"This December 22nd will mark my second year in Portland."
It was a random thought that came into my head as I looked around the gallery full of people when my exhibit opened last week. I recognized every single face, and all but one of them were acquaintances and relationships made here in Portland.
I moved up not knowing a soul even to have a cup of coffee with (except for a friend's friend that I was supposed to reach out to – who eventually became a really good friend) but there I was standing in the middle of an art show – my art show – with friends that I didn't know existed when I filled up my apartment into my Volvo and drove up from Los Angeles. And now I even had a dog waiting for me at home.
I was grateful.
The residency at Portland Children's Museum was one of those serendipitous events. I was at a creative meeting a year and a half ago, waiting in line to get in when I met the residency manager. We chatted about Portland donuts (they served coffee and donuts that morning) and what we each do for living. This was at a time when I started noticing that most of my customers are parents of young children. Sometimes little kids would walk into my booth and demand that their parents buy them my art. Upon hearing about the program, I thought it might be worth my while to investigate this little phenomena that I have with kids and see where it leads me. When the next application season opened, I applied.
I've documented my experience extensively on Instagram and on previous post, so no need to bore you with redundancy. Even as I reflect on it right now, it's hard to put into words what all the challenges and beauty of working with kids meant to me. I was so immersed in it that when one of the museum staff asked what I'll be doing next after the residency, I was stunned by the question.
I don't know what the residency has revealed for me. At least not just yet. A lot of you – friends, patrons and fans – suggested children's book. Maybe. I don't know. I feel a bit of a panic that I don't know. I used to consider myself as a big-picture person. I don't know about that anymore. It's the holidays. Given that I have a booth and an online shop to run, I'm still in the trenches and I don't have the luxury of time until all the holiday hoopla is over.
I can say this though. It stretched me. It made me go deeper and further on this path as an artist. My dad's passing almost four years ago had a catapulting effect, especially on me. I was the least emotional one at the time, but the fact that a few years later I found myself in another state showcasing my art at an established museum, as opposed to sitting in front of a computer like I used to, designing Blu-ray packages for classic tales that are now canned and disney-fied, shows the extent of what his death did to me. For better or for worse.
I think I've always been broken because of his broken dreams. Perhaps living as truthfully to the core of my being as possible will mend the things that I never thought was repairable – however difficult the process may be. And it has been everything but easy.
Therefore, I'm all the more grateful for the encouragements that I received at the opening night. I was beyond excited to see you. I hope everyone has beautiful and warm holidays. With the weather the way it's been, we may even have a white Christmas in Portland this year.