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 conflicting emotions. I was thrilled with the possibility that this was fate at work, while also protecting my hopes with a healthy does of skepticism in case it turned out to be too good to be true.
The entrance to the Laundry was warm and welcoming but deceiving in its 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 special something. Whether these spaces are working together as one or as individuals, 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 first took in the beauty of the main floor with it’s restored brink walls, exposed steel beams, modern industrial renovations that work in perfect harmony, with the original windows. These windows were works of art in themselves, patinaed by cracks, curious holes and graffiti, telling a story as old as the city itself. While heading 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, to hear his story? Katie explained that his name is Dan, he is 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 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 when I “just knew”, is what some call fate, an intuitive hit, or maybe divine intervention but what I like to call Sean at work. Let me take you back a little further to give you a picture of 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 in San Francisco with her fiancee and Sean resides everywhere in spirit/energy form. Sean’s physical body died 4 years ago. The loss of a loved one is tragic. 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 to just simply create moments of 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.
The draped canvas (below) was the last piece created for the show. I did not have a preconceived idea of what it would be, just followed whatever impulse I felt. When the words came, there is no doubt in my mind that it was written by Dan and Sean and most 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, I felt love and connection for everyone and everything around me. I believe to my core that they were the Masterminds behind the creation of Proof of Life and they wanted to say loud and clear, “We Are Still Here.”
The eight months went by quickly, 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, where 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, then 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 guests, while Glenn Carter seemed to always play just the right song. Some traveled far, others popped in from near but everyone brought love and enthusiasm. It was beautiful to watch pieces be united with their intended owners. The night went too fast with my only regret- not being able to connect with each person who came through. Please know, I appreciate you coming and hope you had an enjoyable and memorable evening. We did have a celebrity guest, a little poodle named Chaseme, the Milo Foundation mascot. I will never forget the moment I looked down the hall to see what looked like a white Rosie come running straight for 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 opening night 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 be revealed, known, seen, affected as a result of the energies that collided and communicated. I desire to understand what all was at play in the creation of Proof of Life, and of the intended destiny of each individual piece as they find their intended owners. My wonder loves the wander.
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 works 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 and from a memory, outstanding!
Here a few pictures from the show, follow the button at the bottom of post to view the full exhibition.