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Art and community in Los Angeles

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Goethe

A couple of years ago I went to an art panel on Feminist art at the LA Art Show. The discussion was circling around Womenhouse and The Los Angeles Women’s building of the 1970s. These were places woman artists gathered to collaborate, communicate, support, encourage and exchange ideas. These were amazing communities that I would have been proud to be part of if I had been born earlier. Betty Brown was moderating the discussion and stressed the importance of the art community continuing on today. Community is such a vital  component of life, especially for artists. Serendipitously, there was a great article on communities on a blog I follow, Zen Habits.

After grad school I started an art community. I wanted to keep the interaction, critique, camaraderie and support going. I didn’t want it to end. And why should it? We have to be there for each other. I started a critique group that has now met for over 2 and a half years. We are friends, family, fellow artists working hard to produce, show and  sell our work. We are being proactive in finding alternate venues and putting together our own exhibits. It has been an amazing experience being part of this little community of artists, my friends.

In 1998, I took my first painting class. I had taken an art history class the semester before and fell in love with art. I had always loved art, but I wasn’t in love with it. I had wanted to be an architect in High School but hated math. During my days in the community college, I was working a full time job and at times a 2nd part time job plus taking night classes. I don’t know what first prompted me to  start taking art classes. It  could have been a visit to my aunt and uncle’s home to see their art collection. Maybe perusing through the Normal Rockwell coffee table book at my Grandparent’s for the hundredth time. Or maybe it was finding old drawings I used to do in school or that old ‘pop art’ soda bottle with shreddings from the label put inside that I had created when I was a kid. (come on, how many of you used to do that??)

That first painting class with Cynthia Minet, change my life. She took us to MOCA-LA Geffin to see the Sam Francis retrospective. I was in awe. I stood before these immense abstract canvases and was blown away. I was inspired and wanted to  get  to work immediately. I went back to class, started doing abstract paintings and never looked back.

That same semester, Cynthia invited us to the Brewery artwalk in LA. I remember walking onto the Brewery campus and falling in love. The buildings, the atmosphere, the art, the community, it was wonderful. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. For many years after, I came to the artwalks and left tired, jealous but totally inspired. Finally a year ago, 13 years after my first visit to the Brewery, I moved here. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I finally feel like I am right where I was meant to be. I have made so many amazing friends and become inspired by all the creative energy surrounding this place. It is truly magical to be a part of it.

Last weekend, 14 years after first attending my first Brewery Artwalk event, I opened my studio for the first time to the public. I hate to sound so cliche, but it was really a dream come true.

I can’t say enough about art communities. There is a certain energy that resonates between artists. Through conversation, proximity, interaction, communication and maybe even osmosis, the inspiration is in the air.

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