Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How the Artists Alive and Well Show Began

The Artists Alive and Well Exhibit starts THURSDAY, October 18, 2007.

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, October 18, 2007, 6-10PM
EVENING WITH THE ARTISTS: Friday, October 26, 2007, 6-10PM
LOCATION: Eastman Gallery, 1110 N. Post Oak Road, Suite 310, Houston, TX 77055

Just 3 short months ago, Artists Alive and Well, Inc. had its first organizational meeting, and now we've created our own art exhibit with nearly 30 of our artists participating, plus an equal number of the gallery's artists -- in a show named for our our organization.

As the founder of Artists Alive and Well, Inc., I'm proud of this achievement and even prouder of this fine group of emerging artists who have stepped out to claim and celebrate their creativity, and to share that creativity with the world.

I invite you to join us at one of these opening receptions -- you'll meet and see the work of some of the most creative up-and-coming artists on the Houston art scene.

How Did Artists Alive and Well Happen So Quickly?
The Complete Untold Story

The seed for Artists Alive and Well was planted more than a year ago. In 2006, I participated in the Wisdom Unlimited Course presented by Landmark Education. (Landmark Education, www.landmarkeducation.com, is a global training and development company known for its cutting edge programs that give participants the opportunity and the tools to create a life they love.) Among many other benefits, the Wisdom course gave me the freedom to experience my own creativity in a new way, to publically declare myself an artist and to acknowledge that the creation of beauty through art is just as valid as any other contribution I might make to the world. (I'd been suffering under the delusion that contributions involving truth and goodness were somehow more signficant.)

The homework for the Wisdom course involved making collages, and I took on the assignments with a passion that surprised me. Every collage I created gave me immense satisfaction, as well as the life-altering insights that were the intended outcome. Example: One collage showed me clearly how I'd been sabotaging myself by doubting my creativity and gave me the certainty that my creativity was unstoppable, that it permeated everything I said or did.

Inspired by the fun of collaging, I dug out some old sketchbooks left over from art courses of the distant past. I began filling these sketchbooks with free-form creations. Unlike when I'd taken short art courses in the past, this time I had no agenda, no rules, no intended outcome -- I wasn't trying to create Art or even trying to make something that resembled anything. I wasn't using any particular technique or aiming for a certain style. I wasn't trying to please an art teacher or anyone else -- except myself. I simply PLAYED and had more fun than I'd had in recent memory. I knew this avenue of self-expression would be important for me, but I still wasn't sure how that would manifest.

Eager to pursue the possibility of actually doing something with my art, I took a class with Wild at Heart Art (www.wildheartart.com), a program that focuses on process painting -- painting strictly for self-expression, rather than for the creation of "product." This felt like exactly what I'd been doing with my sketchbooks, and I enjoyed the class immensely.

I started looking for support and opportunities to share with other artists. I discovered that Houston has a vast arts community -- there's an artists' organization for almost every part of town and every medium you can imagine. I also found plenty of online support groups, blogs, websites, ezines, art coaches, etc. Many of these groups are very positive, informative and helpful. And yet, almost every one of them is tinged with negative energy:
  • An artist sharing her work would preface her posting with,"I'm not real happy with this one, but... here it is." (Inevitably, I'd look at the work and be blown away with its quality and creativity, and wonder, "What is she complaining about?")
  • A coach would end an upbeat peptalk with an admonition that you'll have to work really hard to get anywhere as an artist (without reminding us of the passion that could sustain us through the hard work).
  • I heard some artists talk about their lack of creativity, time, energy, money, etc. (rather than about their dreams, goals and plans for achieving same).
  • I heard a fair amount of whining about how hard -- or impossible -- it is to create and sell art, make a living, find a gallery, etc. (instead of sharing the abundant resources in our community).
  • I found artists bemoaning how much they had to sacrifice for their art (when they could have focused on finding their passion and not letting anything stop them from going for it).
  • A disturbing number of people in the arts community -- even successful ones -- seemed to be caught up in the "poor starving artist" way of thinking. They weren't literally starving, but they were starved for confidence, courage and positive energy.
Now, I'm old enough that I didn't want to go there at the start of my art career and work my way up. I wanted to start with a life-affirming outlook that would support me in being more creative, passionate and positive about my art. This is what I call "abundant artist" thinking:
  • As an "abundant artist," I show my work with confidence. Even while my talents are still in the earliest stages of developing -- especially then -- I say to myself, "I love my work, I love what I'm doing. Every piece I create expands my talent and creativity."
  • My fellow artists and coaches empower me with my own excitement for my art. Whatever I'm doing to build my art career (even the "hard" parts), I infuse it with so much passion that I don't experience it as hard work.
  • I set ambitious, yet doable goals, goals that inspire me to be my best, goals that make my heart sing. Then I draw to myself the time, energy and resources to achieve those goals.
  • I play with other artists who openly share the resources they have found that sustain them -- whether it's an online source with great discounts on brushes or a gallery that's open to first-time art exhibitors.
  • I have given up sacrifice and suffering as a way of life and find the courage and commitment to regard every perceived setback as an opportunity.

My desire to find a group that would truly embody this "abundant artist" mentality eventually led me to start Artists Alive and Well, Inc.

In June 2007, I enrolled in the Self Expression and Leadership Program (SELP), another program of Landmark Education and the third part of Landmark's Curriculum for Living. The program involves, among other things, creating a project that allows participants to expand their experience of being self-expressed leaders in one of their communities.

Almost immediately, I decided that my project would involve artists and their careers. I was so inspired with this idea, that I didn't stop to think that I had very little experience as an artist and no professional standing in the art community whatsoever. I simply knew I wanted to make a difference for artists, including myself. My audaciousness in taking on this project was an afterthought I chose to ignore.

Over the next few weeks, I talked about my experience of the "starving artist" mindset and how I wanted to transform that into an "abundant artist" mindset. Almost every person I spoke to -- whether they were an artist or not -- came alive during our conversation and told me how important and needed that kind of transformation was. Artists asked to be included in my project; non-artists gave me the names of artist friends. Before I knew it, the ball was rolling.

The rest, as they say, is history. As with other ideas whose time has come, I quickly found an abundance of the resources needed to spark the project to life. Just a few of the people who helped inspire and motivate me:

  • Richard Eastman, a gallery owner who shares my passion for art and for creating a powerful future for artists.
  • Dan Krohn, a lawyer-philosopher who shares his expertise with abandon.
  • Art consultant Sarah Kellner; art connoisseur, coach and trainer Linda Starr; interior designer Belinda Kaylani; artist Sophia von Wrangell; coach Colette Streicher -- and many others -- who generously shared and continue to share their time, energy, ideas and resources.
  • All the fabulous leaders, coaches, volunteers and participants who make the Wisdom Unlimited Course and the Self Expression and Leadership Program possible, and who encouraged me and cheered me on.
  • The talented and committed volunteers who have joined my Artists Alive and Well leadership team and who are taking this project into the future. (There are openings for more people -- contact me if you're one of them!)
  • Last, but definitely not least, my beloved husband, Lloyd Posey, an endless fountain of love, acceptance, encouragement and strength.

Artists Alive and Well, Inc. is -- alive and well. We're incorporated in the state of Texas, we've had 5 meetings and hosted several inspiring speakers. We've adopted a mission statement:

Mission Statement: Artists Alive and Well is a Houston-based educational organization that supports artists in shifting from “starving artist” mode to “abundant artist” mode by mastering ways to create, show and sell their work with passion and confidence.

AND -- our first exhibit starts this week. That's the frosting on the cake.

All in all, it's been a fantastic ride. I have grown in ways I couldn't have imagined as a person, as a leader and as an artist. I'm thrilled to say that this is only the beginning.

My community of artists is growing as well. From the beginning, thanks to the people who shared their networks, I had artists in other communities (from Austin to Israel) on my email list. My goals for next year include starting Artists Alive and Well groups beyond Houston.

The opportunity for Artists Alive and Well, Inc. to empower people to live their lives and share their work with passion and confidence should not -- and will not -- be limited to Houston -- or to artists. Every place and every person deserves that opportunity.

If you've read this far (I warned you this was the COMPLETE story!) and if you're inspired by any of the above, I invite you to get in touch.

  • If you or someone you know is an artist who would benefit from a shift in your thinking, that's what Artists Alive and Well is all about. Please visit our website (www.ArtistsAliveandWell.com) and join our Yahoo! Group (www.groups.yahoo.com/group/artistsaliveandwell).
  • If you have a resource that could support our members in making the shift to "abundant artist," please share it with me so I can pass it on to our members.
  • If you'd like to start or be part of starting an Artists Alive and Well group in your community -- or an Alive and Well group in another field -- I want to hear from you.
  • If you'd like to support the organization in any way, I'm open to it.

Peace, Blessings and Happy Creating!


Linda Summers Posey
Founder and President, Artists Alive and Well, Inc.

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