Joan Witte conducted a National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) fundraiser over a single week in the summer. Donors could choose one of her paintings as a gift. All of the paintings are now spoken for, and over $3,000 was raised for the Alliance. Here is the story of Joan’s son, whose life ended with his suicide in November 2019.
The event was called Between the Comments, and was in memory of her son, Nathan Vallee. The majority of the paintings were created during the COVID-19 quarantine. If you or anyone you know may be at risk of suicide, please make sure they have the prevention line number, 1-800 273 8255, and don’t be shy to voice your concern.
Currently, Joan’s work can be seen at the Huron River Art Collective shows at Sweetwaters in Ann Arbor, where three of her paintings have sold, as well as four at Joe and Rosie’s Cafe in Dexter, showing through February 15th. Joan promoted these exhibitions in advance on her Facebook page, Raven Loon Studio.
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To volunteer with the Collective, ask a question or send a story, message us through our Facebook page or Group, or email SophieGrillet at gmail. Ask your artist friends to January’s talk, and to join!
“Our mission is to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for a diverse community of artists to share knowledge and opportunities that promote individual excellence, collaboration, inspire new creative perspectives, and offer engagement with the public to foster participation, appreciation, and support of the arts.“
What’s it like to be an artist during the Pandemic? Well the biggest difference so far is that I decided not to participate in any PleinAir events this Summer. It’s too bad, really. Dexter hosts a very nice event in August which I’ve enjoyed being a part of. It’s scaled back this year, and out of an abundance of caution, I opted out. I had a subject and location selected for my painting — a lovely old house near downtown Dexter that has intrigued me for a long time. Deciding not to participate this year was hard. I’ll miss the camaraderie of the other artists and seeing my hometown through their eyes.
How have you responded to the Pandemic? I got to a point where I wanted to do something worthwhile during all this. I’m a retired graphic designer and I love designing posters. I created a 50-year commemorative poster for a historic local event and sold a number of them with the proceeds going to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. That was gratifying.
What are you doing differently? Rather than painting my selected painting subject for the PleinAir event, I decided to do it in my studio. As the painting was underway, I was able to return to the spot to check and quickly sketch details and lighting that my reference photos missed. It wasn’t quite the same as being on location, but it worked. The finished painting is titled “Good Morning Dexter” (Oil on canvas. 18” x 24”). I sold a giclée print of this after posting it to my site, and it led to a commissioned work which I’m working on now.
What else has changed? In a way, the adjustment to staying close to home during this pandemic has not been terribly challenging. When I’m painting in the studio I almost become a hermit anyway. My wife and daughter are reliably constructive critics and they keep me honest. With all this time at home, I’ve found opportunities to revisit previous paintings and I’ve attempted ‘makeovers’ with a mixed level of success. (See attached “First Light” and “Eddy 1 & 2”).
I must admit that I’m enjoying the sanctuary that my studio offers. It’s good for my soul to get away from the daily stream of breaking news. But, I miss going to exhibits, talking in person with other artists, comparing notes, etc. That was my reason for joining AAWA earlier this year. When this is over, I don’t think I’ll take that for granted.
If you would like to share your ‘Art making in a time of Coronavirus’ experience with us, please get in touch!
OUR CHANGEOVER toHuron River Art Collective has officially happened. The technicalities can take a little time – but we’re working on it! For now, you may see posts, email and messages under either name. Thank you for your patience! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook (public Page and private Group for Members), and Instagram. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!