Nestled in the mountains of East Tennessee sits the Regency, a quaint retirement community with varying levels of care. When I was 12, my Grandmother, Evelyn Heil, lived in this sweet community. I would race up to the third floor right in her room, 316. There, we would watch movies and eat chocolate as Grandma Heil and I shared many laughs. The Regency continues of have a special place in my heart because all the beautiful memories Grandma Heil and I shared there. My Grandma and I loved to talk about art, she started painting in her 50’s, and continued out till even now. I know how much it helped my Grandma, in her memory loss, to talk about things that are easier. For example, it is hard for my grandma, with her Dementia, to discuss politics, or current events, because she would get confused and feel bad about forgetting. But looking at art was a a great talking piece for us to connect over. 

Well living in Columbus, I took an Art Business class called Artrepreneur. In the class, we labeled what things are important to us, besides our art, and how we can blend the two together. That’s when I got the idea to have an art show for the elderly, people who don’t get to go out to experience the joys of different galleries and upcoming artists. 

So I framed 16 pieces, assembled a team of people to help me, and we set up a show in the main room at the retirement home. There I did a presentation on my methods of art making and related with these fellow art lovers. As the residents lit up, so did I as they shared what things they loved about the arts. Some of them picked up art when they retired, some of them had done it since they were young, well others just came for the show. From telling  them all my tips and secrets I’d learned from different instructors and experiences to bonding over art history, the presentation wrapped up with too many hugs to count. 

When I was 12, I never imagined that I’d be exhibiting artist, or that I’d do a show at Regency. I imagined being a spy, a pastor, or even the the president. In time, I found myself and who I want to be. Children bring a sense of light, joy, and creativity to the table that we as adults are constantly searching for, and in the same moment with age comes wisdom. The more we go through, the good and the bad, the more we understand. And I’m so thankful i got to connect with these wise souls through my show at the Regency.

Abstracts and Amazements : El Camino Inn

In the heart of Columbus lives a zesty restaurant and bar called El Camino Inn. With it’s bright colored lights on the widow sills and curling aluminum lettering on the walls, hipster meets class. Last night, I was delighted to be a part of their art exhibition with my piece, Silent Anger. 

There are many stories I could tell about this show. I met the exhibition’s coordinator by bumping into him at the art muesum while I was working on a painting. Or I could tell of the one man, more than twice my age, who tried to make his move on me, and was clearly intoxicated at the show. There were so many amazing artists and new friends I met last night, who I hope to stay in contact with. The most memorable part of the night was an kind eyed older man, Markus. 

His tan fedora tilted on his head, Markus leaned back in the booth.

“May I sit down?” I ask, wanting to learn about his painting in at the front of the exhibition.

With his wide banana smile, he nods as I pull up a chair. 

“How long have you been an artist?” He asks me. I talk about my story, so does he, and we soon start to discuss how Silent Anger evolved into the piece it is today. 

“...There are many phases in anger. Sometimes society pushes us to believe it’s only the silent anger that deserves valiadation, but all the layers of anger, every feeling a person has, is valid. I love to represent feelings in abstract ways, because in the essence they are not concret.”  I reply. 

“What I see in your painting, it’s a snap shot of that moment, the moment you were facing at the time. That moment is memorialized in that picture. Feelings seem to always change. We fall into runiminating on the past, and worrying about the future, when we really should just stay right here, in the moment. That’s what I see in your picture.” Markus said as his eyes shift from the painting to me

The relationship is not only between the artist and the piece, but also between the viewer and the piece. Everyone has different interpretations on particularly abstract pieces, because we all come into the room with varying life stories. I believe it is both the painter who has made the piece and the viewer who looks at the piece that collaborate to make a painting more than just a couple of red and black strokes. The piece, the artist, and the viewer all work together to make a piece art.




Above it all

We all have places that have special meanings, whether it be the spot your child took their first breath, the field that allowed you to win that big game, or the where you met your first love.

For this project, I abstracted my favorite locations by using expressive colors and layering them to form this painting. The scematics of this piece involved looking at satellite photos of my favorite places, gesturally painting them to represent the general shapes of these places.

My Grandma’s house has been my safe place ever since I was little. As a child, Grandma and I would dress up in our Sunday best, me in sparkly dresses with hair braided, and her with a black slacks and a suit jacket. We would sit on the pourch overlooking a gurgling stream pouring out of a still pond, drinking tea and talking about school, or boys.  No matter how old I was, she always made me feel less like I was baby needing a sitter, and more like a best friend. If you look closely at the painting, see if you can see the large aqua circular shape that represents that pond.

Next, I put in the bird’s eye view of Glenmore Mansion, the very special place I directored the Yellow Wallpaper. My crew and the actors were a delight to work with, and it was the thing that got me into loving the film. Watch the first minute of the yellow Wallpaper to see if you can find which squares look like the mansion!

Lastly, I added all the houses on my little street corner that I have lived in for 14 years. Many of my aunts and uncles and extended family live hours away. My neighbors filled that need.  Throughout our pool days, at dusk variety shows, midnight walks, milkshake runs, and the rest, these people make our neighborhood more of a neighborhome.

Above it all, the title of this piece, talks about taking a step back- literally having a satellite view of things, but even more than that. This piece forced me to take a step back and look at the beautiful experiences, the places I loved. It’s easy to focus on the negative places, memories from the past or currently. Whether it is a mundane workplace, a flashback from a past location that hurts to remember, or simply wishing for a fancier house, life doesn’t always provide daily joy. It is in the stepping back, to see the satellite view of life, that fosters gratitude.  And Gratitude is the deepest form of joy. 




Above It All  Acrylic on Canvas

Above It All Acrylic on Canvas