By Kent Chapline, CBSDFW.COM


FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Some people swear the words “retail” and “therapy” go together.

But “art” and “therapy” aren’t often seen in the same phrase.

Two Fort Worth family therapists hope to change that.

Beth Lewis owns Mistletoe Therapy Group and Art Gallery, in the city’s hospital district.  She and Dawn Stilwell operate their family therapy practices in Lewis’ space.

Thursday at their offices they hosted what they hope will be the first of many art showings.

“I’m thrilled with the outcome,” Lewis said afterwards.  “On a one to ten scale I’d give it a ten.“

They estimate between 40 and 50 people came to the afternoon event, which is a good number for a first show in such a small venue—especially considering the venue is primarily a family therapy practice.

Next month the women will mark the end of their first year working together.  Their shared approach to therapy extends beyond the confines of the office into the waiting room.  Listen to Lewis explain:

The idea to bring original, local art into their practice was Lewis’.  She wanted “to let them sit and wait on their appointment and see what it is we’re talking about in here,” she said.

They hosted two local artists at their initial show, Windy Kai Savarese and Dawn Taft.

Lewis says she and Stilwell limited the showing to two artists because they have a small space in which to display the work.  Nine pieces graced the walls Thursday, six by Savarese and three by Taft.

Lewis was very deliberate in the way she chose each artist’s paintings for the show.  “I liked the fact they both appreciate nature and they go about it from two totally different angles,” she said.

Both artists’ work displays a certain sadness.  Taft’s largest piece in the show, called “Winter,” is a painting of a barren, cold tree in a gray landscape.  One immediately feels the bleakness of the scene upon seeing the painting.

Savarese’s work in particular, Lewis said, shows the grief that many of their clients are dealing with in their therapy sessions.  Here, Lewis explains the connection she found between therapy and Savarese’s art:

Stilwell, who treats pre-teen children, says the artwork lets her patients know that other people experience the same feelings they do.  “Many of the kids that I work with—nobody gives them any kind of recognition or chance,” she said.  “And so they’ll achieve their attention any way possible.  Usually negative.”

Seeing the art tells her patients that there are positive ways to express their feelings, Stilwell said.

Savarese, who teaches art at Mansfield’s Linda Jobe Middle School, liked the idea of art being used in a therapeutic way, especially for children.  “I just love the concept that they wanted to have art displayed for kids to look at and see and appreciate.”  The concept, she said, “makes so much sense!”

The show itself was a bit of therapy for Savarese herself.  Although she has taught art for several years, this was her first public art display outside the classroom.  “This was a big step for me,” she said.

She has already been rewarded for taking that step.  The artwork is for sale, but that’s not why she agreed to do the show.

A seven-year-old boy came to Thursday’s show and was drawn to a multimedia painting of a tree Savarese created called “Hummingbird Tree.”  “He was fascinated by it,” Lewis said.

“A sale every now and again is great,” Savarese said.  “But after she told me the story of that little boy, I just can’t wait to hear more stories from Dawn and Beth about any reactions the kids have.  It was very cool.”

Here, Lewis talks about why she chose “Hummingbird Tree” for the show (Editor’s note: our apologies for the poor lighting in this video):

Lewis and Stilwell plan to display the two artists’ work for six weeks and then bring in another pair of artists in what they hope will be an ongoing rotation.  They also hope to include work by child artists, including some of their patients.

Check back with CBSDFW.COM next Tuesday for an artist profile of Windy Kai Savarese.

Contact Mistletoe Therapy Group regarding therapy or artwork on their website or at 817.781.3735.

Contact artist Windy Kai Savarese on her website, windykai.com.