I knew that it was going to happen, I did not know how, where or when. I had a strong sense that what was supposed to happen was going to happen, and that for now I just needed to paint. So i did, I painted and painted and painted and painted. I was about 4 months in, when I got a call from Katie Cooper, the Director at The Laundry in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA. She said she was familiar with my work and that she wanted to know if I was interested in the The Laundry hosting an exhibition. We made a date to meet and visit the site. Though feeling mostly optimistic and curious, I was also wavering between being thrilled with the possibility that this was fate at work and protecting my hopes with a healthy does of skepticism in case this turned out to be too good to be true.
The entrance to the Laundry was warm and welcoming but deceiving in it’s humble nature. We walked through the friendly cafe, to a glass door along the back end. I was unprepared for the size, depth and character of what I was about to encounter. The space was alive, breathing even communicating. Still to this day every time I walk through this door, I pause to breathe in the space and reconnect. It’s energy seems to be constantly shifting as it engages with the people who pass through as well as the spirit of the Mission District itself. Katie gave me a tour, which included the coffee shop/cafe, a designated gallery space and multi use spaces varying in size, each possessing their own individual special something. Whether the spaces are working together as one or each as an individual, the potential to foster and hold creative expression in this environment is boundless. When the tour was over and she asked what I thought, I enthusiastically and naively asked “can I have the whole place” she smiled and said “yes”, “Ok” I replied “I will need about another eight months, let’s do this”.
To understand my naive enthusiasm let’s make a quick jump back into the tour. I took in the beauty of the first floor with it’s restored brink walls, exposed steel beams, modern industrial renovations working in perfect harmony. The original window’s cracks, possibly bullet holes and graffiti, tell a story as old as the city itself. As we then headed downstairs, we came upon a portrait of a young man looking confident, coy and mischievous, his eyes bright, seeming to stare straight into mine. I felt a strong urge to know, who he was, what was his story? Katie explained that his name is Dan, he was one of the founders of The Laundry, that he and his friends had a vision for the use of this space to benefit community, creativity, a kind of a think tank for minds to come together to tackle the issues facing the world and seek solutions. She went on to explain that Dan had died three years ago. It was hard to hear his story, it resonated close to my heart . There was also a direct hit to my the gut, in the form of a knowing, that this was the place where this show was meant to be. I did not know yet know why, and honestly I still do not completely understand what all will unfold as a result, but I do know that there was a plan, and that I felt honored to be a part of it.
That moment on the tour when, I just knew, is what some call fate or maybe divine intervention but what I like to call Sean at work. Let me take you back a little further to give a history and introduce you to some of the forces at play. I am a mother of two children, Sean and Chelsea. Chelsea is the funny, highly intelligent, creative, generous and multi talented chameleon that is @chelseawears and the founder and lady boss of Anomie an independent boutique on Union St. in San Francisco. Sean is a forward thinking, philanthropic entrepreneur who believes in creating opportunity for the oppressed, the power of community, kindness, creating joy and human connection. Chelsea is living San Francisco with her fiancee and Sean resides everywhere in spirit/energy form. Sean physical body died 4 years ago. The loss of a loved one is tragic and not a day, or even an hour goes by that I don’t miss him and desperately wish I could hug him, cook a meal with him or just watch him as he maneuvers through the world but ultimately this is not a sad story and our time together certainly has not come to an end. Sean was always networking and connecting seeing how he could bring people together for a greater good or just to simply create some joy. When I was told about Dan and engaged his energy I felt a strong knowing that he and Sean were in this together and I had better buckle up because they had plans.
The cute little dog you see flanking Sean in the above photo is also an important character in this story. Her name is Rosie, Sean adopted her from the Milo Foundation. Rosie was Sean’s constant companion and in many moments his motivation to fight to live. I am forever thankful to all of the warm hearted people whom everyday are saving these modern day angels. Inspired by Sean generous nature and my desire to express my gratitude to all the animals that are everyday bringing unconditional love into all of our lives, 50% of the sale of each painting is being donated to The Milo Foundation.
This draped canvas was the last piece created for the show, I had no preconceived idea of what it would be, just followed whatever impulse I felt. When the words came all I can tell you is there is no doubt in my mind that it was written by Dan and Sean and likely others as well. I felt submerged in the most beautiful energy, so warm and soft, my heart felt so full of love it overflowed and I felt love for everything around me. I believe to my core that they were the Mastermind behind the creation of Proof of Life and they wanted to say loud and clear, We Are Still Here. Proof of Life is not a story about loss or grief but rather a story of connection and lives being lived.
Eight months quickly went by amid a lot of painting, a lot of stressing, a lot of learning about the parts of putting on a show that are not fun and a lot of appreciating Katie’s cool, constant disposition and professionalism. Have you ever watched one of those cooking competition shows when the the judges say, times up step away from the plates? That is what the preparation for an art opening is like. You work hard and you work long and you do everything you can to get everything just right and at the point when the doors open you have to through up your hands and say ok, now let’s just have fun.
Opening night arrived, bubbles floating down 26th St. welcomed the guests, while Glenn Carter seemed to always play just the right song. Some traveled from far, others popped in from near but everyone brought love and enthusiasm. It was beautiful to watch pieces be united with their intended owners. As expected the night went too fast with my only regret, not being able to connect with each person who came through. If I could slow down time I would, please know I appreciate you and hope you had a good time. We did have a celebribity guest, a little poodle named Chaseme. the Milo’s Foundations mascot. I will never forget the moment I looked down the hall and saw what looked like a white Rosie came running down the hall running straight at me, leash dragging along her side. It was as if a part of Rosie that is living in another space and time popped into say hi. Chaseme stole all of our hearts in just one beat.
Now that the night has past, I hold two simultaneous truths. Opening night was an absolutely wonderfully magical evening and I am relieved that the evening has come to a close. A year is a long time to carry this kind of pressure and focus. I pushed myself with everything I had, I loved the process but I am also feeling a need to recharge. Now my excitement is in anticipation of what is to come, what was and will be affected. To understand what all was at play in the creation of Proof of Life, of the intended destiny of each individual piece as they find their owners and what will unfold as a result. My wonder loves the wander.
If you believe as I do that everything is happening at once, it makes sense that our loved ones in spirit know where you will be at any given time and could influence an artist to paint something to move just you, its possible. My hope is that the people who were supposed to see these works do. I invite you to come by and view the works displayed as they were meant to be shown. The are 50 pieces in the exhibition, each one a unique moment, each one sprinkled with its own special recipe of pixie dust. Maybe there is something here that was meant just for you, or maybe you will simply experience fun and soulful art in a gorgeous space, either way I hope you can stop by, Proof of Life, the show runs thru Oct. 12. at The Laundry 3359 26th St. San Francisco, Ca.
BONUS FOOTAGE-Proof of Life is also exhibiting two very special pieces from two guest artists, Benjamin Noonan, an Irish immigrant, 1910-1970, and Frank Noonan b.1934, my grandfather and father. Two men who have innate artistic talent but whom, because the circumstances of the times and the need to support their families, were not afforded the time to realize their artistic potential. Because of their sacrifice, I am able to indulge in the luxury of expressing my creativity, for which I am eternally grateful. Ben was able to create some stained glass work that may be found in the Mission District of San Francisco and the Stanford Chapel. The piece below is Frank’s first completed painting, created free hand from a memory, outstanding!
Here a few pictures from the show, follow the button at bottom of post to view the full exhibition.