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Sunday, March 17, 2013

To my Omaha Mom...

To my Omaha Mom (who now resides in Florida) -

Jean, I cannot thank you enough.  I know it’s taken me awhile to complete this letter, I’ve sat down and started it many times.  I am and always have been a huge fan of denial, so I never really thought you would leave and it’s taken until now for me to finally come to terms with it.  

Reflecting back on our “goodbye” conversation - there were so many things I wanted to tell you, but I was so overcome with denial/grief/sadness that you were actually going to pick up and move south to greener lawns and bluer waters.  I think up until that exact moment, I really didn’t think you would go - even after all the talks of finding your new home and selling your home here, it just didn’t sink it.  I thought if I could ignore it, maybe it wouldn’t happen.  But it did and I need to express all those things I should have shared during our goodbye.

In absolute honesty, you helped me fall in love with the city of Omaha.  We met by chance, at a Joslyn painting group that I randomly signed up for - never realizing the impact of that decision.  On January 20, 2011, I met the most wonderfully bubbly happy woman who thought she could teach me to paint!  Little did you know how greatly you affected my course in life through friendship, mentorship, and a little mothering.  That painting class led to another...and another... where I met some other incredible women (and Ted!) who would become a support and guidance system for me.  We realized that it was the same group taking your class and launched out on our own to create “Omaha Painting Group.”  This led to new friendships, First Fridays, gallery openings, and especially to my deepening appreciation for art.  I learned about using the color purple, color gradients, Helen Frankenthaler, Kent Bellows, crayon art, alcohol ink printing, how to build and stretch a canvas, how to hold a pencil out in front of yourself and use it as a reference guide (which still confuses me a bit), I found and learned about my favorite pieces in Joslyn’s permanent collection, and I can now successfully reference mother color theory correctly.  

Those are just some of the little technically ways you influenced my life.  On a deeper level, without knowing you I would have never fallen in love with Kent Bellow’s work - gone on to get involved with KBS and their fundraising committee, I would have never believed I could get a job in the arts without an academic background, I would have never become grounded in Omaha - you gave me a reason to stay here and be happy, and I would have never believed in my own creative ability - you helped me believe in my art enough to show and sell it.

You became my Omaha mom.  You were always available to chat, advise, and joke around.  You were supportive when I quit a job I hated and you were the first to know!  But you helped in every way you were able.  Without you, I would have never experienced my dream job... I would have never believed it possible.  

I haven’t painted, or even picked up a brush since our last painting group together when we said our first brief goodbye (I still didn’t believe it would happen) and gave you the Toms we created.  I snuck out of that evening as fast as I could because I knew if I left, it would be just like any other night and you would be there next week.  I remember having a lengthy discussion with Blondie in the parking lot regarding denial and people leaving.  We shared mutual feelings and I felt so much better knowing I had found a friend.

I stare at that painting I did in our first class - it hangs prominently in my bedroom - it will always be my favorite and it will always remind me of you.  I haven’t felt like I could be creative or artistic or even gesso a canvas since you left, but I realize now that I’m being ridiculous and should funnel my denial into my artwork.  Painting was always such a relief for me and allowed me to be expressive in a way I had never experienced before - I am now vowing excuse after excuse to head back to Painting Group.  

You helped me find Robin, Cyndy, Betsy, Lin, Melanie, Julie, and everyone else at painting group who I now consider very dear friends.  But most importantly you showed up with Blondie one fine summer day and for that I am especially thankful.  I think deep down you knew I needed Blondie and that we would be such a compliment to each other.  Our friendship has deepened immeasurably over the last few months and sometimes I just realize that you made it happen.  I think we were always meant to be friends, but if I hadn’t known you, I would have never known Blondie.  Thank you.

In other direct and indirect ways you helped me find the Nebraska Women’s Art Caucus through Cyndy, you made me love Hot Shops because you introduced me to it’s people and their art, you inspired me to get involved with the Empty Bowls project because I now believed in my creativity and ability to use it to benefit others, and again my continued belief that life is art and there is always a place for it.

Every now and then when my ear hurts, I remember you telling me (after I just had my ear pierced) that piercings in that particular place can cause you to go crazy!  I almost took them out that night, but I stuck with it.  Now I’ve just come to accept that a little crazy never hurt anyone!

Words cannot accurately describe the influence you have had on my life and I cannot express in words how grateful and thankful I am to you.  

I can honestly say, I am a better person for having known you, and I owe you my most sincere gratitude.

I miss you.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow.


Always,
Justine


PS: I’m convincing Blondie that we need to save up for a Florida trip so we can come visit and share your wonderful new world!









-Justine