‘We Have a Heart for Service’: Family’s Art Show Benefits Muscular Dystrophy Association

by | Oct 2019

Some of the art featured at the Amble family art show benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association

Photo: Chris Emeott

Woodbury’s Amble family has been making art in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for 10 years.

More than a decade ago, Woodbury’s Amble family—mom Becky Amble and sons Alex and Pasha Amble Gravdahl—curated an art show in the heart of their home as a way to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association, an organization that strives to improve the lives of those living with muscular disorders. After Alex was diagnosed at a young age with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a genetic spectrum of nerve disorders causing muscle weakness, loss of sensation and joint stiffening, he made a lofty goal of raising $1 million for MDA.

The two-day sale showcases their family’s original work, and in the past has included the work of other local artists. The intimate setting allows visitors to see the heartfelt creations up close.

“I think art helps to create a whole person,” Becky Amble says. “You can use your creativity in different ways, whether you are an artist or not. You can look at art to feel a connection and find something that speaks to you. There is so much that you can communicate. If nothing else, it gets people to stop what they are doing, take a break and appreciate.”

To find a variety of artists for the original sales, Becky explored what the Minnesota art scene had to offer. She attended numerous local events, like the St. Paul Art Crawl and a variety of Woodbury art shows, to connect with artists and recruit them to become a part of the Amble art sale.

Prior to the genesis of the art show, musician Alex Amble Gravdahl began raising funds for MDA by taking donations and selling CDs of himself playing the piano. He performed at Rotary Club meetings and other venues and says music is one of his favorite forms of artistic expression.

For several years, this was his main fundraising push. Alex says the lean years only inspired him to work harder and explore additional ways of raising money for the organization that meant so much to him.

As he grew older, he began to explore other art mediums, like acrylic paint, colored pencil, marker, photography and fused glass. After expanding his skill set, Alex not only continued to perform and sell CDs, but he also began to showcase his artwork at state and regional fairs, and local Woodbury galleries.

Over the years, Alex gained attention for his artwork at regional and state fairs, earning nearly 20 blue ribbons.

He has also had featured art in the MDA National Office and the National Tour Congressional Office in Washington, D.C., and has two pieces, “Apple Pearing” and “Thunder” displayed as a part of the permanent MDA Art Collection.

This art collection was established in 1992 as a way to highlight the achievements of artists with disabilities and emphasize that creativity has no barrier.

“We are all different and connect with different things,” Becky Amble says. “We can connect with art and have an expression and appreciation for it and the person that created it. Art helps people think, relax and understand perspective.”

The collection features 400 original, mixed-medium pieces from all ages, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, which are displayed in MDA offices across the nation. Pieces include “digital designs, collages [and] paint applied with wheelchair wheels and human feet. There are also many works in more traditional oils, watercolors, acrylics, pen and ink, crayons, pastels, bronze, ceramics and photography,” says the MDA website.

Alex isn’t the only Amble with a creative eye. His younger brother Pasha began his career selling his own greeting cards in a local gallery at age 3. Now 18, Pasha has a hand in realistic acrylic, pastel and colored pencil, and primarily works with photography, as he has a strong eye for composition. Mom Becky has an interest in creating functional fused glass pieces, and floral and landscape paintings in watercolor, acrylic or oil.

Celebrating the art show’s tenth year this fall, Becky Amble hopes that it will continue to be as successful as it has been. She attributes part of the success to the dedicated artists that have stuck with them throughout and committed to donating at least 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale to MDA.

The art shows have raised around $12,000 for MDA so far, and the Amble family takes pride in what they’ve been able to do with their art. “We as a family have a value of volunteering and helping others when we can,” says Amble. “We have a heart for service and hope that they can continue that in some fashion.”

Art Sale
November 9-10
Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, Noon-5 p.m.
6318 Crackleberry Trail


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