Jul 6, 2016

Vestavia Voice

In the past 35 years, nearly 20,000 children have lost a parent in active duty service.

Xavier and Aleah Taylor are two of them.

“Their father was killed in action just before his 26th birthday,” said Jerome Vason, a local artist who served almost 20 years in the military.

It’s stories like the Taylors’ that tugged at the heartstrings of Vason and other members of Artists Incorporated Gallery in Vestavia Hills.

Their story sparked a fundraiser art show last year to fund the siblings’ education through Children of Fallen Patriots.

And Artists Incorporated is going to do it again for another recipient July 8. “It’s a cause that is close to our hearts. We want to give back,” said gallery director Mary Jean Henke.  

The gallery’s “America the Beautiful” show will feature the work of Artists Incorporated’s 54 potters, sculptors, painters, jewelers and other artists. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served at the free event, and a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of art pieces will go toward higher education for this year’s Children of Fallen Patriots recipient.

“Our events are fun,” Henke said. “There is something for everybody, and we have a lot of really good artists.”

Two of the artists are veterans — Vason being one of those. An Alabama native, Vason was the unit artist everywhere he was stationed before retiring and returning to the Birmingham area.

“I’m a painter,” he said. “I started off as a more traditional artist, but now I’m more abstract with a traditional flair. A lot of what I do comes from things that I read, from Scripture or from things people say.”

Vason said he plans to do a piece especially for the “America the Beautiful” show.

“Some artists will do patriotic pieces. Last year, some did flags; others did landscapes,” he said.

Everyone gets involved in some way to benefit the cause, Vason said.

“The reason why we kind of went head-over-heels for Children of Fallen Patriots is because every penny that we give goes toward scholarships for the child of someone who was killed in action,” Vason said. “The money goes for their education and to help pay for college.”

So far, more than $12 million has been granted in scholarships nationwide through the work of Children of Fallen Patriots. 

The foundation was started in 2002 by David Kim, who wanted to find a way to help the daughter of William Delaney Gibbs, a sergeant killed in active duty in Panama. Gibbs died before his daughter was born while serving alongside Kim.

Henke said it was easy to want to get behind the efforts of Children of Fallen Patriots, noting that the organization has done a “splendid job” caring for the families of veterans. 

“They really impressed us,” she said. 

The event is July 8 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Artists Incorporated Gallery at 3365 Morgan Drive in Vestavia Hills. For more information, visit To learn more about Children of Fallen Patriots, visit