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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Operation: Art of Valor

We recently visited the Morean Arts Center but much of this story is derived from a press release.

For veterans in St. Petersburg, Florida, art is a healing tool.

That’s the idea behind Operation: Art of Valor at the Morean Glass Studio, a structured, hands-on learning experience that focuses on improving cognition, social interaction, physical dexterity, teamwork, and confidence outside of clinical care.

Art of Valor is a veterans’ only program, at no cost to the participant.

The program began at the Morean Glass Studio in the Spring of 2018 by co-founder and veteran Chris Stowe, who saw the potential benefits of bringing the art of glassblowing to veterans. Stowe began learning glassblowing in 2015 and thought the experience might help other veterans. The medium works with heat and heavy materials, which requires concentration and collaboration.

“This program is my attempt to help veterans access their creativity and express themselves in a positive way, and the Morean Arts Center has been the perfect partner for this initiative,” Stowe said.

Since the beginning, Stowe has served as a creative advisor to Art of Valor and works closely with the organization. He and the executive team at the non-profit wanted the glass program to be a springboard for additional opportunities at the Morean Arts Center. Operation: Art of Valor - Photography launched in 2020 serving as a creative connection for remote and sequestered veterans during the pandemic and continued with Meet-Up opportunities with Beth Reynolds, director of photography and community engagement at the Morean Arts Center. These casual, social style Meet-Ups include photography skill-building, creative expression and photo challenges for the participants.

A photography exhibit by participating veterans titled “Aiming to Heal” will be on view at the Morean Arts Center Nov. 13-Dec. 31, 2021, and is free to the public.

The Fall of 2021 has now welcomed a third medium as part of the Art of Valor programming. Ceramic Arts is now open for registration for veterans, working directly with Tom Davis, Raku artist and retired Air Force Colonel, serving 27 years in the military.

“I have a goal to help these veterans and am just so excited to share my love of the medium, the calming nature of clay and help these participants express themselves as a part of their healing process,” stated Davis. “Communities have formed around kilns and ceramics for centuries, and I hope we can do the same with this program, and for these veterans.”

Art of Valor Ceramics participants will meet weekly at the Morean Center for Clay.

While it is therapeutic for veterans to participate in community-based arts programs, it is important to note that these programs are not considered therapy but are created to serve as an adjunct to clinical care.

For more information on Operation: Art of Valor, how to participate or how to help support the program, visit

The Morean Arts Center offers exhibits, the Chihuly Collection in an 11,000-square-feet gallery with an informative film, classes in a variety of arts mediums and the glassblowing studio.

Upcoming Events: $5 admission for all U.S. veterans on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, with access to the Chihuly Collection and live glassblowing demonstrations at the Morean Glass Studio.

Night Blow: Live glassblowing performance art featuring local resident glass artists will light up the glassblowing studio on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. There will be rockin’ beats by DJ Rich Ranck, hot popping snacks, beverages and glow-in-the-dark accessories along with some exciting glassblowing with the lights turned off. There’s even hot glass juggling! Capacity will be extremely limited to allow for adequate space in the bleachers for all guests to spread out. General admission is $55/person with 10 percent off for Morean Members.

Night Blow at the Morean Arts Center

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