Local ASPIE Artists Growing in Reputation

ASPIE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating supplemental income for adult artisans with disabilities. ASPIE helps these artisans generate income through donations for their original artwork using our online ASPIE Gallery, www.aspiesartists.com, and our Lancaster gallery.

Phil Whitebloom with ASPIE metal artist Steven Georges

At our last Open House, in December 2023, nearly $3000 in donations was received for artwork from ten ASPIE artists, from wood craft to jewelry to paintings to photographic canvasses. A visitor from Maryland was absolutely fascinated with artwork by two of our artists – Steven Georges and Kate Manners. Both Steven and Kate have cerebral palsy.

Steven had many surgeries to aid in his body’s uneven growth of muscles, bones, and tendons. With the help of a wheelchair, crutches, and physical therapy he was able to improve. He learned how to weld years ago making different adaptive equipment like grab bars and custom furniture to help himself every day at his home in Mount Joy.

Now, Steven also strives to make inorganic metal forms into “organic” works of art by seeing the vision of beauty in what once was thrown away. He designs and sculpts metal art from recycled steel. His pieces are primarily inspired by animal and plant life but also include unique wine bottle racks, classic car part lamps, furniture, replicas of heavy machinery (such as tractors and bulldozers), spacecraft replicas, and garden ornaments.

Kate primarily creates acrylic pour paintings on canvas. She always had a long-time interest in art, stemming from family; her grandmother was an artist and art teacher. She was interested in art as far back as elementary school in particular because of one art teacher and because of the robust art program in her school district in Lancaster, Pa. Kate has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, mostly affecting her lower body, so she uses a wheelchair. Her fine motor control is somewhat impaired, and she has low vision.

Phil Whitebloom with ASPIE painter Kate Manners

Kate’s day program shut down due to the COVID pandemic and so she started exploring craft and painting with the help of her parents with whom she lives in Lancaster. By 2021, she discovered the pour painting technique, which now dominates her work. Pour painting is the best way for her to adapt and allows her full creative expression.

Phil Whitebloom came to the ASPIE Open House in December and fell in love with both of their works of art. Phil is a long-term sales and marketing professional, but he is also an amateur astronomer, a solar astronomer in particular. He decided to commission some artwork for himself. He asked Steven to create a junk-metal sculpture of a telescope and gave Steven pictures of his own solar telescope. Other than that, he gave Steven free rein to create any sculpture. He commissioned Kate to create a pour painting based on any creative mix of pigments and design that would be her expression of the sun.

They both delivered their commissioned work, and Phil was blown away, saying “they both exceeded all my expectations,” and “It’s hard for anyone to believe that this quality of art and the creativity behind it is created by anyone who is physically or developmentally challenged. It rivals the artwork of any artist with no disabilities.”

Steven’s metal art moveable telescope and astronomer at the astronomy table in the Florida Keys
Stevens metal art moveable telescope and astronomer at the astronomy table in the Florida Keys

As part of his consulting business, Been There Consulting, Phil travels the world, having worked extensively for Sony in Japan for many years. But he also travels with his astronomical peers. The latest gathering of astronomers was the Winter Star Party in Big Pine Key, Florida. Phil put Steven’s and Kate’s creations on display for all the astronomers gathered there at this annual event. They all loved it. Some of them may even decide to commission their own artwork featuring this solar theme.

Phil said, “I wish all of you could have been there to see the sincere enthusiasm. The more they see, the more they understand, and are excited to participate and recommend ASPIE and their favorite ASPIE artists.”

Donors are the very heart of ASPIE, making it possible to help artists with disabilities show their work and grow more independent. ASPIE will have another Open House on May 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th at their gallery at 1905 Barton Drive in Lancaster and can be visited at almost any time by appointment. Simply call the ASPIE president, Jerry Buckwalter, at 207-412