Women Painters of Washington Gallery

Normally, I plan to visit an art gallery. I’m therefore anticipating a feeling of delight and awe, and even a bit of envy, when presented with such talent. I’m emotionally prepared for those exquisite feelings.

But on this particular, pre-pandemic day, I wasn’t expecting to be treated to dozens of stunning works of art. I didn’t have the opportunity to look forward to it. I wasn’t braced for an influx of emotion.

The Women Painters of Washington Gallery snuck up on me. I had other business in the Columbia Center Building, Seattle’s tallest skyscraper. I planned to do that. I didn’t plan to do this. But there it was, on the third floor, beckoning to me, splashes of vibrant color peeking through the windows, an antidote to the evergrey of a Pacific Northwest winter.

“Hello,” I thought. “I wasn’t expecting to meet you. I didn’t even know you existed.”

This encounter happened at an opportune time. The gallery is only open Monday through Friday from 11am to 4pm. Otherwise I’d have had to content myself with pressing my nose against the glass. And admission to this treat for your senses is absolutely free.

I not only enjoyed the art in this gallery, but also the very premise of it. According to their exquisitely designed website, the Women Painters of Washington has a wonderful mission statement:

Women Painters of Washington empowers professional women artists to create, exhibit, and market their work while fostering art appreciation within their communities and beyond.

This group was founded in 1930 because, as I’m sure will come as no surprise to you, women artists face certain limitations when attempting to realize their artistic potential. What a fantastic idea. Three cheers for strength in numbers!

I encourage you to check out their website, where you can see dozens of works of art from the comfort of your own home. But if, like me, you think the website is of fabulous design, you really need to visit the gallery when this virus burns itself out. Its walls each contain a giant metal wheel which can roll along a metal track so that the placement and design of an exhibit can change with each passing display. I’ve never seen such a brilliant use of limited space.

What follows are pictures my husband took during our visit. Let me know what you think. And if you get a chance, stop by and visit one of Seattle’s best kept secrets!

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Digital Art

A friend of mine sent me a link to an artist on fiverr who can take a photograph, such as this one,

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and transform it into a digital watercolor, like this.

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That’s pretty nifty, for five bucks. I love the result. I’ll probably have him do some more in the future.

But this made me think of one of my pet peeves: people who don’t consider digital art to be art. I’ve yet to see any digital art in a museum or an art gallery. As a fractal artist myself (you can see my work here) this frustrates me to no end.

Granted, we are not using paintbrushes or charcoal or clay, but we come up with a concept, make aesthetic decisions, and use a computer as our tool. The things we produce are unique and have style.

And why is using an already existing photograph and making something different out of it, as this artist does, less worthy than, say, a collage or mixed media work? I’m even willing to open a can of worms and say that things made via Photoshop are works of art. You’re making artistic decisions. Often the results can’t be exactly duplicated. It’s creative. That, to me, is the essence of art.

A pox upon artistic snobbery, I say!

Give Me a Break. Please.

Recently I met a new artist in the virtual world of Second Life. He is amazingly talented but lacks confidence. He’s desperate to break into the art scene, but doesn’t know how to promote himself. I remember what that’s like. When I first started making fractals, I was so inexperienced I was afraid to show them to anyone. (And frankly I should have been. Looking at my early work makes me cringe.) Then I met my friend Bau, who took a chance on me.

Before I knew it I had a display in a gallery. I was so excited. I was so nervous. I was so proud of myself. Bau had to teach me how to display my work and set it up for sale. I was that green.

Since then my confidence has gown and I’ve shown my work in dozens of virtual galleries. I also have a (woefully out of date) website, and I sell my work in the real world in the form of posters, mugs, greeting cards, ornaments, ties and puzzles on zazzle.com.

None of that would have happened without Bau giving me my first break, and I’ve never forgotten that. Since then, I’ve done the best I could to pay it forward by helping a few artists get their start, and as soon as I met this guy and discovered how talented he was, I knew I’d like to help him.

To make a long story short, I got the most amazing and influential artist in all of Second Life to check out his work. This was no mean feat. It took me years to get a display in her gallery. I didn’t really feel like a successful artist in Second Life until I got a display there.

Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, as the saying goes. This guy was so rude to my friend that I was mortified. So here I handed him an opportunity on a silver platter, and he handed me back the platter with poo poo all over it. I have to admit it. I went off on him. I mean, I really lost it.

I don’t take these types of things lightly. If my trust with that gallery is broken, the next time I want to help an artist, she might hesitate. And that’s SO unfair for the next person.

The next day I get an e-mail from this guy saying, among other things, that I needed to apologize to him, that I’m a harsh and angry person, I’m crazy, and I need to check my ego.

Omigod.

I hate being misunderstood. I hate doing an over-the-top amazingly wonderful thing and then getting hostility in return. I stewed on it for a day, and realized that OF COURSE he’d think I’m a harsh and angry person, because I was, indeed, harsh and angry with him, and since the world apparently revolves around him, he naturally must think that this incident was a demonstration of my overall demeanor despite all my previous kindness.

But you know what I hate the most? Seeing such an amazing opportunity go to waste. I’m on the ragged edge, financially and emotionally and spiritually, so I would LOVE to get a break like this, especially if it were related to employment, housing or romance. It could be the difference between my keeping a roof over my head or sleeping in my car, the difference between a life filled with love or a lifetime of loneliness. So if anyone were to give me a chance right now, even one tiny little break, I’d grab it with both hands and run with it, and I’d be grateful for life.

So that guy will be waiting an awfully long time for an apology from this harsh, angry person. And it turns out he’s decided to not display in any gallery, proving that if things don’t go your way, you should take your marbles and run home like a little girl.

Come on. Give me a break.

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Even this cat knows the guy screwed up.

[Image credit: disruptingdinnerparties.com]

My Second Life

For years now I’ve had a rich and fulfilling second life. In it I’m younger, thinner, sexier, more outgoing, and more well-known than I am in my everyday life. It’s quite intoxicating, actually. This is me, standing in front of one of my fractals with a fractal necklace around my neck:

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I discovered the virtual world of Second Life at a time when I was feeling very alone and unfulfilled and in need of positive and intelligent human interaction– something I was sorely lacking in my first life. Oh, who am I kidding? I hated my life. I desperately needed a change, but I had no idea how to get out of my miserable situation. To make matters worse, I was working the graveyard shift at a one person drawbridge, and when the rest of the city is asleep, you often feel like you’re the only person alive on the planet. It can be very isolating.

Then one day in 2007 I was watching an episode of CSI New York and they were discussing Second Life, and I decided to give it a try. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s when my life changed entirely. Isn’t it funny how something you think of as a random choice turns out to be the thing that completely changes your path in life?

Many people make the mistake of thinking that Second Life is just another one of those online gaming worlds, like War of the Worlds. While you can play games within Second Life if you so desire, that’s just a very small part of that world. Second Life isn’t a game that you play. It’s a community that you become a part of. In there, you can go places, do things and meet people that you’d never have the opportunity to meet in your everyday life. Always wanted to go to Paris? Go there and climb the Eiffel Tower. Love live music? On any given night there are dozens of performers there, and many of them are amazing. Like to dance? Go to a club. Get to know the DJs who play the music you like. Into Philosophy? There are places where you can have philosophical debates with some of the most intelligent people you’ll ever meet. The art galleries in Second Life are amazing. Dress up in your formal best and go ballroom dancing. You can also swim with whales, parasail, explore castles, wander through botanical gardens, shop for clothes, design your dream house or build anything you can imagine. Take a class. You can also ride horses and even fly! More and more businesses have a presence in there. It’s a great way to have a staff meeting when everyone is not centrally located. A lot of universities also have a presence in Second Life. You can even attend the church of your choice, or join a support group.

It’s also a wonderful place to transcend your first life limitations. Someone who is wheelchair bound can go in and dance. Agoraphobics can explore the wider world. The deaf can communicate with the wider community without being stigmatized. The home bound can attend church or hike in the woods. If you live in a land locked country, you can go to the beach. If you are relatively poor, you can own waterfront property. The only limit is your imagination.

Yes, Second Life does have a dark side. That’s why I don’t recommend it for teenagers, although they are allowed to enter. There are plenty of people in there who will take advantage of you. There are predators who will identify your weaknesses and exploit them. There are mentally ill people who would be better off seeking help elsewhere. When I see women in there who are offering themselves up as sex slaves, it sickens me. Slavery exists in the world. It’s not a game. And it’s quite possible to get tangled up in an emotionally abusive relationship. I’ve seen it happen all too often. You can even be stalked in Second Life. I’ve experienced that myself. That’s why it’s very important not to reveal your true identity to anyone unless you’ve known them for a long, long time, perhaps even years. There are orgy rooms and strip clubs. If you’re into that sort of thing, fine. I am not here to pass judgment. But I will always maintain that the odds of encountering people who do not have your best interests at heart in those places are much, much higher. My watchword in Second Life has always been respect. If people do not treat you with respect, they are not worthy of your company or your time.

After a while, you begin to get a very strong sense of the people behind the avatars. It’s very important not to forget that there ARE real people there, who have feelings and histories and motives. You learn who your friends are. I have made some amazing friends from all over the world in there. I’ve also encountered true evil. The longer you are in that world, the quicker you can suss that out. Some people go in there thinking that they’ll be able to lie, but in truth, Second Life exposes you in ways you can never imagine. You don’t have your body language or your possessions or your appearance or your social status to hide behind. Everyone is on an equal playing field. Everyone is attractive and healthy and can own whatever they want in there. So the thing that sets you apart is…you. You can try to be someone else, but that façade tends to crumble quite rapidly unless you’re the world’s most heartless sociopath. Sadly there are more than a few of those wandering around. Mostly, though, I’ve found that the vast majority of the people in there are good but lonely people who lead lives of quiet desperation and are seeking an outlet.

I first went in to Second Life because I was lonesome, and I have found good friends. I also was there because I felt unloved, and indeed, I found the love of my life in there. To this day I am convinced that he is my soul mate, but to my everlasting regret, some relationships cannot or will not make the transition into real life. But I will never regret learning that I was capable of loving again. Another thing I found in there was self-confidence. I learned that I have artistic talent that I never had the courage to pursue before. In fact, I now have an artistic presence in there, and quite a few people collect my art. So much so, in fact, that I now sell my art in the real world in the form of calendars, mugs, posters, puzzles, ornaments and greeting cards. I have over 1300 products available. Check them out here: www.zazzle.com/serenity_questi .

Discovering that I could be successful in Second Life gave me the courage to try for success in my first life. And indeed, I’ve made a great many changes. I’ve still not reached the heights I have in the virtual world, but now I know that I can love and laugh and make friends and be artistic, and because of that, I have hope. I’m rarely in Second Life anymore, ironically. Because of the many gifts it has given me, my first life is now so busy I don’t have time! But I know that many of the friends I’ve made in there will be friends for life—this life.

If you wish to try second life, got to www.secondlife.com and sign up.  Once you’re in the world, here are some things I recommend:

 

Have fun!