk art. When we open again she will be back in the clay room for sure! She even told me about the Easter eggs she was making for the people there with styrofoam eggs and collaged tissue papers on top.

I called Miss Adele to check on her and cheer her up. I got so much more from hearing her voice!

Check on your friends and the elderly please! As Miss Adele says, ‘In anything you do, Do for God, Do for your neighbor, then Do for you!’

Blessings and love from Miss Adele and me!”

Senior to Senior

Senior to Senior: Eastern Shore Art Center connecting generations through art


FAIRHOPE, Ala. (Lee Peck / WALA) — It’s an art lesson with a very different twist. The Eastern Shore Art Center bringing together two unlikely groups — seniors in Fairhope High School’s Art Club with senior citizens living at Brennity at Fairhope Assisted Living.


“They always have some story to tell or something interesting to say,” said Elizabeth Hill, Fairhope High School Art Club.


Hill shares the interesting experience from last month with one of the residents.


“The last time I was here I heard a story of someone who their husband used to be an artist but he was colorblind. So she would help choose the colors for him. And so they sort of worked together on doing art. And so when she was drawing she got a little bit discouraged. So I was painting for her… and she was choosing the colors… And it was sort of how she used to do things with her husband,” recalled Hill.


Nancy Raia is the Eastern Shore Art Center’s Community Outreach Director and runs the program once a month.


“I just find they learn about each other. I instruct them to introduce themselves and I often will say — ‘Ask them about their past.’ But I’ll ask the senior citizens to ask the young people what they are going to do. It’s just a beautiful thing that happens when they’re interacting and creating art,” explained Raia.



Sending Messages of Courage and Hope


“Many thanks to the members of The National Charity League who showed up Sunday afternoon to create these beautiful painted rocks as part of their service hours. They were picked up yesterday by Holly who gives her time to Kairos, a mission serving women who have a family member in prison. She was ecstatic seeing the words of courage and hope and messages of faith. The women she serves have been deeply appreciative of the rocks with messages we have created for them before.”

-Nancy Raia

New Year, New Outreach Programming!

The Webelos Visit ESAC


“The Webelos from Troop 47 earned their badge last night in sculptural, 3-D design. We experienced the art of Rex Turner (aka T-REX) and sketched ideas from his amazing exhibit. The kids loved it! We even checked out a few books I found at the Fairhope Public Library on architecture. They were totally immersed in filling cigar boxes I gave them with a critter of their design. We used Model Magic air dry clay, sticks, bamboo, toothpicks, feathers, fake fur and even pink curlers! The curlers were the form to hold the clay and served as the substructure. They never dreamt a model could start with a curler!”

-Nancy Raia

Students from Spanish Fort Elementary visited today!


“I love it when I have so many willing volunteers help bring a great experience to our students who may need a little extra attention to thrive as an artist! Happy day, and thank you Jo Owen for bringing a drumming circle experience too! How about these abstracts the kids did?”

-Nancy Raia

Big thanks to Lynn Henderson Oldshue for taking these amazing photos!


Creating Holiday Inspired Art at the Callahan School for the Deaf and Blind (formerly the Regional School) with Nancy Raia. “These are happy kids when Nancy comes over for her monthly class. A reminder of the power of art.” – Lynn H. Oldshue

Nancy visited Brennity of Fairhope with the Senior to Senior program. “Yesterday’s class was full of pleasant surprises. First, I noticed a bright smiling face grinning at me from the volunteers from Lynda Williams FHS Art Club (they all smile, but one had a big grin!) Bryson, the athlete in the basketball shirt was my student maybe 8 years ago at Rotary Youth Club! I knew that handsome face! We talked about the fun group of students in his art class with me back then. He is such a polite young man, I was so happy to see him!”


She included lots of conversation and introduction of the students to the residents at Brennity of Fairhope to encourage them to get to know their partners. “They enjoyed hearing Bryson wants to go into sports medicine after having been through meniscus repair surgery. Matthew, they remembered from last time as a poultry scientist/farmer. They had lots of questions about his future career, and his chickens he is currently raising. I didn’t know they are sensitive to temperatures and only lay eggs between 52-79 degrees, did you? One of the high school girls jumped up and played the piano to the residents joy. Elizabeth, in the grey jacket always leaves her art behind for a resident to enjoy. Megan (in the single picture) was new also to me this week, but she was wonderful helping Miss Molly. The pianist was also an amazing artist. The residents were so engaged they were nearly late for dinner (that never happens!)”

Thank you to the many who donated to this project and also those who volunteered to help! The Fidget Pillow Workshop was a success!


“The National Charity League girls came to help me set it all up; and Dianne Bernasconi, Jo Owen, Jessica Peppers, Linda Anderson McCool, Stephanie Bromley all donated generously of their supplies. Brandon McCool helped me take down all the overflow tables and chairs. Hilary Horne Finnegan, is shown explaining her passion for leading this project as she explains to the volunteers why these pillows are important to calm and comfort those with dementia, as it gives their fingers a fascinating tactile experience for discovery and ‘fidgeting’ with a better purpose. She taught all the girls how to thread a needle and knot it as they prepped a bunch ready to go for the group coming, they also sorted and displayed all the ribbons, yarns, trims, buttons, tassels and Pom poms. Hilary was so pleased with how many pillows will be going to new owners soon to bring them enjoyment. What a wonderful cause, next time we will have even more made (each time we expand the group).” – Nancy Raia

Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia, led three groups of students in an exciting sport art competition – inspired by our current exhibit with Steven Lester!


Here are the winners!

St. Paul’s Academy 3-6th grade (art teacher Amanda Youngblood):
1st: Izzie Green (horse)
2nd: Addison Thomas (swimmer)


National Charity League 7th-12th (taught by Nancy Raia):
1st: Anna Schmidt (dancer)
2nd: Kenzie S. (runners)


Rotary Youth Club 3-6th grades (taught be Nancy Raia):
1st: Savannah Coleman (kickball)
2nd: Noe (athlete)


Thank you to our judges Bj Cooper, T.J. Rosandich, Susan McCullough, Bruce Larsen, and Steven Lester. Also, thanks to the United States Sports Academy for the tours of your facility filled with international sports art, and the support of this project.

Come by and see it through the month of August 2019!

Nancy is teaching out at Weeks Bay this week with help from Biologist, Angela Underwood!


“Meet Checkers, the corn snake! Angela told the students all about vertebrates and invertebrates today, and they learned about all the creatures who call the estuary their home. Checkers came out to show us his markings and how he constantly seeks the warmth (trying to get into Angela’s hair, or up her sleeve!)

As we learned how to draw and paint a pitcher plant, she then cut one open for us to see what it had “eaten.” We saw lots of ants in its stem and what looked like tobacco juice ! Then they tried their hand at printing the pitcher plant. They were good learners! Rotary Youth Club in action.”


– Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia

“Finding the best pet for your family is like creating a work of art.” The Haven has spruced up their meet-and-greet area with two new custom-made wooden benches — painted by our one-and-only Nancy Raia!


It takes time, effort, and attention to detail and when complete is a rewarding experience. To get each animal ready for adoption, The Haven takes care of any health and behavioral needs, including spay/neuter, heartworm testing, and socialization. The Haven can help you decide which pet is right for your family. There is an area dedicated to meet and greet where pets and people can spend a little time getting to know each other. The Haven has spruced up this area with two new, custom-made wooden benches. Executive Director Michael Graham thought, “We are always thinking of creative ways to involve the community and inspire others to join the no-kill movement”, said Michael Graham, Executive Director for The Haven. “Joining forces with the Eastern Shore Art Center to design colorful and artistic benches made this vision a reality.”   


Read more here:

New mural going up at the Fairhope Library!


The ESAC Staff is taking time every day this week to paint a butterfly mural at the Fairhope Public LibrarySpecial thanks to the Library, City of Fairhope, the Baldwin County Association of REALTORS® and Baldwin County Trailblazers, Inc. for funding this pocket park project.  


Stay tuned, more to come!

It may be the end of summer, but we’re still celebrating at the Veterans’ home!


“Had a wonderful time painting summer fruits with the Veterans last week. One gentleman said he wasn’t a painter, but a singer. He was a professional singer and in the chorus in the military. I told him if he painted with me, we’d sing together…all artists love music too! I’d start a line, and he would boom in with his lovely tenor voice and carry the song! We covered “You are my Sunshine!” And “On top of old Smoky” and many more love songs he knew! The room had such a wonderful glow in it, with the artists busily painting and singing along.

I’m so appreciative of my great helpers, Joe Raia and Susan Wright (“Min”) who was in town for a visit. The vets were so kind in thanking us profusely for coming to bring them the activity. They have no idea how long our smiles remained on our faces as we drove away.

If I don’t say it enough, let me thank again the many people who support my work, and especially these two! Also shown is Shelly, the wonderful Recreational director there.”


Nancy Raia, Community Outreach Director

Eastern Shore Art Center hosts a group from Mobile Arc to create face mugs with local artist, Steven Dark.


Founded in 1956, Mobile Arc is one of the largest, most comprehensive service providers for people with disabilities in Alabama. Today, the nonprofit organization serves hundreds of adults in a variety of programs-includingpainting, pottery, dance, martial arts, and music.


The face mugs created at ESAC will be sold at Mobile Arc’s fundraiser Marc-Art! The annual event will take place at Azalea Manor, August 2ndat 6pm.


For more information on ESAC community outreach programming, contact ESAC Community Outreach Director Nancy Raia at 251-928-2228 or


For more information on Marc-Art or event sponsorship opportunities, contact Mobile Arc Development Director Amy Odom at 251-665-9646 or

When you think of fun, what is it? Well this great group of artists from Rotary Youth Club sure had ideas! This is how we finished off their poster they printed last month with artist Amos Kennedy. They drew themselves having fun and added a wash of watercolors. Next they designed the one they printed on fabric as a wall hanging with a border and added beads and yarn to show their personality. -Nancy Raia

Artist Amos Kennedy came a day early for a special workshop with the children from Rotary Youth Club! Amos began the workshop by talking about the basics of printmaking. Next he asked “What is text?” One of the students shot her hand up quickly and said “I know, I know! It’s when you send a message on your iPhone!” Everyone got a chuckle as Amos explained all of the parts and makings of putting the letters in the galley to print. Then each student got a chance to run the slab roller wheel and make a print.


While they were waiting their turn, Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia, pulled out paper and asked them to draw a portrait of Amos. They quickly went to task, and he was delighted when he saw their drawings! We also had three teachers in attendance for the workshop too: Lynda Williams (Fairhope High School), Cindy Becker (Spanish Fort Elementary), and Linda Hill Duffis (Dunbar Magnet Performing Arts School). Sure was a great afternoon with Amos!

Southern Living

Eastern Shore Art Center’s own Nancy Raia has been featured in Southern Living!


The students in Nancy Raia’s art class at the Southwest Alabama Regional School for the Deaf and Blind do not need all of their senses to paint. Instead, all they need to use is their hearts.


Raia, a local artist and community outreach director at the Eastern Shore Art Center, has spent the last 10 years volunteering with students at the Mobile school. Though technically she’s teaching them how to make art, she insists that she’s the one doing the learning.


To read more, visit Southern Living online here!

#MyGivingStory #GivingTuesday


“Each day I am able to serve various communities, by teaching art to those who cannot afford it or have access to it. One of the organizations I work with is a local veteran’s home, that I provide supplies and instruction to through the Eastern Shore Art Center. Sometimes I will bring high school seniors with me in a project I piloted years ago, known as the “Senior to Senior” program. Today during my veteran’s home visit, one gentleman entered the room and shared his lovely coloring design with me. He said he loved to take art 80 years ago because all the girls were in the class! As we laughed and set up for the session, he reminisced about his art and sang to me. I found out later he’s the oldest surviving Alabama football player, still donning his championship ring! Don Salls, 1940-42! He later became one of the most winning coaches at Jacksonville State. I never know who I may encounter one day, but I am truly grateful for their friendships and how I can make their futures better and brighter.”


-Nancy Raia

Christmas Cards For Sale

Cards are available at ESAC for only $5 per pack! All proceeds benefit the Regional School for the Deaf and Blind‘s art program with Nancy!

Studying the style of the “Polka Dot Princess” (Yayoi Kusama) of Japan. Rotary Youth Club kids were all smiles today, but then they usually are at the Art Center!

Community Outreach means teaching without the limits of the walls that contain the Art Center. The mission of the Art Center’s Outreach Program is to make art experiences available to everyone. It responds to the needs of the community by bringing new learning to those seeking to discover the world of communication through art.

The Outreach Program is under the direction of Nancy Raia. Her role is to travel the county and beyond. She believes art brings us together and celebrates our differences. The Outreach Program embraces young and old, those with disabilities and chronic illnesses, and the underserved. Through art and the creative process, Nancy passionately works with those traumatized by natural and manmade disasters, helping them process their fears and frustrations, their anger and losses; leading them to a place of love, acceptance, and joy.

Community Outreach

Community Outreach Programs

Squeaky Sneakers

Squeaky Sneakers is a collaborative effort between the Art Center and Weeks Bay Reserve. It incorporates an integrated curriculum of art and science. Children between the ages of 4 and 16 explore the Weeks Bay watershed through experiential outdoor activities on and in the water, as well as nature hikes. Campers blend new knowledge and science techniques with personal creativity through art.


This project helps participants become more literal stewards of their coastal environment and fosters their personal connections to it. Each year, Squeaky Sneakers impacts approximately 375 children enrolled in local youth programs. Since this program began in 2008, it has twice won the Gulf of Mexico Guardian Award.

Senior to Senior

Senior to Senior partners high school art students with senior citizens in assisted living centers with the goal of linking the generations through art and conversation. The senior citizens socialize and gain a sense of accomplishment through completing art projects. Students gain an understanding not only of the challenges facing the elderly, but also how much wisdom comes with age.

Art Without Limits

Art Without Limits has provided art lessons for the children at the Southwest Alabama Regional School for the Deaf and Blind in Mobile for the past seven years. All lessons must be carefully adapted to those with visual and hearing disabilities. ESAC also uses this program to offer group and private lessons for artists of all ages with disabilities and chronic illnesses, reinforcing the belief that everyone has the ability to create art.


Internships are available on a limited basis and are open to high school and college students pursuing an art career. Students will learn all aspects of the Community Outreach Program, as well as develop lesson plans and eventually implement them. Previous interns have gone on to pursue careers in art therapy, teaching, and producing art professionally.


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