Artworks Loveland Exhibit of Love Letters Series

The LOVE LETTERS Paintings by Bonnie Lebesch
Artworks Loveland
February 9 - March 22, 2018
Opening Reception: 6-9 PM Friday, February 9
Painting Demo: 1-2:30 PM Saturday, February 24
Closing Reception: 6-8 PM Thursday, March 22

Studio Practice, Practice, Practice

Five (5), F-I-V-E, months off! Oh my. What have I been doing? Purging, packing, planning, moving, unpacking, purging, shopping, rearranging, reassessing, assembling, installing, purging even more! And I still don’t have art on the walls - except for the studio, of course. That took only four months.

And in the studio? It too has downsized. I am now an expert at organizing and fitting things into small spaces. Friends gape at the wall shelf fitted with bins and drawers with nary an inch to spare. But even so, I am still faced with so many things gathered over years of art-making, like this painting on paper for example. I clipped it to the wall and after several weeks I saw its new incarnation as this…

And since I had a few more paintings on paper, I kept on going…

So it seems I am in reassess mode. After all, when your living space demands being tidy every day and your one bathroom acts as the master bath AND the guest bath, you change your habits completely. Hidden storage, small furniture, a designated place for everything - I’m so compartmentalized its no wonder I had to recompose my paintings.


I’m working on another studio project - practice really - working on six different panels and reworking them again and again. I’ve only done a few layers so far, but I’m already feeling the freedom of not considering anything so precious that it can’t be transformed further.

I’m certain this will be a challenge at times, which is why I am considering all of them finished at any given moment. They are available for sale to preserve their current state forever - so if your heart melts at the sight of a work of art, best to snatch it up right away. There’s no saying how long it might last before I continue my studio play.

The series Evolution/Revolution will be on my website in its current state, so check back regularly to see what has transpired, and email me if you want to see it in person. I’ll be going through every idea that comes to me - so they are sure to transform wildly. Practice, practice, practice!

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Community Love Letter Painting

During the Love Letters Exhibition invited visitors to contribute to a painting in progress.

People loved being able to play with paint, which in itself can be quite transformative. Here are a few snapshots of the piece in progress... no plan, just play!

To set the space for this community healing piece, I had these words for people to contemplate:


This piece is a community project. 

I invite you to write, draw, scribble, scratch... 
to express yourself, to lay your burdens down,

Like lighting a candle, or hanging a milagro, 
spinning a prayer wheel, or making a wish,

Just open your heart and let it out. 
That which weighs you down every day does 
not need to be a burden forever.

Release it.

Let it go.

Feel your heart be light.

I will complete the piece, with all your offerings remade into a work of beauty and brightness.
Thank You for your heartfelt contributions to this community healing.

After the show I completed the piece following the process used in the Love Letters paintings. This underpainting has been transformed to the blue painting below. Only some of the images are visible, but all of the energy remains.

Work in Progress, Community Love Letter Painting, 2016

Final, Community Love Letter Painting, 2016

August - September, 2016
Community Creative Center, Fort Collins

A Silent Meditative Hour

My mind was empty,
my lips still,
and my heart lighter.

You might be wondering why I have scheduled an hour each day in the gallery for a "Silent Meditative Hour" (noon-1). It's unusual for an art exhibit to observe this practice, but when you understand my studio practice and the intentions behind the series it makes a lot of sense.

In the studio I sometimes work on technique, or experiment, or just play. Sometimes my play takes me much deeper into an idea or even a mediation, and that can turn into a profound experience. This was the case with the Love Letters paintings.

While working on each piece, I set an intention to work until I reached a resolve. With each step of the painting, I knew what I was searching for - not necessarily an aspect of the composition - but rather a feeling about what my energy and emotions were telling me.

In abstract work this is common, but in this series, the healing intent meant I was going very deep into my psyche in search of the root of an issue. Each painting had a story that needed to be told, and every bit of it dredged up and expressed until it was all out of me. I always knew when I reached that stage because my mind was empty, my lips still, and my heart lighter.

Then it was time to progress onto the next stage, the flip side if you will. You see, with the muck out of the way and the waters clear, there could be another message waiting for me. Sometimes this message was very clear, and other times I just felt relieved. Regardless, that message is in the paintings. That bit of my soul is there waiting to talk to whomever will listen.

Some people have had profound interactions with the paintings, and I want to give that opportunity to others too. It is a way for me to honor the process that these paintings came into being. So come early and sit in silence for a bit and see what the paintings have to say.

August - September, 2016
Community Creative Center, Fort Collins

Many Thanks To My Generous Sponsors

I am thrilled that so many fine folks are stepping up to support the local arts through a sponsorship for the Love Letter exhibit at the Community Creative Center.

Creating the artwork has been my biggest contribution, but this show could not happen without their generosity. It helps pay for expenses and allows me to host a professional exhibit.

Toolbox Creative
The Women's Clinic of Northern Colorado
The Green Team Real Estate
Jeff Anderson
Zia Zybko and Jeff Lebesch
Elisabeth Aron and Bruce Berkowitz
Marilyn and Rob Carney
... and a few anonymous "appreciative" sponsors.

Amy Hahn
Dawn Putney
Mindy Heddens
Laurie Beth Zuckerman

Sponsorships are available for purchase through Sept 3. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

August - September, 2016
Community Creative Center, Fort Collins

Gallery Layout Tips

The gallery layout with art for the
Love Letter show in place, a total
of 48 paintings.
Recently I watched the documentary Gerhard Richter Painting, and found myself impressed with the detail he and his assistants go to in planning for an exhibit. They make little architectural 3-dimensional models with foam core and miniature prints of the artwork, each with sticky backs, so they can arrange the work to their liking. They are like art gallery doll houses.

Now, if I had a show at the Tate Modern this would be a good idea! I'm not going quite that far for the Community Creative Center show, but I did do a paper version to see everything in place. While not necessary, I know how exhausting the installation of a show can be, and I only have two days to do the entire thing. I want to have most decisions made in advance.

Drawing a wall template for arranging
small art.
Another time-saving tip is to make templates for small arrangements of artwork. It is much easier to lay out a grid with marks for nail holes on paper than to measure out a grid on a wall. Then you just tape it in place on the gallery wall and start nailing.

It makes even more sense to do a template when you have a random arrangement. You can play with the elements until you have the layout that works best, then just trace the shapes and mark the holes. I have the artwork and templates numbered so I know what goes where. It takes less than 15 minutes to hang a group of 25 little pieces, and they end up exactly where I want them. This makes installing a show much more fun!

August - September, 2016
Community Creative Center, Fort Collins

Some Lessons I've Learned About Hosting A Gallery Show

I'm so thankful to my Show Committee of volunteers who are helping me to throw a professional art exhibition. Recognizing that I'm not naturally the best at marketing myself, they have stepped up to the plate to lend their expertise, and its making a huge difference.

Special Edition Mini Love Letter
Paintings are my gifts to Sponsors.
For example, they suggested I ask for Micro Sponsors to help boost my PR effort and raise funds to cover expenses. This has been a brilliant move! My already supportive collectors have enthusiastically signed up to sponsor the event. Normally, the hosting gallery will pay for costs, which can be substantial. The Community Creative Center (commonly referred to as the Carnegie) provides the gallery space for rental, but the artists self-host and self-fund the show. The thing is, artists host a show and hope that the sales of art will cover the costs. The concept of making a profit from a show is less considered, even if it should be the goal.

In the past several years I've hosted smaller shows or participated in group shows. I've learned a lot each time, from building mailing lists, to packing artwork for transportation, to delegating tasks and getting assistants, and most importantly -- keeping a task list. I like lists, but even for me, my 4-page task list is a bit daunting!

Here's a short list of tasks and/or costs I consider for a show:

Gallery Rental
Extended Hours Gallery Rental & Insurance
Wood Art Panel Construction
Art Supplies & Tools
Artwork Photography
Show Planning Committee Meetings
Sponsorship Sales
Graphic Design
Printing: Show Announcement, Poster, Banner, Brochure, & Thank You cards
Exhibition Design
Website & Social Media
Poster & Announcement Distribution
Press Release & Promotions
Office Supplies & Packing Materials
Postage and Mailing Expenses
Loaning artwork from collectors
Private Sponsor Reception Food & Drinks
Drinks Server
First Friday Reception Food & Drinks
Equipment Rental
Exhibition Hardware
Installation & Takedown Crew
Reception & Sales Assistants
Event Photography

With each show I host, I learn to peel off a few tasks and delegate them to others. And the best secret is this: people love to help. Those with professional skills can easily proof a design or edit an artist statement. Others have manual skills, or spare time, or simply want to learn from you. There are many reasons someone might want to volunteer, so be brave and ask.

Some tasks might require payment, like poster distribution and certified drinks servers. This is where the sponsorships will really make a difference, because I can finally hire people for the jobs. Artists commonly have a wide variety of skills, and you can usually find a local artist who has the skills you need, and that in turn helps support fellow artists.

Regardless of the task, I hold myself to a high standard. In my mind, its all part of the exhibit planning. I don't want to throw art on the wall without considering each detail, like what you see when you first walk in the door, how the art labels look, even where the chairs are placed. This is where show planning crosses over into installation art. You are providing an experience from the moment someone hears of the show to the thoughts and images that hang in their heads for days, or months, afterwards. Everything matters.

Here are a few things not to forget (from personal experience): get photos of the show and reception, make sure your credit card reader is working, assign a water-bearer for the reception (because you get dehydrated from all that talking), and keep detailed notes and contacts of people you meet and sales you make. They are the gems you have earned from all your hard work.

August - September, 2016
Community Creative Center, Fort Collins