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Arts Richmond Gives Opportunity to Veterans Display Artwork

Brandon Parrish draws a piece of artwork during Saturday's event.
Photo courtesy of Betty McIntyre.

ROCKINGHAM – With all the events and activities going on for Veteran’s Day over the weekend, included was one unique and interesting display in Richmond County. Arts Richmond hosted an art exhibit for local veteran artists on Saturday, November 11.

Many veteran artists have found artwork to be both therapeutic and healing. 

Army veteran Justin Spears was set up on the sidewalk in front of Arts Richmond Saturday afternoon with paintbrush and canvas in hand. People lined up to watch as he created a beautiful piece of artwork.

One could also hear pleasant tunes coming from local musicians Roger Campbell and Chris Herring as they played an acoustic set for several hours as attendees listened. The team has been playing together for five years and plays mainly in Richmond County.

Inside Arts Richmond there were more treats, as artwork was on exhibit from local veteran artists Brandon Parrish, Roy Armstrong, Jack Morgan, and several more.

Justin Spears paints at Arts Richmond Saturday.

The doors were opened at Arts Richmond from 12 to 5 p.m. while veteran artists displayed their pieces for the community to enjoy while also learning of the benefits artwork offers veterans. Tess Holtzapfel, president and founder of Community Patriot Arts Center (CPAC) located in Fayetteville, N.C., was there to explain the cause.

“I’ve worked over 15 years in healthcare and with veterans at the VA Hospital in Fayetteville,” Holtzapfel stated. “I was inspired to get CPAC together after seeing the need.”

Holtzapfel started with creating workshops for veterans battling PTSD.

“I was first inspired by the scripture in Isaiah 61:13 where it speaks of giving beauty for ashes,” she continued. “To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified (reference to the scripture). The benefits veterans get from their artwork is amazing!”

Spears was in the army for 12 years. He was first introduced to CPAC through Steve Rylander who works with Patriot Outreach. Spears, who was inspired by watching Bob Ross paint, had begun painting his own pictures and displaying them in a local coffee shop. That is where he met Rylander who recommended contacting Holtzapfel. Spears is now active in the center and also has several of his paintings on display in Fayetteville at the Veteran’s Park.

Parrish, who is a local deputy and Marine veteran, was set up inside the Arts Richmond building while others watched him create a piece. Parrish was drawn to art at a very young age by his grandmother, who also loved art. He currently serves as committee chairman for Celebrating Veterans and Their Art.


Armstrong, a Vietnam veteran, exhibited a unique display of miniature replicas of the past. These hand-crafted facades brought pleasant memories to all who admired the artwork. Armstrong resides in Norman, N.C.

Armstrong poses next to some of his miniature replicas.

“Once when I was speaking to Spears, I was telling him how God is our master creator and we are all created in His image,” Holtzapfel mentioned about the positive effects of CPAC. “I believe when we use our God-given gifts, it is healing to us, it is how God designed us.”

She also mentioned how much the workshops seem to bless all who attend. “They turn the trauma into something positive through the art they create,” Holtzapfel said.

For more information about CPAC, contact Tess Holtzapfel at 910-759-0784, email tess.cpac@gmail.com, or www.CPACFAY.org

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