Advancing the Story

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We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom.Marni Gillard

Avila and wife MaribelLast week I sat down with author and playright Jorge Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat, to discuss the gigantic leap of success that he has just experienced. To read a short summary of his musical, please go to the blog from last Thursday.

(Photo left: Jorge Avila and his wife Maribel)

Jorge had just returned a week previously to his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado from a very busy six months in California. His live theatre musical, adapted from his book Maricopa Men in Pink had a three day run at the Plaza de la Raza, Cultural Center for the Arts & Education on Mission Road in Los Angeles. Avila was ebullient as he answered the questions I had for him to learn more about his experience. Here is part of our discussion about going from local author to playright in a very short few years:

Sue: Jorge, when was Maricopa Men in Pink published? 

Jorge: In 2010 it was published. A short time afterward I sent it off to a friend who is a stage designer in L.A. to get his opinion. He reviewed it and gave me some feedback about adapting it for a play. I decided that my vision for the work was a live theatre musical production. So I rewrote it exactly 2 years, nine months ago in script format along with song lyrics. Caleb Encompos, a resident who helps with the music program at the Christian Center here in Steamboat, composed the music to accompany the lyrics. I approached the Chief Theatre here in town, but it didn’t seem to be the right venue. So,then we sent it off to three production companies in California. 

Sue:  So, what was the response? 

Jorge: I’d like to say that there have been few  Latino or controversial political musicals that I am aware of other than In the Heights and Hamilton and the Book of Mormon. So I was happy to even get a response and it was positive response from two of them. I chose one of the production companies that I felt best understood my vision. I was offered a small sum of money from the production company, but I took half of that because I wanted to be directly involved in the entire process, so that the final product would be what I envisioned.

So, I began over the next six months going to L.A. one week out of every month. For the next six months, Caleb Encompos and I chose vocalists and actors for the live musical production. Once we heard my lyrics put to music and saw it performed by the actors we had chosen, there were some tweeks that were made before the opening.

Sue: So, tell me about the three night run.

Jorge: The turnout was outstanding compared to what I had anticipated. I was told for an unknown author/playright, typical sales would be 60% of the seats. The first and third nights we had 95% of all tickets sold, and the middle evening 75%. Surprising, considering I read in a New York Times article that out of 318 million Americans, 58 million agreed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s handling of inmates in Tent City Jail in Arizona. Seventy eight million disagreed, and the whole rest of the population knew nothing about the news story.

Sue: How did that feel? To see your musical come before live audience like that?

Jorge: Surreal! I feel flattered and proud but it was very stressful. I even started up a bad habit – smoking. I hadn’t smoked in six years and I ate too much and gained a little weight.

The musical was even mentioned on National TV on Spanish stations. While we were waiting for the production to begin on opening night, I stepped outside and there were 120 people in line to get a ticket – to my show! I couldn’t believe it and I counted every one of them!

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The rest of this interview on All Things Fulfilling will be posted the week after Christmas. Do return because we will be talking about Avila’s rewards in terms of personal fulfillment which were a result of his determination, persistance and his belief that what he had was fitting for a quality live musical production that still has great potential for future audiences. We will be sharing more about his special award from the City of Los Angeles also!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

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Exploration Leads to Discovery

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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

I walked into Exclusive Collections, an art gallery on Main Street in Breckenridge, Colorado expecting to see the usual – local photography, paintings of mountain landscapes, silver jewelry, pottery and the like. Wrong!

Very exclusive art decorated the walls, including these images which you will recognize immediately. Only 30 very select galleries across the country are given permission to handle this art. I’d like to thank Jon Peroutka, Assistant Gallery Director for allowing me to take photos for All Things Fulfilling and also for sharing his vast knowledge of the artists.seuss 1

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Among Dr. Seuss art were works from other seldom seen artists, whose work is so highly regarded due to the privileged art collectors who desire their work.  Daniel Merriam a master surrealist whom I was familiar with from Chalk Farm Gallery in Santa Fe, sculpture artist Angela Mia De La Vega, Daniel Ryan, and Ascenio are all represented by this Breckenridge Gallery. Tuan, a sculpture artist whose work is in the permanent collection of the White House was also among them. If you are not acquainted with these artists, take a look at their websites and their C.V’s. Very impressive!

This winter larger shows of Dr. Seuss art and sculpture artist Angela Mia De La Vega will be exhibited. Keep your eye on Exclusive Collections website for the exact dates.

Just as inspiring are the philanthropic interests of Exclusive Collections who also have other galleries in five other cities – Las Vegas (Caesar’s Palace), Laguna Beach, California, San Diego and Beverly Hills.

I ended my lovely day in “Breck” with a delicious burger at Blue Stag Saloon. I was taken by surprise when the waiter appeared with the bill inside the covers of a paperback book, published in the 1970s. A creative presentation and a perfect ending to a great day trip.

As you can see from yesterday’s pictures, snow has already arrived in the upper elevations of Colorado!

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,  Sue Batton Leonard.

 

 

A Window into Breck

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“Art is the window into one’s soul.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

After yesterday’s blog, you baby boomers are probably thinking Breck refers to the old school shampoo we used when we were our teens in the 1960s. Remember using that? I thought if I used it, I’d look just like the “Breck Girl.”

No, for the next few days I will be blogging about a one day road trip I took to Breckenridge, Colorado, often referred to as “Breck.”  I found all kinds of fulfilling things to write about including a creative arts organization called BreckCreate. There is so much to tell, it can not be covered in just one blog posting.

The Breckenridge Arts District is a series of historic buildings located on an acre of land right up the hill from Main Street. It has become  an epicenter of creativity offering art classes, workshops, performance arts, exhibits and special artist-in-residence visits. I’d like to share some pictures with you of the district:

 

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Below: The Barney Ford Museum is also in the arts district. Barney Ford was a local entrepreneur who escaped slavery and became a man of extreme prosperity. For more information.

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A clan of visiting Aztec’s danced a spirit dance historically significant to their culture and the celebration of life the day I visited the town. Read more about the performance.

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indians 4 Art, culture, history and architecture holds a prominent place in the community of Breckenridge, Colorado. The scenic backdrop to the town, as it is in many Colorado communities, is stunning!

Do return tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling. I have more to share with you about BreckCreate.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Thou Art Grateful

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Happy National Arts and Humanities Month! I believe that my life is enriched in great measure by the opportunities that I have to incorporate the arts and humanities into my lifestyle. As a blog writer for All Things Fulfilling, which focuses on arts and the humanities, I take great pleasuring in sharing information with like-minded people. Let me count just a few other activities and events related to art, culture and religion that also bring me personal fulfillment:

  • Volunteering at Strings Music Festival
  • Visiting museums
  • Worshiping in a supportive spiritual environment
  • Incorporating local artisans work to my into my home environment
  • Attending the writers groups and workshops
  • Having a wonderful community library where there is ALWAYS something of interest happening.
  • Participating in community “Art Walks” to see local artists work
  • We Write Steamboat –  networking with other independent publishers to foster success
  • Book talks and presentations
  • Taking advantage of educational opportunity to obtain more knowledge about the literary arts and other art mediums.

I am a proponent of Americans for the Arts. Involvement at the local level is a great way to show how you, too, enjoy cultural events that are available. Our world would be very different without music, art, museums, libraries, places of worship, concert halls.

Get involved and learn how art  enhances life!

The more we learn and grow and evolve as individuals, the more we will find happiness and satisfaction in relationships, work and life.”
Kristi Bowman

Cultivating Interests

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The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it.

Sitting and reading a book of history has never been my cup of tea. But visiting the space where history took place is a different story. It brings an historical era alive.

This summer I revisited a place that I never tire of -Ladew Gardens in “hunt country” of Monkton, Maryland. Home to the first American to create garden rooms, Henry S. Ladew,( 1887 – 1976) his creative garden spirit is still alive. To read more about the life of Henry S Ladew and his stunning gardens, see this publication.

Beautiful topiaries, strategically-placed antique garden hardscape,beautiful ponds and fountains make the place a real sanctuary for gardeners and non-gardeners alike who have a fine appreciation of beautiful spaces in nature. New to the property since my last visit is a butterfly pavilion which is manned by volunteers who explain the process from caterpillar to  chrysalis to hatching of butterflies and their purpose in nature. To read more about this natural phenomenon, visit this article.

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The Garden Cafe, Ladew’s residence, art studio and library are open to the public. The spaces are where educational, scientific and cultural pursuits flourish for the public benefit. On Sept 27th at 10pm CNN will feature a story about these historic gardens on Mike Rowe’s show called “Dirty Jobs.”IMG_20150908_114020_578

As a garden enthusiast, my visit to Ladew was as fulfilling as the first time I walked the 22 acres of grounds.

IMG_20150908_113427_260This blog is brought to you by the EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

Art Journeys

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“Art isn’t a result; it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul.“ ~ Seth Godin

Kimball art centerNo visit to Park City, Utah is ever complete unless I look in on the exhibits at the Kimball Art CenterOver the Moon and Under the Sea, the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show, was hung during my most recent visit a couple of weeks ago. The KAC  is an educational art space that brings in “over $14 million in economic opportunity to their community” through their largest fundraiser every summer. Assistance from foundations, grants and individual and corporate sponsors provides support for this vital art resource located in historic Park City.

YouAreHere-exhibitionYou Are Here is the upcoming exhibit at the KAC scheduled for May 29 to August 23, 2015. I particularly enjoy theme-based art exhibits because it is interesting to see the creative solutions and persepectives that each artist brings to the subject.

It never ceases to amaze me the scope of young artistic talent in this country. The other evening I attended a pot luck dinner sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Art Council in my own community of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The walls at the “Art Depot” were decked out with local students’ artwork that could rival that of the students of the Wasatch. As I sat eating and enjoying the evening program I couldn’t help but be saddened to think how few young artists pursue art as a lifetime career, when perhaps they could be missing out on their most fulfilling path in life. Fear of being a stereotypical “starving artist” or following someone else’s wishes instead of their own desires prevents many individuals from continuing along an artistic journey throughout life.

Today on AllThingsFulfilling.com I’d like to share a sampling of work from “Over the Moon and Under the Sea.” Thanks to the KAC for allowing me to take these photographs to share with our readers on All Things Fulfilling.

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KAC8Do return tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling.com. This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information on “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected” or short stories “Lessons of Heart & Soul.”

 

Thirsty Thursdays: Literary Spotlight

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“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”Vera Nazarian

Back in March 2012 I posted on All Things Fulfilling a blog about 29 cities around the world who have UNESCO’s Creative Industry designations behind them. It was a highly read piece.

Baltimore, Maryland is a city that is a hub for literary reasons. In part, due to notable authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald,  Anne Tyler, Edgar Allen Poe and Tom Clancy who spent significant time in Baltimore or were born there. Back in the 1980s there was some controversy when the Mayor dubbed Baltimore “the city that reads.” No matter, “the city’s literary heart beats as strongly as ever,” says the Huffington Post.

Reading-and-Writing-293x300The good news today is there are other cities across America who can call their place home to writers, too. In the remote northwest corner of Colorado, in a place called Steamboat, there is a network of writers who are both traditionally and independently published. On Thursday afternoons at the “Eleanor Bliss Art Center” aka “The Art Depot” is where they’ve gathered, read and critiqued writing for more than 30 years.

Today, on All Things Fulfilling, I’d like to put the literary spotlight on Steamboat Springs, which is quite different than literary hubs in big cities.  In a more intimate setting, people come here to write and drink in the beautiful scenery to inspire their writing.

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling – we will be posting more details about an upcoming writers workshop a month from today on May 23rd sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council. Members of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association will be providing the educational experience.

Want-to-be writers and publishers, who are within reach of Steamboat,  I’d encourage you to sign up – a real deal at for a morning full of valuable information!

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.