If you knew me before my move to the South in 1996, you may recall my gallery on the campus of Villa Maria College/Gannon University. It was a special place for me that I called Sycamore Gallery. There wasn’t a sycamore in sight on the campus, but I drew inspiration for the name from the only reference to a sycamore in the New Testament. Remember Zacchaeus, the little guy who wanted to see Jesus but couldn’t because of the crowd? Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree to get above the crowd and see! For me, that’s what art does….music, poetry, the visual arts, dance….art of any kind. It takes me ABOVE THE CROWD so I can get a glimpse of the divine. It’s as simple as that. The thought has stayed with me and is the inspiration for this blog and for all I do as I paint, draw, or write. To keep reminding me to get above the crowd, the noise, the distractions, there are two sycamore trees planted on our property in Ocoee TN.
Dusting off a memory
There are many wonderful reasons for maintaining my website and blog but perhaps the one that brings me the most joy is like the one that happened recently. A name appeared on a contact form in my mailbox with a fun description of some antics in a biology class in the late 70’s when I taught biology at VMA in Erie. Several emails were exchanged and stories told of all that has transpired on both ends of the story fleshing out some old memories from long ago. I LOVE being able to do that and to learn about where life has taken my students. So many have found me with a google search that lead them to my website. Some visit for a span and others have become life long friends. It happens more than I ever would have anticipated. This particular reunion had yet another element. “How did you happen to look for me at this time?” I said. “Marie, I think of you every week when I dust a framed drawing my mother gave me in the mid-90’s!” After I asked her to send me a photo, I was gobsmacked (have wanted to use that word!) to see a drawing I did in Holland in 1984 while on a solo backpacking trip through Europe to draw and paint and visit the museums, under the direction of my friend and mentor Frederick Franck. So, it became a double reunion with my student Kathy and with Femke and her mother, the models in that drawing. Who knew that dusting could bring so much pleasure?
Several of you who will read this post were likely students of mine at some time. If so, thank you so much for finding me.
Beauty and Bread
John Muir may not have had art in mind when he penned this: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” I know he had places like Yosemite and Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks as he talked of places and I think I did too as I painted this. I suggest that “places” can also be non-tangible spots where our hearts find some reprieve from whatever may be troubling us.
You can view additional paintings inspired by land or sea, click here.
I decided to give my blog page a little lift with its own name. I’m calling it Sycamore Notes and some day I will explain where that comes from. (see a more recent post for that) For now, know that it is based on my belief that art can be something that lifts us out of the ordinary and inspires or challenges us. So here I will “go out on a limb” and share new works that are being added into this site’s galleries or tell you about coming events and opportunities, or share techniques I use; or perhaps I will share a thought that I feel needs to be shared. My hope is that this will become interactive and to that end, I invite you to share your thoughts or questions as we proceed.