“OLD SOUL” Makes Her Debut for the DYAO

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copyright 2015, Jo Ann Brown-Scott, OLD SOUL

Every year the Denver Young Artists Orchestra hosts a fundraising event called the Painted Violin Event. Artists are selected, retired violins are sent out to them and we are all asked to paint the violins with a theme of our choosing, three-dimensionally,  then the violins go on tour for several months at many of the Denver area art galleries with the hope of attracting buyers to fund talented young kids who love music. It is an exciting time, receiving a violin, knowing your mission is to give it an inspired treatment by anointing it with a theme that is both appealing and marketable; one that speaks to people and sends them a message. Please visit  http://www.paintedviolin.com  or  http://www.DYAO.org  to see all the new violins for the 2015-2016 symphony season and those from all past seasons as well.

I have chosen to honor the authentic character of my particular old violin by embellishing her weathered patina with exotic stones and treasures including rare leopard jaspar from Madagascar (which is one of the oldest known gemstones containing healing powers), turquoise, African bone beads, Mexican silver, coins and other treasures from around the world. After all, she is a musical traveler, having provided the music of the world to audiences from all ethnicities and walks of life during her long career. The story of her origin and how she finally came into my hands is fascinating and involves the San Francisco Bay area and Yosemite Park to name just a few of the clues to her long life. Coincidentally or not, both of those locations are especially meaningful to my own family. Most of the items with which I have chosen to adorn her are from my own personal collection of magical found objects….saved through the years for some special purpose. This is an extraordinary purpose.

“Old Soul” is my second violin selected by the DYAO, (Denver Young Artists Orchestra) following my first violin included in the 8th season titled Scheherazade, which I have also written about on this blog. I have enjoyed a life-long career in fine art after obtaining my degree from the U. of Colorado. Most recently (2009) I  published a book titled The Creative Epiphany – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations and taught mixed media painting in northern California. After returning to the Denver area in 2013, a place I consider my home, I enrolled in a class at Denver Art Students League taught by Homare Ikeda which further deepened my work as a contemporary abstract artist. My most recent work places an emphasis upon color, pattern and texture in compositions inspired by travels to Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Hawaii and the landscapes of the western USA. I am currently writing this blog based upon my art and my travels, which fuel my experiences with art, and I will soon publish my third book, a novel titled A Canary Flies the Canyon, within days…

This violin, as did my first, carries a deeper meaning than people will see on the surface – it truly found me. That is another story, but a story worthy of telling. Please stay tuned for continuing information and revelations about this violin and the larger story of one contemporary woman’s artistic life in my new novel A Canary Flies the Canyon.

The Creative Epiphany – The Scheherazade Violin

2vioThe violin Scheherazade by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

While we are on the subject of creativity, let me tell you a story within a story. Just a little personal experience of sadness, discovery, healing and joy. A recent chapter in the biography of my art – a true tale, unembellished, able to stand firmly on its own merits. It has always seemed to me that my long career in art has provided me with more than enough fascinating stories – enough for a lifetime of enlightenment and inspiration. Stored in my mind are humorous anecdotes, disturbing happenings, brilliant realizations and numerous other categories of true occurences that have enriched and enhanced the initial act of creating a piece of artwork. Let me begin with this one…..

In the fall of 2010 while living in northern California I received an honored invitation to create a piece of artwork – a painted violin – for the DYAO – Denver Young Artists Orchestra. This long established, prestigious, charitable project involves the yearly selection of about 20 artists  who are invited to paint an actual violin (one that has been put out to pasture) in whatever flavor and style they are comfortable with. The violins then tour galleries for viewing, over several months in the Denver area, culminating in a gala event in the spring, where the violins are auctioned, thus funding the youth orchestra for the next season. www.paintedviolin.com   www.dyao.org

In that fall of 2010 my husband was very ill. I was thrilled with my violin invitation, and yet it was placed in my mind on the very back shelf of priorities…  As December arrived with holiday preparations and obligations, my husband worsened and finally died on December 7th. A week or so later the violin arrived at my door by UPS in a lovely case….at first I had no idea what the DYAO could possibly be sending me, and then I remembered. I made a mental note to notify them that I could not possibly participate in the violin event, as honored as I was to have been selected. I did not have it in me to paint.

After holiday season spent in Tahoe at my family’s gentle insistence, while recuperating from cataract surgery on my first eye and grieving the death of my husband, I arrived back home to face the hard reality of dealing with nasty insurance issues, ugly Social Security issues, clearing out my husband’s closets and office and trying to not have a meltdown. Trying very hard not to lose it, when I ran across the violin. The violin committee was expecting that it be shipped to them, all finished, by April 1st. They requested that it reflect my characteristic mixed media collage technique. I was convinced I could not possibly muster the artistic inspiration and strength to accomplish that. I had only emptiness where the creativity used to be.

As the weeks passed I began to wonder what I would, theoretically, do to the violin if I somehow could do it….if I decided to accept its challenge. Ideas gradually came to mind, creeping in under the  blanket of my sadness. Sort of warming me up. I reminded myself of other circumstances when my art had been my solace and my escape. As a diversion from the sad tasks I was dealing with all day long, I thought about the violin. I remembered when I was young and Mom used to play Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade on Saturday mornings; music inspired by the ancient Persian Tales of the Arabian Nights. The music was haunting and exotic, and told the poetic fable of the handsome Sultan who demanded a different virgin be brought to his tent every night, then killed them the next day so that they could not be unfaithful to him. Enter the beautiful Persian Princess, Scheherazade, who made love to him, then told him an intriguing tale and promised to finish the story the following night. She returned, continued the tale night after night, and kept herself alive for many thousands of years, bearing his children and making him very happy.

I approached my collage papers and my paint with doubt and trepidation, wondering what would happen as I attempted to pull my creative gestures and thought processes up from the depths of my misery. I decided to incorporate meaningful mementoes and papers into the collage as omens of good will and peace of mind. I collaged the violin with the same coral and gold leaf paper I had used for the cover of my handmade wedding invitations as a tribute to my husband,  I used a gold circle, a link from a broken necklace of my mother’s. Then some polished stones that my daughter had given me were used to circle the arm of the violin like a bracelet. I added a hunk of clear crystal for good karma. I antiqued the  entire violin with gold paint, made a keyhole design on the backside as a symbol of entrance to a new life, used an East Indian paper around the edges…and I was quite happy and amazed with the results. I titled the violin Scheherazade, in honor of the Persian Princess, and nicknamed her “Scher”.

The story does not end there – with the violin project I was taken through a door to a new place in my life. A place where I was reassured that my life was going to begin again and there was still much to look forward to. As of this day I am still entering that door, leaving soon for my move to Denver where both family and some special friends await me with open arms.

Scher and I have been telling tales for years and years…..but mine are all true. People ask me often if I have any new stories. And I always do. This particular story is one of my best and will always be remembered as a pivotal point in my long life of change, resilience and renewal, three conditions upon which creativity thrives. The violin and my continued enthusiasm for life are my proof positive of that. I live, I love, I paint.

To see the 2010-2011 season of painted violins in which I participated, plus archives and the current season, visit www.paintedviolin.com or http://www.dyao.org