Veteran's journey to art gallery was 'interesting roller coaster ride' of 35 years

Posted at 2:54 PM, Aug 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-05 14:54:57-04

CINCINNATI -- Russell Nelson spent part of last week preparing for a gallery showing in downtown Cincinnati.

Tp him, it's been "an interesting roller coaster ride" to this point -- one that started 35 years ago.

Nelson's journey started when he enrolled in the U.S. Army in 1983. In the decades since, he left the service and divorced his wife. Nelson was homeless for a while because of his alcoholism -- "not afraid to admit it," he said.

Last year, he found himself at Joseph House, where homeless veterans can face their addictions and, hopefully, get their lives back on track. Brandon Cooper, a clinical counselor, said Nelson "was one of those hidden gems."

"It's just connecting with him, helping him relocate that potential he had and help him succeed," Cooper said.

He started painting in December, with the help of Art for All People. The organization works to help people deal with pain, addiction and loss through the arts.

Nelson flourished.

"It's just been great to see him and see his spirit transform," said Sarah Hellmann, director of Art for All People.

Painting not only helped Nelson find his purpose, it's given him something to live for. He'd like to have his own studio and "maybe" a gallery with it. 

For now, his art will be on display Aug. 9-25 at Dick Waller's ArtPlace. A portion of sales benefit Joseph House.

"I love myself again, and for the longest time I didn't. I truly am what I am supposed to be doing I can't describe the gratitude I have for Joseph House to give me this opportunity," he said.