Monday, September 29, 2008

Exhibit: Latino Latina American Heritage Show at the Portland City Hall

The U.S. border with Mexico used to be about 11 miles south of Ashland, Oregon. That fact surprises a lot of people in the Northwest. They often don't remember the short chapter from their elementary school history books that discussed the Mexican War. There has been some effort by institutions to rectify this lapse in cultural consciousness. The High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon had an exhibit a couple of years ago that focused on the history of the Vaquero (Mexican Cowboy) in the region.

Thanks to Allan Oliver and Pablo Merlo Flores of Onda Gallery along with Sierra Stringfield (the exhibit coordinator) for their part in sharing the beauties of Hispanic culture in the Northwest. They put together an art exhibit at the City Hall building in Portland, Oregon titled "Latino Latina American Heritage Celebration". The exhibit is part of the celebration which includes movies, speakers, events and more to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15th - Oct. 15th.

Two of my retablos (altars) were included in the Latino / Latina exhibt: La Sirena (The Mermaid) and Si Se Puede (Yes, We Can). These pieces are 18" x 24", Oil; sterling silver leaf; antique 24kt. Gold glazed tile mosaic; semi-precious stones on vintage Ponderosa Pine wood panel reclaimed from a 1904 wood mill and formed by an artisan wood worker into a single panel.

Here's something about each image:

La Sirena / The Mermaid
The mermaid is strong and iconic. Her tail swoops above her, creating a sort of crown. The shape of her tail and body combine to create a shape reminiscent of plant life. A horizon line of sterling silver leaf goes through her eyes, reminiscent of sea foam. The mosaic embracing her is studded with sea shells amid 24kt. gold glazed ceramic tile pieces.

I spent my early childhood living by the sea. I used to see pictures of mermaids and think that they were mostly all wrong-looking renditions of sexy sea nymphs waiting for a sailor to fall overboard and float into their domain. This mermaid is different. She represents the ocean as a life-giving, beautiful place but with the feeling that the dark and foreboding side of her world is also present. I love the sea, yet I'm always a bit afraid of the dark, unknown waters around me. (Doesn't stop me from hoping on my SUP Stand Up Paddle surf board). This Madonna is my homage to the beautiful changeable sea.

Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, Si Se Puede

Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta are the co-founders of the United Farm Workers UFW. I grew up during the era of the Lettuce and Grape boycotts that Chavez and Huerta organized. The bravery of these two people to work for justice is an inspiration. I show them standing side by side as equals, balancing the world between them. Red veins travel like roots of a plant around the grapes and lettuce and into the space surrounding our spinning planet. The UFW United Farmworkers symbol is behind them (the symbol was drawn by Chavez's brother). They are backed by a halo/sun embellished with drawings of floral vines etched out of the metal leaf. Their rallying cry of Si Se Puede (yes you can) floats above them.

Unfortunately, Cesar Chavez has passed on. We are lucky that Dolores Huerta is alive and continues her humanitarian political activities. To learn more about Dolores Huerta

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teaching: Are You Ready for a Private Lesson?

If you're ready to really focus on your art process, it may be time for a private lesson. Unlike music lessons, most art lessons are group lessons. Learning in a group is wonderful because you learn a lot seeing how other students have handled the painting lesson for the day.

There is a time though when you may need some one-on-one time to get things clarified. You'll get the most out of a private lesson when you have a specific idea of what you want to accomplish. Here are a few reasons why you would be ready for a private lesson:
  • You are having a block and need to get over it.
  • Certain concepts aren't making sense to you. Example: How to create the illusion of volume; why should I care about "lost and found" edges; what really makes a painting "flat" or "deep" etc.
  • You're ready to try a new medium and want some help from an expert.
  • The expert you admire has a technique you want to learn.
  • Etc.
Occasionally, I teach private lessons to artists who are visiting Bend and want a few hours of instruction. Lynn Hanson, an artist from Washington visited this summer. One of her goals was to learn how to create a flowing composition, both in the conceptual/idea sense of the word and in the physical composition. She accomplished her goal beautifully. Here's a photo of her with her finished painting.

When you're ready for private lessons, call or email me and we can talk about your goals and prices. 541-388-5157 or
You can read more about my teaching at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gold Medal Inspiration of Barbara Buchan

Creating a great life is not always easy. It just isn't, no matter how "fun" it all sounds after you've listened to an inspiring speaker or read a inspiring book. Yes, creation can be easy, flowing, playful, inspiration and wonder. Creating is also failure, perseverance and effort.

My friend Barb Buchan embodies every part of the inspiration that makes for creative living. And now she's won a Gold Medal! A Paralympic cyclist, Barb just set a new world record in Beijing and achieved her dream of earning a Gold Medal. And to top it off -- Barb is 52 years old! She's amazing, amazing, amazing. I've watched her work hard for years for this goal and I want to share her story with you. This photo is of Barb and one of her cycling coaches, Eddy B at a fund raiser for her earlier this year. The coach that created Barb's multi-year training schedule is Justin Wadsworth.
NOTE: Barb won 2 Gold Medals! On Friday, Sept. 12th Barbara Buchan earned her second Gold Medal in the Time Trials.
Here is an excerpt from today's local paper, The Bend Bulletin:

Bend cyclist wins gold at Paralympics - A quarter-century after a horrific crash changed Barbara Buchan's life forever
By Mark Morical / The Bulletin Published: September 11. 2008 4:00AM PST Mark Morical can be reached at 541-383-0318 or at The New York Times contributed to this report.

Barbara Buchan was an up-and-coming cyclist in 1982, competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

She never made it.

But now, more than a quarter of a century later, she has a gold medal.

Buchan, who lives in Bend, won the women’s individual 3,000-meter pursuit in track cycling Wednesday at the Paralympic Games in Beijing. The 52-year-old finished with a time of 4 minutes, 31.33 seconds, edging Jennifer Schuble of Homewood, Ala., by four seconds.

Buchan’s time set a world record in the cerebral palsy 3 (CP3) division.

“I can’t believe I did it,” Buchan said Wednesday, quoted in a United States Olympic Committee news release. “My accident was so long ago, but I am pleased I finally got my gold.”

That “accident” was a devastating road-race crash in Colorado 26 years ago. Buchan, who was wearing a soft leather helmet, was the most severely injured of the 21 riders who went down on a steep descent. According to a profile of Buchan by The New York Times, her accident led to the rule requiring racing cyclists to wear hard-shell helmets.

Buchan (pronounced BUH-kan) spent two months in a coma, and doctors doubted she would survive. Nearly a quarter of the left side of her brain was removed, and a titanium plate was installed to rebuild her skull.

After five brain surgeries and years of rehabilitation, she continues to struggle with speech problems and numbness in her arms and fingers.

But now, Buchan has gold.

“You can be very upset at the world and have everyone take care of you,” Buchan told The New York Times on Wednesday, “or get back on your feet again.”

Buchan did just that, and in 1988, she won a silver medal in the 800-meter run at the Paralympics in Seoul and finished fourth in the 400. She also competed as a runner at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona. (The Paralympic Games are a quadrennial international competition featuring each nation’s elite athletes with physical disabilities. The games follow the Summer and Winter Olympic Games at the same venues.)

Women’s cycling was not added to the Paralympics until 2004, but Buchan was an alternate for the U.S. cycling squad at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, and she raced against men in 2000 at the Sydney Paralympics, finishing ninth and 10th in two races.

A women’s cycling program was added to the 2004 Athens Paralympics, in which Buchan placed fourth in the time trial.

She has earned several other medals in international cycling competitions since 2002.

In her fifth Paralympics in Beijing, as the oldest member of the U.S. Paralympic Team, Buchan finally got her gold, just two days after placing eighth in the women’s 500-meter time trial. . .

. . .She works in the garden department at Bend’s Home Depot as part of the company’s Olympic Job Opportunities program for Olympians and Paralympians. Under terms of the program, she works a 20-hour-per-week schedule and receives full-time pay and benefits.

But before she returns to Central Oregon, Buchan has work left in Beijing. She is scheduled to race in the 25-kilometer time trial Friday.

“I think I’m still flying and floating around,” Buchan said. “It still hasn’t hit me. I’ve wanted a gold medal since I was 15, and now I have one.”. . . . READ MORE

Read theProfile of Barbara Buchan that appeared in The Bulletin in August, click here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Artist Career Training will Attract Art Sales & Generate Cash Flow

Learning to draw and paint are only part of what an artist needs to do to create a art career. Learning the business of art is a study of it's own. Years ago I signed up for a year of career coaching with Art Matters. It is the best! I highly recommend working with Aletta de Wal if you want to learn everything you can about how to develop your art business. I'm honored that this month I am the featured artist interview with Aletta. Here's the info from the Art Matters newsletter:

In This Issue of Art Matters, Aletta de Wal interviews artist Cristina Acosta

Words to ACT on: Featured Artist Cristina Acosta
In August 2001, I went to a local juried art fair that had a reputation for high quality art for collectors and good sales with low commissions for the artists. As I browsed the booths, I discovered a book that was very familiar to me. One of the artists who had done storytelling workshops in my gallery space in the late 90's had used that very book. Now here was the artist who had illustrated it!

Everything about Cristina, her art and her booth was first class. Since then, Cristina has many new experiences to relate about how to make a living as an artist and still have a life.

Cristina Acosta's background is as diverse as her work throughout the years. Finding the voice of her art was directly tied to the challenge of finding the voice of her culture. Acosta has a large visual vocabulary that speaks for itself in the seamless union between the fine and applied arts apparent in all her creations. Acosta's work is "exuberant art, rich colors and vivid patterns"; filled with "joyful spirit and colorful compositions."

Cristina has had a web site since 1994 - even before she had her own computer! She admits to not knowing it came with e-mail! Take a look at what, today, she calls the "the lobby" of her "business." Her advice: "Make your web site represent you as a person first and your work second. If you make your site imitate your work, your work confines you."

Professionally mentored in Southern California since the age of 11, Acosta received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Painting, from the University of Eugene in Oregon. She followed up her education with a position at Central Oregon Community College teaching art, and then worked with a variety of media, including illustrating a children's book and mixed media paintings. She also developed a signature line of ceramic art tile. Cristina has a new book, "Paint Happy," published by Northlight Books, introduces Cristina's work to artists everywhere.

She will be sharing her stories with the A.C.T. 101 community in September.

A.C.T.: What prompted you to start your professional art career?

Being an artist is a calling that I committed to at age 20 (28 years ago). At the time I had no idea what a professional artist did besides paint well. I slid into the business side of my art career when I began painting store windows with commercial designs as a way to pay for my college art degree. As my opportunities (and skills) increased, it dawned on me that I had a business.

A.C.T.: What is your artistic direction?

Writing is my new artistic direction. Developing my skills as a writer has enabled me to better market my painting and my other creative interests. At the beginning of my career I thought that I would paint every day for the rest of my life. Maturity combined with a curious mind has led me to a more varied career. My creative career is no longer confined to my easel, it shapes and colors my life.

A.C.T.: What is your business model?

My business model is an organically lively model that changes over the years with the market and my interests. The latest version of my business plan involves eBooks and Blogging, two things that weren't even invented when I began my professional life. Keeping my business model current brings to my attention the professional issues I need to pay attention to.

A.C.T.: What is your "life's work" as an artist?

The answer to that is one that I continually discover. When I first started applying myself to my work I thought of myself only as a painter. Now, I realize that my life's work is to become consciously creative in all aspects of my life, and to share my work with others.

A professional approach yields a profession. Without that, I would be back where I started from without any of the experience I have now. Dedicating myself to self-development both as an artist AND as a business person has made all of the difference. That is why I am so excited about Aletta's work and the difference it can make in your life.

Follow the advice in the A.C.T. programs she puts together and you'll save yourself years of trial and error.

A.C.T.: What advice would you pass on to other artists at all levels?

Keep working, seeing, feeling and connecting! Enjoy yourself!

You may become a famous artist, a kinda famous artist, or not. Fame and exterior success are not a product of only hard work and perseverance, there is a lot of luck involved. Live your art in such a way that if nobody buys a thing, you'll feel like you enriched your own life and those of your companions in life.

A.C.T.: How has your involvement in the A.C.T. program and community of professional artists furthered your career?

Making art is only half of the creative work. Sharing it is the other half. It was important enough to make, so don't leave your work to be ignored, get it out into the world.

Artist Career Training is for any artist who is ready to share their work. Your goal could be as simple as a local exhibit or as complex as a viable professional career. Even if you don't know what your goal is yet, A.C.T. is for you. The study materials, classes and community will support you as your creative and professional world unfolds. I consider myself lucky to have discovered the A.C.T. program. I highly recommend Artist Career Training for any artist.

You can read the rest of Cristina's interview and review the past featured artists at
Artist Career Training TeleClasses to Help You Build a Better Living From Your Art
If you are an emerging artist, A.C.T. One is the place to start. If you already have an art business and want to pace yourself, we also have a 12 to 24-month pathway in the combination of A.C.T. 101: Starting Your Art Business and A.C.T. 201: Developing Your Art Business. And if you are already established, we have a group of peers just for you in A.C.T. 301: Mastering Your Art Business. We have classes, books and knowledgeable experts and generous artists waiting for you. What are you waiting for? A.C.T. now!

Aletta de Wal, M. Ed, Director & Artist Advisor, Direct line: (650) 917-1225 Pacific time

View ArtMatters! online:

© 2008 Artist Career Training. All Rights Reserved. Supplemented by ArtMatters! Alerts and E-cards. Library of Congress ISSN# 1552-9428.
We appreciate it when you tell your friends about Artist Career Training. We encourage forwarding this newsletter in whole. Copying this publication without expressed written permission of the publisher is against the law (and highly unprofessional!) We encourage you forward this entire © A.C.T. newsletter along with your recommendation and this link:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Creative Challenge: Alliance for a Healthier Generation Aims to Halt Obesity in Kids

Getting kids to eat right and cut down on screen time is a daily job that challenges most of us parents. Now there's some help.

One out of every three children in the U.S.A. is overweight or obese, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is working to stop this trend. My 14 year old daughter, Isabella Acosta Barna, is one of 20 young people nationwide ages 8 to 17, invited to join the Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation this past July. The Alliance is a non-partisan alliance of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.

I'm proud that Isabella is part of this kid's movement for positive social change. Along with her success is a new job for me -- I'm officially Isabella's "Assistant"! It's a lot of fun. Isabella's first project has been to get a blog going. She's making movies about health and fitness and I get to be the cinematographer. It's fun to create with my daughter. We discuss design and aesthetics and I enjoy watching Isabella lead the creative direction of her writing and film making efforts.

So, take a moment to check out Isabella's blog. September is Go Healthy Month and Isabella has written an article for a Oregon branch of the American Heart Association press release and is scheduled to testify before the Oregon State Legislature Ways and Means Committee this month. She is releasing one video a week for the 4 weeks of Go Healthy Month, so be sure to check back often. You'll also find links to helpful sites for family health on her blog.