Art for Recovery: Book of artwork tells tales of addiction and the road to recovery

Art for Recovery, a 10-year-old community-wide event and nonprofit organization aimed at raising awareness about substance-abuse addiction and the need for accessible resources to treat it, has published a coffee-table book that celebrates the artists and artwork involved in the effort.

The full-color, 300-page book features prints of 260 artworks produced by artists who were recruited to create works depicting the darkness of addiction and brightness of recovery. Art for Recovery: A Decade of Creative Expression to Inspire Change in Treating Addiction will debut on Saturday, Sept. 23 at a dinner-auction scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St. in Reno. Tickets are available online.

 “Art for Recovery’s mission is as vital as ever,” said the organization and event’s founder, Stacie Mathewson—who herself lost her son to the opioid crisis, in 2013. “This book will be an enduring testament to the need for our nation to develop more accessible and effective education and treatment for substance abuse in our communities.”

The volume with its evocative artworks is a reminder that “the crisis is real, and healthcare solutions are urgently needed,” Mathewson said.

Art for Recovery began in 2014, when the non-profit organization put out a call for artists in the Reno-Lake Tahoe area to decorate antique doors salvaged from the historic First Church of Christ Scientist building in Reno, which was being renovated into the Lear Theater. The theme of that project was  “Doors to Recovery” —encouraging people addicted to drugs or alcohol to find treatment and support, and for their families and friends to talk more openly about the disease and support efforts to develop solutions for treating it.

The artist community responded: 38 doors were decorated and displayed around town that summer, then auctioned off at the Nevada Museum of Art to benefit the nonprofit Transforming Youth Recovery. That group was creating centers for information and treatment for addiction on more than 100 college campuses.

Art for Recovery continued as an annual event to raise awareness about the true nature of addiction, and to foster hope that support is available. The event expanded to include paintings, sculptures and other media. In all, 160 artists created 260 artworks during the past decade.

Art for Recovery is more vital than ever, Mathewson said.

“In 2023, there’s a seemingly unending epidemic of catastrophic drug misuse and abuse threatening our nation’s youth, and our society as a whole,” she said. “…Hardcore narcotics such as fentanyl have found their way not only onto the street but into schools and workplaces. The opioid crisis has upped the stakes on the perils of drug abuse.”

Mathewson’s son, Josh, was among the more than 560,000 Americans who have died from an opioid overdoses in the past 20 years. “Addiction is blind to someone’s social standing, education, ethnicity, religion or region,” she said. “It hits every group of people. And it will take all of us to turn back its rising tide.”

Art for Recovery: A Decade of Creative Expression to Inspire Change in Treating Addiction, is available in standard edition ($40 plus shipping and handling) and a deluxe, slipcase edition ($100 plus shipping and handling). Each edition is hardback with foil-stamped covers. Sales of the book will benefit Transforming Youth Recovery, whose mission is investing in the future of youth and families by bringing research, solution-based programs, and resources to substance-use disorders, transforming the pathway for lifetime recovery. Copies of the book can be ordered by emailing [email protected]