Oh, what a wild night!
Updated: Nov 23, 2019
lIn this post I am sharing my involvement with Catalpa Health's 2019 Pop! fundraising event which was held September 14, 2019.
For those who do not know, Catalpa Health is a first-of-its-kind pediatric mental health and wellness clinic for that serves the Fox Valley, Wisconsin area. It provides vital mental health services to 9,000 kids every year, about half of the total receive these services at no or reduced cost! To make this happen, they throw an annual fundraising event called Pop! It’s called that because every year it pops up in a new and unique location. In fact, the location is not disclosed until a week before the event, and the theme of the evening kept a secret until the guests enter the space to discover it! So fun!
This year, the event was to be held in the old George Banta building in Menasha. It was a huge old printing facility no longer in use and slated to be demolished soon. In its raw state, it had a cool industrial vibe that we wanted to honor. The theme of the event this year was inspired by Banta's history as a book printer, the classic children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are.”
I was originally contacted to create a mural on the walls of this big old space that had a distinctly thematic look to so that the guests immediately made the connection to the book upon entering the space (remember, it was a total surprise!), but we could not duplicate the art (copyright issues). Shown below are photos of the first part of the completed mural.
Shown below is the second section of the mural project. In the process of using this space, we had to board up the existing windows. I used this to our advantage by having a crescent moon shape cut out of the one positioned above where the bar would be. It really added interest as the early evening sun streamed into the space.
The "blank" wall space in the third pic is the location of a very cool augmented reality monster, shown below.
Like the mural, the monster needed to immediately relate to the theme, but not too close (again, for copyright reasons). It was projected onto the back wall, and had to be able to "move" in sync to a person's movements that stood in front of a camera. Not only did the monster have to have a similar-but-not-duplicated "Wild Thing" look, but he needed to be a friendly guy to keep the mood fun.
I created the artwork in layered sections so that the animator could easily generate this playful movement. It was located next to the bar area, what a great way to lighten up the cocktail hour!
The artwork set the stage for a truly unforgettable event, so chock full of fun details that I can't possibly show it all!
But wait, there's a whole lot more to show you!
I have to back up for a moment and tell you about my first meeting in June with the organizers of this event. We met at a local coffee shop, sitting outside trying to soak up the early summer sun. Their original intention for this chat was to ask if I would help with the mural. But as they began to describe their ideas for the event, and the work that Catalpa does helping young kids deal with the complexity of mental health issues, I began to have visions of a series of art of young children struggling with their inner demons (AKA monsters). Images rotated past my mind's eye, it was a weird experience and kinda distracting as I tried to focus on our conversation! I went home and immediately began sketching... I had to get them out!
Now, they had not asked for it, but I just knew that this art collection would be powerfully poignant, so at our next follow-up, I pitched to them an addition to the event. I created a wall of seven canvas prints (that were sold in silent auction) and a 40" x 40" painting (sold in the live auction.) Interspersed among the canvases was a poem that describes the process of coming to terms with our inner demons, and finally "making peace with all the pieces that make us whole." Here is a sequence of these images:
Here is a quick video walk through at the event:
I also created a calendar of these images (plus more to complete 12 months and a cover image) to sell at the event. The Catalpa pop event group were so open and trusting of my ideas, it was so incredibly fun to do!
My concept for this collection of art images is all about the Wild Journey Within… on the path to mental health, we all struggle with our emotions at some time or another. So in each piece, you can see a child - that also represents the inner child- and their inner demon – or monster- working through some kind of issue.
Through the progression of the art exhibit and the months of the calendar, at first you don’t know if these monsters are scary to the child. But as you progress through the series of images, you begin to understand that they share a sacred friendship.
Here is a video I made that demonstrates this:
The inner monsters (or our inner demons) are there to challenge us to find our TRUTHS. They are there to point to the parts of our psyche that needs healing. As we begin the healing process, our personal challenges, can become our greatest accomplishments. And the ultimate goal finding ways to embrace our whole SELF and find our own personal peace.
I am inspired to share my perspective and show empathy for those struggling, especially struggling alone or privately suffering. My overriding messages are of hope and acceptance, that no one needs to be alone because we are all working our way through this experience called being a human.
The sales of the artwork surpassed $15,000, and all proceeds went directly to Catalpa.