Thursday, January 10, 2013


WOW!  I feel sort of 'lop-sided,' tonight...  It's an odd mix of deliriously happy, veiled in the lightest whisper of melancholy.  After four (4) glorious *sometimes harrowing* years at the helm of the Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild (CMMAG), I relinquished the 'invisi-gavel' to my dear friend, and its new leader, Michelle Davis Petelinz.  It has been quite a ride!  I can hardly wait to see where we go, next.  If you had told me 6 years ago that I would not only be a member of an art guild, but its President for four years, I would have laughed my @ss right off!?  The lessons learned and gifts received in these years have been innumerable.  I have made incredible friends, experienced amazing things, and created some of my best work to date -- all as a result of being a part of this amazing community!  The sheer power of a group of like-minded individuals is astounding to me!  Trans-formative -- that's the only word I have for what my membership in this group has been for me...

Way back in 2007, I met a few kindred souls (JS, TJ & AS) at my very first Art & Soul experience.  It was great to find out that there were a few crazy art gals right down the road from me.  J & A invited me & T to attend a meeting of the CMMAG, after we returned home.  The Guild then is unrecognizable to me in comparison with the Guild as it is today.  At my 2nd meeting, I was observed writing notes (simply because that is the only hope I have of remembering things), and was instantly dubbed The Secretary -- a role I filled through 2008.  I thoroughly enjoyed being the intrepid reporter of all things Guild-y, and there were plenty of things to report!

The NC Art & Soul contingient, ca. 2011
I met JS, TJ, and AS at Art & Soul, Hapmton VA in '07

From mid-2007 through 2008 we grew and grew.  That growth signaled the need for some additional structure; mid-2008, we set about forming a set of By-Laws, establishing Committees, and formalizing our Board (adding a VP and Members at Large).  We grew out of Ornamentea, where we overwhelmed their classroom but not their generosity -- they remain a great FOG (Friend of the Guild). 

Seeking more room for our burgeoning membership, we also acquired another incredible FOG:  Jerry's Artarama of Raleigh.  CMMAG entered into partnership with Jerry's in the fall of 2008, by providing what has since become a bookend to our year - we became the 'Service & Support' team on the workshop side of Art of the Carolinas (AoC).  Prepping the classrooms and keeping them supplied with water were our primary duties - but this crew knows how to 'bring it,' so we also offered a "Make and Take" area for folks to experiment when not in their classes.  That was the beginning of another beautiful relationship for the Guild, we partnered with Strathmore Artists Papers (who provided us with ATC blanks) to offer The Great ATC Make & Take!  ...and the rest, as they say, is history.  Last year (2012) marked our FIFTH year in this role at AoC - acknowledged by virtually everyone involved as our best year, yet!  We have seen several changes, since that first year:  upgraded digs (we have our own room!), loads of new Vendor Sponsors, and expanded hours (we added Art Journaling After Hours in 2011).  One thing has remained the same though, folks LOVE to come together under the banner of creativity - give them the chance to do so, and you will  have a party on  your hands!

Merry little elves!
Sharon DiGiulio sharing the Jerry's love of CMMAG, ca. 2010

Our partnership with Jerry's was win/win, and the Guild found a new home - meeting monthly in the classroom there, we worked together to spread the word of the wonder that is the CMMAG.  Special thanks to our resident "secret weapon," Sharon DiGiulio - Event Coordinator for Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh.  Sharon has been an invaluable element in the expansion of both our membership (telling everyone she knows what an amazing group this is) and our offerings (being an incredible advocate for making more room for art and artists in the day-to-day grind).  In addition to becoming the home of the CMMAG, Sharon and Jerry's also provided a launching pad for many of our number to become Instructors (provding demos and workshops under the Jerry's banner) - one of those fortunate souls was yours truly; 2013 will mark my 3rd year as a workshop instructor, there.  During the course of our 'residence' at Jerry's, we hosted book signings, play-days, member challenges, and built a presence for ourselves in the existing Arts Community in the Raleigh area.  All of which put us in a familiar place by the end of 2009:  we needed more room!

Enter the Chavis Community Center (CCC), a facility within the City of Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department.  One of our members was also the Assistant Director at the time, and facilitated our transition to their facility by way of some creative bartering:  in exchange for the creation of a monthly art program for the children of their After School and Summer Camp programs, CMMAG would have a new home for its monthly meetings.  This partnership added another committee to our roster (Children's Programming), and threw open wide the doors of our new home.  Our collaboration with the CCC found our members engaging with budding young artists, bringing new supplies to the center, and in the spring of 2012 awarded with the prestigious Fred Fletcher Volunteer Award as an Outstanding Volunteer Group!  I've had to double- and triple-check my dates for this, because I can hardly believe all that we have done since our move to Chavis!?  *in spite of having had front row seats for every minute of the show!*

Michelle and I accepting the Fletcher Award on behalf of CMMAG
with Al Byrd, Chavis Center Director and our nominator - March, 2012
We have become the 'go to' gals for face-painting (a pleasure most of us had never experienced before our headlong entry into SpringFest, 2010), we have hosted dozens of eager young hands at many a' work table with fun and imaginative projects, presented a movie screening, entertained ourselves with a raft of member play-days, found new and creative ways to give back to our community using art, and continued to grow!  This year will see another deepening of our partnership with the CCC, inspiring a whole new level of involvement and community interaction!  *...and it thrills me, so!*

I have condensed, as well as I am able, the history of the Guild for the past 5 years with regard to where we have lived - this by no means encompasses all we have done!  Our creative adventures have enabled us to count as FOG:  ArtSpace, S.W.O.O.P., Visual Art Exchange, Arts for Life - Durham, SPARKcon, Artful Endeavors, Carolina Artists Colony, The Scrap Exchange, and several companies providing the tools of the trade to a host of artsitic endeavors (GOLDEN Artist Colors, Liquitex, Sanford/Prismacolor, Daler-Rowney, and Ampersand to name a few)!

Yours truly and MDP @ The Busy Bee
CMMAG's premiere at SPARKcon, 2012
It would appear that I have managed to provide you with the 'we' picture of the past 5 years, but not so much the 'me' picture...  At times the two have felt inseparable.  However, I can say this about 'me':  I emerge from this role undeniably changed.  I feel that my tenure as the President of the CMMAG has brought a greater sense of purpose to my life.  It has made me a better listener, a more effective leader, a more willing deligator, and has redefined my approach to new endeavors.  My leadership in this group has revitalized my belief in the power of 'giving back' as good as you 'get.'  *karma works, baby!*  It has removed my apprehension to ask -- how much easier would life be if we all just quit worrying that the answer might be "no"? This is not to say that I just roam about asking people for spare change and what-not.  But I have learned to ask for:  patience, consideration, partnership, mutually beneficial arrangements, and plain ol' help!  I have a new understanding and greater appreciation for what Teamwork really is.  I have been befriended by some of the most amazing women I have ever known.  I now know *in no uncertain terms* what it means to have a Tribe!  I have learned that I am, indeed, my own worst enemy.  ...and I have learned to be kinder to myself.

In some ways, all of what I have described to you seems unreal!  In many other ways, I cannot imagine my life without the CMMAG and its incredible members as a part of it.  So while there has been a change in my title, my commitment to and enthusiasm for the work of the CMMAG is unchanged.  I'll just be viewing *and contributing to* the continued advancements of this amazing organization from a different angle!

If you are a creative spirit in the greater Raleigh,NC area, you owe it to yourself to take a closer look at this hidden gem.  We meet the 2nd Thursday of every month at The Chavis Community Center (505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Raleigh, NC) at 6:30pm.  We are home to a wide variety of artists, artisans, and crafts people.  We are dedicated to fostering the appreciation of Mixed Media Arts and artists, supporting the creative endeavors of all ages, and finding innovative ways to use art to give back to the community at large.

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:
"Creativity is inventing, experimenting
growing, taking risks, breaking rules,
making mistakes, and having fun.

                                      - Mary Lou Cook

p.s. - Tonight, this amazing crew managed to totally blow my mind!?!  They presented me with a most incredible and beautiful gift - the details of which I will have to share with you on the morrow.  It is late, and this Immediate Past President needs to hit the hay!

p.p.s. - Listen, we simply have to stop meeting like this -- I mean, every day!?   ...for a week!?!  *Seriously!?!*  No foolin', this every day thing is sort of cool!   Realistically, I don't see it becoming 'the new normal,' though.  ...but we are here, in this 'now,' and I am blogging every day.  Que sera sera!

Image Notes:
   "Gavel" altered image from Microsoft Office Images, style # 1147.  Image manipulation by yours truly via Paint Shop Pro X2 (filters & effects).
   "Art & Soul Buds" photo by an anonymous server at *the now defunct* Corfu in Southern Pines, NC, taken with Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, slow sync/red eye flash.
   "Merry little elves" photo by Lucy Shupe (camera info not available)
   "Award Acceptance" photo by Lauren Koeth taken with Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1). 
   "@ The Busy Bee" photo by Lauren Koeth (camera info not available)
  "Logo of the CMMAG" by yours truly (ca. 2008).

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