Daddy's Christmas Angel

Friday, May 29, 2020

Mother and Child Paintings and Sculpture

"Mother and Child" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Early in my art career, I was intrigued by the painted images of "Mother and Child" throughout art history. The intense relationship of the mother with her children fascinated me. As a psychologist, I realized the importance of that initial contact of an infant with her mother. I recalled my early years and my own dependency on my mother as I grew.

The past couple of weeks, I have watched a baby robin hatched from a beautiful blue egg and grown into a fluffy feathered fledgling. All happened thanks to the constant care of its mother, and also its father. How amazing it was to see the male robin demonstrate with his own wings a fluttering flying motion. All the while, the female robin flew back and forth between the branches of a small cedar tree and the edge of a flower pot. This took place quite near an entrance door to our house. Robins are never there normally. The baby flew briefly, but it is now back in the nest still being fed by the adults. It looks a bit forlorn, as if fearful and lonely. Too bad it is an only child.

Babies of all kinds need attention. Mother and Child. That is a theme through life. I love the paintings I did featuring that subject. I cherish the abstract "Mother and Child" sculpture I did in cement and paint during the same time period.

Mother and Child. An universal theme that continues in art and in nature.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Changing Times -- A Gallery Gone

M. M. Sikes at Prince George Open House, Dec. 2019
One of the saddest things to happen during this pandemic is the lost of Prince George Art & Frame in Williamsburg, Virginia. I have been with a Fred Miller gallery since I finished graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University in the early 1980s--first Whitehall, then Prince George. Fred visited my studio, then took me as one of the Whitehall artists, arranged shows and many sales for me there.

After Whitehall closed, I became an artist with Prince George where I had many shows and exhibited my work until the closure in April. I also depended on the gallery to frame my watercolors. Fred gave excellent advice and always stood behind his work. Often, when we were in Williamsburg, we would stop by the gallery just to chat with Fred. He knew all the people in the art world there, past and present. We loved his stories about travels to Paris and other places.

He had a great website set up for the gallery with a page for each artist, featuring their story and their work. He even made sure the website would work not only on the computer but for the smaller cell phone screen.

For the past several years, Fred has arranged to have an Open House event at the gallery twice a year.
It was this time last year that he held the spring event. Then, what would be his final Open House took place in December 2019. A highlight each time would be his French picnic offerings. He also created still life setups for those of us who wished to paint. Last year, instead of painting from his still life, I decided to put finishing touches on some "Just for Fun" paintings I had started earlier. Now I regret not painting from that final still life.

We always miss another gallery gone. But this is different. This is the loss of an icon from the Williamsburg art scene. We will always remember Whitehall Gallery and Prince George Art & Frame.

____________________
This from their website:

Dear friends, after 40 years of providing quality picture framing to Williamsburg, Prince George Art & Frame has closed for business. We have enjoyed working with each of you over the years, starting in 1980 on Prince George Street until our current location in Colony Square on Jamestown Road.

​Thank you for your business and your friendship.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Artful Angels - A Book for These Times

I have always loved angels. In my art, I see them everywhere.

Artful Angels is my book for these troubled times. The paintings in it were created using a variety of materials, including pastels, acrylics, encaustics, and watercolors mostly on my favorite surface, Yupo.

Meditation is important to me. The words--perhaps they are poetry--came intuitively as I studied each painting.

It is my hope that readers will select a painting or a poem and reflect on it, creating their own thoughts and images. Quiet is a good thing. It can bring joy to our hearts and angels into our lives.

Artful Angels in hardcover is available now from Barnes & Noble. It will be available soon from Amazon.com. Please find your own retreat in this beautiful book. I would love to know what you think.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Story for the Times of a Writer

"Looking Down" ©Mary Montague Sikes
A young woman opened the door to enter the County Board of Supervisors' meeting. Thick smoke swirled like a cloud around her face. She stifled a cough, then clutched her secretarial pad and pen close to her chest. Quietly she made her way through the crowd of men to the straight wooden chairs at the front of the room, reserved for the press.

When she sat down, the Daily Press reporter welcomed her with a smile like he always did, and the Times-Dispatcher scowled as usual. Both men pulled out their packs of cigarettes and soon added to the haze in the room.

That's the way it was back then. The young woman wrote for the afternoon city newspaper. The two men were reporters for morning papers in two different cities. All three of them were competitors, seeking to beat out the others in some unexpected way.

By the time she drove home at the end of the meeting, the young woman, her clothing saturated in smoke, would be past the paper's evening deadline. She would write her story that night and call it in from her wall telephone the next morning. Someone on the city staff, a stranger to her, would take the dictation. If she took photos, she would drop her film by the home of a friend who worked in the city, then she would head to her day job in the next county. It was a brutal schedule for the mother of three young children.

She wrote lots of feature stories and took the photographs, but that was at a more leisurely pace. Those stories were typed, and they, along with the undeveloped film, were mailed to the paper. The pay was not much, but the experience was priceless for the young woman.

Along came computers, digital cameras, cell phones and everything changed. Afternoon newspapers closed down. People were a little different, not so much relating to one another at the meetings. Reporters died. The smoke was gone.

The young woman grew old, but, because of the newspapers, she had learned to write and to photograph many subjects. Those were the times.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Introvert vs. Extrovert

Over the years, I've always considered myself an introvert. Writing and painting are mostly solitary occupations--the activities of introverts. Or so I thought.

With the isolation of the past two weeks, I've decided that perhaps I'm more of an extrovert than I
"In my gallery at Crossroads" ©Mary Montague Sikes
thought. Two Art Gallery Open House events last week were cancelled. One became a three-hour long virtual event which was good, but I still missed actually being there. I had planned to do a painting demo at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond during the Open House. I also wanted to change some of the artwork in my gallery there. Those things didn't happen.

I also miss going to the gym three times a week. Not only does my body feel the lack of group exercise, but I really miss seeing my friends there. Maybe a little bit extroverted?

Although writers might claim to be introverts, a lot of them thrive on watching others. After all, one learns a lot out in public, viewing interaction between people. That's where we discover our "what ifs?"and more.

The new norm of isolation has made me more appreciative of the beginning of this year. In January, I enjoyed chatting with visitors and other artists at the opening of the "Winter Blues" show at Gloucester Arts on Main. I smile when remembering I was accused of being an extrovert while there. During January, I attended meetings and enjoyed the people around me without truly understanding what a wonderful opportunity it is to be with others. I also taught an oil and cold wax workshop that I appreciate even more now.

In February, we went to Florida for the St. Louis Cardinals spring training games. What a joy the beginning of baseball season was. I enjoyed every moment of it. And we got to see some of our favorite people at the Islander Grill & Tiki Bar where we dined every morning for breakfast. I didn't take any of that for granted.

Now, January, February, and even the beginning of March seem years ago. I would like to slip back in time or, perhaps, go a couple of months ahead. I can be an introvert in my studio for a while, but those days of the extrovert beckon me. I will forever appreciate art openings, book signings, workshops, and meetings far more than in the past.