Thursday, April 2, 2015

20 and Counting

"20 and Counting" is the proposed title of the collaborative show between Erica Jane Huntzinger and myself that will be exhibited at the Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan Wisconsin 10/24/15 - 11/28/15 with an opening reception on Saturday November 7th from 5-8pm. 

Erica Jane and I met in September of 1995 as we started our quest to navigate our way through the Graduate Art Therapy Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Erica and I were first and foremost artists. And really we just wanted to be fine artists, but really had no mentors to speak of that could help us wrap our brains around what it meant to be part of the professional art world. So we both turned to the field of Art Therapy as a career, knowing in our heart of hearts that using the creative process to help other people (but most noteworthy, ourselves) would be a natural fit for a profession for the creative and caring beings that we were.

here we are on the streets of Chicago circa 1997

Erica and I had become fast friends throughout our time in the SAIC program, and found that our most favorite class projects were those where we could paint, draw and collage rather than study advanced psychology, or learn how to do take downs in mental health facilities.

Art was our being, our knowing, our language. Ever since we could remember.

Following graduation, I decided to leave Chicago and head to the wild west of Denver, Colorado. Erica stayed in Chicago and later moved to Wisconsin.  But even though we struggled with the great physical distance between our homes, we always found a way to continue our friendship and connection. Over time, Erica and I both found our way working as art therapists in mental health facilities, teaching in preschools, working with the elderly, as well as holding positions in galleries and museums. And when the work day was over, we would both head to the studios we created for ourselves to make our own art, be they in our basements, spare bedrooms, closets, etc. Wherever we could find space to make art, we did. We would make our paintings, and show them around the respective towns and cities that we lived in. Sometimes we would show our works at coffeehouses, restaurants, salons, really anywhere that would hang our work, we would pursue.

Art was our being, our knowing, our language. And over the years of going to a daily job, it became more and more apparent that making art was really our true calling. We just really wanted to be professional artists, after all, but taking that leap of faith and pursuing a fine art profession on more than a part-time basis was simply terrifying. We had jobs with security, health insurance and steady pay checks. How could we leave all that behind?

Well, eventually we both did, in some shape or form, and just like our lives, our art has evolved as well, taking leaps of faith here and there, in our work, in our relationships and in our painting.

20 years later we will be celebrating our 2 decade long relationship with our very own exhibition of 20 paintings and mixed media works. With Erica's influences of Cy Twombly, Jim Nutt and Joseph Cornell and mine of Frida Kahlo, Frances Bacon and Basquiat this collaborative show will focus on twenty years of life lessons, of working as artists, being art therapists, and knowing the importance of the healing quality of being a creative has affected the evolution of our lives.

More information will follow as we receive it from the gallery, but we hope you will be able to join us on 11/7/15 in Sheboygan.

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