Anthe Capitan-Valais, her service dog, Aleeke, and BQ Basements owner Brian Quinn are all smiles as they get ready for the Building Bridges Bid ‘n’ Buy Silent and Live Auction fundraiser on Nov. 8 at the historic Wheel Pump Inn. Go to AnAProjectUSA.org for tickets, or stop by SalonSalon or Scarlet Begonias in Flourtown. (Photo by Barbara Sherf)

by Barbara Sherf

While October is National Arts and Humanities month, one local woman celebrates the arts in a big way every day by bringing the arts to residents within a five-mile radius of her Flourtown home through The Arts ‘n’ Artists (AnA) Project.

Anthe Capitan-Valais is inviting the public to a “Building Bridges” fundraiser featuring live and silent auction items, fun interactive workstations, live entertainment and wine and hors d’oeuvres at the Historic Wheel Pump Inn (now offices for BQ Basements) in Erdenheim on Friday, Nov. 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Founded in 2013, the mission of The AnA Project is to bring the arts to people of all ages and from all walks of life through free workshops and performances. Anthe has been busy this fall introducing children and the elderly to rock painting in local libraries, arts and crafts to Bethlehem Retirement Village seniors in Flourtown and even a rock painting party for adults at the Wheel Pump Inn.

A workshop that brings local dancers to Bethlehem Retirement Village so that residents may draw the dancers has made an impression on participants.

“Anthe is energetic and brings that energy to any program that she has ever come to the Village to present,” said Sister Rita T. Kehoe, the facilities social concerns director. “The melding of the art, music and movement is all kind of unique, and yet it allows people who would love to get up to dance but can’t, to have that connection. When they do the drawings from the movement, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. All of the arts and crafts programs have been cross-generational and have helped both the residents and volunteers connect through this important work.”

The second floor of the historic bar, restored by owner Brian Quinn of BQ Basements, will come alive with partygoers and live entertainment at the fundraiser. Once Quinn was approached, he welcomed the opportunity to offer space and partially sponsor the event. Dan Helwig Realtors of Flourtown sponsors the live entertainment for the evening that will be performed by singer/songwriter Michelle Miller and School of Rock singer, Rushmika Iyer, accompanied by Aaron Fitzgerald.

“We are all about looking at the causes for cracks and repairing the foundation of homes, so we loved the theme of ‘Building Bridges’ in our community as a concept,” said Quinn, who offers the second floor space to other community groups gratis.

Capitan-Valais’ introduction to the arts came at a young age as she used to wait for deliveries of her father’s freshly laundered shirts for a reason. “The shirts were folded on cardboard forms, and I would draw free-form on the cardboard. I was given paint by number kits, but I really didn’t like staying in the lines,” CapitalValais’ laughed, remembering her days of growing up near Cleveland with her younger brother, Perry Capitan.

Perry has been in a full-care nursing facility since he was 22 due to mental illness. From the experience of having a family member in a nursing home, Anthe has seen that if a facility cares for the physical needs, there is usually little money left for recreational and other activities.

Anthe was a dancer with a promising career until, upon moving to Philadelphia, she was involved in a head-on car accident with a drunk driver, and her future in the dance world came to a halt at age 26. However, she continued to create art and graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia with degrees in painting and printmaking.

About 11 years ago, she had an “aha” moment while watching the Winnipeg Royal Ballet in Montreal, Canada. In the darkness of the theater, CapitanValais pulled out her sketchbook and began to draw the dancers as they glided across the stage. When the lights came on, her work was revealed. She was now able to express the movements she had observed onto the paper, and that is when the idea for The AnA Project was born.

“As a senior citizen, I find being a conduit and connecting youth with their elders through the arts to be extremely fulfilling,” Anthe said.

Tickets for the Bid ‘n’ Buy Silent and Live Auction are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. They can be purchased at three Flourtown locations: ACV Studio, 208 Haws Lane; SalonSalon, 720 Bethlehem Pike and Scarlet Begonias, 1512 Bethlehem Pike, or online. The Wheel Pump Inn is located at 525 Bethlehem Pike, Erdenheim (parking in the rear).

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