“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 a 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 80s, you could get across town in twenty minutes. Over the last few decades, the traffic had 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 awestruck by the architecture of Chinatown and mid-century design of Dodgers Stadium.
When I got home, inspired by the newfound landscape of LA, I painted “Drive to East LA”. It was the first in a series of many “surreal” landscapes that emerged post-pandemic. My driving adventures continued, as the paintings became more vibrant, inventive, and fun. The Agoraphobia subsided and brightly colored stories and lyrical lines moved quickly and easily in contrast with lingering hues of black and grey. The work alludes 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. 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 with its wild ambition, decadent affluence, and creative diversity. Plugging fearlessly into unexpected changes in the outer landscape of Los Angeles, allowed a transformation of my inner landscape. As I gained resilience, this immersive and observational practice woke me up to a wiser “sage self,” the part of me that is not afraid to lean into the silence during times of upheaval and look for inspiration in the sacredness of nature. Together, one drive at a time, we emerge undiminished.