“Emerging Undiminished” is a series of Los Angeles Landscapes created after the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. 2020 was brutal for all of us, the events we witnessed on the evening news were horrific and to make things worse on March 14th, I got a severe and life-threatening case of Covid-19. Thankfully, I recovered, but afterward I was afraid to leave my house. The only connection I had to nature, my usual muse, were my house plants and the view from my bay window that looked out onto the street.
If it weren’t for my youngest son, Diego wanting to learn to drive, I may have never gone outside again. I wanted to be there for him, but as soon as I stepped outside of the house, my heart started beating like hummingbird trapped inside my chest. As I got into the passenger’s seat, Diego may have been excited, but my anxiety had taken off. Through mindfulness meditation, I learned to redirect my attention to all five senses and plug it into the present moment. While I may have been afraid, the artist part of me was excited, as I was always on the lookout for new inspiration. I made a quick decision to pay close attention to the landscape of Los Angeles, to soothe my frazzled inner landscape. I opened the window and felt the warm rush of clean air whip my hair around like a windmill as I gazed at the diversely colored city of Los Angeles. The city was surreal, as though I was entering a whole new world. The usual hustle and bustle of freeway traffic and airplanes were hushed. It felt like we were driving through a ghost town.
It was startling that in LA, there was silence. I took another breath; the usual gray, toxic air was crystal clear. The bright blue sky and its pearlescent clouds hung above the edgy urban landscape. Los Angeles became like an old friend, emerging from the dust to catch my life from what seemed like a never-ending fall. It had finally gone back to the place I had found my artist self.
In the 80’s you could get across town in twenty minutes. Over the last few decades, the had traffic slowed and thickened, no longer feeling like a “free way”. On this day, Diego and I enjoyed zipping through winding freeways free from the usual gridlock. When we came to each overpass, I took in the bright and colorful graffiti made by LA’s notorious street artists. I thought of the people who wanted to leave their mark, and I strangely related somehow. As we continued east, I was awe struck by the architecture of Chinatown and mid-century design of Dodgers Stadium.
When I got back home, inspired by the newfound landscape of LA, I painted “Drive to East LA”. It was the first in a series of many paintings that I did of post-pandemic LA. My driving adventures continued during the pandemic as the paintings became more vibrant, inventive, and bold as the Agoraphobia subsided. Brightly colored stories with lyrical lines that moved quickly and easily in contrast with lingering hues of black and grey, alluded to a dark time held within a vibrant and colorful city. It is hard to describe the City of Angels when it was empty and deserted. But to quote one of my favorite artists, Georgia O’Keeffe, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way - things I had no words for”.
This city has always inspired me through its wild ambition, decadent affluence, and creative diversity. Plugging back into the unexpected changes in the outer landscape of Los Angeles post-lockdown allowed a transformation of my inner landscape. As I built my strength back, this immersive and observational practice woke me up to my resilient and wiser “sage self”, the part of me that is not afraid take risks, lean into the silence during times of upheaval and look for inspiration in the sacredness of nature. Together, one drive at a time, we will emerge undiminished.