I’m Thankful for Grandmas

Happy Thanksgiving everyone ūüôā

While I was at the Toledo Main Library for my art show, I had a chance to stop in the children’s department.¬† If you haven’t been there, GO!¬† You’re in for a treat.¬† I especially like the fish tank celebrating The Rainbow Fish.¬† But¬†I also saw something new.

The installation in the above photo depicts a scene from the book¬†Abuela by¬†Arthur Dorros.¬† I’d never actually read this book, but I was so moved by the piece that I went home and requested the book from my library.¬† It’s about a girl who is¬†always going places with her Abuela.¬† (Abuela means grandmother in Spanish.)¬†¬†One day¬†the girl wonders what it would be like to fly.¬† Readers¬†are then taken on a flight of the imagination, following this girl and her grandmother on their adventures together soaring above the city.

After seeing this art installation and then reading this book, I could not help but think of my relationship with my own grandmother who passed away last fall.¬† She was one of my first teachers and taught me how to play the piano when I was young.¬† I would not trade anything for our time together sitting at the piano bench.¬† I learned many lessons beyond how to read and play the notes.¬† She taught me the importance of finishing what you started and never giving up, even if that means playing the same refrain over and over because you’ve forgotten the rest.¬† The show must go on!

I know the show must go on even now that she is gone, but I feel like a piece of her is still with me,¬†cheering me on, as I continue¬†on my life’s journey toward publication.¬† I still remember those Sunday dinners together.¬†¬†I will be thinking of her as I sit down with my family for Thanksgiving.¬† I hope you have a chance to be with those people who are near and dear to your heart.¬† Don’t forget to tell them you love them and give them a hug to show you mean it.

We’re heading into the season of wishes and miracles.¬† If I had one wish, it would be to go flying with my grandma, even if it’s only in my dreams…

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A Reflection Beyond Words

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m feeling grateful.¬† As I mentioned before, my artwork and poetry were recently exhibited at an art show, Beyond Words,¬†in Toledo, OH.¬† Opening night was a flurry of excited guests, yummy treats, and delectable artwork.¬† I enjoyed taking my family and friends around to see my work.¬† I also had the opportunity to¬†overhear feedback¬†on my art,¬†reminding me¬†of the days when I shared my poetry in front of a crowd at an open mic.¬† I even met¬†some of the artists that collaborated with me.¬†¬†One of them chose to¬†write a piece to go with my artwork,¬†Bamboo with Red Bird,¬†because she, too, has¬†an affinity¬†for Japan and¬†even lived there¬†for a period of time.

Then came the icing on the cake.¬† We¬†attended the awards ceremony.¬† Two of my poems received second place.¬† What made this especially gratifying was that the poems were compared to a specific style reminiscent of a famous writer.¬† I had never much thought about my style in regards to poetry.¬† Apparently, I have one…or two ūüėȬ†¬†My poem,¬†Suffering from Poetic License, received second place for the T.S. Eliot¬†Award: Modernist in style with a range of techniques.¬† Another poem of mine, Whose Musing,¬†received second place for the Mark Twain¬†Award: humorous or social commentary.¬† At the end, they announced the People’s Choice Award, which went to a poem written in response to my watercolor collage painting, Giraffes on Reserve, pictured above.¬† Hooray!

Now, awards are a bonus, but not why most artists, including myself, make art.  We do it because we love it.  Because we have a need.  It fills us up.  We feel alive.  It helps us make sense of the world and hopefully helps others, as well.  As I said in my previous post, making a connection is the best part about participating in an art exhibition like this one.

How will you connect with the universe this holiday season?

 

Beyond Words Art Exhibit in Toledo

 

I’m excited to announce that some of my artwork and poetry¬†are¬†being¬†exhibited in an art show at the McMaster Center gallery of the downtown library in Toledo, OH¬†from now through Sunday Nov. 2. There are over 200 entries by 72 artists.

The exhibit features paintings, poetry, short stories, mixed media, photography, sculpture, and even jewelry.¬† What makes this show unique is that it’s a collaboration, so each piece of art is paired with writing by a different artist.¬† In other words, one piece was inspired by or created in response to another.

At the¬†opening reception last night,¬†the master of ceremonies¬†mentioned that this show is one of the only collaborative exhibits of its kind in the nation.¬†¬†Ben Malczewki, one of the jurors for the art show, gave¬†a statement about the¬†exhibit.¬† “This exhibit wonderfully captures what¬†diversity and voice and community means to art, and that together, we are more than we could be alone.”

I have¬†four pieces of art and¬†three poems in this exhibition.¬† The most exciting¬†part¬†for me was to see the artwork¬†and¬†writing paired with mine.¬†¬†As an artist, you don’t always know the impression your work makes¬†on another¬†person.¬† It’s especially¬†gratifying to see that response depicted through art.

If you’re in the area, you should come check it out!¬† And if you’re in the market for a new piece of art to decorate your home or office, you’ll find many of the pieces are for sale.

 

 

Just Zoo It! Sketching at the Toledo Zoo


Early this summer, I asked an illustrator friend, Deborah¬†Marcero,¬†to join me on a trip to the Toledo zoo. But instead of just viewing the animals as typical spectators, our mission was to view them for the purpose of sketching them. We tried to pay attention to their details and isolate their movements. It’s actually a good practice in mindfulness. And certainly easier said than done! Sure, we could draw a sleeping tiger or rhino, but what about a hungry elephant or hippo constantly on the move? Often it turned into an exercise in contour drawing.¬† We also jotted down field notes for each animal.

The most interesting part to me is how we became specimens in our own habitat.¬† We were the “roaming sketch artists” on display.¬† Parents would point us out to their children saying, “See Johnny, wouldn’t you like to do something like that?”¬† Kids were more subtle in their approach, often sidling up to us shyly¬†with open mouths and wide eyes.¬† “I like your drawings,” they said.¬† Even¬†staff members¬†stopped to take a look and offer¬†tidbits of information about each animal like how an elephant¬†walks on its toes and has¬†more than 100,000 muscles in its trunk!

Our adventures reminded me of another sketching duo, Thomas Kinkade (“The Painter of Light”) and James Gurney (Dinotopia author), who “sketched their way across America” and shared their experiences in an illustrated book called The Artist’s Guide to Sketching.¬†

tail flick
ear twitch
paw against wall
one eye open
so S-L-E-E-P-Y

flippers flipping
over each other like oars

mouth open to keep cool
or simply awaiting dinner

shuffle, turn, swim
shuffle, turn, swim
life moves
S-L-O-W-L-Y
down here

ears flapping
trunks dancing
walking on toes
like prima ballerinas

horns are like hair
point up, point down
resting without a care
their wrinkles build
character

Holy Moly!
That one’s huge!

hair sticks up
tails hang down
what are YOU
looking at?