Artwork by Formerly Homeless Philadelphians Exhibited by Project HOME and Drexel

Project HOME alumnus Gerald Halley stands in front of his artwork.
Project HOME alumnus Gerald Halley stands in front of his artwork.

Once a Russian language cryptologist for the United States Air Force as well as a master carpenter and painter, Vincent “ Vince” Sangmeister found himself living in hotels and basements, taking odd jobs to survive after losing his career and his apartment due to severe depression.

Sangmeister's textured abstract oil paintings are inspired by artists such as expressionist Jackson Pollack.

After hitting rock bottom and ending up hospitalized, Sangmeister discovered the veteran services program at Project HOME, a Philadelphia non-profit organization empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Now, back on his feet, he works on-staff at Project HOME, helping other veterans suffering from homelessness to obtain services and housing.

Through Project HOME’s Art Program, Sangmeister was also able to reconnect with his lifelong artistic passion and will now be showing his large-scale, multimedia installations to the world as part of a new exhibition hosted by Project HOME and Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

Sangmeister is just one of four artists whose work will be featured in “Artists for All Seasons,” an exhibition of artwork by formerly homeless artists. The exhibition will be on display at the URBN Center (3501 Market St., Philadelphia) from April 13 – 24. It is free and open to the public, weekdays from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

A painting of Philadelphia row homes by Project HOME resident Andreas Walsh.

In addition to the four featured artists, collected works from about 10 additional artists will be on display. All of the works will be available for purchase, with prices ranging from $50 to $1,500. All proceeds will benefit the artists and Project HOME’s Art Program.  

An opening reception will be held on Monday April 13 from 6 – 8 p.m. In addition to the artists, Drexel President John A. Fry; Allen Sabinson, dean of the Westphal College; Project HOME co-founders Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon; and event chairs Jay and Bonnie Eisner will be in attendance.

During the opening event, the d&mShop, a retail laboratory run by the Westphal College’s design and merchandising students, will be selling one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items created, developed and/or selected by students, faculty, staff and alumni of Drexel as well as Project HOME residents.

This marks the second annual collaboration between Drexel and Project HOME on an “Artists for all Seasons” art exhibition.

Breaking Social Boundaries, A Collaboration between Project HOME and Drexel University
Drexel University has teamed up with Project HOME (A nonprofit organization that provides housing and services to chronically homeless men and women in Philadelphia) to develop art for an upcoming exhibition to be held at Drexel's URBN Center. The program breaks the social boundaries between the students and the participants at Project HOME. Track title: Wind of Summer Composer: Jack Francis (PRS) Publisher: Lynne Publishing (PRS)

The Project HOME Art Program aims to empower formerly homeless men and women and low-income families to express their journeys through art and reach their fullest potential. The mission of the Project HOME Art Program is to enliven, inspire and enrich the lives of aspiring artists.

“Project HOME’s Art Program serves as a doorway for many people to employment opportunities and becoming more empowered individuals,” said Scarlett McCahill, social enterprise manager for Project HOME. “For people who have heard ‘you can’t’ or ‘you won’t’ or ‘you’re not good enough’, the art program is an entry point into healing and safe place to tiptoe gently into becoming more independent and productive.”

One of the first students at Drexel to become involved with the program was Westphal College photography alumnus Shan Cerrone, who volunteered to facilitate art workshops at Project HOME. Drexel students have continued to leads workshops, provide feedback on artwork and contribute in a number of other ways.

“Without President Fry’s strong commitment to community engagement and Dean Sabinson’s willingness to engage staff and students we would never be as successful with this project as we have been,” said Bonnie Eisner, a member of Project HOME’s art advisory council. “The partnership between Drexel and Project HOME is strong because of their values. We are forever grateful.”

The Art Program is just one of many ways that Drexel has collaborated with Project HOME.

In October, students from Drexel’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management teamed up with Project HOME to make and jar “Sister Mary’s Sinfully Delicious Cranberry Sauce.” All of the proceeds from the sales of the sauce supported Project HOME’s initiatives to provide job training for formerly homeless individuals.

Drexel’s LeBow College of Business Executive MBA students partnered with Project HOME to boost the nonprofit’s healthy snacks and handmade items sales.

The design and merchandising program in Drexel’s Westphal College has also collaborated with Project HOME for the past few years, working to sharpen product offerings and business strategies for Project HOME’s online store.