Starving Artists and other misc.

tears artists

I recently attended the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver – we spent about five hours strolling around and it was hot sweaty fun, on constant sensory overload and hoping to find greatness every once in a while. The people-watching is as fascinating as the art. Since I cannot publish any of my photos of the art, and I took many, without violating copyright laws these two pics will have to suffice. The collective cultural mood of the weekend was friendly, the people typically free-spirited and a little on the crazy side. My kind of folks.

As you might imagine, there were 3-4 streets, both sides, jammed with art booths. It took a long time to see it all and yet I am convinced it was worth our time, because we are both serious artists ourselves and because it has traditionally been enlightening to attend and view the enormous variety and check out the current trends. Paintings, Pastels, Ceramics, Photography, Wood Working, Jewelry, Collage & Mixed Media, etc.etc. A new surprise around every corner.

You would think that Denver is screaming with fine art – we have the oldie but goodie Cherry Creek Art District, the newer South Santa Fe Drive Art District, the upcoming Rino Art District (river-north), the Highlands, the LODO (lower downtown) Art District and the various neighboring suburban art areas in old Littleton, Greenwood Village & Centennial, as well as Boulder just up the road about 45 minutes. There is the highly prestigious Denver Art Museum, the newly acquired and widely acclaimed Clyfford Still Museum and many other fine places to view art. Denver has become a foodie town; I wish we would become a fine art destination town.

People tell me that good abstract art is hot right now in Denver. I just don’t know exactly where. If I knew I would go there immediately. To me, it seems that really great abstract art shows up sporadically and mostly not at all. My instructor, Homare Ikeda, at the Art Student’s League of Denver is one of the best abstract artists around. We found some sophisticated abstract art, quite exciting, at the booth of Michael McKee from Fountain Hills, AZ. at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, and he comes back almost every year. Western art is always popular, and usually it is very fine here in Denver. There was recently an important show of women artists’ work. And of course there is also a plentiful supply of junk.

Denver is hot right now; we are some of the most well-educated and fit people in the country. We are almost electrically charged with energy, jobs, people moving here in droves and a real estate market like it used to be in California. However, galleries close here as fast as they open. One week they are here and the next they are gone. As an artist it is very difficult to break into the gallery scene unless you want to be in the kind of shop that carries a lot of trivia as well. True fine art galleries that endure are rare. That is because a large number of inexperienced idiots with a bit of money believe that all you have to do is find a large space, paint the walls white, put up a sign, open the door and you will have collectors streaming in to make purchases. Heh. Omg. Really? Yes there are still people like that out there.

I know very few artists who live here who are not starving. We all have to have other incomes. The people who rent booth space at Cherry Creek Art Festival, or any of the other summer art fairs pay outrageous amounts of money to set up their booths all across the country – very few are local people – and it is a gypsy life for them, traveling around in the art fair circuit and working through all kinds of extreme heat, wind, hail and torrential rain. They have to be able to cover and protect their precious wares at the drop of a hat or a hailstone. It is not an easy life.

But being artistic is not, and never has been an easy life – you have heard me talk about it before in my blogs. It ebbs and sometimes it flows, but it is always unpredictable.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes about artists, only a little bit relevant to what I am talking about today, but always important to remember:

The greater the artist the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.  Robert Hughes


My Summer Festival 2014

photo 4   photo 2   photo 1   photo 3

The universe and the light of the stars come through me. I am the crescent moon put up over the gate to the festival.

The soul at dawn is like darkened water that slowly begins to say THANK YOU, thank you.

I am not contained by this universe. RUMI

I hope you are all enjoying the summer of 2014 to the fullest – including whatever activities define your favorite summertime theme. God knows the international news is chilling, disturbing and so difficult to watch unfold. I cannot overestimate its importance….but from where I sit there is little I can do about it except to carefully choose accurate, unbiased media outlets and read the WordPress blog titled THE HUMAN PICTURE by my wise friend ShimonZ who lives in Jerusalem, hoping that he continues to stay safe, and offer us his first-hand accounts.  How fortunate we are, here in the USA., and I am all too aware that it must not be taken for granted.

My own personal summer fun involves live music, gallery shows, outdoor mountain adventure, great fresh food, best friends, loving family and one special man. All that good stuff is wrapped around a pulsating cultural scene in the greater Denver area and beyond. Denver is ALIVE here in 2014 – electric and eclectic, pulsing with new jobs and construction, cutting edge restaurants and shops – growing by leaps and bounds into a gorgeous environment with everything available to satisfy many kinds of people and lifestyles. cThe foothills and expanses of parkland are greener than I have EVER seen them – the rains have been good to us this year. That life-giving liquid Mother Nature gift can all change in the blink of an eye, so better to love it and capture it in pictures while we can.

Yesterday I purchased more collage paper for my mixed media abstract paintings, using a gift certificate from my son that he had given me for Mother’s Day. You could offer me a clear, perfectly cut gemstone, and given the choice I would be more thrilled with the collage paper. These days I am able to find unique and exotic papers from all over the world – I buy them in Hawaii when I am there because they have a special Asian flavor, I bought them in Singapore when I visited my daughter, I find the most enormous selection I have ever found at FLAX in San Francisco….and I can find a perfectly wonderful variety here in Denver at Meininger Art Supply,  where I have been purchasing art supplies since the 60’s or in Boulder just 45 minutes up the highway. I have a discerning eye – I have been doing this for years – so a paper that you might think is extraordinarily  beautiful might be something that I used for a long period of time in my artwork 25 years ago and finally got tired of – but each to his own and if I could educate you a bit about what is out there you would understand.

These papers are made for collage art – they are most definitely not wrapping papers, or drawing papers, and certainly not scrapbooking papers…they are a cut above all that. They are colorful or stark white, highly textured, sometimes embossed with a sculptural motif, sometimes cut-out with a delicate lacey, light-as-air look, solid in color or  elegantly patterned, handmade (often embedding organic matter such as leaves, heavy fibers such as straw and fabric, even bugs and such in the papers) and they do sometimes have an ethnic theme indicating where they originated – Africa, India, Asia, France (where book binders used fine marbled ink papers) Japan, Thailand and many more amazing places. The colors, the feel and the quality of these art papers has enhanced enormously over the past decade or so. It is a big business, this paper production. Knowing your papers is a way to know the world!

On many occasions I find my first inspiration for a mixed media painting in a selection of papers – they speak to me – they beckon me – they seduce me into a flow of creative action that is almost beyond my own worldly confines. On a lovely summer’s day, if I am inside, I am painting….and that process can take me around the world.

Please enjoy some of my favorites with these photos from my studio…..

Artist & Author Jo Ann Brown-Scott

Book – The Creative Epiphany, Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations

by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, available on


The Creative Epiphany – The Historic Denver Perrenoud Building, Where Africa Came Alive for Me

   photo courtesy of

        photos courtesy of

Little did I know back in 2003-2004 that this remarkable historic private residence, built in 1810, would play such a pivotal role in my life and my art career. The Perrenoud Building, originally designed and built as a family home at 836 E. 17th Avenue, Denver, Colorado for prominent Denver pioneer John Perrenoud and his wife and three daughters, showcases an eclectic mix of classical elements over an enormous span of six separate family apartments  on four levels. The only fully functioning brass and wrought iron birdcage elevator in Denver still transports residents between floors – and originally there were individual dumb waiters ( small elevators in each private kitchen) which delivered piping hot  meals to all residents from the main kitchen located in the basement. Maids quarters were located in the top attic, and a newly restored ballroom is found in the basement, where originally a speakeasy was hidden away, with blacked out windows and ample room to dance and drink forbidden adult beverages.The main floor atrium lobby rotunda with Italian marble floors and fireplace, is a rare gem of an entry foyer – a towering ceiling, open railings and stairways to all four floors and topped by a spectacular, original stained glass window in blues, depicting angels sitting on a cloud. Can you imagine the fascinating history of this place? Do you get visual images of carriages arriving, parties in the ballroom and the grand life?

Today this glorious residence is divided into luxurious condos, each offering old world living with exotic woods and carvings and a European flare right in the heart of downtown Denver, just a short stroll away from the Capitol Building. One condo was purchased by my dear friend Christine-Mahree Fowler. I had worked for Chris, as I call her, for several years as the director of her art gallery. She told me about her experiences in traveling to South Africa – she listened to me talk about how I had inexplicably loved anything African from a very early age. I clipped photos from Nat Geo and I must have watched BORN FREE a hundred times. I knew all about the Big Five before age five. The friendship took off and we became “partners in crime”, planners of ambitious undertakings, dreamers of dreams. We began to make things happen based upon Chris’s many travels to South Africa, my love of the continent and artistic leanings, and both of our knowledges of marketing, sales and event planning.

Within a short time we had partnered in an import business we named UNBUNTU and Chris was going back and forth to South Africa importing art & artifacts from several reputable sources she already had there; I was painting with an ethnic African theme as if I were indeed channeling visions of people and places I had actually never seen, and we were hosting “invitation only” gallery shows of our collection in her circa 1810, 4th floor condo in The Perrenoud. We were a great success for several key years, attracting local African experts and others who were eager to soak up the culture and learn…. The moral of this story is that things can get done if you are creative, persistent and alive with passion for a plan.

Years have gone by and our respective business careers  have evolved, yet stayed intertwined, into new completely different things yet  they are basically, logically and appropriately the result of those earlier seeds! Chris is now working as a consultant for Africa Adventure Consultants, Inc. assisting people with custom safaris.   visit  She is also writing a blog on that very subject here with WordPress – visit www.africantraveltales by CM Fowler that I highly recommend for its content and elegant style in reporting raw news direct from the bush as well as sophisticated Cape Town, its fine art galleries and shopping, wine country and the scenic South African coastal regions..

I am of course still painting, talking to Chris nearly every day and brainstorming with her on our common cause – saving the culture, animals and people of South Africa. The thrust of our creativity is now placed in the direction of making a difference in South Africa – a continent we both feel passionately about – a cause we feel equipped to lend our energy and devotion. I will be going on my first Safari in 2014, accompanied by art students I have taught and friends I have made through the years. Chris will lead us – having carefully arranged the itinerary and chosen sights and experiences that we have particularly requested. We have both decided that importing African art and artifacts should come to an end – Africa should keep and hold those indigenous treasures dear to its heart and its people. What we will continue to do is to learn, enlighten, participate and assist those people who feel as we do – that Africa’s future is at risk and there is much to be done so that much is not lost…and forgotten.

If you have an interest in accompanying us on safari – any variation of custom safari you might imagine – contact Chris, known by most as Mahree  (a South  African name) and ask for some information. You will find no one better suited to listening to your dream and making it happen for you and your traveling companions.

Mahree Fowler

Safari Account Executive

Africa Adventure Consultants

Tel: 720-612-0802  • Fax: 303-778-0633 • Toll free: 866-778-1089 • Emergency: 720 836-6531

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