Who hasn't been asked, "so, what's your story?" Here is just a snippet of mine...
As far back as I can remember, I always considered myself an artist. My father was an artist and encouraged my artistry and that's all it took to begin down the artist road.
I was born in Buffalo, NY and was raised the the burbs of Buffalo. All of my younger years were dominated by art and art making. Though when it came time to go to college, that road was denied - art school was not an option. So, I chose architecture. In my opinion, the next best thing. I graduated from the University of New York at Buffalo with an undergraduate degree in Architecture and a master's degree in both Architecture and Urban Planning. After graduating in 1994, I moved to San Francisco, CA with my now husband, Ron Gross. While there, I worked for both for-profit and non-profit entities in the fields of small scale architecture, large scale corporate facilities management, and public urban development. It took a long time to pick up my brushes again after being denied art school, but with the loving encouragement of my sweetie, I started painting again in San Francisco.
During a Feng Shui training course in 1999, is when I really let the genie out of the bottle. During a guided meditation I was asked, "what do you want to do?" Without think I exclaimed that I wanted to paint. That declaration sent me on a five year journey of art learning, international exhibiting, and finding my tribe of fellow artists in the fantastic realism genre. Though it took another two years before I fully stepped into my true artist self.
New York City 2001 is when my life took a huge turn. That year, I was invited to be a studio assistant for the Old Master's New Visions painting seminar with Philip Rubinov Jacobson in Vienna, Austria and Florence, Italy. Learning the old master's technique exploded both my technque and my imagination. I returned to Europe the next year to study again with Professor Jacobson, and returned in 2003 to study with his teacher Maestro Ernst Fuchs and on to London to study with Brigid Marlin. During these three years I participated in several exhibition both internationally and nationally. The interest in my work was robust. I started receiving some attention and participated in smaller shows, was included in several arts publications, and continued to show with the fantastic realism group internationally. This wonderful art roller coster ride culminated in a three woman show at the InterArt Gallery in NYC. The InterArt show made me feel like I had finally had a foot in the door and that anything was possible. We were in NYC, we were doing the art thing, and Ron and I were both gaining traction with our art careers.
By the end of that year, we discovered we were pregnant. In 2005, our beautiful daughter was born.
Three kids and three cross country moves later, in 2007, we found ourselves in Buda, Texas. Another two years later and we added our fourth. With a full family plate and caring for children with cognitive and physical differences, my art focus turned to what I could accomplish sitting in a medical office waiting room. During this time is when I taught myself the fabric arts - quilting, sewing, knitting, crochet, macrame, and doll making. Easy to carry, work in for a bit, and then stuff it back into a bag.
When my children reached school age, we decided to homeschool. My art became sharing the history of art and art making with my children. We've made mosaics, Chinese scrolls with the Three Perfections, needle felted "paintings" of Norse mythology, wompum belts, frescoes, stone carved fetishes, handmade paper and books, finger knittings, pressed papyrus, and lots of drawings and watercolor paintings.
In 2019, Inspired Minds Art Center opened in Buda and I was invited to start teaching art classes there. It was all the imputes I needed to step out of my mommy cave and step back into an art scene. Though in the words of Lee Bontecou - I never left the art world, I was in the real world. Still, it had been fifteen years since I packed my brushes away - could I even still paint? I decided to challenge myself to produce a painting a day over our winter break. I completed 22 paintings/illustrations that are now my Playing in Wonderland Series. Interest in my work started to grow again and 2020 started with a lot of art activity in my little town - I was teaching art classes, I had new work in two separate shows, and I met many of my fellow local artists who were having a similar resurgence. It was during an artist meet-up that we decided to band together and start the Buda Area Artists Collective. And right when thing really started to pick up some stem - lock down! Covid!
It's funny how things seem to work out - because we were stuck at home, 2020 became the year that I started building a new body of work, started exploring doing large scale public art projects, and starting building the Buda Area Artists Collective with my co-chair, local artist, Amanda Rainey. Even though 2020 was the pits on almost every level, it ended with big dreams for the next phase of my art career.
Now in 2021, the Buda Area Artists Collective finished its first public art project and we are actively working toward establishing non-profit status. In addition to my work contributing to building the local art scene, I am happy to report that I am also busy in the studio! I have a whole slew of underpinnings waiting for color that I intend to finish by the end of the year.
I haven't taken the most traditional path to being an artist and there has definitely been a lot of twists and turns in the road, though it's not really a big surprise. As my mother likes to remind me of my three year old self - "you were dancing left while everyone else was dancing right." Not much has changed! It just makes for better stories and this new art chapter of mine has just begun. Look for me - I'll be the one dancing left.