16x20 Framed. Plymouth, Massachusettes.
My whole adult life I had worked in restaurants. Scraping dishes, serving vegetables, and bending my entire being into a hospitable person. It was a talent, presenting myself as the most likable and accommodating version of a human, usually only in two to four-minute intervals, thank god. I lived in Las Vegas and more than anything I wanted a different job and to move to the ocean.
I don’t have a degree or a single credential. I became a yoga teacher in 2014 and got hired as a yoga teacher in a drug rehab treatment center shortly after. I taught one class a week, and due to the positive feedback got bumped up to 3 classes a week. Shortly after that, the facility asked me if I would like to use art as therapy with my clients. Just like that, they gave me a job as an art therapist. When I started working full time they even gave me an office, with a desk and a computer and a little couch. I had never felt more important. More worthy.
I went into an incredible obsession picking out a tapestry for my office wall. There are a lot of things I simply should not shop for -phone cases, shower curtains, tile, bedspreads, table cloths, and wall tapestries to name a few. There are 100 million options and I need to see all 100 million because I feel like I might miss the perfect choice.
This choppy ocean at sunset was my choice in the end. I painstakingly hung it in my office and spray-painted a fake tree light pink with silver glitter and the trunk dusty indigo to match. After that, I found out doing 4 hours of group therapy a day and sitting in an office eating Doritos and candy corn is really hard. A few months later, the facility was sold and I lost that job. I thought my life was over. I took down that tapestry, folded it up, and put it in a box. It was ridiculous to think I could make it through to a different side.
Fast forward a few years. I went back to the restaurant with a new sense of humility and grace. Got into management because one was being opened in San Diego in front of the ocean. For as much as that was selling my soul to the corporate underbelly of society, there was an upside.
When we moved into a tiny old house by the beach that we could actually afford while unpacking I found that folded up sunset ocean tapestry. It hangs in my kitchen with about 100 white fairy lights over it, which I keep on all day.
Dina the whole reason I just carried on about myself like that for like the whole page is that your friend Reena wanted to give you a gift to remind you that the world can be beautiful, even when it feels fucking impossible, unfair, and painful. I have had so many moments in my life where I just wanted to keep my dreams folded up in a box that I only packed because of what I thought I had lost.
I worked with Reena a decade ago at a steakhouse. She always had to wash an ice cream freezer on Fridays. I perfected stealing french onion soup in a tiny cone cup and burning my mouth. It was a horrendous but magical time, being in our mid-twenties in downtown Chicago. Reena shared with me that you worked at outback together. In her brilliant way, she said “It’s a special bond the friends you make when you have to dress up in a strange outfit to bring people steak.” A fucking men. True statements like that are probably the reason all of our souls want to come to this planet. To make sense of the contrast.
I have followed Reena's career with great love and enthusiasm. When she asked me to make you a custom commission I was staring at this wall, my tapestry.
I painted that whole wall for days and didn’t even realize it until the painting was literally propped up against the wall. Reena told me you love purple and the beach. All of my paintings represent the frequency of feelings without the duality of sight. I wanted to paint you what the last moment of light in the sky right after the sun goes down over the Pacific Ocean feels like, as that is the most beautiful thing I see every day. It is what raises my frequency and reminds me that if I just keep going, I might get to see it again tomorrow too, and appreciate it differently. I never thought I would make it to this part. Where I get to make art for people that I don’t know and use my life experiences to tell the story of the art so that we can connect & find some common ground with the intention of hope.
All of my paintings are shapeshifters. Like a crystal ball really. What you see and feel every time you study the work will be different but always know - it is a reflection of the parts of yourself that the people throughout your life love and hold onto so much. The rough textures, effortless grace, captivating sparkle. All you. All the ocean. All of the hope.