OPERATION: Bring Art to the People- Road Trip to Chattanooga Edition

Anyone who knows me, knows that when I tell a story, I like to start from the beginning. So to tell you about my latest trip to Chattanooga, you guessed it, I have to start from the beginning. So here it goes:

In 2003, after a messy breakup from a an almost 3 year relationship, I found myself being a single dog/cat “parent”, without a place to live or even a bed to sleep on. My fairly new BFF came to my rescue and offered me a place to stay in her one bedroom apartment with her Japanese Akita dog lovingly named, Jade.

Jade liked to dominate everything, including the bed she was not allowed to be on (pic taken apprx 2009)

The tight living quarters posed many challenges. For one, my “bedroom” was actually the dining room and second, our dogs were having a super hard time getting along because of their conflicting personalities. Jade, due to her breed, is naturally stubborn, protective, and bossy while Gambit, for who knows what reason, knows he’s not the alpha dog, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to prove otherwise any chance he gets. So needless to say, there were many scuffles between my 50lb dog and my BFF’s 100+lb dog, but eventually, they learned to get along and became BFFs themselves.

Fast-forward several years and many countless memories and life changes later, and my BFF & Jade, have since moved from sunny Jacksonville, FL to Chattanooga, TN and last week I got the phone call that I knew would one day be coming in one way or another: it’s time to let her go. So with much sadness, but with much happiness for a chance to see her one more time, I started to plan my trip to Tennessee. My mind kept going back to just how blessed Jade was to have found my amazing BFF and just how blessed my BFF was to find such a wonderful dog like Jade.

Dogs are truly amazing creations. It’s not hard to imagine them as angels in disguise, whose sole purpose it is on this earth to give us companionship, unconditional love, protection, comfort and so much more. Most of my art work is based on both my first dog, Snoopy (he’s the blue & white dog in my Childhood series) and my current dog, Gambit. If you can’t tell, I have a very warm place in my heart for these wonderful creatures.

Brinkley, Jade & Gambit At the dog park...

So as I prepared for my trip, I realized this was a good opportunity take OPERATION: Bring Art to the People with me on the road for a few Sneaky Love Art Drops, and not only would it be a good distraction from the reality of the visit but, a chance to share the love of art with the focus of the work being on: Doggie Love.

I selected a couple of my favorite works, loaded them & the dog into the car & hit the road. My first drop was at a rest stop somewhere along I-75 North about 2 hours south of Atlanta. As I got closer and closer to Chattanooga, the reality started sinking in again and I couldn’t wait to spend some quality time with my BFF & Jade, and as an added bonus her other BFF & her dog, Brinkley, also drove up and joined in on the get together.

That night, we all talked, we laughed, we cried, we ate, we took pictures, and we loved on the dogs, especially Jade. There were moments when we acted normal, almost as if we had forgotten exactly why we were all there, but then reality would strike us again & the mood would quickly change, but then one of the dogs would do something ridiculous and we’d be right back to laughing uncontrollably. It really was a bittersweet experience.

The next morning we took all the “kids” to the dog park and watched them frolic and play without a care in the world. It was sad though to see how differently the dogs played now compared to 10 years ago. There was less running, less fighting, but there was still so much love & happiness oozing from each of them that we couldn’t help but smile.

Then it was time to say our good-byes to Jade…

We were all numb afterwards, not really knowing what to say, how to act, it didn’t seem real. My BFF didn’t want to go home, she wanted to be distracted, so I suggested an Art Drop and she was all for it, but I have a feeling, if I had told her that I wanted to balance & rotate my own tires, she probably would of agreed to tag along just so she wouldn’t have to stay home. It was amazing how quickly we got distracted looking for the perfect spot to drop the piece, the excitement of trying to go unnoticed, and the exhilaration as we ran away from the scene of the “crime.” For a few minutes, we allowed ourselves to enjoy the present moment before we reconnected with reality.

My BFF playing the part of the Sneaky Agent in Chattanooga...

The next day, I woke up early and started my journey back home with Gambit. Two hours into my drive, I got off at one of the first exits for ATL for the the final Sneaky Love Art Drop of my journey, where a super cool looking diner called the OK Cafe caught my eye, so I strategically dropped the last painting into some bushes for a random person to find. From that same exit, I refueled the car with gas, the dog with some water & myself with some coffee and hit the road again. As I drove down I-75 South, I reflected on my trip with an appreciation for the blessing that my BFF is on my life, for the blessings that our dogs are in our lives, for the moments and memories, both good & bad, that are made a little easier just by releasing the love in our hearts towards each other, whether it’s your best friend or a complete stranger. Our lives are short on this earth, we really need to live everyday with purpose, figure out what we were put here to do, and with a loving heart push through and get it done, help people along the way, never stop searching for wisdom & understanding and embrace every precious moment as the blessings come pouring in…

Operation: Bring Art to the People Continues

You may remember, about a year ago, I stumbled across a Chicago artist named Patrick Skoff, who had figured out a way to impact the masses with his art by doing art hunts. As an artist, Patrick had taken note how many people felt disconnected to art in general, feeling that art was unattainable and for other people of “higher” means in society to enjoy or own. This mindset has resulted in many people missing out on the enormous impact that art has on individuals and in communities. The idea behind the art hunts was simple: Patrick made art, he attached a note to the back explaining his motives, then he left the art somewhere in the city, random people found it, read the note and were blessed with a beautiful piece of art. The idea is simple & beautiful and backed by an artist with a tremendously generous heart.

The Art Hunt idea is way deeper than just getting “free art.” It’s about an artist sharing his vision for art to be accessible to everyone, it’s about showing and teaching the masses how much art improves the quality of life for everyone, it’s about bringing something beautiful, thought provoking, and stimulating to our eyes that will make us stop just long enough to remember to breathe and smile and re-engage with the world around us one piece of art at a time.

Now the time has come. After spending the past year doing an extreme makeover on his “bus” (which is now a studio/living space on wheels), finding sponsors, networking, marketing, creating art, doing speeches, presentations, talks, teaching, etc etc etc., Patrick is on the final phase of his National Art Hunt prep: scoping out the journey. He hit the road last night and has been leaving little puzzle piece “teasers” along the way. He will be in sunny Jacksonville, FL within the next couple of days. I can’t wait to show him our local art scene, hopefully throw down some paint with him in my studio, take him on a scenic tour of our fabulous city, and help get all the ducks lined up for when he returns in a few weeks for the full blown NATIONAL ART HUNT.

This is going to be awesome 🙂

UPDATE: Patrick will be in Jacksonville in time for the January First Wednesday Art Walk, be sure to follow my Facebook/Twitter page for regular updates on what’s going down with his visit.

Keep up to date with Patrick on his Facebook page or Twitter & check out where he’s leaving his art through the Sneaky Love site.

I highly recommend checking out these links about Patrick so you can get a real feel for the enormous impact he’s had on so many people by sharing his work and vision with the masses:

CBS Chicago interview

New City Art Article

Kickstarter Video

The News Dispatch

Wikipedia

Salt Lake City: My Trip in a Nutshell :-)

The beginning of our journey, the first flight from Jax to Atl

So, as I defrost from my spontaneous trip to Salt Lake City, I smile and reflect on the series of events that brought me there. If it wasn’t for my older sister (2 years older) giving my younger sister (18 years younger) a ski trip surprise for her 16th birthday I may never of found myself in SLC this past weekend. Luckily, my  younger sister’s father wasn’t crazy about her traveling alone so he requested I tag along. So when I came home a few weeks ago, I was greeted by my mother telling me “Surprise! You’re going to Salt Lake City to be with your sisters!” Luckily, I’m currently self-employed as a full time artist, so technically I keep to make up my own schedule so the spontaneous trip did not interfere too much with my life. In actuality, it was a much welcomed break from my daily routine. I got to spend some much needed time with both my sisters, visit with my bro-in-law, the visual eye candy of God’s amazing natural creations was jaw dropping to say the least, and while there,  my older sister gave me my own belated birthday gift of ski lessons. I  can’t say I know how to ski, but I am definitely one step closer to conquering the bunny slope and my soul feels rested, renewed, and energized to keep chugging along my current path.

Art Drop #7 at Avenues Yoga

When I found out I was going to SLC, I couldn’t help but feel like I should extend the JAX ART  HUNT beyond Jacksonville. Not as a full blown art hunt, but with the main mission of the art hunt in mind: Instead of waiting for the people to come to the art, bring the joy of art to the people. So that’s exactly what I did, I loaded up a few of my flat canvas panel works that fit nicely into my carry-on and an extra piece from my good friend and fabulous artist, Susan Sapinski, and I kept an eye out for good drop off locations.

Sketch #7:MEM Gate, almost home.

I also got to spend a lot of quality time in my sketch book, this is something I haven’t done for some time. Airports and traveling in general are really some of the best places to draw people because they are usually distracted by their surroundings, but still sitting in one place long enough for a decent sketch. On this trip, we had 2 connections on the way to SLC (JAX-ATL-MEM-SLC) and on the way back only one connection (SLC-MEM-JAX.) I made sure to take advantage of as many unsuspecting passengers as possible for my sketchbook practice.

Me & my little sis had a snowman competition, it was a tie.

I’m looking forward to my next adventure, whenever that will be, I don’t know. Regardless, this was an amazing trip, from being able to spend time with my sisters, the random art drops, getting my very first ski lesson, the tour of the beautiful Mormon temple, being able to say that I walked 2 miles through the snow and even to the heated Snowman Competition between myself and my little sister, this was a great trip and I feel so blessed to of been able to be part of it. 🙂

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Salt Lake City: Bring Art to the People

This piece was left at Bruges Waffles & Frites in SLC, a super yummy place.

 

So, I ended up going on a spontaneous and unplanned trip to Salt Lake City, UT for my little sister’s 16th birthday. I feel so blessed to be on this trip because not only do I get to spend time with both my sisters in such a beautiful city, but I also got a belated birthday present from my older sister: a ski lesson at Snowbird; AND the icing on the cake is, I also get to expand OPERATION- Bring Art to the People from Jacksonville, FL to Salt Lake City.

Chicago artist, Patrick Skoff , was the inspiration. In a nutshell, he found a way to spread the joy of art to random people in his own city by starting art hunts and through his efforts, the word got out and now the power of public art has grown wings.

After reading Patrick ‘s story, I realized what a great vision he had for reaching the masses with the joy of art so I contacted him and found out he was working on a national art hunt as well. I told him I was going to start an art hunt in Jacksonville and with the help of Art in Strange Places , Arbus Magazine , and several local artists who participated, we had our very first JAX ART HUNT on February 5th 2011. We are planning to host one hunt a month as we try to reach the masses, especially those random folks that don’t normally venture into art galleries or museums. It’s a way to show the community how life changing art can be, even in everyday life.

When I found out I had the opportunity to come to Salt Lake City, I loaded up a few of my small paintings into my carryon bag along with an extra piece from my good friend and fabulous artist, Susan Sapinski . I just couldn’t pass up the chance to spread the love and share the art. Sometimes waiting for people to come to where the art is isn’t enough, sometimes it’s more productive to bring the art to the people. 🙂