Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ten Questions for Samuel Araya

Paraguayan illustrator Samuel Araya was completely off my radar until he was referred to me by Jon Schindehette as someone I might want to contact for our first Art of Roleplaying Games show back in 2012. I was sent a couple examples of his work, which was cool enough but relatively tame (for him). I choose to have him send me a piece called House of Flies, which was a digital painting he did for an RPG.
House of Flies
I remember it was almost swamped by the myriad of work in that show (over 72 pieces), as most RPG fantasy is very bright and action-oriented. However, it caught the eye of Nicole Lindroos of Green Ronin Publishing, who was drawn to the starkness of the piece. Green Ronin became quick fans of Samuel.

Around that time, the Seattle Opera was looking for a new artist to illustrate elements of Wagner's Ring Cycle for August 2013. Karin Kough visited the Art of RPG, and impressed with the quality of the artwork, asked me to send a Call for Artists to the group. Several illustrators responded enthusiastically (including myself): Wagner's opera cycle (a five day marathon of over-the-top opera) often makes superstars of it's artists, as it's the Creme du la Creme of the opera world. Samuel also answered the call.

Sam was picked out of 1200 applicants to be the face of Seattle's Ring Cycle. He beat out many illustrators with weighty resumes, and when I saw his pieces (which we will be making print sets of in the near future), I immediately understood why he got the job. 
Die Walkure, one of five illustrations for The Ring
Samuel was gracious, charming, and professional, which is why I asked him to do a solo show in May 2013. He sent me 11 artist proof prints of his digital work, five of which had been painting upon with a waterbased medium. We still have some of these works; I think viewers fall in love with his images but don't understand that these are more than just "prints". Digital work is still a bastard son in the art gallery, which is unfortunate.
Inconnu, hand painted giclee on archival paper
His show was well received, and after showing with us he showed at Cloud Gallery on Capitol Hill in Seattle. We were sad to know that he would not be able to come up to see the Ring Cycle when it opened in August, him being in Paraguay. For the hell of it I started a fundraising campaign to raise money for a plane ticket to Seattle, and many many people from all over donated to it, thus allowing him to visit the US, see the Cycle (which he loved), meet artists and publishers, see the sites and attend the Cloud Gallery's closing reception. He also talked at the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association's convention alongside myself and Brom (who was the Artist Guest of Honor), who happened to be a hero of Sam's. Let's just say he was floating amongst the clouds.

Since then, he's been accepted into this year's Spectrum annual. He's been swamped with book covers and commissions, and has built a vast following of fans from all over. Seeing as it's extremely expensive to ship artwork to and from Paraguay, we worked out a deal to represent Sam here at Krab Jab Studio. 

I asked Sam if he would answer our 10 questions, and he did, albeit just 9, but with much thought. Enjoy!

1. What is your educational background with art?
I studied graphic design for two years, which I would say it was a complete waste of time, but I got to admit that it helped me to gather my resolve to be an artist or die trying, instead of compromising the journey and confine it to something to do the weekends, whilst keeping a day job in order to buy shit I don't need and be happy only during vacations. So I decided to teach myself how to draw and how to take photographs via books, internet tutorials and almost everything I could find, which was an interesting experience.

Later on I was blessed with a scholarship at the now defunct “The Art Department”, I had the chance to see some of my personal heroes working, like Rick Berry, George Pratt and Jon Foster, I also meet so
many talented students and instructors whose work I currently admire, particularly Vanessa & Ron Lemen, Anita Kunz, Sterling Hundley and I will stop the name dropping now, but seriously it was an experience
like no other. The most important lesson I learned was ironically to shut down all outside influences and concentrate on building a personal voice.

2. what type of art or artist has been an inspiration for you? You can name more than one.
Christopher Shy was the artists that originally got me interested in art. I have a funny story, through highschool I convinced myself I could never ever learn to draw, and when I saw that Christopher was
using photographs I thought “Man, that would be easier than actually painting someone”. Only to find that such folklore was pure bollocks and now I will need to learn how to paint and take good photographs as
well if I wanted to work with that combination. Christopher's work is simply wonderful, he is such a great designer, doing haunting images of primal beauty.
To Stephen Kasner, hand painted giclee on archival paper

There many other artists, like Gary Kelley, Mark English, Jon W. Waterhouse, Beksinski, Enki Bilal, Giger, Junji Ito, Phil Hale, Kow Yokoyama, Stephen Kasner, Denis Forkas Kostromitin, Austin Osman Spare
and the list will go on, but I gotta say that the work of Nicola Samori was a turning point. His art taught me that there is only one act more sacred than the one of creation, and that its destruction. It made me break down the barriers of the ego, if you wish to get esoteric. No longer I was held by the idea of my work being precious or immaculate, by incorporating the of tearing down a piece to the very foundation as a means to find something which speaks more intimately about the nature of beauty and memory.

3. What kind of literature or game do you see yourself illustrating for in the future? Do you like one kind of illustration over another?
I look forward to do more book covers for novels in the horror/fantasy genre. So far the response to my forays into that field has been tremendous. I love books that deal with fiction… truth to be told I would love to illustrate something like “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy as well. I favor illustration that have no clear narrative and doesn’t limits itself to describe the text, but adds a counterchange and starts a mental dialogue between the image and what you are reading.

Alice Walks, digital painting for book cover of same name
As far as gaming, I love gaming, but its not something I'm actively pursuing these days, of course there is always exceptions, there is a lot of people and games in the industry that are very dear to me, but
my path leads elsewhere.

You can guess I'm not much into doing concept art or all that stuff, working with style guides as well, but again its a question about how much the themes of the property resonate with me. I'm fine with almost
every kind of illustration job as long as there is that emotional connection, but I have not interested in being a “wrist” that serves to articulate someone else's ideas without question nor space for re-interpretation.

4. Do you plan to stay in Paraguay or consider moving up north?
I would love to move up north, I fell in love with Seattle, you already know that! Seeing so many people committed to their art was something new for me. Besides any city with more crows than pigeons
gets my vote any time of the day. I don't like the idea of “belonging”, but the Emerald City won me over by the time I stepped out of the plane. Besides I love traveling, I just need to figure out how to make my

studio set-up mobile! Logistically it will be also an interesting move, since being in Paraguay limits a number of important choices that range from the materials I can access to the people I can reach with my work. Yes, I'm considering, if not completely decided.

5. You have a very dark vision and touch to your work. Does this reflect your view of life, or does it reflect a specific ideology?
To quote Nick Cave:  "Nothing happened in my childhood — no trauma or anything, I just had a genetic disposition toward things that were horrible."

Samael, hand painted giclee on archival paper
I believe there is a profound irony in us building barriers and totems against the horrors of the dream world, while being constantly attacked by the monstrous notions of reality, watch the news and marvel at the atrocity that man can commit and celebrate the damage we do to each other, but shun the idea of  letting open the floodgates of the nightmare, because madness, destruction and nothingness are things of beauty only when we do them in the name of politics or material wealth, not something we are suppose to write or dream about, god forsake if we decide to portrait these. Spoon feed the bitter fruit of a history so dry and without sense that we cannot contemplate the idea of tapping into the great depths of some abyss unknown just because it might corrupt and stain the picture of our precious little world of make believe. I don't want to justify the dark nature of my art, but rather laugh at the need to seek some form of validation for what I
do, for my only concern is that people may view my work as an attempt to exorcise personal demons or such nonsense, when the final intend it's quite the opposite.

6. Is there a repetitive element that you subconsciously or consciously add to your work?
Yes, a lot of them actually. I have a very specific plan when I start, everything that serves for the structure of the image, the collage or the underpainting, its carefully researched and set, the most common elements are traditional magic or religious symbols and of course, my favorite subject, the female figure. This is the framework where the element of destruction its incorporated, through layers and layers of paint being worked, then swiped, then rebuild, and so on. This stage it's more reactive, or subconscious if you wish. For example, lately I have been doing some small ink pieces, where I decided to apply automatic writing and sigil making. After a certain point of careful rendering has been completed,  common patterns began to emerge in these, like the spiral and the devil's tail; their meaning is a bit too personal to talk about in public but always in the right direction into developing of a my own symbolic language.

Ring the Deathbell, digital painting
I try to shoot most of my photos of subjects during the dusk, not only for technical reasons but because my work has been always in this threshold between painting and photography, and always found it was auspicious that the threshold between day and night held the kind of light I want.

Lastly, I use water based media again because of that synergy of what's associated with the element, mutable and irrational. I must confess, however, that finding low odour or odorless turpentine in Paraguay is impossible, so that contributed to seal the deal regarding water based mediums; all of this, of course, must be just a coincidence...

7. Do you have other interests or activities you enjoy other than art?
I used to enjoy singing, but I been quite out of practice, I'm currently working on that. I love tabletop wargaming, but found that miniatures are taking much of my time and priorities lie elsewhere. As a side effect, I'm into model kit building as well, but it has been years since I finished or painted anything, I just cant help it, Japanese mecha are things of beauty, but again, time is the essence that I must devote to other things. 

Pisces (Rusalka), mixed media
Lately I've been really into Tarot, I use the cards not as a tool for divination but as a complex and beautiful system of symbols that can enrich human experience, and I got the hang for it rather quickly, with some very interesting results. I have been writing an essay about that, but painting and illustration are consuming labours. And finally, of course, reading almost anything I can get my hands on as long its not self-improvement
or motivational crap.

8. What are your thoughts on the future of illustration in the publication industry?
I think that there will be always a need for a creator of good images. I don't think I can anticipate anything else. I do like the model that Sterling Hundley proposes, of the illustrator as an entrepreneur
rather than the classic business model, I think it's the next logical step for the field. If you are not familiar with it, I recommend you urgently Google interviews with the man and carefully listen to what he has to say, anything I would write to describe it wouldn't do justice to his vision, and while we are at it, check out his Legendeer workshop:

9. If you could show again in the States, what kind of theme or body of work would you consider doing? What medium would you use?
At the moment Im working on a series of mixed media pieces based around “The king in yellow”, the book by Robert W. Chambers,  it occurred me that the figure of the king relates to Citrinitas, the yellowing stage of the alchemical magnum opus. Cassilda's song its obviously Nigredo, the dark night of the soul, the blackening and Christ at the garden contemplating martyrdom, the unmasking at the ball, obviously the Cauda Pavonis, the turning point in the play and for the alchemist. At the moment I'm a bit swamped to clearly see the future, but another show on the States certainly will explore a similar roadmap, revolving around the relationship between visual art, literature, religion and the occult. Another theme that I been working on was the relationship of art and memory, however, I'm still in the writing stages and it will be a while before I can explain it coherently.

Plutonian Shore, mixed media on paper
As for the medium, it will be mixed media; as always, it keeps me alert, albeit rather messy! Lately I've enjoyed working with ink washes, because they reminisce me of the alchemical process mentioned earlier,
from the blackening, the whiteness of Albedo emerges. I enjoy seeing these connections, all lovely accidents, of course...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ten Questions for Socar Myles

I can't really remember how I became acquainted with Socar's work. I remember it being a few years back, and I think I was trying to pull together the Golden Age of Illustration show with Jeff Menges, who was co-curating (the show was September 2013). I am pretty sure Sam Araya mentioned her to me during one of our conversations, because it was through him I became her Facebook friend, so it very well may have been him who converted introduced me to her World of Weird.

Her work reminded me instantly of the book called "Hecate the Bandicoot", an obscure poetry book filled with ink drawings devoted to a Bandicoot with an insatiable appetite. Socar's work was quirky, detailed, loosely composed (but well thought) and in some ways, utterly bizarre. Her website (, her titles (such as "Douchebirds"), even her name just smacked of cheekiness. I liked her.
I DO NOT LIKE THIS MANHOLE, pen an ink on toned paper,  image 17 x 6"
I thought her drawings were lovely, but I wasn't quite aware of how utterly delicate and detailed her work actually is until I got the originals into the studio. When you look at them online or published, you don't realize that these drawings are small, usually around 9 x 11" on average. So detailed are they that your eyes can actually cross looking at them. Images of little French grannies making lace until they go blind run through my head when I look at how teeny tiny her marks are, and how she cleverly makes use of negative space.
Since then, I've been showing her work to astonished visitors here at the studio, but when people ask me about her, I only can say "She's from Canada", which sounds a bit ridiculous on my part (as if Canada's imports consist of comedy actors, hockey, and ink drawings). I sent Ms Myles a list of questions; some of them are mine and some are questions I get from visitors. She was more than happy to send me back answers. Here they are in their unabridged glory!

1. What is your educational background (artistic)? Where are you from and how long have you been in Vancouver?
I arrived in Vancouver in 1997, to attend the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and have lived here ever since, apart from the two years I spent in the north of Sweden.  I hope to move to a more rural area, one of these days.  Canada’s great glory is in its natural state, which one misses out on, living in the heart of a big city.

2. What inspired you to work with pen and ink?
Pen and ink has always been my favourite medium.  I love the drama of black and white, and the challenge of conveying every possible quality of light and shadow with only black lines.  I’ve used other media—oils and digital, most extensively—but so far, I’ve always come back to ink.  Ink allows a great deal of precision and control, which I like (though sometimes, it’s a double-edged sword:  a mistake becomes very obvious, when everything around it is meticulously planned and executed).

3. Your work is highly detailed. Do you use a loupe and a specific type of pen? What's your table setup? 
I don’t use any type of magnifying lens—alternating between distorted and regular viewing is too dizzying.  Recently, however, I’ve been prescribed reading glasses, so I suppose I’ll soon get used to it.  Pen-wise, I use a regular pen-holder, with various types of nibs.  My favourite’s the Speedball Hunt Artist Pen 100, which is a fine-pointed but flexible nib, capable of a variety of line weights.  (Increasing pressure allows the tines to split, resulting in a wider flow of ink, while light, brushing strokes can be used for shading so fine it looks like pencil, from a distance.)  At the moment, it all happens on a little plastic folding table, which likes to collapse and pinch my knees, every once in a while.  I am hoping to replace that with a proper drafting table, this year.
Socar's workspace
(my imagination is not too far from reality, it seems...)
4. What kind of illustration work are you doing these days? Where do you see yourself in the near future (books/concept art/etc)?
I am working on a book project, called “Mr. Gnarlypouch Doesn’t Like You.”  It’s about a whiny curmudgeon, who expresses his hateful thoughts about various (perfectly innocuous) people, places, and things.  He can’t find it in himself to demonstrate a positive attitude towards anything in his world.  But I’m making each illustration as beautiful as I possibly can, partly to show how distorted his thinking has become, and partly because some good friends of mine have volunteered themselves as subjects of his dislike, and I want to represent those people as they really are, not as he sees them.  Because I am financing this project myself, I am slipping it in between regular assignments, so the date of publication is still at least a couple of years off.

5. Who is your contemporary inspiration in art? I know Harry Clarke is also an inspiration but I'd like to hear about living artists too.
I’m inspired by a great many living artists.  I’ll name just a few, though, who are significant influences.  First, Carel Brest van Kempen (, for his depictions of animals going about their lives—I like the fact that his images of nature are more than just studies of animal physiology:  he takes the subject’s lifestyle and ecosystem into account, and adds little relevant details for the devoted viewer (tiny insects and birds, interesting animal behaviours, and so forth).  I also like to put some thought into what else is going on, beyond the central subject, what secondary stories might be transpiring in the background.  I also like Niroot Puttapipat (, who seems as heavily influenced by the Golden Age of Illustration as I am, and whose linework is invariably elegant.  His work has a lot of humanity about it:  you can see his curiosity and interest in the world around him, reflected in each line.  I should also mention Stephanie Law (, whom I’ve known longest, of these three.  Her work has a dreamlike quality, which I enjoy.  Furthermore, she has great skill with lighting and texture, which inspires me to push harder, with my own work.
Little Mermaid, by Harry Clarke, one of the great illustrators of the Golden Age
6. Do you consciously or subconsciously add any specific element to your images? for example, a certain type of butterfly or pattern
There are a few running themes, yes—some silly, some serious.  On the silly side, there’s the “antennabird,” which is a tiny, plump bird, with insect-like antennae on its head. The antennabird is shorthand for flights of fancy, and the lighter side of life.  I like to hide him in my more serious images, as a little escape for the observant viewer, a means of extending a glimmer of hope.  I think the antennabird made his first appearance in 2004, and has popped up quite consistently, since then.  
Another element I like to add is the presence of three distinct sections:  the sky, the ground, and the underground.  This is supposed to invite the viewer to look more closely, by implying that, although the main “story” is usually (though not always) happening in the “ground” section, there could be something more important under the surface, and room for speculation, up in the clouds.  The presence of the underground is also related to the running theme of death and renewal, which crops up in my work.  I like to draw dead stuff finding new purpose as nourishment for living stuff, and as a record of its own history, with the potential to be dug up and revisited.  
I have no idea whether or not these elements actually function as intended.  But the antennabird is also decorative, and the three-sectioned composition is also pleasant to look at (for me, anyway), so it doesn’t matter all that much.

7. What would we find you doing on days when you're not working on art? Is there a specific activity you enjoy?
When I’m not working, I’m often birdwatching, or reading.  But I don’t have a very exciting life.  I don’t know how to drive, so I mostly stay in my own neighbourhood, and enjoy the temperate climate, and the view of the water.  Ages ago, I wrote a novel, and found a publisher for it.  That publisher instantly went out of business--before I could even get my advance!  Feeling discouraged, I sort of forgot about writing.  Maybe I’ll try again, one day.

8. What kind of literature inspires you or your work?
Children’s literature is a big inspiration for me—mostly, the books I read when I was wee.  I try to incorporate the feeling I got from “The Wind in the Willows,” especially, into my work.  I often think about the Riverbank, and its tangle of life, even when I’m drawing something completely unrelated.  I sneak little decorative details—grass, leaves, flowers, little animals, the sun—into nearly everything, even if it’s just a swathe of fabric with little suns or roses on it, or a bird looking in the window.  My favourite non-children’s book is “Crime and Punishment,” but I don’t feel the desire to illustrate that, or pull in themes from its pages.  I don’t know, though—maybe something got in, anyway, and I didn’t notice.  That can happen, sometimes.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, pen and ink on toned paper
9. Mythology plays a strong role in your artwork. Is this an interest of yours? Do you have any spiritual belief system that helps you with your work?
I do have an interest in mythology, yes.  I don’t have any spiritual or religious beliefs of my own, but I’m very nosy about other people’s.  But I try to adapt the imagery and symbolism I like best to my own purposes, rather than referring directly to something that already exists, to avoid taking anyone's religion out of context, and perhaps conveying something that wasn't intended.  (Some of my work does refer to specific myths, but that is commissioned work, rather than something I thought up on my own.  When I do work of that nature, I try not to filter it too much through the lens of my own ideas, and stick to what’s written.)

10. If you could have a solo show of work, what kind of theme or body of work would you compose and in what medium (if not pen and ink)?
I’d like to do a show about infirmity of the body, and its effects on the mind.  But I don’t think I’d do that in any medium other than pen and ink.  I would need the delicate linework I can’t achieve with any other medium, in order to properly convey my ideas on the subject.  How else could I show that feeling of not wanting to exhale, because the breath of life is something that’s not attached to the body, and only ours for a moment, and impossible to get back, once it’s gone?  Well, probably I could show it some other way, if I were a better illustrator, but we all have our limitations.  Oh!  Maybe I’d use something that wasn't really illustration, like words.  I mean, I’d have drawings there, but there would be something to read, or maybe a recorded message, to go with them.  Is that cheating?  Maybe it’s cheating.  It’s definitely not proper illustration.  But I couldn't think of anything else.
Get Out of here, Pirates!, pen and ink on toned paper
Socar Myles has a wall of work here at Krab Jab Studio; she is one of our represented artists. She will have a new piece of work in the upcoming show PAIN at A/NT Gallery in Seattle (opening August 2nd, 2014), and in the meantime, visit her blog on a Gorblog! for more on her technique and her projects.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Team Panda, or Rallying Support For a Stranger

A Stranger is someone you don't know. 99.9% of the human population is composed of strangers to the average person, and a couple months ago, 17 year old Mariah Boehm and her dad, Tony Pagliocco, were strangers to my world.

A game shop owner by the name of Joel Goggin changed that. Joel is known in the game industry for recently fundraising for Cyril Van Der Haegen, an illustrator fighting cancer. Krab Jab Studio donated a book and a rare Magic: the Gathering artist proof card of mine (a square cornered Clone) to the fundraiser. Joel was patient with my scattered brain at that time - you know how artists can be under stress - and was always polite and generous with praise. Up until this year, Joel was also a Stranger.

Joel made a somewhat startling post in Facebook in early June about a girl named Mariah under surgery at Harborview Trauma Center for a hit-and-run accident in Renton, Washington, only a few minutes drive from Krab Jab Studio. Her dad, Tony, works at Wizards of the Coast and is an avid Magic tournament player.

Okay, stop here and watch this: The Accident

This struck a bunch of chords for me. First, anger at the person who found her texting so compelling she couldn't keep her eyes on the road (we've all been guilty of it at some point but it's getting worse out there). Secondly, the gut-sink feeling of knowing that this girl is going to wake up a paraplegic and she didn't deserve any of this. Finally, the frustration of not hearing about this until a game shop owner from Maine posted about it on Facebook -- a bunch of us connected to Wizards didn't know about it. Where was the Bat Signal???

And finally, it felt oddly familiar to me. The same neurosurgeons from Harborview that worked to piece Mariah's spinal chord back together did the same for me only a few years ago when my spinal stenosis took an aggressive turn and began flattening my spinal chord. Without their swift action to remove two discs and several bone spurs, I would have been in a wheelchair and unable to use my hands. I am forever grateful for getting a second chance to run, kick stuff, and draw.

I also got to experience the odd, horrific gift of partial paralysis while in post surgery, when my brain and spine swelled up and I was rushed to ICU, my right side growing unresponsive, even my face. It was a grim experience I will never forget. I say "gift" because it gave me a 24 hour view of what its like to not be able to control your body, and a new empathy for those who live like this.

Well, a few days after her accident, Mariah awoke to just that, with no feeling in her legs. Personally, my heart broke for the kid.

Her friends and family set up a fund for Mariah, and a hashtag of #TeamPanda was created on Twitter to get the word out. They set goal at $75k... OMG, I thought, that's an undershot. From my own experience, my surgery tallied to over $100k, not counting all the doctor visits, nerve ablations, PT, massage, drugs, and painful injection therapies I've had since then. Even with insurance, the impact this accident will take on her family financially will take much more than $75k to help cushion the blow.

Many folks have rallied around Mariah. Other than just making donations, national fundraisers have sprung up all over the game community, from Magic game tournaments to illustrators creating special artwork for game mats with proceeds going to the family. Panda images sprung up all over the place: Tony's nickname for Mariah is "little panda", hence the reference.
Jeff Miracola's Team Panda Game Mat
I donated money and tried to spread the word, but realized something: even my fabulously famous artist friends are on a budget, and most can offer a few bucks here and there, but not much else. However, all of us have a backlog of art, prints, and game memorabilia, and with the right setting, we could all raise more as a team than individually. After asking permission from Tony (who was introduced to me via Joel) I immediately got on the virtual horn and put a call out for a silent art auction.

Response was immediate, swift, and positive. It wasn't just artists who worked in the fantasy industry; artists from all over responded and sent or dropped off artwork at the gallery. The Georgetown community also responded, and donations from Elysian and Georgetown Breweries were given to the event slated for July 5th, as well as individual donations from merchants and the merchant association. Other local organizations donated tickets, memberships and swag (see our full donor list here).
Ken Meyer, Jr created this panda watercolor for Mariah
One of our biggest supporters of the event was Daniel Chang of Vintage Magic, a company that sells graded Magic cards and memorabilia. He worked with artists Amy Weber and Kev Brockshmidt to come up with very special items for the auction, and contributed to the auction many of the collectible items.
Kev made this especially for Mariah through Vintage Magic
Let me tell you, pulling together a live auction (albeit silent), not to mention an online pre-event auction is no small task. I've worked on fundraisers before - I did many of them with Rat City Rollergirls as well as local charities - and even with a committee, it's time consuming. There's a lot of paperwork, mail handling, emails, form filling, reminders and media stuff. I was really fortunate to have Robyn Baroh lend a hand, as well as Erick Lingbloom, one of our beloved interns. Tony's encouraging messages and the updates on Mariah's recovery also helped me keep a good perspective on everything.
Free Spirit, by Yuko Ishii
We also lucked out on two other additions: Stan! Brown offered to be our Master of Ceremonies at the 11th hour, and Philip Mariconda offered to play live music. Score!! I was terrified to have to MC the thing myself. My musical skills are no better.
Sleeps with Fish, by Michaela Eaves
I have to say, the online auction on FB was the most terrifying part of the entire deal. I literally pulled the whole concept out of my rear, from the rules to how it ran for the 12 hours it was up. I expected it to fall apart and people message me about how cracked it was. I expected collector squabbles. But none of that happened. It was fun, only a couple little blips occurred that were quickly squared away, and most of all, it was a decent success and I was so relieved.

The Auction July 5th was beautiful - all the food from Konami Sushi, the beer from Elysian and Georgetown, the lovely red wines, all the amazing art up on the walls, and the music wafting in the air... Stan was just such a treat to chat with and was great as an MC, and Erick and Robyn pitched in when needed. But having Tony there was the biggest treat. I got a big hug and a huge smile from him, and he was so personable, as if we went way back as old friends. We chatted about Mariah and her love of art, about her steely need to forge ahead with her new normal, and about the beauty of so many Strangers coming together to support a Stranger. Oh yeah, we were total strangers only a few weeks ago...
Tony and Mariah, July 2014
I'm still working through the accounting, which is a good thing. We'll still sell the donated items we have left (which isn't much!) from the event, and I have about a week or so of boxing/shipping to do for out-of-town winners. I'm kind of dizzy from lack of sleep. But I'm thrilled to be of service to something bigger than myself, and to offer my time, my gallery, and my resources to this family and to this girl who is working hard to heal and move ahead, backed by an army of not just strangers, not just supporters, not just her community, but of Friends.

-Julie Baroh, July 2014