Pride Month Artist Focus – Keith Haring

“Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.”
― Keith Haring

American artist Keith Haring was best known for his pop, graffiti inspired art which touched on his experiences as a gay man with AIDS living through the AIDS epidemic. His art was very much in the public eye after his passing in 1990, as many artists, such as Madonna and Red Hot Organization, dedicated proceeds from their work to AIDS charities in his memory. Keith is one of many people who is memorialized on the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Keith studied graphic art in his youth but lost interest in it. Then in 1978 he moved to New York City to study painting at the School of Visual Arts. Though he gained attention for his street art, especially those in the subway stations, it wasn’t until 1984 that he became internationally famous. In 1986, Keith opened the Pop Shop in Soho to make his work more readily accessible to his fans. He said of the Pop Shop:

“Here’s the philosophy behind the Pop Shop: I wanted to continue this same sort of communication as with the subway drawings. I wanted to attract the same wide range of people, and I wanted it to be a place where, yes, not only collectors could come, but also kids from the Bronx. The main point was that we didn’t want to produce things that would cheapen the art. In other words, this was still an art statement.”

In 1989, Keith founded the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funds and imagery to AIDS and children’s programs.

In 2017, his sister Kay wrote and published the book Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing. Kay wrote the book with children in mind as Keith was very passionate about creating a better future for children, and inspiring them to do good for the world. Another book, Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography, was written in 1992 by John Gruen. Filmmaker Christina Clausen released a documentary film about Keith in 2008 called The Universe of Keith Haring, which played at many different film festivals during that year and was released the following year on DVD.

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Pride Month Artist Focus – Frida Kahlo

“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”

Frida Kahlo

 

 

 

 

As part of our celebration of Pride Month, I want to talk about a few LGBT artists who have inspired me and continue to be a source of strength. Today I turn to Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

At an early age Frida was stricken with polio, and it left her right leg shorter and thinner than her left. It also caused her to be isolated from her peers and be bullied  by them. She became quiet and introverted as a result. It wasn’t until she was college age that she began exploring her artistic side, and even then it wasn’t until after her death that her art was fully appreciated.

She painted her reality, using bold colors and design evoking the folk art of Mexico. In her painting Two Nudes in the Forest, her love of women is vibrantly apparent. Her later work reflected her failing health and growing misery. The most famous example of this is The Broken Column.

Frida was bisexual, and though she was married to fellow artist Diego Rivera, she had many affairs with both men and women in her life. She is today considered one of Mexico’s most influential artists, as well as an icon for the underdog. She was disabled, abused, gay, gender non-conforming, and a feminist. Her face is one of the most recognized in art today, and she was way ahead of the selfie trend.

To learn more about Frida, there are many books and movies made about her life. Here are a few:

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera

Frida, the Oscar winning movie based on the Herrera biography, starring Salma Hayek

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes

 

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My Boyfriend the Filmmaker

My boyfriend Al is an actor and a filmmaker. His debut film, Uberzombiefrau, is now available for rent or purchase on Amazon. And while I may be a bit biased, it’s a great film. Here is a brief synopsis:

In a remote part of eastern Europe during the final weeks of World War II, a plot to revive an army of dead soldiers is intercepted by Allied Intelligence. An elite unit of American soldiers lead a top secret mission deep into enemy territory to discover the truth. One of their own is not who they claim to be, and the research being conducted is much more grim and deadly than anyone anticipated.

It is a fun historical sci fi adventure that pays homage to the B movies of the 60s and 70s. And I’m really proud of him for making it!

I share this not only because of that pride and my love of his art, but because we recently received some bad news concerning Al’s mom. See, Al is from England and he currently lives here in the US. His mom’s health has taken a very bad turn, and she is not doing well at all. He desperately needs to get home to England to be with her. You can help him do this by renting or purchasing his film and sharing this post with others. You’ll be getting a great movie and helping a son get home to be at his mom’s side.

Additionally, you can make a direct donation through my PayPal Donation Link.

Thank you all so much for your love and support of our art and our family!

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Healing Through Art

“Write it out,” he said, while clasping and unclasping his hands for what seemed like the hundredth time.

“Write out how you feel. Put your anxiety to words. Talk about your experience.” He leaned forward and looked me in the eyes. “I want you to start journaling daily. Even when you don’t have much to say and even if you don’t feel like it. Write it out.”

I was in therapy after leaving an abusive relationship I had been in for eight years. I had recently been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and generalized anxiety, and I was not coping well.

When I got home I sat down to my desk to write. Starting the process was difficult and I found my thoughts were all over the place. To keep everything readable, I started from the beginning and wrote it out.

I didn’t feel any better.

I walked into my next appointment and flopped down in the chair. I didn’t want to make eye contact. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t feel like I was being helped.

“How did it go?” he asked.

I shrugged. “It didn’t help. In fact, it hurt to write.”

“Sometimes the healing process hurts, but I’m curious to know why you don’t think it helped.”

I shrugged again. “Maybe if you read it? Cause I don’t know.” I opened my bag and pulled out a single sheet of paper. His face became skeptical.

“One sheet?” He began reading and his face remained puzzled.

“You didn’t write your story. You wrote a police report.”

“What?”

“You gave me names, places, events. Facts. But this isn’t your story. You didn’t get to the heart of the matter. You didn’t write about yourself.”

I never wrote about myself. That kind of navel-gazing wasn’t yet in my wheelhouse. My writing up to that point consisted of facts, figures, places. Things that happened and were easily verifiable. I didn’t write about “stuff.” I wrinkled my nose involuntarily.

“But that’s now how I write,” I said dismissively. “I wrote down what happened.”

“Just try it my way. If it doesn’t work, we’ll explore another avenue.”

Sighing, I picked up my backpack and left. I soon found myself once again staring at paper, pen in hand, and no idea what to say. I started, stopped, started again, and it was just as before.

“One Saturday I was berated for two hours because the dog got into the trash.”

“There was that time at a party….”

“….and I never planned another vacation.”

Lost, I turned to the internet. I started searching for memoirs. How did people write about themselves? What did they even say that didn’t make them look egotistical?

It took me three days to write a sentence.

But once I did, it’s like a dam burst inside me. I couldn’t *not* write about myself. I couldn’t stop sharing.

I got it.

The next session was completely different. I bounced into the room and gleefully handed my therapist my journal. He assured me that he didn’t expect me to show him what I had written, but that he was happy to review it if I wanted him to.

After that, it became easier to heal. Yes, I still have PSTD, depression, and generalized anxiety. I imagine I always will, but the amazing thing is that they no longer dominate my life. I can navigate my life with relative ease these days, which is not something I thought I’d ever be able to do again. After nearly a decade of being broken down, torn apart, and stomped on, you lose yourself. Your “normal” is a nightmare, but you can’t see it until you’re on the other side.

That next quarter I took a class called Feminist Memoirs. At the end of the class, our final project was to write our own memoir pieces. I was stoked. I was ready. When we sat in a circle and shared, I could not believe how many stories were the same, how many of us suffered violence in some form or another. Emotional, psychological, sexual, physical. It was hard to listen to, but we all bared witness to each other’s pain. And it was the most healing, amazing, and significant day in my entire academic career.

That is not to say that memoir writing is the only art form that heals. You can paint your depression. Sculpt your fears. Draw your sadness.

And when you’re ready, crochet your love into a sweater. Stir your joy into an amazing stew. Sing out your excitement.

Keep making art. Heal yourself. Heal others.

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On Learning New Things; Part the 2nd

And we’re back again.  Today we’re going to cover the rest of my list of things I want to learn.  Let’s get down to it…

Candle Making. Who doesn’t love a good candle?  I mean it smells good, it provides mood lighting, and did I mention it smells good?  Plus when I finally get SLA started as a business, Candles will definitely sell. This is definitely going to be a more costly craft to start, and the downside is that I will not be able to use lavender because migraines are a-holes.  (Who the hell is allergic to lavender?! Me, apparently.)

Hand Lettering. This is something that is near and dear to me.  My handwriting now is not atrocious by regular standards.  Honestly, it’s quite good. But my Grandpa and I used to sit after school and practice my handwriting.  He used to tell me that good penmanship was important, and he wished his penmanship was better. He was a hell of an artist, but oh my God, was his handwriting ever awful!

Knitting.  I’ll be honest, I don’t really want to knit because it’s knitting.  I thought, maybe I want to knit to supplement my crochet. To be frank, I really just want to learn because it’s stumped me.  I have knitting needles and lots of yarn and once a year I give it another go. It rarely works out for me. I know lots of crocheters who say the same thing; when you’ve crocheted with one hook for so long, learning to use two needles is incredibly difficult.  I hear knitters complain similarly, only reverse the order.

This last one is going to seem pretty out of left field, but those who have known me for a long time know that my passion in high school was my ceramics class.  I even took it a 4th year of it in high school when they only offered three. (I graduated a semester late, and only had to take 3 classes but had to stay at least half a day so I needed an extra class.)

Finally, Glaze making.  At some point, I will have a wheel again.  I will get better at hand-building. The next logical step is to make my own glazes.  This one is going to take lots of practice. There is so much chemistry involved in the making of glazes.  I want to, at some point, have a kiln for regular firing, and building a kiln for raku will not be difficult.

So that’s it.  That’s my list of things I definitely want to learn.  Now I think I’m going to eat dinner and work on some crochet.

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