Happy birthday mom!

Mom is an artist. She drew her first picture when she was two years old, and majored in Fine Arts at Ohio State University. After graduation she worked as a fashion illustrator at the Columbus Dispatch, up until yours truly was born.

Mom amassed a lifetime of first place awards and yes, the rumor is true that Halle Berry owns one of mom’s
paintings (a friend saw it during an E! special on Ms. Berry’s art collection).

What I remember about mom as an artist was watching her paint a huge canvas for a friend of my grandmother on our linoleum kitchen floor on High Street in Bellefontaine, Ohio. The kitchen floor was the only space big enough for mom to paint, and we had to step around her for weeks. The final work, “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, was a beautiful splash of red and blue-hued soldiers, marching in formation down the Champs-Élysées.
I think mom was paid $75.00. And for decades after, mom priced her beautiful, original works inexpensively because she wanted everyone to afford original art.

Still, buyers haggled.

“I’ll give you half of that,” they would say, their Cadillacs idling in the parking lot.

And eventually mom relented, feeling dejected and unvalued.

This is why, in creating Heard, I committed to paying artists. In fact, artist payments are our biggest expense. They have unique gifts to share, and they bring creativity, life skills, and self-worth to our clients in need.

As we near the end of 2020 (finally and thankfully) please consider supporting our artists and supporting our work. Artists need to be heard too.

A very happy birthday, mom! For your present I'm not saying how old you are.

And a very happy 2021 to you all! 

A sample of mom's work that was featured at Tisara Photography in Alexandria, Virginia.
Creative Corner - experience our clients' creations
Breakdancing, anyone?

This is one of my very favorite classes from 2020. We held a breakdancing class with the men in protective custody at the Arlington County Detention Facility back in pre-COVID February (the inmates pictured here have all signed media releases). This was a special request, after we conducted a hip hop class for some of the female inmates (and by "we" I mean our amazing dance teacher, Tina Kantiano).

Photo courtesy of the Arlington County Detention Facility.

The class was a huge success. "They were the nicest guys, and they kept thanking me for coming," Tina told me later. Truly these men need to break dance. And they needed to be heard. I can't wait until we can dance with them again.

Visit our Heard Gallery to see, read, savor, and enjoy more of our clients' original work.
Our Artist Showcase
Few people know the healing power of art like our visual arts teacher, Sharmila Karamchandani. Sharmila is that magic combination of crazy creative, and crazier caring that makes her such a client favorite. Give her some paper, colored pens, and any household item and she can coax you into making something beautifully personal. Honestly, one time she used the blue and white inside of a business envelope!

Sharmila's classes always focus on the positive, whether her clients make "Four Cups of Life" or gratitude buckets out of soup cans, and the stories her clients share are honest, emotional, and true.

Sharmila is a multi-creative woman and you can check out her graphic design work at Khush Designs and other creative endeavors at Instagram page @khushdesigns.

We know it's important to pay artists like Sharmila and Tina, and we would love for you to support them and the important work that they do.
Sharmila also teaches art through the Smithsonian and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Photo courtesy of Yuri Long.
The women of Friends of Guest House count their blessings after creating gratitude buckets.
This program is funded by the City of Alexandria Arts Grant Program,
and generous donors like you!

Your donation supports our artists, who foster creativity, confidence, self-worth, and life skills to adults who are underserved, unknown, and unheard by offering them artistic expression through experiential instruction and participation. We are grateful for your support. Donate online through our secure website.

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