Marble in the Mountain by Peggy Collins

Starting Fresh

The Veritable Quandary, a local watering hole in Portland, Oregon seemed like the perfect
place to meet with my friend, Peggy. It was a bleak day in November of 2011, and I had asked
 Peggy Collins, an energetic and amazing painter, to meet with me to discuss my latest passion- illustrating a book with the help of other local artists.

The grand project that I had penciled out was the creation of a beautiful book that would be simultaneously about art and love. An idea I hoped would capture the imagination of the artists I would choose. My loosely-defined plan involved locating artists in various places- shows, festivals, web, galleries- and ask them to illustrate a line from a poem that my daughter, Ema B Greenspan, had written for me some years earlier.

The poem, a love poem, was written as an alliterative ABC and as such demanded 26 illustrations to do it justice. The imagery that it called to mind was simple, clean and required the inclusion of only one letter form. To me, it sounded so simple and, after a glass of wine and a bit of lunch, of course Peggy and I were totally on board! Now all I had to do was find 24 other artists to share this vision- along with their excitement, time and talent- and for free– (did I forget to mention?) because compensation for all of this work was predicated on the idea that once we had everyone together, the result would be nothing less than mind blowing and certainly there would be publishers lined up to make us an offer!! (Right? Of course!…)

So….over the next few months I became an art stalker- searching for beauty and “that certain something” that would work with the poem, work with the “look” of the other artists, thrill me, and also hopefully thrill the audience I had planned to reach. I had no specific parameters for what would be “just right”. I listened to the fluttering of my heart instead.

I became a master of self introduction. “Hello, you don’t know me but I love your work”, became my opening line in person, on the phone and in email. Quite generously, these women stuck around long enough to talk or write with me, meet with me and eventually to create some of the most lovely works of art that I’ve seen in years- all for a complete stranger who had a vision.

So why this blog? This blog is about these women and about their work. One of the biggest benefits I have enjoyed over the past year has been in learning that these women are not only talented and delightful, their lives and choices and what motivates and challenges them are fascinating! Every week or so I will feature one of the artists whom I stalked and with whom I am now friends, to highlight the work that she creates and to ask her about art and creativity. As you meet them, if my internal “beauty meter” is as spot on as I think it is, your heart will flutter as well.

The gorgeous painting above is called “Marble in the Mountain” and is one of many beautiful paintings by Peggy Collins. The original work is 4′ x 4′ so this little photo does not do it justice but I loved it so much when I saw it that I begged Peg to do a trade with me so that I could see it everyday and bless her, she agreed! Although Peg’s work did not end up in the book, (she works large and the format for the book art was 10″ x 10″- literally, not a good fit) she has remained a consistent cheerleader who encouraged me to to boldly address people I did not know and to beg them for art. It was exhilarating then and still is today. I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve done!

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