If I gave out awards -- well, who says I can't? -- I'd give one in honor of the Pomegranate. It's a strange and wonderful fruit which is sometimes difficult to grasp; it should be opened carefully without cutting. The inside is filled with irregular sections of juicy little red seeds which are separated by thin white membranes. Each section's shape is formed by its relationship to the ones next to it. I used the pomegranate as the symbol for a gallery I owned once up a time; I still think it worked! And that's not even getting into the whole Persephone myth and goddess of spring and creativity . . .
To me, artists and their creativity are like this: holding fast to their own seeds of creativity while touching and influencing the shapes of others. And usually in places and ways which are sometimes difficult for others to grasp.
So I think today, I'll just do it. I'll give out The Pomegranate Award. Two of them. To two women and the groups they influence.
I often mention Martha Marshall in my ramblings. She fills her daily blog with links to interesting websites, shares notes on her creative processes, and generously acknowledges other creative folks.
Martha was one of the founding members of BRAVA which was organized in 2001 as a way to come together for sharing as artists -- inspirations, business, encouragement, exhibition opportunities, ideas and . . . lunch!
They've even held day long sessions to discuss individual and group goals! They say they are "a group of women artists in Florida's Tampa Bay* area, dedicated to the stirring up of the status quo!" Indeed, these women have raised their own levels of excellence in productivity, imagination and creative energies which has resulted in work which is unique to each and exciting for their patrons.
In getting to know Martha, I have learned much about real creativity.
More than twenty-five years ago, I met Nancy Schultz. Soon after, she asked a few women to join her each week to paint outside. "Gasp! this is hot-as-heck Augusta, GA " and this was way before Plein Air Painting was cool. But, a few began to join her in downtown spots and the group "Women on Paper"** began.
The numbers have changed over the years; some of the faces have come and gone and come again. They have encouraged each other through painter's block, critiqued new work and encouraged new directions. They have donated awards money to watercolor societies and paintings for fund raisers. They have quietly painted the town and made a name for themselves.
Nancy's gentle, yet no-nonsense manner has guided them through the seasons and through group exhibitions from local venues to the Governor's Mansion. Last month, this group of accomplished painters celebrated with a 20th Anniversary Show. The gallery was filled with family, friends and patrons.
It was a show of work of Women on Paper, but it was a tribute to Nancy.
Loosely organized, faithfully supported art groups are rare. So, to Martha who I met because of the Internet and to Nancy who I met at a local art event and their women, I offer The Pomegranate Award.
*Brandon/Valrico area of Florida, near Tampa -- hence the name "Brava." Founding members include Martha Marshall, Candace Knapp, Margaret Conte, Kim Radatz, Lyla Haggard and Lisa Landsman.
**Women on Paper includes Nancy Schultz, Caroline Swanson, Karen Banker, Lauren Kerbelis, Ingrid Hofer, Lillie Morris, Gail Smith and Frances Wells.
Pomegranates in Burt's Bowl
M. Marshall (l) planning a Day of Art with Friends
N. Schultz (c) and Two - Women on Paper
BushStrokes (c) AAB