Anywho, #13

Dearest g.g.-

Another update from earlier in the year---the new Gig Harbor Fred Meyer is open, up, and running smooth. When you check out, lookup. That's my finished 45' mural!


Cross Section revolves around one core element - a slice of a tree. Building off themes of nature, water and Gig Harbor’s past and present, all surrounding images are connected and echo off the growth rings. Its outward movement is reminiscent of sound waves, water ripples, or waves traveling on a still bay. The deer, octopus and harbor seal gaze outward, inviting you to investigate within the design - to voyage from Gig Harbor’s forest to its underwater environment and back up to its beaches.

AND, more currently, my "Yes" mural was featured in July's SEATTLE MAGAZINE! A two page spread even! Here is the digital version so you can check it out at your leisure:

Much love,

mindy jo



Anywho, #7

Dearest g.g.-

Wow, how fast a year swings by. Hope 2016 was good to you! It was full of personal development and challenge, but also great love and understanding.

As a recap, January of last year I got on a plane and landed in Nome, Alaska to teach reading to 7th and 8th graders at Nome-Beltz Jr/Sr High School. Super steep learning curve for me, but, heck, I thought, I can hack being on the hot seat for 5 months, right? Right! I did it! It WAS hot, but as with all things uncomfortable, I learned a ton.  About myself.  About Alaska and native culture (was especially blown away by some of my student's dancing). About teaching. About 13 thru 15 year old humans. About public speaking. About how much teachers dedicate their whole lives to teaching, not just the hours they are in the school building but also through their weekends, evenings and vacations.

One such teacher is Teriscovkya Smith, aka 'Smitty', writing teach extraordinaire. I've known her since high school, I consider my sister, and is the one who got me out to Nome. She told me about Nome Beltz's heavy need for a substitute teacher to step in for a teacher going on maternity leave. She housed me, drove me around, advised me, supported me, introduced me to The Walking Dead and backed me every day. What am I trying to say? Pretty much, if she hadn't been around, I would have not climbed that curve and would probably have been burned by the heat.  Thank you, T!  


Here she is in all her cuteness and me, well, forgive me, I was COLD! That's supposed to happen when you snowmobile for hours, right?

What was my favorite part with my students? The last two weeks of school and the art each student created for an assignment Teriscovkya designed for both her classes and mine during that time. My room was full of art supplies, left from past art classes, so I let my students experiment and come up with art pieces that illustrated what they wanted for their futures, along with writing from 'Smitty's' class about music.

Here are some of the results:

 A street in Nome:


The 2016 Iditorod, which finishes in Nome:


And a little photo series I call "Reclining Nome Nude" which I did with fellow teacher, I mean, model, Susanne Thomas.

This one is "Reclining Nome Nude On Pallet"

"Reclining Nome Nude On Ice"

"Reclining Nome Nude On Log"

Thank you, Nome!!!!!

Anywho, #5

Dearest g.g.-

How are you, Sweet-n-low? Has the weather changed for you there, as it has here in the Pacific Northwest? We’ve had freezing temperatures and days with low fog. So beautiful. Especially when walking and running. Running? Yup. Or, better yet, I should say, ‘rugging’—my more accurate combo for my running/jogging. I am again trying to get back into the running swing. It’s free, I feel free, and it realIy gets my heart pumping, all while managing to checking out my surroundings. My mantra: slow and easy= no injuries…or heart attacks. But a couple of days ago it was balmy, with wind. Now, nonstop rain. Who knows? Anywhos do!

Need some really exciting news? What could possibly be that exciting, you ask? Well, get ready, because it’s big. Big excitement. McMenamins, that robust Portland based hospitality company, is finally starting their rehab project on the old Tacoma Elks Temple building.

‘The Elks Temple was built in 1915-16 when fraternal organizations were an important part of the community and had the money to build beautiful buildings such as this one. It was designed by É. Frère Champney, a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts, in the second Renaissance Revival style.
Adjacent to the building is a stairway called the “Spanish Steps” that winds up the hillside adjacent to the building. These steps, modeled after the Scalinata di Spagna in Rome, were rehabilitated in 2011 by a grant from WSDOT and the Federal Highway Transportation Enhancements program’

This is the same building that has been vacant and leaky since I was a kid. In fact, I don’t remember a time when it was actually a functioning club. And, more recently, it sat even longer after the McMenamins bought it—I think it has been something like 6 years or so. 6 years is a long time for a structure to sit, allowing it to continuing to ponder its years of neglect. Like so many buildings in Tacoma, while driving or walking by, you could swear you could hear it moaning a low despair.

Here is McMenamins’ new footage about their project:

The fact that it is still standing, though, points to the solidness of its construction (I have known a rumor for years that it has a swimming pool on one of the upper stories! What?!!!), which is one of the reasons I respect McMenamins’ business philosophy: they buy old, well built properties often facing unknown futures and refurbishes them to their yesteryear glory while installing a feasible business within. They work with what is there and build to functionality.

In 2009, Tacoma experienced a not so happy story, one that many Tacomans wish not to repeat. A neglected, six story, on the National Register of Historic Places, Burnham & Root building, the Luzon, was torn down despite its historical significance as an example of early architectural designs that led to the modern skyscraper-- it was one of the first buildings in America to have steel columns. What’s now in its place?  A parking lot. Yup. Still there, in all its UNIQUE (ha!) glory.

A local gallery had a show celebrating the Luzon right after the demolition. Here is a photo of the building before it was gone and the artwork I created, part of my Photo Extensions series—I used a photo I took of the building prior to its demolition and extended their colors across the surface.

The Luzon prior to demolition.

The Luzon prior to demolition.

My Luzon painting.

My Luzon painting.

So grateful this will not be the Elks Temple's storyline.

Another reason, speaking from a muralist's viewpoint, why I think this news is so grand is they are BIG supporters of hand-painted imagery on their walls. Pretty much on every practical surface. Do you know how rare this is? As you know, I have lots of attitude regarding the nonexistence of original art in people’s homes. My business is, of course, hand created so you'd think most of my clients would own other original art. You'd be surprised, as I am, that this is not always the case. These days buying a print (and I'm not referring to an artist signed and numbered piece--that's great because it means it's a limited edition...almost, kinda sort of close to an original), like a giclée print (I've had the unfortunate opportunity to inform many 'painting' purchasers that their 'painting' is NOT an original painting but rather a giclée print with clear gel smeared or brushed onto the surface to give it a hand painted, brushed texture...people, this is NOT real!), is so easy and CHEAP...or at least CHEAPER. We artists are having a hard time convincing art collectors to pay possibly a bit more and investigate a bit longer for that perfect, only-one-in-existence artwork. I commend those who do! There is even 'mural wallpaper' now. Oy vey! So the fact that McMenamins takes great care in investing in custom, hand painting makes me scream with joy!!! Welcome to town, I say!

And an additional stream of good news came last week. McMenamins is slated to take on the Old City Hall building too, which is located just below the Elks Temple and the Spanish Steps!!! It's another gorgeous building that's long overdue for some loving care. Yip-a-doodle! Looking forward to what McMenamins has planned!

Keep warm, dry and lovely.

Much love,

mindy jo


Anywho, #3

Dearest g.g.-

It's Friday the 13th and it is a very drizzly day here in Tacoma. Water is streaming down all of the windows, it's quite dark out even though it is the middle of the day and the wind is whipping through the streets. After the super hot summer we had in the Northwest, I had almost forgotten what our standard weather really looks like. So thankful I have somewhere to keep dry and warm. My thoughts always go to those without such shelter.

So today I am indoors working on designs, but Wednesday I was out helping a fellow artist, Diana Leigh Surma, with a public works mural she designed on Martin Luther King Way. I jumped at the idea because I love to paint and if I go for a spell when I'm not wielding a paint brush I get antsy.

Painting by number was a perfect remedy!

Diana, as with many of her projects, asks the community to come out and participate by helping her paint. She called this event: Color By Numbers Painting Party. A fantastic idea--and so well planned out! Her whole design was numbered and color coded so volunteers could easily figure out where to paint.

Here are the containers of colors, numbered:

And her design, drawn out into the wall and numbered. A detail photo:

It was a fun time. Met a gaggle of nice volunteers and had many enticing conversations from people walking by. I love the Hilltop of Tacoma!

Some of the other fellow friendly volunteers:

I did take pity on these brushes, though, since I could hear them crying. No, really! Ok, not really but..kind of? I still own, use and take care of the same brushes I've had for 22 years of business, so I could see these little beauties needed a bit of loving.  But before I added water to their mix and submerge them to soak, I admired their colorful random arrangement:

That's all for today--hope you are staying warm and dry wherever you are!

Much love,

mindy jo