By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The monthly “A Cup of Art,” hosted by My Giving Tree, coincides with Market Days and takes place on the third Saturday of each month at Arusha’s.
“A Cup of Art continues to grow. Word is getting out, and artists are doing well. I’m so honored to do this,” explained Leila Valchar, the owner of My Giving Tree. “This month I am switching things up a little bit – I wanted to help bring awareness to an amazing non-profit organization called Help Heal Veterans while featuring a veteran artist named Peter Buotte.”
Peter Buotte was born and raised in Augusta, Maine. After graduating from high school in 1984, he attended the University of Maine, at Orono, on a ROTC scholarship. He obtained a degree in French and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army. Buotte left active duty in 1996, entered the Reserves, and went back to school – getting a bachelor and then a master’s degree in Fine Arts.
“In 2015, I went back to school once more. This time I obtained a master’s degree in Art Therapy from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I was the only male and the only veteran in the art therapy program,” stated Buotte.
Buotte works as a civilian on Fort Hood now.
“I am an art therapist at a highly specialized trauma clinic on post. Individuals go through a six-week outpatient program, at the clinic, to deal specifically with PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury). I work with them as part of a group experience,” explained Buotte. “They have the opportunity for individual therapy after completion of the program. That personal process is a little more intuitive, while the group experience is more protocol driven. I want to be able to enable soldiers to emotionally process the trauma they’ve experienced. I come up with creative clinic approaches to help those who come through the program. Trauma has many faces, and it does not discriminate. Trauma knows no age, sex, or rank.”
For the A Cup of Art event, Buotte brought an interactive people puzzle – designed and made from foam pieces, this puzzle allows the user to manipulate the pieces and build it up in a variety of ways. Refreshingly, there is no right or wrong way to create with it – allowing for personal interpretation and use. The pairing up of Peter Buotte with Help Heal Veterans was a natural process.
Help Heal Veterans is a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic craft kits to veterans, free of charge. The idea behind the craft kits is simple – by working with their hands to create something, hopefully, pain and the past can leave the mind, allowing the veteran to be more in the present.
Curtis Smith has been an employee at the Temple branch of Help Heal Veterans for five years.
“I want to encourage veterans to stop by and see us. A veteran can pick up two crafts at a time, complete them, and then come back and get more. We ask them to take a picture of the completed work, or bring it in and show it to us. I love communicating with the veterans. I served as well, and I know how difficult it can be,” said Smith. “I challenge veterans to give these crafts a chance – to put down the electronics, turn off the TV, and get involved in life again. These crafts are really neat and they can bring a family together.”
Help Heal Veterans is located on South 5th Street in Temple, and their phone number is (254) 773-8900.