The Story: The Red & Orange House: 4 Years of art-making at WCRC in Oakland entirely funded by The Lloyd Symington Foundation
As I write this blogpost, I am bittersweetly aware this is most likely my final blogpost describing my experiences of making art with members of WCRC. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to reflect upon the life changing events the grant money from Llyod Symington Foundation ( LSF) has granted me professionally and personally.
Four years ago, The Red & Orange House (ROH) was basically an unknown non-profit organization. No public Bodyscapes Healing Arts Workshops had ever been conducted. No Bodyscapes art catalogs had ever been produced. No Bodyscapes Drawing What Ails Us art exhibitions installed nor any opening night receptions hosted. ROH had only conducted 35 free workshops to my friends and family. Workshops conducted on the dining room table in my apartment.
Then, because of LSF’s initial 2014 funding, ROH- like a kid going off to college– partnered with the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland. Over the next four years with LSF’s support, ROH conducted 8 Bodyscapes Healing Art Workshops. I produced three Bodyscapes art catalogs, installed four Bodyscapes Drawing What Ails US art exhibitions and hosted 4 opening night receptions at WCRC. A total of over 40 members of the WCRC community participated in Bodyscapes with a total of 49 pastel drawings and 53 poem created. 5 WCRC Bodyscapes artists returned year after year to attend workshops. Each artist created several pieces of Bodyscapes art over this four year funding cycle.
Today, the effects of LSF’s support are seen in every room of the ROH–so to speak. After the success of the first WCRC art exhibition with accompanying art catalog, friends convinced me that ROH was ready to try a Kickstarter fundraiser. Money raised through that effort was spent on a Bodyscapes Experience for members of San Francisco’s long-Term HIV/AIDS Survivors. These new Bodyscapes artists, 29 courageous men and women, Facebooked about their Bodyscapes experience so much that ROH’s work for the gay community caught the eye of The San Francisco AIDS Foundation. This month, next week actually, ROH starts its latest Bodyscapes Experience for members of The Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus network–gay, bi and trans men over the age of 50 both HIV positive and negative. This project is fully funded by San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It’s extraordinary! A small, one woman non-profit like the ROH is now funded by one of the nation’s largest AIDS funders–and they came to me!
All of this, let’s call it, my ROH re-model, is due to LSF’s belief in my project and my ability to get the job done. At times you encouraged me to add a new element into my work. 2017 saw the inclusion of a performance art element w each Bodyscapes artist read her poem a loud at the WCRC Drawing What AIls Us opening night. This performative element has now expanded. From now on at every opening night, ROH projects both an image of each artist and their poem side by side on the wall behind them while they read their poem a loud. Bodyscapes opening nights are now renamed, Bodyscapes Community Healing Arts Engagements.
The big and import factor to the successful re-model was the ever present personal support from the three of you. Each encouraging email sharing your thoughts/emotions to hearing about the progress of each year’s project added a lift to some of the challenging of workshop enrollment.
From hereon, I presume, I will continue to create blogpost for each new project. I doubt that any of those posts will bring up as much heartfelt emotions of thanks and gratitude as this one. My capacity to love and give forth my passion for healing through art is now as solid as the rock upon which my Red & Orange House sits. (See logo on letterhead.) In this frighteningly harsh country we find ourselves living in, I am more honored than ever that LSF helped me develop my curriculum and arts activism to serve communities most in need of love and creative expression to discuss their suffering now and in the future.
Scroll through my blogpost to view all Bodyscapes Drawing What AIls Us catalogs.