Thursday, December 31, 2015

i raise my glass to you

As 2015 winds down, like most people, I'm finding myself in a reflective mood. I wanted to take this moment to say "thank you" to everyone who has been supportive of me (and my art!) this year. If you purchased my artwork in any form, if you came to one of my shows, if you shared my work with someone you care about, if you bought a raffle ticket for my first "Paint-a-Thon," if you promoted any of my art events, if you opened your space up to me so I could show my work there, if you are taking the time to read my blog, whatever...I am grateful for YOU. Family, friends, and strangers alike, thank you all for your support! You helped make 2015 awesome. I am hopeful about the coming year, and I'm excited about the possibilities ahead. Know that I will raise my glass to you tonight. I wish you all good health, happiness, prosperity, and creativity in the coming year. Let's kick some ass together in 2016!
yes, it is!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Paint-a-Thon/Paint4TheCure recap!

It's been just over a week and a half since my "Paint-a-Thon/Paint4TheCure"! I've been laying low for a little while, for several different reasons...partly because the "Paint-a-Thon" was an intense experience and I needed a little time to process everything, partly because I needed to catch up with all of the work I'd been putting off...and, hello- Christmas is tomorrow! What?!? Well, here's my recap of the day...

Where it all happened! Photo by Keith Spiro

Masking tape is a fun medium! Photo by Keith Spiro

I started at 10 am as planned. The front window of the Mix proved to be a supportive, wonderful place to paint! Thank you, Jill, for allowing me to be there all day long and to take over the music as well. The soundtrack of the day consisted of Iron & Wine, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Tom Petty, Phish, Gin Wigmore, and New Earth Mud, plus a two-hour set of live music in the middle of the day from Kathleen McGee, who was wonderful. The eight hours flew by, and I was really in a zone. I only stopped to use the ladies' room, and most conversations I had included me saying, "I hope you don't mind if I don't look at you while we talk!"

Work in progress! Photo by Keith Spiro

I went through all of the ups and downs I typically experience while working on a painting. Usually these feelings are spaced out over days, weeks, or sometimes even months, but not this time. It was a day-long roller coaster ride: "Here's my idea, I know what I'm going to do." "This is going along well. I feel good about what I've done so far, and I've got plenty of time to finish. Maybe I'll even be done early!" "Hmm...wait a minute. Am I going to be able to do this?" "Holy cow, one o'clock already? I need to get the lead out!" "Three o'clock? Uh oh." "What the hell was I thinking?" "There's no way I'm going to finish this on time!" "Wait- I think it's happening!" "Yes! Yes! It's finished!" Sure enough, just before 6pm, I was signing my name in the lower-right hand corner of the 8" x 8" canvas. I felt punch-drunk, slightly dazed, and buzzing with adrenaline. In other words, it was kind of awesome. Then it was time to pull the winning ticket! Here's a video of the moment of truth (including the finished painting!): After that, it was time for a celebratory mojito at El Camino!

Thanks to the help of so many people, my "Paint-a-Thon" was a success! Keith Spiro was with me all day long, taking photos, shooting video, and promoting, promoting, promoting. He was working directly with the folks from Carii, coordinating the online raffle ticket sales through the community page he created, Brushstrokes With Impact By MariaSpeaking of Carii, major thanks to the folks at Carii for donating the programmers and space to make this community appear overnight to help with this project...can you imagine? My head is spinning just thinking about it! Special thanks to Dave Bjork, Cancer Research Evangelist, for his support of this #Paint4TheCure project (and for not minding that I altered your Play4TheCure banners)! I feel like I can't say "thank you" enough for all of the support I received throughout my "Paint-a-Thon"! I am grateful for everyone who stopped by to say hello and give me a hug, to everyone who bought a raffle ticket, to everyone who shared or promoted this event in any way, and to everyone who sent loving thoughts my way via social media, text, or brainwaves. Know that you are truly really means a lot, and I will always remember your kindness. You guys are a regular dream team! No thank you list would be complete without my ever-patient husband, Terry, who puts up with my mania on a daily basis and loves me just the same. 

So...what's next? Well, I've got another "Paint-a-Thon" up my sleeve for January! I will release details later (including the date, the venue, and the cause), but if you'd like to be in the know, I invite you to join my Carii community page, Brushstrokes With Impact By Maria! It's free, and there are no advertisements. Plus, you can see all of Keith's posts from that day, including more photos and video. I hope to see you there! In the meantime, I hope everyone reading this has an awesome holiday!!! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

the night before

Holy cow- it's almost here! The "Paint-a-Thon" is tomorrow! I was interviewed on WCME first thing this morning (thank you, Jim Bleikamp, for having me in the studio once again), then I came home to bake cookies and make white bean and basil hummus for the food table, and late this afternoon, I went over to The Mix to set up my easel, my paints, and my brushes. This is really happening! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't starting to get a little nervous...

inside out

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been kind enough to help me with promoting my "Paint-a-Thon"! Lots of friends and family members have shared the event page on Facebook , along with the Carii community page (which is where you can buy raffle tickets online). I've also gotten some great "tweets" and "re-tweets" from friends, supporters, and complete strangers on Twitter, and that's been fun to watch, too! Plus, The Coastal Journal printed the press release in this week's issue. Woo hoo!

it's official!  

I'm going to try to get a good night's sleep tonight...I will certainly need it! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

one down, one more to go

The UUCB Holiday Art Fair was this past Saturday, and just like last year, I had a great time! The weather was gorgeous, the traffic was brisk, people were friendly, and sales were good. Plus, the hours for the show were 9am-2pm, so by the time everything was over and my car was all packed up, I still had the rest of the day to enjoy myself and relax a little bit. Perfect!

my display!

So...I have some more updates to report regarding my "Paint-a-Thon"! Are you ready?

1. I set up a Facebook event page! It's a public page/event, so if you'd like to share it, please it is: Paint-a-Thon/Paint4TheCure! 

2. The link to buy raffle tickets is up! Click here!  Once you register, you will see a purple "donate" button on the right-hand side; click there to buy your tickets.

3. I will have live music from Kathleen McGee from 1pm-3pm on Saturday, December 12th! I think this will be a perfect time slot, since I will be starting at 10am and going until 6pm or so. You may have heard Kathleen perform at an art walk or at the Five Rivers Art Festival and Sale...if so, you already know how good she is; if not, stop by to hear for yourself!

the Carii page! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

release me

Okay...after weeks of teasing, I'm finally ready for "the big reveal". I even wrote a press release. Fancy, huh?

Local artist launches Paint 4 The Cure to benefit cancer research
Brunswick artist Maria Castellano-Usery has come up with a way to have fun, create art, and give back. On Saturday, December 12th, instead of having a “standard” opening reception to celebrate her month-long art show at The Mix (53 Maine Street, Brunswick), Maria will be having a “Paint-a-Thon”, complete with a raffle featuring the finished painting as the prize.
Maria will set up her easel in the front window of The Mix and have a day-long “Paint-a-Thon” during business hours (10am to 6pm, roughly). Raffle tickets for the completed 8” x 8” acrylic painting will be sold both in person and online ($5 each, 3 for $10) with the winning ticket being drawn at the close of business on Saturday, December 12th.  Maria will be donating 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales to the National Foundation for Cancer Research's Play4theCure.  Additionally, 10% of all Maria’s art sales from her December show at The Mix (excluding magnets) will be donated to the NFCR Play4TheCure program.
This idea came about when Maria asked, "If athletes can ‘Play4theCure,’ then why couldn't artists ‘Paint4theCure’? Why couldn’t musicians ‘Play4theCure’?”  Food, refreshments, and live music will add to Saturday’s festivities.  If you are a musician and would like to play one or more short sets during the event, please contact Maria directly before December 5th.
This is the first of a series of “Paint-a-Thon” events where Maria will be working with other local businesses and various charities that are meaningful to her.  If you are interested in creating a future collaboration, please email
For more information about this event on Saturday, December 12th, please go to (click on “current shows” and follow the links).

I'm so excited about this! Information about buying raffle tickets online will be coming soon, so stay tuned. Speaking of staying tuned, I'll be interviewed on WCME in Brunswick on Friday, December 11th at 8:30 am to promote my "Paint-a-Thon"! Here's the link in case you want to listen: For now, here's a sneak preview of what my show at The Mix looks like! Thank you, Jill Jacobs, for opening your space to me; thank you, Louanne Schoninger, for suggesting this venue; and thank you, Keith Spiro, for being such an awesome co-conspirator! 

Welcome to the Mix! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

recapping and looking forward

Well, the Five Rivers Arts Alliance Art Festival & Sale has come and gone! I had a lovely time, and I'd like to say "thank you" to everyone who came out to support local artists! Special thanks to Catherine Worthington, Polly Smith and Donna Jason for all of their efforts, as well as to the musicians, the clean-up volunteers, and everyone who helped to make this show happen. In case you didn't hear me interviewed on WCME that morning to promote the show, I can assure you that DJ Jim Bleikamp was a kind and welcoming host. He put me at ease and the interview flew by rather quickly. What a relief! 

My display!

I'm happy to say I sold quite a few magnets to new and repeat customers, and I had some really meaningful interactions with show-goers as well. I'm grateful for you all! 

Familiar, friendly faces adding to their collections! 

The next event on deck is the UU Church of Brunswick Holiday Fair! I did this show last year, and I'm looking forward to participating once again. Mark your calendars: Saturday, December 5th, 9am-2pm; 1 Middle Street, Brunswick, ME. This is a friendly little fair with a nice assortment of local artists and craftspeople...and the food is yummy, too! There is lots of on-street parking available, and the municipal lot behind Curtis Memorial Library is just a stone's throw away. Hope to see you there! 

...and yes, I do have one more art event up my sleeve for the month of December, but I'm going to save that for a later post. Details are still being worked out, but I can assure you, exciting things are happening! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

the question

"What do you want?"

The question was asked as I bit into my sandwich. I stiffened. I chewed awkwardly, reaching for my napkin, knowing I was getting mayo all over the corners of my mouth.

"What do you want?" He looked at me.

Why was I nervous all of a sudden? He was calm. I wasn't. Why? I knew the answer...but no one had ever asked me the question before. Who was this guy, really? A businessman? A consultant? A genie? A friend? What came out of my mouth surprised me: the answer, wrapped in excuses, doubts, "realistic" alternatives. Like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" when the department store Santa posed his question, I was blowing it, blowing it. I stammered. Why was it so hard for me to verbalize? I was so used to years of being dismissed, of being told "yeah, but," or "it just doesn't work that way," or "too bad it's not practical." I found myself bracing for that familiar figurative slap. I looked at him. He waited. Something in his eyes told me that slap wouldn't be making an appearance. I took a deep breath. The real answer came out...and then, we were off and running.

There is a new moon today. They say that the new moon is a good time for putting your intentions out into the world. They also say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Allow me to squeak for a moment. If you've been reading my blog, you already know that I am an artist; you also know that I've been inspired by my recent surprise trip to San Francisco and the beautiful public art all around that magical city. You might even recall that people have said my artwork makes them smile- it makes them happy, it makes them feel good, it gives their spirits a lift. How do I combine all of these elements and *gasp!* manage to make a living doing it? How do I sell my work without selling my soul? How do I make a positive impact in my community and get paid at the same time? I suppose the first step is asking the, I'm asking. Where is the need? What are the possibilities? Here's a thought: I had a show at the Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing in Lewiston a few years ago, and it was incredibly gratifying...are there any hospitals/clinics/hospice houses/etc. out there who might be interested in purchasing uplifting artwork for their waiting rooms/lobbies/consultation rooms? Brainstorming can be very powerful. Anyone out there have a constructive suggestion they'd like to share with me? I would love to hear what you have to say!

Monday, November 9, 2015

'tis the season...

It's November already! It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is almost here...and you know what that means: holiday shows are right around the corner! Let the promotion begin. 

The Five Rivers Arts Alliance Art Festival & Sale (formerly ADAA) is THIS WEEKEND! I will be at the group show at Coleman Burke Gallery inside Fort Andross, right next to Frontier. There will be food (including a cash bar courtesy of Frontier on Friday night), music, and over twenty artists participating. I will have paintings, mixed media/collage, prints, magnets, and holiday cards! Get your shopping done early and support local artists at the same time! Here's the info:

*Friday, November 13th, 5pm-8pm
*Saturday, November 14th, 9am-4pm
*Sunday, November 15th, 1pm-4pm
Coleman Burke Gallery (next to Frontier)
Fort Andross, 14 Maine St., Brunswick, ME

The poster, featuring artwork by Polly Smith! 

 PLUS: Tune in to WCME on Friday, November 13th at 8:30am to hear me interviewed (along with Jane Knox, another Five Rivers artist participating in the show)! If you don't live in Brunswick, don't fret: you can listen online! Here's the link: It's funny: when I first heard that Five Rivers was looking for participating artists to speak on the radio, it was the night before Terry and I went to San Francisco. I was feeling so excited, I didn't think twice about volunteering...and now I'm getting a bit nervous! I guess that's a good thing, right? Wish me luck!

My solo show at The Gorham Grind will be up for just a little while longer (Saturday, November 14th), so if you haven't gotten there yet, you still have a chance! This awesome little coffee shop in the heart of downtown Gorham is worth visiting. You MUST try the Rocket Fuel! 
118 South Street, Gorham 

Fueling up with Rocket Fuel! 

December is shaping up to be a busy month as well, including shows and surprises! Stay tuned for details! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

california dreamin'

YIKES! October is almost over, and I haven't blogged since the beginning of September! I will attempt to sum up the last several weeks in a concise manner. This is not going to be easy!

So, what's been happening? Well, the 10x10 Brunswick has come and gone, along with the seasonal art walks (Brunswick and Lewiston/Auburn) and the Yarmouth Art Festival. My show at Isabella's Cafe and Bakery in Freeport had a long and lovely run: it went up in early July and came down on Thursday, October 15th. Even though my paintings and prints are no longer hanging at Isabella's, my magnet display is still there, and will be at least through Christmastime! Thank you, Caite!

Is it too early to use the phrase "stocking stuffers"?

I currently have three paintings in a "Day Of The Dead" themed group show at She Doesn't Like Guthries in Lewiston (the closing reception for that one is coming right up: Monday, November 2nd), and I hung a solo show of paintings and prints at the Gorham Grind on October 4th (this show runs through the middle of November). I'm particularly excited about my Gorham Grind show for several different reasons: one, it's a fantastic little coffee shop, with a super-friendly staff, excellent food, and wonderful drinks; two, it's my first time showing my work there; and three, how often do I get to Gorham?

Enjoy some color with your coffee!

Oh, I almost forgot: at the end of September, I sold this year's birthday painting, "The Four-Three", to my friend and collector, Keith Spiro! Besides being a cool guy, Keith is a wonderful person to talk with, and I came away from our afternoon together with some good ideas...none of which I am currently going to spill. How's that for a tease? 

The best birthday offense is a good birthday defense...or something like that. 

So far, it has been an autumn to remember. Lots of wonderful and creative things have been happening, but for me, the most exciting event of the last several weeks is head and shoulders above the rest: my husband, Terry, surprised me with a trip to San Francisco as a celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary! Can you believe it? What a loving thing to do, and what a magical time we had! I've come back to Maine brimming with inspiration! We stayed in Haight Ashbury on a street filled with brightly-painted Victorians. The architecture in San Francisco is gorgeous, and there is art EVERYWHERE in that city: on the sidewalks, on walls of buildings, inside and outside of businesses, inside and outside of people's homes. It's such a special and beautiful thing, and it's like a shot in the arm of positive energy for an artist such as myself. I couldn't stop taking pictures! Here are a few of them:

Pretty cool, right? I couldn't resist getting in on the action. On our final morning there, I grabbed a piece of chalk and quickly did a little something as we waited for a table at a great little breakfast joint, The Pork Store Cafe: 

I left my art in San Francisco! 

I'd never been to California before, but San Francisco is somewhere I had always wanted to visit...and now, I'm already looking forward to going back! So, I ask you, dear reader: what are the places that you find inspiring? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

summertime summary

It's Labor Day already?! I don't know about you, but I'm refusing to let go of summer. We still technically have some time with this wonderful season: according to Google, this year's Autumnal Equinox falls on Wednesday, September 23rd, so let's make the most of it! Don't get me wrong: I do love's just that this summer has been really awesome: lots of art shows, gorgeous weather, fun times with family and friends. Who knows, perhaps autumn will be just as awesome! Anything's possible, right?

Let's see, where did I last leave off? Oh, yes: the end of August! Well, I had two paintings in a fundraiser on August 22nd: The Taste Of Tidewater 10x10 was a benefit for the University of Maine Gardens at Tidewater Farm in Falmouth. Much like the 10x10 Brunswick, all of the art on display measured 10 inches by 10 inches, and all work was priced at $200; if sold, $100 went to the Gardens at Tidewater Farm, and $100 went to the artist. I wasn't able to attend the event, but my "Asparagus" painting sold that night! I'm glad I was able to support a worthwhile cause and participate in a brand-new show at the same time. Would you like an "Asparagus" magnet? Check out my Etsy shop!

The August installation of Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn might have been the busiest one of the season! This time, I was at the former Lamey Wellehan space at 110 Lisbon Street. I was initially supposed to be at the L/A Arts office at 221 Lisbon Street, but things got switched up at the last minute, which was fine with me. The night started out a little slow, but then things picked up and it stayed busy all night long! Once again, the weather was perfect, and people of all ages and backgrounds were out and about. I met a bunch of new people, and I saw several familiar faces as well, some of whom are amassing quite the collection of my work: one woman told me that her goal is to fill one side of her refrigerator with my magnets! This friendly couple decided to buy an "Imagine Memorial, NYC" print as a birthday present for a special family member...what a nice way for that person to begin a new year, don't you think?

Art makes a wonderful gift! 

At the end of my most recent blog post, I mentioned that I had just gotten word that my new-and-improved website ( had just gone live! I'm so excited to have a clean, easy-to-use site that looks good on a phone, and I have Michael Gorzka to thank for it! As well as being a collector of my work, Mike is the Digital Services Librarian at Curtis Memorial Library, and the person behind Curtis Creative Spaces, the library's online gallery. When I mentioned that my website was in need of some serious help, Mike offered his assistance in exchange for a painting he had been eyeing on for a long time: "This Is The Year"! I agreed, and the painting went on hold...until the day after my new website went live, and then it was time to say "so long". It's okay: not only did "This Is The Year" go to a good home, but there are several of my paintings there to keep it company! 

Say hi to everyone for me!

Have you been to Isabella's Cafe and Bakery in Freeport yet? If not, you should stop by! My show there has been extended into September, and I am thrilled! Just like these last few days of summer, you should catch it while you can! 

Tasty treats of all kinds await you at Isabella's! 

Speaking of things you should catch while you still can, the final Brunswick Second Friday Art Walk of the season is this week: Friday, September 11th, 5pm-8pm! The "pop-up" group show will be back at St. Paul's (27 Pleasant St., Brunswick) to close things out. Won't you join us? Check out this cool montage created by Celina Del Castillo

Who doesn't love a good montage?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

news, news, and more news

Hello again! Well, at least I can honestly say I haven't let a full month go by before writing another blog post, right? Lots of stuff is happening...I will save the most exciting bit of information for last. 

Once again, Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn was a ton of fun. I was back at 46 Lisbon Street for July's installment, and so were the crowds! It was a gorgeous evening, and the people of Lewiston seemed to be celebrating the art and the season. If you haven't had a chance to make it to Lewiston for an art walk, you have a couple of chances left this season: Friday, August 28th (that night, I'll be at the L/A Arts office, 221 Lisbon Street: a new spot for me!) and Friday, September 25th (location TBD). If you need more convincing, please read this wonderful blog post by the one and only Keith Spiro! If this doesn't make you curious, I don't know what will:


46 Lisbon Street was hopping!

Brunswick's Second Friday Art Walk was last week, and as I mentioned in my previous post, the "pop-up" spot this time was at Curtis Memorial Library instead of St. Paul's. There was a solo show going on in the Morrell Meeting Room, so the "pop-up" crew set up in the garden. Anyone who knows me knows that having my paintings outside makes me nervous...magnets are one thing, but paintings are another. What if there's wind? What if there's rain? Thankfully, Mother Nature was on our side, because it was an absolutely perfect summer night!

meet me at the garden gate...

Artists and art-walkers alike seemed to enjoy the outdoor setting. Not only were there a bunch of familiar faces in attendance, we got some out-of town visitors as well...these magnets are heading to Oregon!

Go west, young magnets.

I find it cool and interesting to see where sold artwork ends up living...I always hope my work finds a good home, and having photographic proof that it's being appreciated is wonderful! Here are a couple of shots of prints that were purchased during the opening reception of "Things/Life/Whatnot"! The first picture is from the kitchen of a lovely lady named Nicky...

"That Heavenly Coffee" is looking right at home!

...and the second is from Selby Shoes Etc., the fabulous shop of a lovely lady named Dennie!

"Sole Mate" is looking right at home as well!

While I was typing this blog post, I received a very exciting email. I figured this would end up being a separate blog post, but I just couldn't wait to share the big news: MY NEW WEBSITE IS FINALLY UP AND RUNNING!!! Please check out the new and improved! Let me know what you think! Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to celebrate...woo hoo! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

summertime catch-up

Wow: according to the calendar, I haven't blogged for over a month. Whoopsie. How did I let it go that long? Well, things have been busy (excuses, excuses), but hey- the last day of July is still July, isn't it? Allow me to recap...

"Things/Life/Whatnot" was a wonderful experience. Apparently, even my alma mater heard about it (I'm still trying to figure out how that happened):


"Things/Life/Whatnot" came down on July 1st, and that same day, I drove over to Isabella's Bakery and Cafe in Freeport to hang my next show! If you haven't been to Isabella's yet, please stop by and treat yourself to something tasty. Caite, the owner of Isabella's, is friendly, warm, and welcoming, as is her staff. The food is yummy and reasonably priced, too! My work will be up through the month of August. Woo hoo!

My wall at Isabella's!

My magnet display at Isabella's! 

There have been a couple of different Art Walks since I last posted here: Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn...


Check out this little cutie pie and her magnet! 

Both art walks were a lot of fun, as usual! In June, I was at Argo Marketing for Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn; tonight, I will be back at 46 Lisbon Street, the formal bridal shop! I wonder what will happen with the shoes this time? In July, the Brunswick pop-up spot was St. Paul's on Pleasant Street, but in August, we will be at the Curtis Memorial Library in the Morrell Meeting Room. Changing things up can be good! 

More things are happening, but I need to cut this post short because I need to get ready for tonight! I promise it won't take me over a month to post least I hope it won't!  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

life is not whatnot

Holy cow: June 25th already? This past month or so has been a bit of a blur. A lot has been going on, and I just haven't made the time to sit down and blog about it. I will do my best to recap here!

As many of you know, I have a day job designing custom closets for Closet Factory of Maine (I've been there since September 2002). Well, at the end of May, I had a "first" happen: a client who bought a closet from me also bought a painting from me! I've had clients buy magnets before, but never a thank you, Kristen and Zach, for giving "Prentiss' Owl" a good home! You now officially have the title of "best clients ever" in my book.

Here's to a first! 

May 29th was the first Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn of the season, and it was a fantastic night: a great turnout, beautiful weather, and lots of sales! I was set up at 46 Lisbon Street, which used to be a bridal shop. The former tenants left behind a plethora of rental shoes, so the building's new owners, Kevin and Diana, turned them into an art walk attraction! They lined them up along the sidewalk and into the building, and boy, did they get attention! People kept stopping to take pictures of the shoes, and no one seemed to believe it when they were told they could take home a pair free of charge. 

Just follow the shoes! 

People were out and about in Lewiston, soaking up the art, the music, and the sunshine. I sold a bunch of magnets, as well as a signed/numbered giclee print of "Imagine Memorial, NYC". I know that print went to a good home...check out the buyer's wallet! Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn happens again tomorrow night, and the forecast looks good! Perhaps I will see you there! 

How perfect is that?

The biggest news for me from this past month, though, is "Things/Life/Whatnot," my two-woman show with Sarah Brayman at Frank Brockman Gallery in Brunswick! If you are local and you haven't been to Frank Brockman Gallery, make the trip. The space is absolutely beautiful (and HUGE!), and I feel very fortunate to have my work hanging there. I love Sarah's work as well, and I think our stuff looks good together. The show opened on June 3rd and runs through June 30th, so you still have time to see for yourself. (By the way, "Things/Life/Whatnot" took three days to hang, and I'd like to take this moment to send a very large thank you to my husband Terry and his best friend, Alex, who schlepped my work from the house, into the car, and up three flights of stairs!) The opening reception was Friday, June 12th, and it was flat-out awesome! The place was packed shortly after 5pm, and things didn't start slowing down until around 7:30. Both of us sold work that night, and I even had a couple of painting sales several days before the reception! The art, the food (including my sister's homemade brownies and cinnamon shortbread), and the music were all well received (Pretty Girls Sing Soprano performed, and they were fantastic, as always), and the night went by in an eye-blink. I barely had time to take any photos, and if you know me, that's saying something! Check out the event page on Facebook for pre-reception photos of the show.  

all signs point to awesome! 

a packed house!

It feels really good to have had a fairly joyful and celebratory month, especially considering the way May began for me.  I am grateful for all of the friends and family who have been on this journey with me, helping me through the rough times and rejoicing with me through the fun times. Thank you...and here's to more of the latter rather than the former! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

the wind cries mary

I haven't blogged in a while. It's not because I've been lazy. It's not because I've been flaky. It's not because there hasn't been anything art-related going on. It's because my mom passed away. Just seeing those words on my screen is making my eyes fill up. I wasn't sure if I would write about this or not since it is still very raw and real, but I couldn't imagine coming up with a light-and-breezy blog post as my next contribution and I've been feeling like it's time to get back on the here goes.

My mother's name was Mary Castellano. Like my dad, my mom made it to the ripe old age of 87. When my dad passed in 2009, my mom lost her mojo. She had about one good year in her before things started going downhill. Her passing on May 1st wasn't completely unexpected simply because of her age and her health, but it is still rocking me in ways I wouldn't have imagined. The wake and the funeral were difficult, of course, but it was really nice to be able to celebrate my mom with people who knew her when she was young and happy and in her prime. Family, friends, and loved ones came together to share stories, enjoy photographs, laugh, cry, and hold each other. We remembered the woman with an incredible capacity for love. We remembered the phenomenal cook. We remembered the sweetness, the kindness, the patience, the generosity, the strength, the faith. My mom was a devout Catholic, and she prayed for just about everyone she ever met. If she loved you, she prayed for you. If you were loved by someone who she loved, she would pray for you. My mom loved everyone, and everyone loved my mom.

About a week or so before my mom passed, I had an image pop into my mind while I was meditating. I sketched it out on a piece of scrap paper and set it aside. I kind of forgot about it until we were on our way to the funeral home for the wake. Terry was driving, and I took out my sketchbook...and the first thing that popped into my mind was that image. If you've ever had to deal with making funeral arrangements for a loved one, you know there are a lot of moving parts involved, and things come up that you might not think about. One of those things is the process of sending out thank you cards to all the people who paid their respects once the services are over. The funeral home offers cards, and when the subject came up, I asked my siblings (Frank and Addie) if it would be okay with them if I had cards made up on my own. I wanted to pay tribute to our mom with an original painting, and I had a feeling that the image I had been sketching out was meant for her. They were completely on board with the idea, and when I showed them the sketch, they smiled. Addie said, "You know, this looks kind of like a cross...maybe you could lengthen this bottom part?"

The day after Terry and I got home from New York, I got to work on the painting. I knew I needed to get it finished quickly so I could order the cards in a timely fashion, so I chose a fairly small canvas size (5" x 7"). My mom was 4' 11 3/4" (the three-quarters was very important), and my dad always called her "small but mighty," so I think the painting's dimensions were appropriate. Thankfully, I didn't have many work-related obligations that week, so I was able to spend a lot of time working in my studio. I finished in three days, and the title came easily as well: "Eternal Love". Here's a picture of the painting's evolution:

the evolution of "Eternal Love"

After my dad passed away and before we moved her in with Addie and her family, my mom was living alone. I would call her every day to check in, and usually I would be painting while we talked ("What are you doing? Painting? Of course!"). Even though she never set foot in my studio (she wouldn't have been able to climb the stairs), it feels like she was with me for many hours while I worked. I can only hope that she was with me as I worked on "Eternal Love", and I can only hope she finds it a fitting tribute: a "small but mighty" expression of my love for her, and a "small but mighty" representation of the love she had for her family, her friends, and the world. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

black magic woman

WOW. What a night! Altered Couture was SO much fun! In case you missed it, the 5th Annual Mid-Coast Altered Couture contest was Saturday, April 4th, and it was a hoot. Here's the summary, as advertised on Frontier's "events" page: "Now in its 5th year, the Mid-Coast Altered Couture Contest is a wonderful opportunity to see local creativity on display. 25 participants will walk, strut, and dance their way down the runway, modeling their designs constructed around this year's theme challenge, 'Enchantment and Fantasy'. Each year, the proceeds go to community-based programs that benefit youth and art. This year, we will have a special treat, as the Portland Youth Dance will present 2 dance pieces to share with our audience. This popular event sells out quickly, so get your tickets early for an enchanted evening!" Sounds interesting, right? It was!

Now, I am not a fiber artist. I am not a seamstress. I am not skilled at sewing or anything like that. If I lose a button on a coat, I can get it back on, but it's not going to be pretty or neat, and chances are, it will be a temporary, when Christine DeTroy asked me back in January if I would consider being a part of this year's event, I thought about it for about two seconds before I said, "YES!" Some of you might remember that I was a last-minute model for one of the designers involved in last year's Altered Couture. When I say "last-minute," I mean last-minute: I was asked to participate 48 hours before the event. This was good because I didn't have a lot of time to freak out or get nervous. Don't misunderstand me- I was nervous, of course, but since it was such a last-minute thing, I wasn't dwelling on it for weeks.

Anyway, when I heard that this year's theme was "Enchantment and Fantasy," the ideas started flowing. The inspiration for my costume came from one of my favorite cards in the Tarot deck, the Temperance card. I started to think of ways in which I could incorporate some of the elements in that card into my outfit. I knew I had to have wings...but how would someone like me figure out how to do that? One word: PINTEREST! Now, I typically only use Pinterest for recipes, but I know there are tons of ideas for crafty projects on there, so I started hunting around...and sure enough, I found a tutorial on how to make wings out of an umbrella! This was cool for a couple of different reasons: 1. One of the themes of Altered Couture is to use recycled or repurposed materials, and 2. the wings looked like bat wings, and I love bats! So, I found a couple of umbrellas at Goodwill in Topsham, and I got to work. I wish I could tell you that I was able to whip those wings out quickly, but I was not. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of long afternoons, and a lot of mistakes. I was way out of my comfort zone and in over my head. I'm glad I picked up two umbrellas, because my first attempt was rather botched. I kept at it, though, and with the help of black electrical tape, the finished product was not half-bad!

What do Paul McCartney and I have in common? WINGS! 

I already had a black nightgown that came from Estilo, the women's consignment shop in town, but I felt like that wasn't enough. I scored big-time when I found an underskirt in wedding dress section of the South Portland Goodwill! It had more material than I needed, so I just scrunched it up and safety-pinned it into place. No sewing necessary! Bringing the black-and-white elements together was another item I already had that came from Estilo: a silver sequined scarf could easily become a cummerbund for the evening. I knew I needed some sort of headdress, and I wanted something that gave the feeling of emanating light. Once again, the answer came in the form of a Goodwill purchase! I found a wreath with silver and gold sequined balls, so I cut it up and affixed the plastic branches to some wire. I already had a bunch of rosary beads in the house (they had belonged to my parents), so they became necklaces and bracelets.

getting in the zone

The angel in the Temperance card is barefoot, so I figured I ought to be barefoot, too. The song I had chosen to walk to was "Black Magic Woman" by Santana, so the only logical choice for nail polish was- you guessed it- black. I felt like I was having a high school flashback! 

photo by Susan Perrine

I was the third person to walk the runway that night, which was good...I was able to get it out of the way fairly quickly, and I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the show! I had a wonderful support team cheering me on (Terry, Heather, Sarah, Trish, Esther, and Annie), and their hooting and hollering put a smile on my face and a spring in my step! 

On Monday, I was thrilled to see that MaineToday covered the event, and two photos of me managed to make it into their article! Check it out: Lauryn Hottinger really captured the evening beautifully! 

I am so happy to have been able to participate in this fun and diverse community event. Major props to Susan Perrine for snagging first prize with her incredible submission, applause for Louanne Schoninger for stepping in so beautifully to cover for a last-minute bailout, and, of course, I bow down to the one, the only, Christine DeTroy, whose creativity, humor, poise, and out-and-out ass-busting hard work made the entire evening possible. Thank you to everyone who came and everyone who participated! Hope to see you next year!