Saturday, December 5, 2020

I'm happy to announce that I am participating in Sanchez Art Center's 12th Annual 50|50 Show this year. This year's juror is Patricia Sweetow of Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco. She selected 50 California artists to take on the challenge of creating 50 small artworks in 50 days, based on a theme and medium of their choosing. My theme is Mandalas: Centering in the Time of Coronavirus, created in acrylic/mixed media.

I was not expecting a pandemic. I had just retired from serving as program manager at Sanchez Art Center (the best job I’ve ever had), and COVID-19 was not on my radar at all. So I was in shock when it hit, and every day there was a new bit of frightening information. I felt a huge swell of grief for the whole world. As my 14-year-old grandson said, “This is big, isn’t it?” Yes, John, it is. So many people, so much loss.

Then came the beautiful, stirring protests against the killing of George Floyd and so many others. I am glad that particular boil burst, and grateful for all I keep learning about the racist structures that many of our forefathers purposely built into the fabric of our society. My thanks to Frances Causey for her film The Long Shadow, which outlines how this came about, and for loaning me her film’s title for the mandala it inspired. The history I never learned in school is eye-opening and tragic, and it is well past time to redress these wrongs with systemic changes to make the dream of peace and justice a reality.

I felt like I needed deck shoes to stay upright during the continuous buffeting of events. Artmaking always helps, so I was thrilled to be accepted for Sanchez Art Center’s 12th annual 50|50 Show, and I gravitated naturally to the theme of centering, creating mandalas as a calming and focusing practice. I usually paint in acrylics, but the 50|50 Show presented a great opportunity to explore a new medium, so working in mixed media was a natural progression—plus I got to go through my boxes of shells, rocks, and beads. I am so fortunate in the midst of the maelstrom to retreat to my studio every day and make art. Art does, indeed, save lives.

My process, like my theme, was open-ended. I grew up in the Southwest and feel an affinity with native spiritual practices, so I made a Medicine Wheel mandala, and I used red, yellow, white, and black to call in the four directions, summoning the wholeness of life and the unity of humankind. And more personal themes came in—relationships, love of nature, a friend who died. Another friend’s expressive email sign-off gave me the mandala titled Sigh. Two yellow butterflies flew by and became a mandala. A small black spider challenged me to let him live. (We worked it out, and he is now in Grandmother Spider and Take Care with Buddha, as well as somewhere in my studio.)

This was a wonderful experience, sometimes smooth sailing and sometimes quite challenging--but I loved working in my studio every day. Here are some of my 5050 pieces, with titles:

     Adaptation                                                          All That Glitters


Diamonds & Rust #2

Grandmother Spider

Hope and the Butterfly Effect

Hour of the Wolf

Medicine Wheel

Reckoning (Alone Together)

Some Days

Squaring the Circle, Circling the Square

The Long Shadow (after the Frances Causey film)

The People