It has taken me a day or two to catch up with the fact that the new year has presented itself. A brand new, shiny, clean new year. In the past, I have always looked at the new year as a fresh slate. This year, circumstances don’t necessarily present that optimism as clearly for me.
It is also a time of reflection on the year past. From what I observe online, many are suggesting that 2021 was a horrific year. I agree, it certainly had its challenges. I am discouraged that it is so easy to discard an entire year as horrific.
Before you get defensive, I know there has been great loss. I know that we are tired. I know that the world is STILL in a global pandemic. I know that our lives have changed in order to manage that pandemic. I know. I know that likely every single one of you reading this knows someone who is suffering from covid, cancer, or some other horrible affliction. I am keenly aware that the challenges are great. I might even suggest that I am pretty aware of the same.
Yet. I cannot dismiss three hundred and sixty-five days as all bad. When I reflect upon the past year, I see the personal growth I have worked towards. I see my children blooming in their relationships, their careers, and their humanity. I see my business changing and growing. I see many positive things happening. I see good deeds, good people, generosity of souls, kindness, and caring.
I won’t pretend that I ignore the darkness. There has been so much loss, so much illness, not just Covid, but cancer, and other scary things. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the darkness. But these are the times I actively seek the light. I try to do my best to ramp up the courage and a healthy dose of hope.
As I said, I take time each new year to reflect. Reflect on accomplishments, on lessons learned, on growth, on the joys, on… well many things. I think it would be easy for me to see only the darkness if I didn’t consciously seek gratitude for all of the good, for the joys, for the kindnesses. I saw something recently where someone suggested that we don’t have bad days, we have bad moments. Rarely is every single minute of a day horrible. This offered an interesting perspective that I try to adhere to.
The year presented us with some really horrible things. I know that many are weary. Many have faced giant mountains. I only seek to suggest that we see how many of those mountains have been conquered. How many moments of joy have stitched us together. How many blessings have we received?
So… seek the light, my friends- it is not that we won’t have challenges this year, but I believe that we can meet those challenges more successfully if we focus on the light, even if it is a sliver of light in the darkest darkness.
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. A. Lincoln
I have had to ponder this for a bit, it all felt too jumbled emotionally to share. I honestly couldn’t decide if I was happy or sad or both. At this point, I feel the emotion just “was” and defining it ultimately served no real purpose. It was instead an opportunity to move through it and find a way to the other side.
A few weeks ago, would have been my tenth anniversary having a studio at the Hungerford. I bring this up only because leaving the Hungerford marked a huge transition for me. I made note of the date literally the day before. As I said above, I wasn’t sure if I felt happy, sad, or otherwise.
The Hungerford was my first “real” studio. I made a studio space into a gallery. I embraced the esthetic of not so long ago industrial and created my own real-world gallery. I supported artists there. I had a new exhibit with a guest artist (or artists) every single month. I held workshops there. I held events that supported and reached out to the homeless, women in crisis, and those being treated for cancer. I held meetings to support small business Marketing, Artisan Socials, and more.
I worked so hard there… I grew as an artist and a person there… I made some dear friends there… it was home.
In January of 2020, I made the decision that it was time for a change. I love(d) what I was doing- but something in me knew it was time for a big change. I had a lot of time to think about this as I spontaneously drove to Florida by myself (after an invitation twelve hours earlier from my son and bonus daughter) to spend a week with them. I did it! (If you only knew how out of character this was for me)
When I got home about ten days later I knew that change was in the wind. It was happening, I just wasn’t sure how. ( The last time I felt this way I went back to college.)
Enter a Facebook post by Brandi Marino. Brandi shared about a new collective at the Piano Works Mall. I decided to go check it out. My original intention was to see it and if I liked it, consider opening a second site for Create Art 4 Good. Perhaps I would hold workshops there.
Two days later, after seeing the space twice, I made the decision to move from the Hungerford to Central Creatives. (My husband was not pleased, but thankfully he was supportive)
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this wasn’t just about changing location. It was about changing the business altogether.
The universe must have agreed because out of the thin air I had people volunteering to move me. SO many people! It was really quite amazing. (talk about grateful!) I moved in on February 23, and on February 29th, we as a collective had our first big opening.
Then… the global pandemic hit, and we shut down.
Why on earth am I telling you all this? Well… you see, I changed far more than location. I changed the business. While I still try to support my fellow artists, I do not have a new exhibit every month (who could in a pandemic?) This forced me to make some changes. I am certainly not suggesting that I love the pandemic, but as my mother would have said, “There’s always something to be grateful for.”
What I am grateful for is that I have found a way to prioritize my own work. I have taken quite seriously my art, my greeting card company, and my mission. I still pay it forward with a portion of the profits going to charity. I still support other artists- I am a pretty good cheerleader, but also I have taken over Rochester Artisans started by the ever wonderful Stefani Tadio. This is a group that assists other artists with all things business. It gives me joy to facilitate that group. I even still do a workshop or two. During the height of the pandemic- zoom became a very handy tool. So the changes are there, but maybe it is more of a shift. Perhaps it was time.
So, I might not be at the Hungerford. But I am celebrating a business that is twelve years old. I am celebrating my own personal and professional growth. I am celebrating surviving and even having moments of thriving in the pandemic world. I am grateful for the opportunity to take my own work more seriously, and the courage to do so. I am grateful for you.
(whew, this was a long one, wasn’t it?)
I believe, with my whole heart, I am in the right place.
Below is a blog post I wrote five years ago. It was a post to celebrate several years at Create Art 4 Good. It embraced the growth, the changes, and a big announcement. I am sitting here reflecting on this incredible journey that began over a decade ago, really appreciating all the lessons I have learned and the wisdom revealed. I am celebrating the fact that I have done what I set out to do. I am celebrating the incredible support I have been so blessed to receive. I am celebrating the revelation of my dreams. Each year seems to have brought growth and progress. Each year, the dreams became a little more refined.
Five years ago, I announced that I would begin formally Greetings4Good. Little did I know at the time that the mission was finally revealed. It is certain to me that I was absolutely meant to begin Create Art 4 Good as I did. I was blessed to support other artists, curate incredible exhibits, pay it forward with hosting charitable events, as well as financial contributions to local charities, facilitate countless workshops and other creative activities. This was all part of the process. I have learned so much, grown so much, and found perhaps a quieter mission.
Today, while I celebrate all the business of Create Art 4 Good has taught me, I celebrate more the direction this has taken. When I moved from the Hungerford in 2020, I dedicated myself to a new path, or perhaps just a more specifically dedicated one. I wanted and needed to create more, to honor all those millions of ideas swimming in my head. I wanted and needed to work more diligently on my greeting card business.
Greetings 4 Good has become my heart project. It IS my mission. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I have always needed to think I could change the world in some way. I feel that my “gift” is not necessarily art, but the ability to love. I feel that my affection for the underdog, the lonely, the uncelebrated has been the bridge to this business. Cards, especially for no real obligation brighten someone’s day, remind them that they are cared for, and well, it is a simple way to do so.
I have said for some time that I have been blessed to pick up tools and skills throughout my life that the purpose of which would later be revealed. When I went back to college for a graphic design degree, I thought it was to work on logos and business collateral for others. NOPE. It was so that I would have some sort of knowledge base to begin a card company. These skills coupled with my deep desire to paint and create seem to be the perfect marriage.
So today- I celebrate Create Art 4 Good. While I still do my best to support other artists through mentoring as well as Rochester Artisans (thank you, Stefani Tadio!), I am keenly aware that this was the foundational business that brought me to the mission of my life. I still support those in need through donations, the thoughtfulness project, and the 365 project. (in 2021 I set a goal of sending a card a day, and to date I have delivered/mailed/and otherwise nearly 940 cards to friends, family, and mostly complete strangers) I am completely determined to change the world… one greeting card at a time.
Thank you for listening… thank you for celebrating with me. (below is the original announcement of my card company just for giggles)
the best is yet to be.
Sending you so much love!
The Big Announcement (August 9, 2016)
Today is my anniversary! Create Art 4 Good was launched on August 9th. It will always be a “day” for me. I remember when I began, it was a dream in the making. I diligently wrote and re-wrote the business plan SEVEN times. YEP, seven. For me, it was about ensuring the success of my dreams. Today, I am celebrating with awe my successes and jumping with vigor into the next dream!
I could go on and on about how much I have learned, and that is completely true. I could share the changes that have occurred in the last few years, (not the least of which is celebrating my dream of a gallery at the Hungerford)- which is also true.
For me, this is a gigantic celebration that isn’t just about celebrating the success I feel in growing a small business. It is about the opportunity that I am jumping into with my everything. It is about the bubbling pure joy that is overflowing in my heart as I write this.
Let me give you the background information.
When I was little, my mom used to say when my father was feeling a bit grumpy he’d go to the hardware store. He would wander around and sort out his thoughts among the nuts and bolts and shiny new tools. When he returned, he was usually in much better spirits. As an adult, I recognize that this was sort of his time out. He didn’t have to talk to anyone, he just found himself in “the zone”- his zone.
I have a similar “thing”, however usually at a stationery store. I wander around, look and let go. My terrible mood usually turns into something proactive, I buy a card or two (or ten) not usually because I need them, but because I have thought of someone who seems to be going through something or someone who needs to be celebrated. My favorite opportunities are the ones that are not required. An encouragement, a thank you, or just a little bit of love.
Why am I telling you all this? In life we are given many messages, if we pay attention it seems that everything is revealed at the perfect time. My love of pretty stationery, beautiful cards, and fine papers isn’t just an artist thing, I would suggest perhaps it’s a vocation. (more honestly NOT just a vocation but a passion… maybe even obsession?!) I fully embrace the art of thoughtfulness. It gives me life and more importantly seems to positively affect those to who I send them.
One of the things that bothers me about our very fast-paced world is that we forget to take notice, to pause, to appreciate, to recognize. We don’t send cards as often as in the past. A recent survey that I posted on social media indicates that we don’t send as many cards, as we want to (which inspires guilt), we LOVE getting cards, AND we appreciate cards that are unique, and beautiful. The message is clear -it is vital to pause, to notice, to appreciate each other.
As an artist, it is a natural extension to make cards from the artwork I create. It is affordable for those who appreciate your work and it is a lovely way to share creativity. I have been honored by those who mention to me after sending some of my cards that they were not only proud to send my greetings, but the recipient was delighted as well. One person shares with me that she sends my cards to her “special people” because she likes to send beautiful art. I love it when I hear from someone I was inspired to send a card to sends me a message that my card positively changed their day, made them feel important or truly loved. I will admit, it is a bit of an ego boost when someone tells you that they exclusively send your images for every reason there is to send a card.
I have listened- and my next step has been revealed.
It is with great honor I announce the birth of GREETINGS 4 GOOD.
Greetings 4 Goodwill flourish under the parent company, Create Art 4 Good. It will use fine art images to create gorgeous stationery, greeting cards, and other inspiring products. Each week(from now until October) I will reveal the product line piece by piece. I want these images to be your very favorites, so I will humbling ask for your help in deciding which images should go to print! I will invite you to join Greetings 4 Good– which will have some really nifty perks! (free cards, promotions & special offers)
Are you in?
SAVE THE DATE! The official launch date for Greetings 4 Good will be October 7th, 2016 at my gallery – Create Art 4 Good. That night you will see the original images I have created married to the poetry I write to bloom into beautiful and unique cards for you. You will have the opportunity to view and purchase greeting cards that give back (just like with Create Art 4 Good- a donation is made with each sale) and help you to send a little bit of love to those you cherish. This opening will be the gala of a lifetime of making art and poetry and celebrating the bloom of thoughtfulness.
Thank you for celebrating my anniversary, your support of my work sustains me in ways you could never imagine. I appreciate your love and faithfulness.
with great joy, love & peace,
p.s. send someone a card today- for no reason- JUST BECAUSE – you will both be happy you did!
p.p.s. Starting in October, send a Greetings4Good card (just because you will send a beautiful art card- and make many people happy!)
So today is special, for so many reasons! First, it’s February 29th! (How often does that happen? – HINT: not very often) Also, it is the anniversary of Sharon & Tim (my sister and brother- original to Duffy- be sure to wish them a Happy Anniversary! The actual day doesn’t happen often MAYBE every four years except for when someone with a magic wand somewhere randomly decides we shouldn’t have one.) ALSO, (thus the reason for this post) it is the first open house for the Central Creative(s) @ The Piano Works Mall!
Why is that blog-worthy you ask? Well! Let me just tell you! 2020 has been a heck of a year so far. It is almost like I needed a new year to boldly go where I have not been brave enough to go before.
That said, this week I moved out of my art home of nearly eight years. I found that process to be completely overwhelming and weighty. (Not just the boxes were heavy!) Even though I have not doubted the decision to move to a new studio, it was incredibly hard to leave the place that I see as giving me wings. Having a gallery, supporting other artists, the community and more has been a dream that was realized at the Hungerford. Taking this next step was HUGE for me.
The grace about knowing the decision was the right one is that once the major stuff was done, (the big move, the continued move, eating dinner at midnight because you worked sixteen hours that day, cleaning the carpets, painting the walls, painting the walls AGAIN, unpacking, reorganizing, and well… the list goes on.) is that you wake up full of joyful anticipation on the day of your open house, which happens to be TODAY! (Please note FIVE DAYS after I moved the big stuff out of the Hungerford I am participating in an open house at the new studio. I know, I know that doesn’t make me a hero or anything, just REALLY tired, but I digress)
SO, people! Today is the day. My fellow creatives have been busy in their own studios and in our common spaces. We have taken the vision Brandi Marino had a few months ago and nurtured the seed to a new beginning. We have all sorts of mediums and genres represented. We have beautiful art on the walls, studios at the beginning of wonderful workspaces and hope for a new level of opportunity as well as personal and collective success. Central Creative(s) at the Piano Works Mall is definitely a work in progress, a beautiful work at that.
So come visit. Make this a stop for your Saturday. The creatives have gathered and will be open from 5-8 pm. Join us to celebrate this momentous day! The 29th doesn’t happen that often!
As I write this the “Uncle clock” (a small grandfather clock that hangs on our dining room wall) as my children have called it is ticking steadily in the corner. The house has gone a bit quiet as my children are each in their own homes or on the way home. The air crisp and fresh with the coming of the new year and is fully optimistic with my long list of personal and professional goals.
As I reflect on the last year, I recognize many positive things. It would be easy to create a long list of gratitudes. But there is something else calling me, I am sure of it.
I anticipate that the coming year will bring many changes. Some are scary, some are exciting, some are a little of both. I have been planning and researching and it is time to be a bit bolder with my career. I know that much of this will depend on the opportunity I create for myself. For the first time in a long time, I don’t know exactly what that will be, only that it is time for a change.
I am excited to see what 2020 will bring for me. I hope that you feel the same. A new year feels like a fresh canvas- I cannot wait to paint it.
I hope you feel optimistic too. I hope this year challenges you. I hope you grow, laugh, and reach new heights. I hope that you find a way to bring the best of you to the world. To love deeply, to create wildly and to know, without doubt-
Hannah Hamad shares the gallery this month. Hannah, like many of us, is a lovely assemblage of many things. She is a medical student (nearly finished), devoted to fitness and maybe a little adventure, and she is an artist. There are countless more ways to describe Hannah, but we will settle here for now. Her friend, Connie suggests that Hannah never does anything half way. She is “all in”.
That is clear with this exhibit. There are dozens of bowls carefully and pristinely crafted waiting to go home with the right person. Hannah’s workmanship is incredible. Her vision goes far beyond a block of wood. She is careful in her selections and sometimes even gets multiple pieces out of one block. As someone who has turned, this is not an easy thing to do! What Hannah turns into another vessel, would be woodchips on the studio floor for me.
I have spent quite a bit of time with Hannah’s work this month. I am fascinated by the textures and colors that I witness. I am enchanted by the multiple shapes and sizes. I began thinking about the fact that these are not only art but art that could have a purpose other than appreciation.
Hannah’s title, “To Celebrate the Void” also inspired me. It has been a challenging month with a great loss of my “other” mother, Ginny Duffy. If I could ever name a time where I felt completely empty and useless it is during the time I have lost my own parents and now my other mom too. I felt powerless. I wanted to help, heal, anything! Prayer became a constant for me.
One of the frustrations I have about merely praying silently is it does not seem to be proactive enough. I suppose because I like to write, am an artist as well as visual and tactile in general, I want there to be more. I have used prayer beads when words fail me, I have a prayer journal to remember all those who are in need. There is something sacred about a more physical opportunity for prayer. It seems to have a power that I cannot explain.
Back to Hannah’s bowls. For me, the fact that they have come from the earth already makes them a sacred vessel. How much more so to use them as a prayer or intention bowl? I certainly do not wish to push my belief system on you, however, I see these pieces of art as not just beautiful, but also as an opportunity for utility. Like a prayer journal, her bowls could hold the most sacred and urgent of intentions, her efforts lifting the hearts deepest desires.
I hope that you will make time to stop in and see these beautiful pieces. Hannah has gone above and beyond to create the perfect piece for you to celebrate your own journey.
Hannah Hamad’s To Celebrate the Void will be up through May 27th, 2019. Hours are Wednesday 10 am – 2 pm, Thursday 3-7pm, Friday 2-5 pm, and Saturday 10 am -3 pm. Hours are also available by chance or appointment. Susan@CreateArt4Good.org
Sometimes, the busy of owning a small business seems to get in the way. I spend a great deal of time “working this” business. I do everything from bookkeeping to mopping floors, making art for cards and other fun, to PR. There always seems to be a minimum of 45 things on the to-do list. Sometimes I get weary.
Today, there were about 145 things on the to-do list. Each one led to about 34 more tasks. It seemed to be unending. However, I did manage to get a few things done, and I even prepared dinner for my husband and me.
But it was frustrating. For a time I concentrated on the frustration part Things were not working the way I had become accustomed, while more and more demands were made on my time. Technology was wonky, time was passing too quickly without accomplishing much, and distractions seemed to be winning over work.
But the gratitude thing. This way of life I have chosen seems to always be sitting in the passenger seat of my world. Even though I was frustrated, tired, and yes (ask my husband) grumpy, I am grateful. While finishing up my taxes, I realized that my hard work has been paying off and I didn’t even realize it.
But numbers don’t lie.
I have spoken a great deal of late about how I don’t view success in dollar signs. While that is absolutely true, dollars do help keep your doors open. What I witnessed as I finished up is that it has been my most financially successful year yet. Once that realization sunk in a bit, all I could feel was grateful.
So thank you. You who read my blog, support my art, support the work of my guest artists and those who buy cards. Thank you for holding your celebrations in my studio, for attending workshops, for coming to First Friday or a random Wednesday afternoon. Thank you for participating in challenges, and calls for art. Thank you for stopping in to say hello, for encouraging words, and for your kindness. You are the reason that this is growing. You are the reason for my efforts. You are literally helping me make my dream come true.
Well… it has been a heck of a winter. Personally there have been challenges and professionally I have not been painting nearly as much as I hoped. BUT! Spring is coming! As I write this, the sun is shining and all seems to be moving in the right direction.
Tonight opens Andrew Dumar’s “Layers of Illusion”. I honestly cannot wait for you to witness this exhibit. It is truly amazing. Please be sure to make time to see it this month.
The exhibit will be open for the month of March and after tonight you may make an appointment to see it, come to an event at the studio or stop in Wednesdays 10 am – 2 pm, Thursdays 3-7 pm, Fridays 2-5 pm and Saturdays 10 am – 3pm. Do make time to see this. It is incredible!
Create Art 4 Good and Greetings 4 Good just sponsored a month long inspiration called, “the month of love”. It seems silly to dedicate all that love to one day, so we spread it out. We sent notes and letters all month long using daily prompts. You can see what we were up to here: The Thoughtfulness Project.
Speaking of which- at the top of that page there is a little inspiration for March. It is definitely a feel good project- give it a shot.
So how are you doing with incorporating creativity in your life? I don’t know if you have heard, but creativity improves your health. Don’t believe me? Check this article out! In all seriousness, creativity helps to reduce stress, is an active mediation and frankly it is so many good things! I offer private workshops as well as group workshops. Take a chance on you, no experience is required, only an open heart. Here are the current offerings, more to come!
I want to thank you- thank you for your support of Create Art 4 Good, for Greetings 4 Good. These are lifelong dreams come true. I simply cannot express the depth of my gratitude.
I hope your day is beautiful. Take time for yourself. Breathe a little. Smile intentionally and love so big.
When I began the process to form Create Art 4 Good over eight years ago, I had no idea where I would be standing today. As I write this, the snow is falling gently outside, the hum of the heat is clanking in the building I rent, and yet it is otherwise quiet. Most of the other humans who create in this building have yet to arrive. This moment feels so peaceful and so intoxicating I wanted to take a moment to notice it.
When I quit my job in June to give all of my energy to this gallery, the artists I am honored to represent and the vision I have had in some form since I was seven years old, I had no clue how magnificent this would all be. For me, this is not about selling art. While that is a lovely byproduct of what I do here and also a rather necessary one, it is about the energy, the encouragement, and the beauty.
It is about a new artist thrilled that she got into a juried exhibition. It is about the look on her face that suggests dreams DO come true.
It is about First Friday when the public makes their way through our studios, walking through doorways, appreciating art, enjoying conversations with the artists, and supporting their endeavors.
It is about moments of creative facilitation, possibility, and joy. Watercolor on tables (and maybe hands), scraps of collage paper here and there and messy hands. It sounds silly, but it evokes such joy for me.
It is about pushing through the dark moments of doubt to stay true to the path, the mission, and my heart.
At this moment, I don’t think I could be more grateful. I am so incredibly excited about the next steps, the infinite possibilities and even the unknown. (this, by the way, is a HUGE accomplishment for me. I ALWAYS want to know what comes next, but I have learned that this process is not linear and that is okay- sometimes even great!)
This month has been all about gratitude for me, and for a few others who have decided to tag along. I wanted to thank you for your love, your support, every piece of art you have purchased here, every card, every encouraging word.
I am off to begin the flip of the studio. In the next week, we shall go from a lovely small gallery to WOW, glittery and beautiful holiday boutique!