AUGUSTA — The tennis court floors wore protective covering Sunday afternoon as the A-COPI Tennis and Sports Center on Leighton Road was transformed into an art gallery for “Art on the Courts.”

The Kennebec Valley Tennis Association hosted a benefit exhibit for MaineGeneral Health’s OutPatient Plus Program, which helps people in opioid rehabilitation, and the association’s Community Tennis Development programs for junior and adult players.

There were no tennis balls bouncing during the show.

“We thought we’d take a break from tennis and focus on art,” said Marcia Duval, who is on the tennis association board and served as chairman of the event. While it is the first time it has been done, Duval said, “We hope to do this again next year.”

The association selected causes that are close to home.

One of the event beneficiaries, the OutPatient Plus program, is run by another association board member, Alane O’Connor.

“We want to support her, plus it’s such a problem in Maine,” Duval said.

O’Connor had prepared a brief presentation to tell attendees statistics describing the extent of the opioid problem in the state — with 317 deaths statewide this year — as well as how the new program can help.

She said that 60 percent of children in the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services are placed there because of substance use in the family.

An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 of the state’s residents are now seeking treatment for their addiction, according to a survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And an average of one Mainer is now dying every day from an opioid overdose.

O’Connor said the donation from the tennis association will help with medication — Suboxone — for patients who are uninsured or underinsured.

“I call it replacement therapy,” said O’Connor, who holds a doctorate in nursing practice. “In my experience, you stabilize them medically. You take away the sickness so they can do the hard work of behavioral health counseling and really change their life.”

She has seen remarkable recovery with this type of program.

And as she readied her remarks, visitors walked around admiring the various wares and making an occasional purchase from the 30 or so artists who had set up set up exhibits on the indoor courts, including some student artists. Authors brought their books, and artists brought photos, paintings, jewelry and other crafts.

There was a long table with silent auction items, a live auction set, plus wine and food pairing later in the day.

Beverly Olson, of Mount Vernon, put up framed photos and smaller cards featuring mostly Maine scenes and composed largely of “lakes, loons and lighthouses,” she said.

The scenes were from Flying Pond, Great Pond and one showed a sturgeon leaping from the Kennebec River near the railroad bridge in downtown Augusta.

“I don’t think you can take a bad photo in Maine,” Olson said.

She said she was pleased to be invited to the show. “It’s a great cause.”

Across the room, Dennis Curtis of Augusta displayed his woodturned bowls from Maine timbers.

One bowl, crafted from a pine burl, was aptly titled “Saturn,” with its dark edge of bark serving as the outer ring. The woodturning is an avocation for Curtis, who flips one bowl on its side to show how it would have been crafted from the timber.

“I enjoy doing the natural edge, he said. “They are more decorative pieces.”

The bowls are crafted of red oak, cherry and maple. “I use almost all Maine hardwoods,” he said.

As music filled the air, Matt Demers, of Gardiner, created art on the spot, painting a large mural on the front wall of the tennis courts.

He started with the name and logo of the Kennebec Valley Tennis Association, in mostly blues and greens and filled in the border with some reds and other colors. “All my work is kind of improvisational,” he said. A ladder stood nearby to help him reach the higher section

Demers said he’s created murals since high school, and works from his studio at 327 Water St., Gardiner.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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