For the 12th consecutive year Recreation Therapy Services at the VA Maine HCS, in conjunction with the American Legion Auxiliary, will once again sponsor this year’s Veterans Creative Arts Competition.

The Maine American Legion Auxiliary has helped to sponsor the local competition since 2013. The annual showcase, offering the community a to meet their local veteran artists, will take place Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the theater at Togus, Building 210, 1 VA Center off Route 17.

The day opens at 10 a.m. The Visual Arts Show will run to 4 p.m. From 10 a.m. to noon, there will be a Poetry Slam featuring short-short stories and essays, as well as poetry. The Performing Arts Show from 1 to 3 p.m. will include comedy routines, dance performances, vocal solos and group musical performances.

Participation in any artistic medium can be incredibly healing, but what is produced during that process can also be intensely personal, said Courtney Oliver, Recreation Therapist.

“For many of our veteran artists, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to share their artwork, and in turn a part of themselves, in this show. We would love to see a packed theater encouraging and supporting our artists on the 27th,” she said.

Nationwide, Recreation Therapists and other clinical staff use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help veterans recover from, and cope with, physical and emotional disabilities. Veterans are provided with the opportunity to participate in creative self-expression in the areas of art, creative writing, drama, dance and music as part of their therapy. Many are self-taught in their chosen medium including Ralph Moxcey of Bremen, a 92-year-old Air Force veteran and self-taught sculptor who works in bronze, stone, fiberglass and wood.

This year, 40-plus veteran visual artists, creative writers, musicians, dancers and dramatic performers from VA Maine will be participating in the local competition.  Competition categories include 50 visual art categories that range from photography to assemblage and sculpture; and 96 categories pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. Veterans who are awarded first place in their category at the local level will be sent forward to compete against veterans from across the nation in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.