The new year has arrived, and with it the chance for a new beginning. Thus I am introducing my 2008 blog , and wishing all of you many blessings throughout the year. This is the perfect time to discard destructive old habits and replace them with healthy new ones.
Before we plunge headlong into 2008, here is a glance back at 2007. It was a busy year for me artistically. In January my work was on display at the Highway 111 Gallery here in La Quinta. In February I was invited to exhibit my paintings at the Tuscson Museum of Art as part of a concert produced by my dear friend, Donna Chernick of Chernick Productions, which combined the haunting, soulful music of Grammy-nominated composer and pianist Michael Hoppe with the poetry of Longfellow as read by his descendent, Lane Longfellow.
The event was a feast for the eyes and the ears, and I received wonderful feedback from Michael, Lane and members of the audience. One of my paintings, Mystic Shore, was also used for the poster.
In April Rassouli invited about 20 artists, including me, to a meeting in Topanga where we discussed forming a core group to develop as Fusionartists, exhibit together to promote the concept of Fusionart, and teach the approach of Fusionart to others. I was very excited by the vision and the synergy of a group of gifted artists coming together to launch the "art of the 21st century." I spent many Saturdays in various parks in the Los Angeles area, where we would meet to paint, receive instruction from Rassouli, critique each other's work, and plan for ways to promote fusionart.
Last summer, along with a number of other artists, I donated one of my paintings to a silent art auction. The proceeds were used to fund an arts program for children at an African orphanage. I was delighted and honored to find out that my painting, Wilderness, received the highest bid, $2500.
I also had the joy of introducing Fusionart to the second grade class at Emelia Earhart Elementary School just a few blocks from our home. As usual, I had no special plan. I know Spirit only works in the moment through the open heart rather than the head, and I trust that. I let Spirit guide us and the excitement continued to build throughout the class. I brought several of my paintings as well as the Fusionart posters I had made for display, a few brushes and an empty canvas. The children were immediately fascinated by the vivid colors of the paintings. I began by explaining in very simple terms what Fusionart is.
I then passed out black construction paper and small amounts of paint in paper dishes for them to share at their tables. The children immediately became very interested, and there was a buzz of excitement. They understood that it was up to them to bring color and light and beauty to the black paper, and that the darkness allowed the light and color to shine more brightly. I told them to listen inside to their hearts until their spirit spoke, and then put the colors on the paper that they were attracted to. I could feel them concentrating, and one little girl even had her hands folded in prayer. The energy rose as many became more attracted to the primary reds and yellows. In the end, I could see they were thrilled with what they had created. There was such joy on their faces as they held up their creations.
I gave from my heart and the children gave from theirs. In the process a tiny seed was planted. Who knows how it will grow? My reward was seeing the joy on the children's faces as they created and feeling their gratitude when I left. One of my goals for 2008 is to continue to teach art to children after school as well as adults.
August brought the Kenneth Village Arts and Crafts Festival in Glendale. The main shopping block of Kenneth Village had been cordoned off for the Festival from 3-9pm that Saturday. There were other painters, sculptors and photographers exhibiting. There were also various crafts on exhibit, from ceramics to jewelry. At the end of the street, a temporary stage had been constructed for live musicians, who entertained us with a variety of music throughout the event. Food and refreshments were available at both ends of the block, and the Italian restaurant behind us was selling pizza slices on the sidewalk. The weather was quite warm, typical of August in the inland parts of the Los Angeles area. Fortunately, we were on the shady side of the street, and our canopy offered welcome relief, along with the occasional cool breeze.
I saw it as a good omen when a woman came by the booth right about 3 o’clock and was attracted to one of my paintings. She was of Dutch heritage too, and we quickly struck up a conversation. She came back 15 minutes later to buy the painting. I was elated and began dancing for joy after she left. Many people stopped by and I enjoyed talking to all of them, even the lady who looked at one of my paintings and informed me, in all seriousness, that “the sky is not pink.” That amused me because apparently she had never seen a sunrise or a sunset. “I am a realist,” she told me firmly. “And I am an artist,” I gently answered.
The crowd continued to come throughout the afternoon, enjoying the cooler temperature as the sun dropped closer to the horizon. Half a dozen of my loyal friends even braved the heat to come out and support me. As dusk turned to darkness and interest began to ebb, the last song was played and the Festival came to an end. We broke down our booth and packed up the SUV again, simultaneously exhausted but still excited by the events of the day.
The Mehregan Festival in October provided a final opportunity to exhibit in 2007. It was held at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Irvine, and dedicated to Rumi in honor of his 800th birthday. The Art Plaza featured a number of Fusionartists, including me. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative on Friday and Saturday. The strong wind literally blew one of my paintings off the panel, its corner landing on my big toe like a hammer. Ouch! Several other artists had their paintings damaged by the overnight rain. The sun finally came out Sunday. In spite of the inclement conditions, the Festival was attended by thousands and the publicity was great. I am now officially a "published" artist.
So that's my whirlwind recap of some highlights of 2007. I hope you enjoyed it. I know I did. And now it's full speed ahead into 2008. May it be filled with growth and happiness for all of us.