Renowned Fairhope Artist B’Beth Weldon Is Invited to Visit Beijing to Globally Expand Gifted Masterpieces

By Jherrica Yelverton

Since 2010, Gifted Masterpieces has raised awareness and provided inspiration to those with special needs or intellectual challenges, as well as critically ill patients, their families, and support groups. The Gifted Masterpieces painting workshops were originally designed to give special needs children and their families the opportunity to paint with artist B’Beth Weldon; yet due to their success, the workshops have evolved and are now available to people of all ages with intellectual or physical challenges. Among other numerous organizations in the Southeast, the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute and Thomas Hospital have conducted workshops on site, inviting Weldon to create works of art with patients, their physicians, caregivers and family.

“B’Beth Weldon’s Gifted Masterpieces program allows children facing life-threatening illness such as cancer to have meaningful ‘distraction therapy’ via a world-class painting workshop,” states Margaret Sullivan, deputy director for business development and community outreach at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. “The workshop is truly a healing event for patients and their families. The USA Mitchell Cancer Institute counts B’Beth as a special friend and partner as we fight to beat cancer and provide hope and compassion to our patients.”

As Gifted Masterpieces continues to expand, Weldon travels to the Beijing Sports University this month to present Gifted Masterpieces: Celebrating the Sport of Endurance, a presentation that highlights what Gifted Masterpieces has to offer and how it benefits the physically and mentally challenged. “The emphasis of Gifted Masterpieces is one of global concern. Participants forget their limitations as they stretch beyond the borders established by their challenges and society. It’s a time to fly, play, and enjoy the creative process,” says Weldon. “For once, they are on a level playing field where there is no limit to their creativity. The end result … their masterpieces!”

Through the introduction of Glenn M. Roswal, Ph.D., Weldon has received and accepted the invitation from Beijing Sport University of China to present Gifted Masterpieces and to facilitate the workshop during her visit. Dr. Roswal is known worldwide for his programs, which combine sports and people with disabilities. Dr. Roswal, professor emeritus and past president of SHAPE America, has been a committed volunteer and advocate of the Special Olympics for 40 years and has led conferences and seminars in over 30 countries. Dr. Roswal is credited with introducing Weldon to Camp ASCCA and the Beijing Sport University, which is taking the Gifted Masterpieces program globally. “Painting involves fine motor muscle control and mental processes similar to those used in mastering sport skills,” says Roswal. “Gifted Masterpieces helps people with disabilities develop those skills.”

Most recently, Weldon was invited to conduct sessions at Camp ASCCA (Alabama’s Special Camp for Children and Adults), a nationally recognized leader in therapeutic recreation. To date, Weldon has completed three workshops at Camp ASCCA, including sessions with dignitaries visiting from Beijing, and special needs children and adults at the camp.

Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Weldon grew up painting and drawing with her mother, Margaret Weldon, as well as other regional celebrated artists. She spent her summers on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, where she gained an appreciation for action, animals, nature, sailing and travel … all of which are reflected in her work. Educated in Washington, D.C. Weldon studied at Mount Vernon College and Georgetown University, earning degrees in both Business and in Arts and Humanities. While in Washington D.C., she worked at the Smithsonian and the Capital Children’s Museum.

Today, Weldon works full time as an artist in her studio in Fairhope, Alabama. Constantly ‘capturing the essence of the moment,’ her paintings are held in private and corporate collections nationally and internationally. She is a member of the United States Sports Academy’s National Faculty and serves on the Academy’s Art Committee. In 2013, she was honored when Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, President and CEO of the United States Sports Academy, purchased Off Back Shot. This work is now a part of the American Sport Art Museum & Archives’ permanent collection (ASAMA). In addition, she was the Official Artist for Polo at the Point in 2011 and 2013. She was also the 2013 Official Artist for Providence Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Flowers 20th anniversary celebration. A recipient of several honors and awards, her art can be found in regional galleries throughout the Southeast.

Amanda Comer