Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Books and Art Shows Fill the Holiday Season

Product DetailsProduct DetailsMy latest book, Evening of the Dragonfly, will not be available until 2015, and that's a good thing. The holiday season is filled with many events, and I already have two Christmas-themed novels that are available on Amazon as print and as Kindle books. Daddy's Christmas Angel and A Rainbow for Christmas are both sweet romance stories that anyone in the family can enjoy. I just checked Amazon and discovered that those two books are priced at $2.99 each in Kindle for the holiday season. Both books are also available for sale in my gallery at Crossroads Art Center.

©Mary Montague Sikes
If you visit Crossroads, please go by and see the Metropolitan Richmond Artists Association show in Gallery One. My painting, "Dancing in the Trees", won third place in the juried exhibition. I used pastels, charcoal, and acrylics to create this painting on canvas board. Since I prefer working on stretched canvas, this is an unusual piece for me. It's also an unusual size, 30" x 15".

On December 13 and 14, Mary Jane Tolley, a dear friend of mine, is hosting an Art Open House in her home, featuring my paintings. Saturday, I will also create "Soul Song" paintings and poetry there for interested individuals. Anyone who would like an invitation to this special Art Open House event, please contact me by email.

 This is an especially busy art week. On Wednesday, I am teaching a workshop, "Creating with Texture and Color", for Arts Alive at the West Point Pamunkey Regional Library. I keep hoping that a building will suddenly materialize in our town where artists can gather once or twice a month to paint or craft together. We have a workshop at the library almost every month which is wonderful. But, in addition, having a chance to work locally with other artists in a dedicated studio space would be a real joy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Making an Artist the Heroine of a Novel

"Write what you know," they told me.
"In My Studio"

I did. I wrote about an artist.

"That will never do," they said. "Artists as heroines will never sell."

Those statements came years ago when I first started writing novels. I believed the editors of some of New York's most established publishing companies who wrote those words on my manuscripts.

I believed them and didn't break the rules. Other writers broke the rules and became well-known. Now I wish I had paid no attention to the rules. I should have remembered that "rules are made to be broken." (Wonder who said that?)

My latest book, Evening of the Dragonfly, features Farrah Ferand, an artist and a teacher with a few psychological issues, including repressed memories. It is a romance with growth, love, an artist studio, and art galleries.

I believe they were wrong. I believe my book with an artist heroine will sell. I wrote about what I love and what I know. You can't always follow the rules. Besides, maybe things have changed in the world of publishing.

What about you? Do you write about heroes and heroines doing the things you like most? Or do you follow the rules?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Visiting the James Ratliff Gallery in Sedona

James Ratliff Art Gallery ©Mary Montague Sikes
When we were in Sedona earlier this month, we discovered the James Ratliff Art Gallery in Hillside Plaza. I loved the variety of the art found in this gallery, and I especially enjoyed meeting and talking with both Patricia and James Ratliff.

This year James Ratliff is celebrating 50 years in the art gallery business. In the 1960s he owned his first gallery on Main St. in Scottsdale. For the past 30 years, he has operated a gallery in Sedona.

During his career which began with a love of art as a kindergartner, Ratliff has developed an awareness and sensitivity for talented artists. He especially enjoys mentoring young artists like Greg Heil who has displayed his brightly-colored landscapes in the gallery for the past several years. I found a show of the work of Cary Henrie especially intriguing because his work has evolved from wall paintings to three-dimensional paintings on stands. The show has been quite popular with many sales in the first two weeks, Ratliff pointed out. The abstract paintings of Allen Dutton are among the contemporary artwork on prominent display in the gallery. There is much more and a story to go with each piece of art.

James and Patricia Ratliff ©Mary Montague Sikes
Patricia, Ratliff's wife of 48 years, is an educator, music teacher, painter, former restaurant owner, and more. She is co-owner of the gallery. Visiting the couple amidst their beautiful array of art made me a little sad I was not a permanent part of the Sedona art community and able to converse with them more often.

What a joy it is to view art in other parts of our special country. What a privilege it is to be an artist and see the world through a lens of color and light.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sedona Features Timeless Beauty, Energy and Art


Rainbow Over Sedona Red Rocks ©Mary Montague Sikes
As visitors drive toward Sedona, Arizona, a sense of amazement is inevitable when all of a sudden the timeless red rocks rise up in the distance. The views are incredible. Clouds appear as angel images. A rainbow ascends from nowhere into the sky.

No matter how many times we visit this mystical mecca, it is never enough. So many art galleries, so many rock centers, so many spiritual retreats, so many trails to red rock formations--there is never time to see them all.

Bell Rock ©Mary Montague Sikes
We just returned from a week in Sedona. Although I planned to revisit Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, and more, I didn't get to them. We drove by Bell Rock many times and felt the remarkable energy of that formation. We dined at Miley's where a huge new painting of Bell Rock dominates. We feasted on seafood omelets at the Golden Goose and enjoyed lunch at Shugrues above the Hillside shops. And we spent a lot of time with art.

Art and the energy are what drew us to Sedona the first time. During a two week visit a few years ago, I enjoyed a pastel workshop and then took a metaphysical workshop that I found fascinating.

Ever since that early visit, those red rock images have crept into my artwork. Red rocks along with energy have also stolen their way into my writing and my novel, Eagle Rising. 

Something special exists in the timeless landscape of Sedona. Something special pulls us back again and again.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ward Center for Contemporary Art - Look of a Museum

Ward Center for Contemporary Art Gallery with historic staircase ©Mary Montague Sikes
In May 2013, when I first learned that Petersburg Regional Art Center was closing and that the old Butterworth building at 132 North Sycamore Street was set to undergo a $6 million renovation, I didn't know what to think. Although the Art Center was rustic and needed many updates, I hated to see it disappear. After all, I had spent 10 years as a resident artist there, and I feared the promised new art facility might never become a reality.

Abstract Artists Three-Person Show ©Mary Montague Sikes
I was wrong. Last summer,- I was invited to have a one-person exhibition in the brand new central gallery space, and this week we hung the show. The new Ward Center for Contemporary Art is beautiful. It features state of the art lighting, an excellent hanging system for paintings, lovely bathrooms, refinished wooden floors, and more. The historic staircase is still there in the big gallery and is a conversation piece because it now leads to nowhere.

The photos in this post are from the gallery during the process of hanging. I am looking forward to seeing it after everything is arranged and the lights are adjusted for each painting. A visitor during the hanging said the space "looks like a museum". I smiled and agreed with him.

Jessie Boyland, the gallery director, is overseeing the progress of the new gallery that will be the site of numerous future wedding receptions, meetings, and other social events. In addition, there are artist studio spaces located behind the gallery and in the basement that are available for rent.

The grand opening will take place in February. In the meantime, the gallery will be open to the public on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 12 to 4 p.m. Following the opening reception, the days and hours will be expanded. My exhibition, "Passenger to Paradise" will be on display until March 7.

New Ladies Room ©MMSikes
Gallery Director Jessie Boyland helps with hanging ©MMSikes