Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brushes with Life: The Journey of Art

Everyone who’s ever picked up a paintbrush and touched a canvas knows the thrill and release of creation. The joy of pressing the shutter on an old Leica camera and hearing that click as you immortalize the look of a stranger or a towering building or golden-hued sunlight resting on the treetops. The nurture of knitting, the mood of music, the praise of poetry; these are the pleasures of being an artist.

There are artists who have spent hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars and millions of moments of inspiration to be what they considered to be ‘artists.’ Some measure their success in canvases sold, or number of exhibitions or word of mouth in their community. Many other artists don’t consider themselves artists. They do their drawings in notebooks that never see the light of day, instead hibernating in bedside table drawers. They write poetry that plumbs the depths of angst and despair like Sylvia Plath. They create paintings that, like Van Gogh’s, never get sold in their lifetime.

Anyone who can afford the materials can be an artist. Getting your art shown is another matter. The trick to getting your art shown is two-fold: You must have the confidence to put yourself out there and try and make a deal. And you must make someone believe in your art enough to display it to the world.

We mentally ill can be a shy bunch. Aside from bipolar mania, we generally keep to ourselves. But our dreams of being artists are realized with the Brushes With Life gallery. Here is a gallery that shows folk art, amateur art, outsider art, classically trained art, abstract art. The only way to have your work shown is to have a mental illness which is seldom an asset.

Through creation, the mentally ill find peace. Art springs from the heart, but more importantly, the mind. A mind that is heavy with anxiety and pain can get a release from art like nothing else. The gallery is the best kind of therapy there is for those who struggle with mental health challenges. Joy is real when you overhear two strangers gush over a photograph you’ve taken, not realizing the artist is standing right next to them. Brushes With Life has grown over the years, developing a consistent roster of talented artists. Many of these artists you see in my film. Their journey through art is a way to relieve pain. We are all better off that they are expressing their pain. Turning pain into joy is the most productive occupation on Earth.

- Philip Brubaker, January, 14, 2008

See Philip’s documentary at Sunrise Church in Hillsborough
Thursday February 21, 2008
7:30 to 9:00

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