One of my favorite New York city spaces is an unassuming storefront just west of Times Square — Fountain House Gallery. The energetic nonprofit does vital work that extends far beyond the art world, providing an environment for artists living and working with mental illness to pursue their creative visions.

Fountain House Gallery offers a supportive, collaborative setting that helps artists challenge the stigma surrounding mental illness. Its artists receive supplies and studio space in Long Island City, as well as a chance to show and sell their work in hometown exhibitions, or at other events like the Outsider Art Fair. Art sales directly supports artists living and working with mental illness, and Fountain House Organization. 

So when gallery director Ariel Willmott asked me to curate a summer show to support the gallery, I was excited to help.

There was only one problem, I said. I had never curated a show.

No worries. Ariel promised that she and gallery assistant Amanda Suárez would guide me through. 

We picked an ideal theme for the season: “Oasis: Exploring Central Park.”

With the help of with trusty Niboristas Daisy Atlahua and Sequoiah Thomas-Fraser, we chose artworks created in paint, ceramic, fabric, photography, and more, depicting favorite places like the lake, bridges, carousel, and of course Strawberry Fields in faithful and often fanciful detail.

Visiting the gallery truly felt like a walk in the park!

The exhibition is over—but it lives on at Artsy, where the works are for sale.