Rock Bottom Is A Good Starting Place

Our backstory starts when our lives were seemingly falling apart. In 2015, my husband was laid off and piece by piece we lost everything we had, the house being the last to go, within 7 months as he frantically searched for employment to no avail. I, being an Artist, asked him if he wanted to take a leap of faith with me, strike out and leave Alaska in order to "get my name out there" in the art world with my Rorschach Inspired artwork that was just starting to cause a stir. In my eyes, everything we knew was gone and what better way to start than at the bottom, right? After all, we knew I couldn't sustain life for us in Alaska with artwork. We packed up the kids, some clothes a few essentials and artwork to leave Alaska for a different sort of "unknown territory" on September 3, 2016. Little did we know, we were in for a wild ride bursting at the seams with happiness, doubt, and moments that made us want to dance as well as bawl over the uncertainty of it all. About 3 days into our journey we lost our camper trailer to the ALCAN -the Alaska/Canada HWY. It was devastating when the insurance company called it "normal wear and tear" and we officially became "homeless." Most people would have given up at that moment (we have had a lot of those), but we pushed forward, determined to make our dreams a reality. Our first show was in Louisiana, the Red River Revel. It was a trial by fire for sure. Eight days of heat, 10-12 hour days outside, sometimes to go back to the hotel with $60 in your hand... just enough to pay for the night's stay. But, I made a tiny profit and gained collectors. I was hooked, this was what I wanted to do with my life. And it was only the beginning. Over course of the next year and 3 months, we did art festival after art festival all over the country. We went as far West as Colorado, as far North as Illinois and as far South as Florida. A few of these shows would test not only our resolve, but the boundaries of our breaking points as well. In Melbourne, Florida we set up for a show over the weekend and awoke on Saturday to find our vehicle repossessed. We hustled like nobody's business and made enough money over the weekend to get the bank to give us back our only form of transportation the following Monday. The St Patrick's Day Festival in Emerald Isle, North Carolina we rolled into town with $11.17 to our names and left with close to $1,600 at the end of the day. The Peter Anderson, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi we showed up and my husband and I skipped meals for 2 days in order to afford prints and we stayed up all night stuffing them into bags to sell the next day. Mayfest in Tulsa, Oklahoma brought us the best day we've had to date. We sold two original paintings in one day and one wasn't even displayed on the wall! My professional career had never seen numbers like this. My family and I were all incredibly grateful for the ability to stretch what most people spend in a few weeks into 4 months. My artwork mirrors my life. It is crazy and chaotic, yet there is a calm peaceful center to it. People are enchanted by it and it leaves a lasting impression. Its not socially or politically fueled, its just me, painting out my emotions and leaving a bit of myself on the canvas for you to enjoy for years to come. In a short amount of time, I went from a few originals and a handful of prints to over 35 originals, and hundreds of prints, along with a full 10'x10' professional display. I am grateful for every cent I have made, every reaction I get from people who see my art for the first time, and those whom have a strong enough connection with it to adorn their walls with it. Our life is crazy, chaotic and fun, when we are moving. When we have shows lined up, and things scheduled, our lives look like ones to be envious of. However, when the stagnation sets in, if I have no shows to go to, the reality of our situation becomes apparant. We stopped moving in November, 2017. I recognized that although I have done a good job of supporting a family of 4 with paint and imagination, in the midst of our lives crashing down around our ears, I cannot keep this pace up. We have landed in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A non-profit SSVF (services for Veterans with families, my husband and I served in the Coast Guard) has helped us get into a small apt as well as the assistance from the American Legion Post 27 Fayetteville, while in transitioning from "homeless" to "homed" over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Our family is eternally grateful. I have been trading art for the necessities such as furniture since moving in a few days ago. While I am struggling to fill our place with the necessities for my family such as bedding, food, toilet paper, etc, Christmas is on my mind. My children want bikes, because they finally have a place to ride them and store them. I don't know how I am going to do this without help. I need assistance to once again get on my feet and move forward. I need help in life at this particular point and we will appreciate any and all help given to us in this, our time of need. Could you possibly help out a determined family starting over from scratch?

  • Shelley VanWitzenburg  
    • $20 
    • 44 mos
  • Karen Steininger 
    • $25 
    • 45 mos
  • Jennifer Schafer 
    • $20 
    • 45 mos
  • Diana Patten  
    • $50 
    • 45 mos
  • Julie Jury 
    • $200 
    • 45 mos
See all

Organizer

April Byrd 
Organizer
Fayetteville, AR
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