Monday, December 14, 2009

I Am Here

"I Am Here" 2009
Colorado Springs, Colorado

As 2009 comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on what an amazing year it has been! It seems like it was just yesterday that we were unpacking our U-Haul after a 3 day, 1200 mile drive through two snow storms from Detroit to Denver. But in January we will celebrate our one year anniversary of living in Colorado.

As we unpacked and got settled into our new apartment I set the intention that in 2009 I would make more time to paint. Not knowing anyone but each other, and no longer having a house and a yard to maintain, I would have more time to dedicate to my creative expression. I think back to my younger self just 11 months ago and I smile as I reflect on the fact that I had no idea what was in store for me when I got here!

Colorado is an adventurous state with many of its residents being avid outdoor types. But navigating the Denver art scene is an adventure in itself! And I have only just begun to scratch the proverbial surface of artists to meet and galleries and museums to explore. Michigan has its renowned Detroit Institute of Art museum and metro-Detroit is peppered with the occasional art gallery. But there is nothing comparable to the Sante Fe and Rino art districts. Imagine my joy as I began to learn what a vibrant art community Denver has!

I’ve been painting on and off my entire life, but it wasn’t until I moved to Denver that I had the opportunity to start showing my work. If you would have told me a year ago that I’d spend 2009 participating in multiple group art shows and that I’d close the year with a two month solo art exhibit I wouldn’t have believed you. I had no frame of reference from where I came from that the experiences I’ve had this year were possible.

As 2010 approaches I am excited with anxious anticipation for what the New Year has in store. So much so that sometimes it’s hard to live in the moment. There is so much I want to do, to see, to experience that I feel this sense of urgency. I want to do it all and I want to do it now! I’m almost overwhelmed with the choices and paths that lay before me. I could pursue so many different avenues, and while each one would be different, they would each be an adventure I would never forget.

While 2009 has been the best year of my life, I am confident that 2010 will be even better. But I have to remember that I’m here, in this moment, and that it’s really all I have. Yesterday is over and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I’m here – living, learning, and loving everything I can about life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

When to Stop

Rev. Haju Sunim

As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end my heart is telling me that I need a vacation. Or better yet, a sabbatical. Wikipedia defines sabbatical as, “literally a ceasing, a hiatus, or a rest from work.” Yes, that is what I need: a rest from work.

In order to prevent this artist from starving I still hold down a steady day job. But when my eight hour day is over I am just getting started. There are paintings to paint, events to promote, an online presence to manage…my work is never done.

One might think Thanksgiving weekend would be the perfect time to rest and renew, but I feel like I have been running in a marathon. I started three new paintings for an upcoming opportunity to hang, sketched ideas for two calls-for-entry of which the deadlines are quickly approaching, and I when I had a second to think, I thought about my ideas, or lack there of, for a commissioned painting.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the opportunities to show my work that continue to present themselves, even more so since my solo art show at Michelangelo’s in November. But I’m still catching my breath from that experience.

So I have spent the majority of this Thanksgiving weekend not painting, not leisurely allowing the creative process to unfold. Instead I’ve been rushing, spilling paint, breaking spatulas, and fretting about how I don’t have enough time. Gone are the creativity and the fun and in their place are frustration and exhaustion. The worst of it is that what I did manage to paint this weekend is unacceptable. So it’s official: I’m burnt out.

The only cure I know for burn out is to take a break. And while I can’t take any time off from my day job so that I might take a vacation in the traditional sense of the word, I don’t have to keep saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself. To quote the Buddhist monk Rev. Haju Sunim, “Wisdom is knowing when to stop.”

By taking a break from painting, and saying no to opportunities, I will likely lose the momentum I’ve built and not show for a few months. But the alternative is showing work I’m not proud of. And in the end, that could be more disastrous.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Celebrating Life at First Solo Art Show

Posing with singer/songwriter Mailyn Faulkner
and art collectors Anita & Larry Larson

This month I am the featured artist at Michelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar in Denver. To celebrate this artistic achievement I hosted a reception there on Saturday, November 7. It was an evening to delight the senses with happy hour extended an additional hour, inspiring music performed and sung by my friend and singer/songwriter Mailyn Faulkner, and nineteen of my original works of art adorning the walls and adding to the ambiance. It was a wonderful experience to sell five of my paintings opening night, but the highlight of the evening was being honored by Tammy Cunningham of The Cunningham Foundation with a HOPE bracelet.

Photo courtesy of The Cunningham Foundation

The HOPE bracelets are a fundraising project that provides breakfast, lunch, an education, uniforms and shoes to 1,500 children at the Project Mercy orphanage in Yetebon, Ethiopia through The Cunningham Foundation. During the months of November and December 15% of the proceeds from the sale of my paintings at Michelangelo’s, and Mile Hi Church, will benefit The Cunningham Foundation. So I asked Tammy Cunningham, and fellow artist Laurie Maves, to share with the guests at my reception about the philanthropic work they do at Project Mercy through the foundation. It is with great pride that I wear my HOPE bracelet as it is a constant reminder that by honoring my creative self I am able to have a direct impact on the lives of children in the developing world and that I am living my mission: to send out love into the world one painting at a time.

Photo courtesy of The Cunningham Foundation

A first solo art show would be a significant achievement for any artist, but for me it was particularly sweet because eight years ago I could not imagine such an achievement. At that time I was just being reintroduced to art, after denying my creative self for nearly a decade, in the from of art therapy at the hospital I was being treated at for a life threatening bought of depression. Since my breakdown, or what I prefer to call my breakthrough, I have come to realize that it is imperative that I honor my creative self. When I didn’t, life for me was not worth living. So celebrating my first solo art show at Michelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar was not just about celebrating an artistic achievement, it was about celebrating life, my life, and a life that I now honor and live to its fullest!

Honoring my creative self and painting brings me joy. But donating a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of my paintings to a cause I support gives my life purpose. Dr. Ernest Holmes once said, “Let the one who is sad, depressed, or unhappy find some altruistic purpose into which he may pour his whole being, and he will find a new inflow of life which he has never dreamed.” And so it is.

After the achievement of being the featured artist at Michelangelo’s, what’s next? I’ve been pondering this question for the past week and answer is simple. To keep living, to keep loving, to keep painting, and to keep bringing attention to the causes that are near and dear to my heart: the philanthropic work of The Cunningham Foundation and eliminating the stigma attached to people who have or continue to struggle with depression.

My solo exhibit at Michelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar has been extended two weeks and will run through December 12, 2009. Please visit for their address and hours.

To learn how you too can support children of the developing world through The Cunningham Foundation please visit

To view Laurie Maves artwork and learn about her philanthropic endeavors please visit

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Once an Artist, Always an Artist

"Two of Them" 1977

"An Ocean of Possibility" 2009

The portfolio of my art that I created as a three year old child is perhaps the best birthday present I have ever received! My mom held onto my early creations over all these years and finally put the collection together after my recent visit to see her in Detroit. While there, I shared with her that from time to time I kick myself for throwing out all of my old drawings and paintings from the art classes I took in high school and college. The purge occurred when I was going through my divorce and was paring down during my move to a new home. Looking back it was a time in which I did not honor my creative self and, as a result, put my expressions on the curb to be picked up with the trash, not thinking of the regret I would feel years later.

A friend recently shared with me that perhaps I wasn’t meant to hold onto my old artwork. That maybe to have held onto it would have been like holding onto the past and that I need to live in the now and look to the future. While I agree with him on an intellectual level, from time-to-time my heart still yearns to reconnect with my younger, more innocent self in an effort to see my growth and measure how far I have come, both as an artist and as a person.

So when I opened the portfolio of my childhood art and saw shapes and symbols in the form of circles, lines and dots that still haunt my consciousness and my paintings today, thirty plus years later, I felt a completeness in my soul I have never known and I wept. The tears flowed as I was reminded of who I am: a creative being and one with my Creator. And now I understand why I paint what I paint: energy and my vision of our oneness – because it is who I am. One.

Once an artist, always an artist. Once an expression of love, always an expression love.

Deeply we are one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Data Device Detox

Zen Buddhist Temple in Ann Arbor, Michigan

How did we stay connected before the advent of emailing and texting? How would I break the ice at a networking function if I didn’t ask someone if they’re on Facebook or Twitter? And I know I’m not the only one who’s response to some unknown factoid is, “Let’s Google it!” But is all this technology really enhancing the quality of our lives?

Last week I attended Deb Davis’ discussion on social media. While I have already been using Facebook, Twitter, and Blogspot to connect with others and market my artistic endeavors, Deb taught me new tools and short cuts that I am optimistic will enhance my online presence and marketing efforts – assuming I make the time to use them.

How much time spent using online social networking tools is the right amount of time to promote one’s business or ideas? For all the hours I have spent online building my Fine Art America profile, adding enhancements to my Blogspot, connecting and reconnecting with friends on Facebook, and tweeting away on Twitter what do I have to show for it? Have I received a return on my investment? While it hasn’t cost me monetarily, it has been an enormous investment of time.

As I ponder these questions I am pleased report that after posting links on twitter of two new paintings I uploaded to Fine Art America today my profile received 60 visits in less than four hours. Not too shabby considering prior to using twitter my FAA profile only averaged 60 visitors per week!

I do think social networking works, but despite the seemingly endless advancements in communication technologies, nothing can replace connections to be made with face-to-face human contact. Like the glint in a friends eye as she tells you her cancer has gone into remission, squeezing a friends hand to let her know she’s not alone when she tells you she separated from her husband, or the sound of laughter as you share an inside joke.

So I’m challenging myself, and you, to turn off our cell phones, computers, and other data devices for just one day each week and to listen for a higher call. Who knows, we might actually receive the answers, solutions, or inspiration we’re looking for if we take a data device detox. I’ll start mine just as soon as I post this blog, RSVP to an invite on Facebook, tweet about tomorrow night’s plans, MapQuest directions, pay my bills online, catch up on my email correspondences…okay, maybe I’ll start my detox tomorrow.

Deb Davis is a marketing consultant and owner of 3D Communications. For more information about her services visit

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Power of Saying Yes

"Infinite Love" 2009
Acrylic & Mixed Media

After First Friday Art Walk last night over drinks with friend, mentor, and fellow artist Laurie Maves I shared with her that the day we met changed my life forever. It is all because I said Yes.

I discovered Laurie and her work online late one night back in May when Google imaging other Denver artists. Out of curiosity I wondered if there was anyone else living in this spiritual Mecca I now call home feeling compelled to paint circles. Since these aura like images also haunt some of Laurie’s paintings it didn’t take me long to find her.

Laurie’s work is both dark and light in her use of color, as well as the emotions her paintings convey. I could study the somber faces with spirit orb eyes and the trippy, drippy poppies for hours as the symbolism and built up paint layers transport me to another plane of existence. But it’s not just her paintings that speak to me, it’s all the philanthropic work she does. So the night I discovered her I sent an email and asked her to let me know of opportunities to paint AND support a cause.

Not use to the kindness of strangers back in Michigan, I wasn’t expecting Laurie to email me back, but she did and invited me to visit her at an upcoming show. I get goose bumps recalling our first conversation. It was like standing at a cross road and what I said, Yes or No, would determine my fate forever.

When Laurie asked me if I am a painter I hesitated because up until that moment I had not given myself that title. Sure, I’ve always been expressing myself creatively in some capacity, but I didn’t have a name for it. But then it occurred to me that Yes, I paint, so I am a painter!

I’ve been painting nearly every day since arriving in January. It’s part of why I came out here: to simplify my life, establish healthier boundaries with the ones I love, and to once and for all, create the place and space in my life to allow myself to paint with consistency. When I started painting again five years ago I was only averaging one painting per year. It was all I could produce in my limited free time with the responsibilities of living in a house and the social expectations of living twenty minutes from family. But since moving out here I’m averaging one to two paintings per month.

I said Yes again when Laurie asked me that first night if I was showing anywhere. Granted, I was only showing one painting, “Infinite Love,” and it was the first show that I had ever submitted a piece of my work to. But I was showing in the “Mandala” juried fine art show at Mile Hi Church so I said Yes, because it was true, I was showing somewhere!

Back in Detroit I haunted a few galleries, hung out with a couple working artists, and occasionally took a painting class, but it wasn’t until I moved to Denver that I found the courage to start submitting my work. I am grateful that I found this courage because had I wavered, had I answered No or down played the significance of my painting practices in response to Laurie’s questions, the world as I know it today would not exist.

So I keep saying Yes to every artistic opportunity that comes my way and it seems that the more I say Yes, the more opportunities the Spirit of the Universe gives me to say Yes to. This is an enormous challenge as I work full-time and therefore have less time to paint than I would like. But to have more opportunities to show than I have work to hang is a problem I don’t mind having. It just means I need to be mindful of the things I say No to so that I can see Yes to the things that I want to.

I said Yes again last night when Laurie invited me to paint live with her at Tommypolooza in November to support a children’s charity. I would be lying if I didn’t say that the thought of painting in front of a live audience and on an easel (of which I don’t own yet because I paint flat) doesn’t scare the shit out of me. But what an awesome opportunity to paint with purpose for a children’s charity, plus, paint in front of a live audience, grooving to live music, with the amazing and talented Laurie Maves at my side. Can life get any better than this?

Details to come regarding the Tommypolooza live painting event.

To see Laurie Maves paintings and learn about her philanthropic work visit

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Painting With Purpose

"Self Portrait" 2009

When I meditate I often pose a question and ask for guidance. A recurring theme is, “Why am I here and what is my purpose?” Often in response I hear a voice that says, “Paint.”

“Paint?” I ask. “How can I contribute to the world and make a difference just with painting?” But the voice, accompanied by intuitive feelings, synchronistic messages, and serendipitous events keep instructing me, simply and firmly, to “paint.” And when I doubt myself, my abilities, and my purpose the message only gets louder and is accompanied by “never give up.” So I don’t know why, but I feel like painting is my calling. All I can do is follow my inner compass, get out of the way, and let it unfold.

Through my studies of Eastern religions and New Thought philosophy I have come to the conclusion that we are here to love. To love one another, but equally important, to love ourselves. It has been my experience that when I give myself the unconditional love and acceptance that I have spent most of my life looking for outside of myself, my capacity to love others increases and that anything, and everything, becomes possible.

So through my studies and meditation I have become aware that my mission is to send out love into the world one painting at a time. My ideas for my paintings often come to me during my mediation sessions. And while my painting practice involves a lot of rituals (finding the right music to play, laying out my brushes, etc.) I begin each painting, and each painting session, with prayer and meditation. The results have been astounding.

Opportunities to show my work in conjunction with supporting a cause have begun to present themselves. Last weekend I showed 4 paintings at Art Farm to support the Denver Urban Gardens. In November I will be the featured artist of the month at Michelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar and will select a charity to bring awareness to and to support through the sale of my work. And I am painting a few masks for The Denver Hospice annual Mask Project to support people at a critical time – the end of life.

I believe that we are more powerful than we can even begin to comprehend. And I believe that we are capable of manifesting what we think about. So I wonder, what would the world look like if we all painted, or did what ever it is we are passionate about, from a place of love?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dizzying, Dazzling and Damp

Dazzle Jazz Lounge in Denver, Colorado

Wowza what a week! I’m dizzy from all the excitement and running around.

I kicked it off by attending Eric Matelski’s First Monday Art Talk at Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge. Each month, for the past three years, Eric interviews a different featured artist. This month it was award winning photographer Terry Fiala. Terry began his photography career by taking traditional black and white photographs with film, but over time has transitioned into digital and these days he’s manipulating color images. His most recent work is stirring and almost looks more like paintings.

Adding to the artistic ambiance at Dazzle was the poetry of art consultant Hilary DePolo – a former Detroit gal like me – and Lenny Chernila. Hilary’s poems capture the history of old Detroit and brought tears to my eyes. And Lenny, well there are no words to describe the exuberance of his poetry. You just have to experience him.

Tuesday I took my painting “Hope” to the art critique at RedLine. Critiques are held on the second Tuesday of each month. I was nervous about going as the last two paintings I took were not well received, but this time the praise out weighed the constructive criticism. I even received applause and an “awesome” when I unveiled the diptych. But I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me so I can’t let this small achievement go to my head.

Wednesday I enjoyed the soulful music of Jami Lula – another Detroit native! – and was energized by the Matsiko Children’s Choir from Uganda at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood.

Thursday I ran errands, Friday I tried to catch my breath, and on Saturday I showed four paintings at Art Farm – well, when they weren’t under black plastic garbage bags to protect them from the rain. But we made the most of it and mingled and dined under the food tents catered by Whole Foods and Breckenridge Brewery.

It was a fun and exciting week, but with any hope the next few days will be quieter so that I can get back to being creative. I’m going through paint withdrawals.

Go to to learn more about Eric Matelski, his art, and the events he organizes to support other local Denver artists.

Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge is located at 930 Lincoln St, Denver, Colorado 80203. Go to for information on upcoming jazz acts and First Monday Art Talks.

Terry Fiala’s photographs can be seen at

For information about Hilary DePolo’s art consulting services go to

Check out Lenny Chernila on YouTube at

For information about RedLine and second Tuesday art critiques go to

To learn more about Jami Lula, his music, and his inspirational message go to

To support the Matsiko Children’s Choir and the International Children’s Network go to

Art Farm is an annual outdoor community art show hosted by Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) and Eric Matelski. For information about DUG go to

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Art and Relationships - Finding A Balance

"Art Table With Cleaning Supplies" 2009

After work last night I went to the First Friday Art Walk on Sante Fe Drive in Denver. I try to go every month as it inspires me to see what other painters are painting and what techniques they’re perfecting.

I visited Russell Wilbar at Artwork Network and saw his new piece – a 3 dimensional triptych collage of sorts made from salvaged doors and floor pieces. His work almost has a surrealist quality about it, the way it floats off the wall.

I chatted with Brianna Martray at her studio and sneaked a peak at some of her earlier creations. I loved seeing where her paintings have evolved from. There’s a maturity and sophistication about her newer pieces that I have an even greater appreciation for now that I’ve seen her larger body of work.

The highlight of Art Walk was finally meeting Chris Schranck. Like Wilbar, he constructs old salvaged objects (doors, chairs, swing sets, pipes, chains) into paintings that are also sculptures…or perhaps they’re sculptures that are also paintings. Either way, he marries the old and decaying with color and gloss of the new in a way that both delights the eye and lets the imagination run rampant.

By 9 pm I had visited the artists I wanted to visit and discovered a few who’s work I had not seen before so I was ready to go home and spend time with my fiancé Sean. But when I went to call him from my cell to tell him I was on my way he had sent me a text just 30 minutes earlier to say he had to get up early for work the next day so he was going to bed. My heart sank as I realized that another day had passed in which I had chosen art over my relationship.

How do I do remain true to myself and pursue my art career, while trying to manage my life (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the apartment, paying bills, etc.), work full-time, and still cultivate and nurture a relationship with my significant other?

If it weren’t for Sean I wouldn’t be where I am and I wouldn’t be doing the things that I love. It was his idea to leave Michigan and move to Denver – the best decision we ever made. We have friends and family back in Detroit that are still looking for work after losing their jobs in the automotive industry two years ago. And it is Sean who encourages me to keep painting, taking photographs, and writing when I have a bad day and I stop believing in myself.

It’s the first Saturday of the month so admission to the DAM (Denver Art Museum) is free today and I SO want to go! I’ve lived in Denver for eight months now and I still haven’t made it there. But as I write and reflect on the state of my personal affairs and contemplate what would be the best use of my time today there is a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded, a sink full of dirty dishes, hampers and laundry baskets that are over flowing, and a bathroom that has developed its own eco system.

So instead of satisfying my creative yearnings, I keep thinking about how happy Sean will be when he comes home tonight to a clean apartment as a means to keep myself motivated to get our lives back in order. Who knows, maybe a break from soaking in the local art scene and putting painting hold for a day or so is just what I need to inspire me to take my art to the next level.

To see Russell Wilbar’s art go to Artwork Network at 878 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, Colorado 80204 or visit

Brianna Martray’s paintings and sculptures can be seen at her studio at 900 Santa Fe Drive, Studio G, Denver, Colorado, 80204 or by visiting

Visit Chris Schranck at Neo Studios, above Grace Gallery Fine Art, at 877 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, Colorado 80204 or online at

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Right Place Right Time

"Colorado Abstract Paintings and Sculpture"
by Michael Paglia & Mary Voelz Chandler

I checked out the Denver Modernism last weekend. Anyone who is ANYONE in the Denver art scene was there. I’m definitely renting a booth next year!

I purchased a painting from Laurie Maves, visited Lisa Kowalski, and finally met Brianna Martray – all local, female painters whose work I greatly admire. I also met, Jennifer Bobola, another amazing local artist I’ve only recently discovered.

I bought a copy of the book “Colorado Abstract” AND I got to meet the authors and get their autographs! It’s a coffee table art book featuring abstract paintings and sculptures and the Colorado artists that created them. It was written by Michael Paglia, prominent art critic and “Westword” art columnist, and Mary Voelz Chandler, art and architecture critic for the “Rocky Mountain News” with a forward by Hugh Grant, founder, director and curator of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art in Denver and the adjunct curator of the Kirkland Collection at the Denver Art Museum.

I also met Sandra Phillips, Director of Sandra Phillips Gallery. When admiring art in her booth she noticed the book I was carrying and told me that Virginia Maitland, one of the artists she represents, is featured in the book AND that she was there. So painter Virginia Maitland also autographed my book!

In addition to carrying my art book, and talking to the authors and one of the artists featured in it, I was carrying the painting I had purchased from Laurie Maves. When asked about my painting, I told Sandra, Virginia, and Hugh that it was Laurie who had told me about what a fabulous book “Colorado Abstract” is so they all went to her booth to meet her and check out her work.

I’ll let you know when Laurie Maves is showing at the Sandra Phillips Gallery and the Kirkland Museum – I’m confident it will just be a matter of time – as well as when Michael Paglia writes raving reviews. In the meantime, to see Laurie’s paintings online and to learn where she’s currently showing, go to

Since I wasn’t exhibiting I didn’t create much of a buzz about my own work, but it was great to be a conduit and get prominent local art figures excited about someone else’s work whom I so strongly admire. What goes around comes around…

Following are websites of some of the amazing art types I got to hobnob with:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Art of Networking

Artwork Network in Denver, Colorado

Once again I am reminded that networking in this industry is invaluable!

Recently I attended Artwork Network’s open house at their new location in the Sante Fe Art District in Denver. It’s more than a gallery. Sure they have a warehouse size gallery space, and they rent artists' studios and co-op space, but they’re most known for their art leasing and business art rotation.

While at Artwork Network I ran into local artist Russell Wilbar. I met him at the July art critique at RedLine and then ran into him on the street during the August First Friday Art Walk. Wilbar was kind enough to tell me about Call for Entry, or CAFÉ, this online “hub” for finding out about and applying to upcoming art shows. And now I’m telling you.

CAFÉ is a Colorado based website that lists shows and events in the Western part of the United States. It was developed by the Western States Art Federation and is a non-profit corporation. It’s free to create an account and the site allows you to enter into shows electronically. You submit your application and images online and the site keeps track of what images you’ve submitted to which shows so that there aren’t any conflicts if you’re accepted into multiple shows and their dates overlap.

To join CAFÉ go to

For more information about Artwork Network go to 878 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, Colorado 80204 or visit

Russell Wilbar’s website is still in development, but as a member of the Artwork Network you will be able to see his work there in the coming months.

For more information about RedLine go to

Friday, August 21, 2009

Canvas For A Cause - Art Farm

Photo courtesy of Eric Matelski, Art Farm 2008

Please join me on Saturday, September 12 for Art Farm 2009!

Art Farm is an outdoor community art show in the West Washington Park at 201 Grant St, Denver, Colorado 80203 and is weather permitting. All art is for sale and proceeds will benefit Denver Urban Gardens.

Featured artists include Eric Matelski, Laurie Maves, Chris Schranck, myself, members of the Art Student League of Denver, and many more!

As a nonprofit organization, Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) operates and assists with the creation and management of over 60 metro-Denver community gardens and small parks. Primarily serving low to moderate income populations in urban neighborhoods, DUG provides opportunities for participants to supplement their diet with produce grown in nearby public gardens. Through the gardens, participants assume responsibility to improve their community, initiate a sense of pride in their surroundings, and improve their nutritional status through healthy, fresh food.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who Does She Think She Is? - Part II

"Artist on Hold" 2009

Speaking of balancing motherhood and art careers, I recently met 3 dynamic women who seem to be balancing both creative endeavors with ease and grace. I met Color and Light Gallery owner Terri Clauss and painter Kelly Heck Shaw at the 2nd Friday “Feel the Art” event at Color and Light Gallery. And I met painter Lisa Kowalski when I checked out her gallery in the Rino Art District.

I don’t know how Terri finds the time to be creative while owning and operating a gallery and being a mother, but she’s doing it; Kelly Heck Shaw just gave birth to her second child seven weeks ago and still found the time and energy to be the featured artist of the month at Color and Light Gallery; and Lisa Kowalski has had an illustrious art career while raising a now college age son.

These three women amaze and inspire me! Over the past few years I’ve downsized my day job and simplified my living arrangements to make more time to create, but it’s still a struggle. And I have a hard enough time just trying to keeping my plants alive so I don’t know how I could be responsible for another human being while still making time to express myself.

If you are a woman and an artist I already admire you. But if you’re balancing a day job, a romantic relationship, and motherhood, along with all of the responsibilities that come with those tittles, AND pursuing your art, I bow to you.

The Color and Light Gallery is located at 1422 E. 22nd Ave, Denver, Colorado 80205. Visit for hours and information on upcoming events.

To see the whimsical paintings of Kelly Heck Shaw, visit

Lisa Kowalski’s gallery and studio space is located in the Rino art district at 2762 Walnut St, Denver, Colorado 80205. Visit for hours.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who Does She Think She Is? - Part I

"Who Does She Think She Is?" movie poster
courtesy of Artistic License Films

Anita Larson, fellow artist and “web muse” emailed me a link to the website of the documentary “Who Does She Think She Is?” It was directed and produced by Academy Award winning filmmaker Pamela Tanner Boll and edited and co-directed by Nancy C. Kennedy.

I’ve only seen the trailer, but if you are a woman and an artist this film is for us! It addresses the balancing act of mothering and creativity, partnering and independence, and economics and art. It also wrestles with the statistics that 80% of the students enrolled in art schools are females, but that 70-80% of the artists showing in galleries and museums are males, despite the fact that women make up 52% of the world’s population.

I’m anxious to see this film and was excited to learn that it’s going to be screened at the Manhattan School of Arts in Boulder, Colorado on Sunday, September 20. Admission is free, but registration is required. It’s a simple process – just call 720-561-3768.

To watch the trailer for “Who Does She Think She Is?” and for information on upcoming screenings in your area go to

For more information about Anita Larson and her website design business The Web Muse and & Co go to

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Who Am I To Judge?

Photo courtesy of RedLine in Denver, Colorado

I recently had the honor of serving as a judge on the Fine Arts Ministry jury for the next exhibition titled “All God’s Creatures” at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, Colorado. As a juror, I was asked to judge the submissions on creativity and originality, composition and design, and presentation and skill.

I find it interesting that I can usually be so quick to judge other artists’ work when visiting museums, galleries, and websites; I can immediately formulate an opinion and decided whether or not I think a piece of work has artistic merit. But as a judge I felt like the fate of another artist’s career – or at least the next chapter – was in my hands.

I know what it’s like to pour my heart and soul into my creations – to go through a labor of sorts – and to give birth to something that started as a mere idea in my head and is now a living, breathing (okay, maybe not literally) piece of art work, and to send it out into the world with bated breath, only to be told that my creation – my baby – is ugly. And this knowing weighed heavily on my heart this afternoon as I scrutinized each painting, photograph, and drawing.

I struggled the most over the pieces that were strong creatively and had great composition, but were lacking in their presentation. Why would an artist invest so much time on a detailed pastel drawing, only to seemly throw it into a predictable, sometimes damaged, matte and frame? And then there were the submissions that perhaps weren’t very original, and the composition and design were just sort of average, but the attention to detail in the overall presentation made the piece speak to me. In the end I chose to judge the art work – and the way it was presented – as a cohesive unit, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was grateful to have a pencil in my hand so that I could erase my scores again and again until I felt satisfied that I’d give each piece an adequate amount of my time and a fair judging.

The exhibition dates of “All God’s Creatures” are August 23 through October 29, 2009 at Mile Hi Church at 9077 W. Alameda Ave, Lakewood, Colorado 80226. The pieces selected for this juried art show will be on display in the sanctuary lobby and open to the public before, during, and after services. Service times on Sundays are at 8 am, 10 am, and 12 noon. Service times on Wednesdays are at 7 pm.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Abecedarian Gallery - A Hidden Gem

"Looking In, Looking Out" 2009
Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, Colorado

If you live in the Denver area I urge you to check out Abecedarian Gallery. Owned and curated by Alicia Bailey, it’s a hidden gem tucked away at 910 Sante Fe, # 101, Denver, CO 80204. Hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1-5 pm and first and third Fridays from 1-8 pm.

“What does abecedarian mean?” you ask. According to Random House Dictionary abecedarian is a noun meaning 1. a person who is learning the letters of the alphabet, 2. a beginner in any field of learning.

After only a few short moments at Abecedarian you’ll understand the first meaning as the gallery is home to a collection of works that marry sculpture with words. But the second meaning rings equally true as Abecedarian Gallery, located on the north end of the Sante Fe art district, is always my first stop during First Friday Art Walks and where I begin to take the pulse of what’s new and happening in the Denver art scene each month.

The current exhibit is titled “Paper Narratives.” It’s an invitational exhibition featuring 2 and 3 dimensional works on or of paper by artists concerned with narrative as both a visual and conceptual element of their work. The exhibit runs through September 5, 2009.

For more information about Abecedarian Gallery and future exhibits visit

Do you have a favorite gallery that’s not on the radar? Post a comment and share the love.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Art Of Making Friends

"Let's Meet at the Pond" 2009

Someone recently asked what inspires me and it didn’t take long to answer that it’s other people. Whether they produce films, build furniture, or lay tile, I am inspired by people who find joy in creating and share their creations with others. I had the pleasure to meet three such people when camping last weekend and seeing Phish at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado.

Prior to going to Phish I created a “Phish Phriends” painting made up of four 12x12 inch canvases that together make one 24x24 inch painting titled “Let’s Meet at the Pond.” I didn’t know at the time what I was going to do with the 4-piece painting. Perhaps I would sell it, maybe use it to barter and trade, or give it away to people I met and connected with. Either way, like a friendship necklace that you break and give the other half to someone else, the individual pieces would be separated from one another. As the weekend unfolded I met many creative people that were generous in spirit, but I decided to give three of the paintings away to the people that made the weekend the most enjoyable to honor the experiences we shared.

The first recipient was independent film producer, entrepreneur and conduit Brett Magdovitz of Memphis, Tennessee. It was a blast hanging out with Brett all weekend and I was so moved by his passion for his latest indie film endeavor “Cigarette Girl” that I had to give him one of the paintings in return. To learn more about Brett’s latest project go to

The next recipients were Thomas Banaszek and his life and business partner Jeanne Sullivan. They not only let me and a dozen or so other Phish Heads camp on their property in Kittredge for 4 nights, they feed us, kept us entertained, and repeatedly inquired as to whether or not our needs were met so I had to give them a painting as a token of my appreciation. Thom and Jeanne were incredible hosts and are the proprietors of Knot New Wood. For more information about eco-sensible custom design wood future check out their website at

I also felt moved to give one of the paintings to Red and his lovely lady Rachel who safely drove us to Red Rocks and back each night in their RV so that we didn’t have to deal with traffic and parking. They didn’t have tickets to see the shows, but patiently waited hours for us in the parking lot. Our trips back to the camp site were almost as much fun as the concerts themselves as we laughed and talked about the evenings’ events. When Red isn’t playing chauffer, he lays tile for a living.

To remember the amazing people I met at Phish I kept one of the painting pieces for myself – the lower, left corner. I had the time of my life and I will never forget the “phriends” I met. The painting serves as a visual reminder of some of the best memories I’ve created since moving to Colorado.

What will become of the 4 individual painting pieces? Will they ever be reunited? What adventures will they see? I wrote my email address on the inside of each quarter, so with any hope, the recipients will email me about their adventures and the 4-part painting.

So tell me, what inspires you? And more importantly, what have you inspired lately in someone else?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On The Plus Side

"On the Plus Side" 2009
Plus Gallery in Denver, Colorado

Last night I attended the opening of R. Justin Stewart’s installation “Systems of Knowing” at Plus Gallery. The event also marked the gallery’s eight year anniversary.

I had the privilege to first meet Stewart, New York city based artist, at the July 14th art critique at RedLine. I find his circles within squares fascinating as these round shapes seem to be haunting my paintings lately. I like that he “thinks outside of the box” and connects his pen and ink bubble drawings on the wall with straight lines of tape to three-dimensional sphere sculptures made from plastic zip ties on the floor. The exhibit runs through August 28, 2009. Check it out if you’re looking for an art experience to expand your mind.

To learn more about R. Justine Stewart visit

To check out Plus Gallery go to 2501 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205 or visit While you’re there, go upstairs and check out the other works of art currently on display. I was particularly drawn to the circular movement of spray paint over the contorted image in Jenny Morgan and David Mramor’s painting “Enid Ellen.” And the modern pointillism painting “RCS-124802” by William Betts caught my eye too.

Art critiques are conducted at RedLine at 2350 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80205 on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 pm. Bring a piece of your work, buckle in, and get ready to ride a roller coaster of emotions as your baby is thrown into the stratosphere for all to judge. It’s not easy hearing praise, and being told to your face that someone doesn’t like your creation, while you’re learning to remember that it’s all relative. But it will make you a stronger artist and a more humble person just for going.

For more information about RedLine go to