Experiences have a deep and profound way of shaping us. It was life altering experiences that have led Jes and I to value our creative process, our art in a way that is not typical of sales driven artists.
After a series of personal losses, a car accident and unforeseen career events starting in early 2006, Jes went from Corporate Management here in the Midwest to living on the streets, homeless, in Glendale, Arizona by early 2007.
Jes was blogging on Myspace about his experiences of being homeless and he was “friended” by a local realtor. While sleeping one night on the streets, Jes was robbed of all his art and artist materials. After blogging about that experience, the realtors, Sonja & Matt, contacted Jes.
Here is an exert from the blog Jes wrote from the public library he sought refuge from the unrelenting heat of Arizona.
“So, i sat in the air conditioned second home of mine (if you can call my bench home – which i do lol), felt a presence walking towards me and looked up, and there was her smiling, if a tad nervous, face, followed in toe by that of her boyfriend (which i dont mind admitting that the initial look on his face made me think he was uncomfortable – hell, why shouldn’t he be – i was – and he had far more to lose).
so, they sat down. and she had brought with her a very nice backpack, which she informed me (she thought) contained the items i needed. not wanting to appear as eager as i actually was for having it be taken the wrong way, i glance quickly enough to see that indeed it was all there. not only that, but it was infact of better quality that i would have purchased myself – i quoted her what i thought the lower grade materials (the hobby grade stuff) would cost. i was immediately flabbergasted. and speechless. the sudden rush of gratitude was overwhelming. i was having a hard time accepting the reality of what was happening. someone i didnt know was giving me the leg up i needed, and did so with a kind of grace and kindness i have not experienced here. “
In 1989 I was living in Minneapolis attending MCAD, Minneapolis College of Art and Design. By the time my first semester ended I was told that my father was ill. After experiencing being homeless, a young artist in Minneapolis, I hitched hike home to Nebraska. My father struggled with cancer that spread from his throat to brain tumors, bone and internal organs. Radiation and chemo were unsuccessful. I assisted my mother with taking care of my father at home, until he die in September 1991. I was 20 years old. Heartbroken with the loss of my father, my biggest supporter of my art, I put my paint brushes down and started a career working with a nonprofit organization.
10 years later in 2001 when I had my first attack of Multiple Sclerosis that left me with a complete visual split and bilateral nystagmus (uncontrolled eye spasms) and the wisdom & encouragement of a Beloved Uncle, Dr JT Garrett, in 2005 that I picked up my brushes and returned to painting to assist in my recovery & visual therapy. Reclaiming my visual creativity and seeing the world with new eyes.
Jes & I have a strong passion that drives our desire to be of service to others, inspire creativity and hope, and utilize our talents and abilities as artists that will directly impact the quality of life for others. Thus The Awiya Project was created>