Through & Through
Vince Sangmeister has been part of Project HOME’s art program for over two years. By day, he works for the Philadelphia Alliance for Supportive Services to Veteran Families (PASSVF), where he works to rapidly rehouse homeless veterans. Before working for Project HOME, Vince’s professional experience encompassed working as a Russian Cryptologic Linguist for the U.S. Air Force in Germany; as a machinist fabricating prototype parts for satellites, physics labs, and high-tech industries; and at the National Security Agency. He first connected with Project HOME through the PECO Veterans Training and Employment Program, interning at the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Vince currently works to break down the walls of distrust some homeless veterans have of social services by working on a peer-to-peer level, sharing his military experience and the armed service’s general philosophy of “no man left behind.”
Caring for Life
In the mid-1990s, both of Vince’s parents became ill, drastically altering his plans for college. His father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his mother became a quadriplegic from a virus that damaged her spinal cord. Vince cancelled his plans to attend college to instead care for his father for a year, and then subsequently his mother for a year following his father’s placement into long-term nursing care.
Vince’s mother then moved in with his sister, who ran a daycare service out of her home. At first his mother (now confined to a wheelchair) was hesitant about the move, but Vince was able to convince her that “waiting to die was no way to live,” and that she still had a purpose in life in being able to teach the children “how to be unafraid of someone who’s different than they.”
When his parents moved, Vince had nowhere to go and no income. For a while he stayed in a hotel and then with family, but eventually his housing options ran out. He was diagnosed with chronic depression and became suicidal, kept alive only by the thought of what his suicide would do to his family.
While caring for his parents, Vince sought respite at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Vince had always loved art since childhood playing with the board game, “Masterpiece,” in which players purchase and trade paintings in an art-gallery environment. In order to feed this desire to explore his artistic expression Vince took a drawing course at the Mainline Arts Center where his teacher, Laurie Fabricant, impressed upon him the task: “You’re here to learn how to see and interpret the world for non-artists.”
Pushed to take more advanced classes and imagine artistic possibilities, Vince moved found his love of painting. He describes his art style as “pushing the envelope of what is a painting and what is sculpture” and “artistic expression through letting loose.”
See his art on display at “Through & Through” Project HOME’s 2015 Winter Art Collective, this Thursday February 26 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm at 1515 Fairmount Avenue. He will be the featured artist. Here Vince showcases several large scale-paintings (large as a door) which show his interest in texture, structure, and architecture.
Interested in purchasing art from Vince or other Project HOME artists? Stop by the art exhibit or contact Rachel Ehrgood at [email protected] or (215)-232-7272 x3027. To learn more about the art program click here.