Third Annual Kerrville Festival of the Arts

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The Moonlight Fund Inc. and River’s Edge Gallery joined forces to sponsor veteran, burn survivor and painter Mario Lopez, at the 2016 Third Annual Kerrville Festival of the Arts on Memorial Day Weekend

San Antonio, TX, May 11, 2016 – Burn survivor, painter, veteran and Purple Heart recipient Ret. Sgt. Mario Lopez will display his latest collection of paintings during the Third Annual Kerrville Festival of The Arts this Memorial Day Weekend (May 28th and 29th) in Kerrville, Texas. River’s Edge Gallery and The Moonlight Fund have made this presentation possible. Mario’s goal is to not only showcase his beautiful work surrounded by wonderful local artists, but also to show other burn survivors and veterans that they can accomplish their dreams despite their injuries and struggles. In addition he has decided to donate 20% of all proceeds during the Festival back to The Moonlight Fund so they can continue to support other burn survivors like himself.

Mario Lopez never thought he would become a painter when he enlisted in the United States Army in 2003, where he served in a combat engineering unit. During his second deployment in Afghanistan in 2008 Mario sustained life-threatening injuries after his vehicle was struck by an IED.  Mario lost his right arm, right eye, all of his fingers on his left hand and sustained 3rd degree burns on 54% of his body. With a low probability of survival, Mario fought against all odds, underwent many surgeries and treatments and survived. Like many burn survivors, however, his medical recovery is still far from over.

“Recovery has been very tough, and for some time, I was in a very dark place. I remember taking a lot of pain medication and turning to drinking. After a scary incident, which I can only describe as an overdose, I had a vision that turned me to God and to painting. My faith and my art have not only kept me going but have changed my life and my view on how to live it for the better,” explained Mario. “I want to live my life to the fullest for God, for my fellow soldiers who did not get to come home, for my wife, my children and for other burn survivors who feel held back by their injuries,” says Mario.

When asked about his paintings, which Mario explains are a representation of his life’s experiences and beliefs, he mentioned: “My art is for everyone. I see beautiful objects and beautiful ideas and attempt to translate them into canvas and paint. To me, my art is a means to take a break from the world’s problems and get lost in the canvas creating a gateway for interaction with people who might not otherwise see the world as I do. It offers an unspoken truce. My art is the action I take to give back to the human community, showing all that no matter what, life is worth living.”

Celia Belt, Co-Founder of the Moonlight Fund and an art collector speaks fondly of Mario. “I remember meeting Mario in 2008 when he was a patient at the burn unit in the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC). We reconnected in 2010 when he was just getting started with his paintings. As an art collector, I invited him into my home to look at different types of art that would not only inspire him, but also showcase different techniques. In just a few years, his technique has improved tremendously and I think any art lover or collector would love a piece of Mario’s work in their home.”

The Moonlight Fund has also helped Mario connect with various local galleries to showcase his work and has included him in fundraising functions to display and sell his paintings. Additionally, Mario and his family recently attended one of The Moonlight Fund’s award-winning retreats, which focus on helping burn survivors and their families by meeting other survivors and engaging in fun and therapeutic activities. The charity also helped him furnish his home in Bandera, Texas, through in-kind donations of local retailers and interior designers.

In 2015, The Moonlight Fund introduced Mario to River’s Edge Gallery, a local art gallery that has been a supporter of the charity for some time and has always been committed to helping new artists succeed. When asked about Mario’s work, Clayton Rogers, owner of River’s Edge Gallery mentioned: “Mario has an incredible story that shines through his work. I am a firm believer to make something beautiful with the obstacles that confront you in order to grow and Mario is a shining example of this. River’s Edge Gallery is thankful to be able to support such an artist and our dear friends at the Moonlight Fund. We always look forward to these projects in hope that, through this relationship, we are able to spread the word and educate our community about burn survivors and of course ART.”

Mario will display his paintings and do a live art demo during his presentation at the Kerrville Festival of The Arts. The event will be open to the public Memorial Day Weekend (May 28th and 29th) from 10 am to 6pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday.  The event will take place in Historic Downtown Kerrville at 700-800 blks Water St & 200 blk Earl Garrett St. For more information on the event, please visit https://www.kvartfest.com/ .

For more information about Mario and his work, please visit: http://www.paintingsbymariolopez.com/index.html

About The Moonlight Fund Inc.

The Moonlight Fund Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded in 1998 in San Antonio, Texas, by Celia Belt and fellow burn survivor Henry Coffeen lll, the staff at the Burn Unit at the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC), and executives at Ernst & Young.

It provides financial, emotional and in-kind assistance to burn survivors and their families. In Texas alone, The Moonlight Fund Inc. supports more than 500 people every year.

The Moonlight Fund Inc. is the only organization of its kind, offering services from the onset of an injury, through rehab and on into the patients’ and families’ new lives. They have helped military and civilian survivors in many ways including paying for medical bills, providing financial aid to finish college degrees, building and furnishing homes, healing retreats and most importantly, providing a support system when they most desperately need it.

Guided by the principle, “We’ll Measure Our Success… by the Lives We Touch,” The Moonlight Fund Inc. focuses on maintaining operation costs at a minimum so the majority of the funds go to the patients and their families. On June 15th, The Moonlight Fund will expand its footprint nationally.

For more information, visit www.moonlightfund.org or call 210-415-3406.

About River’s Edge Gallery:

Located in the heart of Historic downtown Kerrville across from the Guadalupe River, River’s Edge Gallery offers more than 30 years of experience in the field and has supplied the Hill Country with Fine Art and Museum Quality Framing for the last 15 years.  Rivers Edge Gallery plays host to over 50 amazing, hand-picked artists that range from the very traditional to the edgy contemporary and it provides a unique shopping experience with their local, established, and museum artists.

The Gallery’s also offers of museum-conservation quality custom framing with more than 1,000 frames to choose from brought in from all over the world.

River’s Edge Gallery is committed to supporting new and local talent as well as local charities that are focused on helping the community.

For more information, please visit http://www.riversedgegallery.net/ or call 830.895.5184

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