Last week I traveled to Tacoma, WA to attend the Colored Pencil Society of America annual convention. The convention and International Exhibition is held in a different city each year and is always a highlight of my year–the opportunities to reconnect with artist friends, make new artist friends, see fantastic artwork in person, talk art, win door prizes and raffle prizes, take home a bag of free art goodies, learn new things, network, and explore a new locale is well worth the trip no matter where it is. This time it even offered a breathtaking view of Mt. Rainier from my hotel room!
I was the moderator for the District Chapters Forum–a gathering of chapter presidents–all day Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday I took a one-day workshop to learn how Chicago artist Tracy Frein creates his moody portraits on drafting film, and came away totally inspired.
That evening in the silent auction I bid on an original drawing by Cecile Baird on behalf of Arlene Steinberg (she won!) and won some useful door prizes.
Then Friday happened! I had most of the day free, so I walked the two blocks to The American Art Company to examine the CPSA International Exhibition at my own pace. A small group of people happened to be looking at my Tree of Kintsugi so I tried to discreetly eavesdrop. But someone recognized me and asked about the title. I explained that kintsugi is a Japanese philosophy that regards things that have been broken and repaired as more beautiful because of it, not less, and I felt that this tree embodied it–it had lost half of itself, but the wound had healed, mosses decorated the scars, and the other half of the tree continued to grow very well. Right away, one of the ladies in the group said “That’s it, I’m going to buy it!” She was serious! She bought it from the gallery right then and there, and the red dot went onto its tag. I’m pleased that it’s going to a new home in the Chicago area with someone who appreciates it, although I’m also a little sad to let “my baby” go so soon after its completion just a few months ago.
That evening at the awards banquet, I was overjoyed to learn that my Tree of Kintsugi won one of only two $800 Awards for Outstanding Achievement! Of course that made my buyer happy, too, since it validated her feeling about its artistic merit. The CPSA live-posted each award winner to their Facebook page as it was announced.
As if that wasn’t enough, it got even better on Saturday. The juror for the show, Michael W. Monroe, Director Emeritus of the Bellevue Art Museum in Bellevue, WA and a former curator at the Renwick Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, gave a talk/critique at the gallery. He commented on 20 or so of the 120 pieces, some of them award winners, some of them not, some of them he said he almost didn’t include at all and explained why; it was well-attended and very educational.
To my astonishment, he stopped at my Tree of Kintsugi and praised it extensively for two and a half minutes! Fortunately I was ready with my iPhone and captured all but the first couple of seconds. Here it is.
After the talk, my cousin Anita whom I hadn’t seen since we were both small children (at least 45 years ago!) made the trip from Renton, we spent the entire afternoon getting reacquainted and she attended the reception with me.