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From Beach to Garden: A Lesson in Equanimity

It has been five years since I moved away from the oceanfront neighborhood where I spent most of my life. On the North End of Virginia Beach, you can walk over the dunes any time to behold the broad expanse of sand laid out for miles north and south, and the vast sky overhead coming down to meet the ocean at the horizon. Or at the other end of your street, there might be the forest - First Landing State Park with its rolling dunes and trails through pines draped in Spanish moss. This easy access to nature and wide open spaces fueled me creatively for many years, as I worked various part time jobs, raising my children and trying to work in my art where I could.

Through a shift in circumstances in 2011, I was forced to move away from the beach, going back to Washington, D.C. for a time, where I had lived in college, and eventually coming back to Virginia Beach, to a condo in a neighborhood that was about a 20 minute drive from my old oceanfront home. I was actually grateful for the change, deciding that the short drive was really only a minor inconvenience. I continued to love painting abstract beach landscapes and collaging images of shells and trees.

Last year, however, I moved out of the condo to a tiny house with a large backyard. After some time getting settled in, I started to explore the expanse of green space that was now at my disposal and began planting and planning. Very different from the long walks as an observer on a wild, wind-swept beach, I now had the opportunity to become more actively involved in the seasonal changes taking place around me. I was now getting my hands dirty, co-creating my own little ecosystem. This change in natural environment and my relationship to it gradually began to transform my art. Spacious expanses of horizon gave way to gnarled vines and heavy blooms. Colorful leaves and flowers appeared in place of the washed out neutrals of the sky and sand. Compositions became more intricate and harmonious.

Inherent in this experience was a valuable lesson for me. No matter what happens in your life, or where your life takes you, you can still make art out of it. In this sense, art becomes a great equalizer. All experiences have equal value from the perspective of the artist. Creative practice becomes a teacher of equanimity.

As luck to have it, I have been given the opportunity to put this evolution from beach to garden on public display. On January 11th, 2017, my solo show called "Look Outside, Look Inside" will open at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. With its large wall space and multi-story layout, this venue presents the perfect setup for showing these two styles of work together in one context. For more on this exhibit go to the "Shows" page.

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