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Lighthouse clinic exhibits watercolors of its youngest patients

Artist Kaaren Metcalf worked for more than three years to develop a body of work that captured the beauty and expressiveness of the faces of child patients at the Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic. Photo: Enid Bloch

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published September 25, 2014

The Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic doesn’t usually host art openings. It’s a nonprofit, drop-in clinic where UB medical students provide free, routine health care and preventive services to uninsured patients on Buffalo’s East Side.

But the clinic hosted on Saturday an opening of an exhibition of watercolor paintings by local artist Kaaren Metcalf, who wanted to capture the faces of children being treated at the clinic, located in the UBMD Jefferson Family Medicine Clinic at 1315 Jefferson Ave.

The paintings will remain on permanent exhibit at UBMD Family Medicine.

UB medical students held the event in part to promote the clinic’s free services to the community and to try to attract area physicians who would like to volunteer.

The artist’s husband, Harry Metcalf, is an alumnus, former faculty member and administrator of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and longtime clinic volunteer who supervises the work of UB medical students.

George Kirksey is himself a patient at the Lighthouse clinic. Photo: Enid Bloch

Over three years, Kaaren Metcalf worked from photographs of the children — with permission from parents and guardians — to develop a body of work reflecting the beauty and expressiveness of the children’s faces.

At the exhibition opening, UB medical students who volunteer at the clinic provided health and medical information, as well as face painting and a nonthreatening “meet the doctor” opportunity for children.

During the event, George Kirksey rode by on his bike. A patient at the clinic, he said he was thrilled with the care he has received there. “There was so much wrong with me when I came here a year ago — my heart, all sorts of things. But just look at me now,” he said, grinning and flexing his arm muscles, eyes twinkling.

Jessica and Chris Mellazo study the artwork, which will be on permanent exhibit at the clinic. Photo: Enid Bloch

The clinic is run entirely by UB medical students under the supervision of volunteer physicians. The clinic provides free medical care to residents of Buffalo’s East Side, which has been designated a “medically underserved community” by the federal government. The clinic, which has been operating since 2001, was the idea of a few students who wanted to do more for the community.

“We’re different from clinics at other medical schools because we’re entirely student-run,” said Jacob Castiglia, a second-year medical student and a student manager at the clinic.