October is here - with it comes the the one-year anniversary of the Northern California Tubbs, Partrick, Atlas, Pocket and Nuns Fires. We remember the 44 people who perished in the area firestorms.
This month, Jessel Gallery is holding a from the heART benefit for Artists affected by the Napa Valley Wildfires. I have donated my "Mended Leaves" quilt, and a remembrance book to the show. Many of the talented artists open their studies and homes each year during the Open Studios art discovery tour. A special thank you to those artists: we have connected with your artwork and enjoyed the visits into your creative spaces. We have loved the opportunity to get to know you and we especially look forward to seeing your creativity continue to flourish.
In the book, I paired mended quilt leaves with words of inspiration:
"October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen.
It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again."
"In every change, in every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty. And that's the way new leaves grow." ~Amit Ray
"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
~ Emily Brontë
"There's design, and there's art. Good design is total harmony.
There's no better designer than nature -
if you look at a branch or a leaf, it's perfect . . .
Art is different. It's about emotion. It's about suffering and beauty -
but mostly suffering." ~Diane von Furstenberg
"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time
like dew on the tip of a leaf." ~Rabindranath Tagore
"There is a subtle magic
in the falling
of old leaves." ~Avijeet Das
"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of
them all." ~Stanley Horowitz
North Bay Fires and the Arts, One Year Later
In a study on the 2017 Northern California fires' impact on the arts and what it will take to support the recovery of a thriving arts community, data was collected from the three most affected counties: Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino.
Key findings from the study include:
- Artists have been profoundly impacted by the fires, due to physical and economic loss, as well as emotional trauma that is affecting their ability to continue producing art.
- Art has played an important role in the larger community's healing and rebuilding process, allowing children, families, and communities to make sense of their pain and trauma through creative expression.
22 of 97 artists that participated in the study lost their homes, studios, and workplaces, and half (51%) of artists lost at least two of these spaces. 82% of the artists lost their homes completely. 64% of the artists lost their studios completely. One focus group participant noted, "I had 30+ years of collecting equipment and instruments that were destroyed. None of it was properly insured. I ran my business out of my home and all equipment from my business was also destroyed."
On average, artists earned over half of their income from art-related work before the fires. This proportion has dipped down to less than one-third. In focus groups, stories from artists further illustrate this trend, with several individuals commenting that they have had to take on non-art related jobs to make up for lost income from their art. With the loss of equipment, space, and existing projects that cannot be replaced, many artists share in focus groups that they are struggling to reaffirm their identities as an artist.
In Their Own Words . . .
"I am still working but the loss of 40 years of my work has taken some of my energy and a piece of my soul."
"This experience was devastating. I lost 30 years of art which was essentially my life's work . . . Over 1,000 works were lost. More importantly than the economic loss was the absolute emotional loss. Some of these works I considered to be master works I can never get back."
"The problem is the culture. The culture doesn't support the arts. It's all about the wine and money and things. There's no support for the art. If the culture supported the art, then there'd be more available."
"We brought in art supplies, volunteers and were welcome and open to anyone who wanted to come have a therapy session with art. People could work on whatever they felt like doing. We are going to bring back community open studios on the anniversary of the fires."
"We've had an increased feeling of community and healing through artistic expression."
Artists are craving ways to connect with other artists, both individuals and in groups. Artists asked for support in fellowship and professional mentorship opportunities. As many artists begin rebuilding their portfolios, possibly looking to new mediums or realizing new visions for their work, these professional connections could be critical to their rebuilding process.
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline B. Kennedy focused national attention on the role of the arts in America and encourage the development of Washington as a cultural center. The Kennedys hosted a dinner at the White House, attended by many of the nation’s leading artists, writers and musicians. In his toast, President Kennedy affirmed that, “creativity is the hardest work there is.”
PRICELESS SMILE: PRESIDENT LEADS MONA LISA TRIBUTE
January 6, 1963
"Universal Newsreels. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum."
Universal Newsreels, Inc. Voice by Ed Herlihy.
At the West Statuary Hall of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., guests wait for the Kennedys and French Cultural Minster André Malraux. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy enter the hall and are joined by Mr. and Mrs. Malraux and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. President Kennedy presents a speech, thanking the French and sharing aspirations to further America's fine arts culture. Text of remarks in the Public Papers, 1963, #5. The next day, the public lines up outside the museum to view the famous painting.
Two days ago, it sprinkled most of the afternoon. The high clouds offer a cleansing and welcome relief from the hot summer temperatures.
Yesterday, I attended the Open Studios tour to celebrate, encourage
and offer support to our local artist community.
The month-long show will feature the stunning artwork of local artists
and will celebrate the Phoenix-Rising Spirit displayed by this group of Creators.
The show will run October 1 - 30, 2018 with an
Opening Reception Friday, October 12, 2018 from 5pm to 8pm.
The Artists who wish to talk will do so at 6pm.
The public is welcome to come and purchase the work and support
these resilient HeARTS of the Wine Country.