How a dinner invitation & an earthquake changed my creative world overnight

In February 2023, I was invited to my friend Dan’s house for dinner in Chicago. On the morning of our dinner day, he was moved to suggest we go out to The Gundis Kurdish Kitchen instead to support the family owners and be in solidarity with the many patrons and staff whose families have been impacted by the two large earthquakes that struck the southeastern region of Turkey on February 6, 2023.

Little did I know how this one suggestion would change my creative world. No sooner had I sent off the text enthusiastically agreeing to the change of plan than my creative muse struck with an unexpected “eureka! moment”: I simply had to create a painting for the Gundis owner-managers as a gift of solidarity to honor all those who survived and did not survive the massive 7.8 earthquake and almost equally massive 7.5 aftershock on the same day. The inspiration to sell poster versions of the original art online with 75% of proceeds of each poster sold donated to Global Giving’s Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief Fund immediately followed on the heels of the initial idea of the gifted painting.

As I initially turned my creative consciousness and contemplation to what image might represent my artistic and spiritual-energetic response to the earthquakes and the people and geography impacted by them, a few strong colors and shapes emerged, along with a first title of We Rise.

As I made my morning pourover coffee and noodled more, the painting suddenly arrived fully formed into my awareness, with no reference to any physical image or photograph. It centered upon 3 pillars, and when I later researched the significant city I had read about in passing because it was largely destroyed, I discovered that the Antakya of today was known in ancient Greek and Roman times as Antioch. And furthermore, the city features (featured?) a pillar that looks exactly like the 3 that emerged in my inner eye.

With just a few hours to paint, the painting emerged on paper, the title expanded to 3 Pillars in Light: We Stand, We Rise, and Art for a Cause was born. After a week of dreary grey weather, Chicago seemed only too happy to cooperate with a beautiful sunny day of cold air and warm solar rays. Incredibly, I was painting my first en plein air palette knife painting on February 10th.

Painting outside in February in Chicago?!

All set up to make Art for a Cause…

Fortunately, with the cold, the sun, the wind and a few hours between finishing the painting and going to dinner, the resulting piece was dry enough to hand-deliver to the restaurant’s entire leadership team.

A meal with meaning

From right to left: Denisse of Gundis, who received the gift painting with deep gratitude, my dinner host friend, Dan, who sparked the whole inspiration of Art for a Cause with his invitation & me

Now here’s the really important part:

You can still make a real difference on the ground for the lives who continue to struggle to carry on living and healing in very, very challenging conditions, from icy cold winter temperatures to blocked roads, destroyed hospitals and an inadequate supply of personnel and coordinated government response just by buying a poster print of the art gifted to Gundis. For those of us who lived in Houston during Hurricane Katrina and watched our New Orleans neighbors drown in desperation or become permanent displaced refugees in our welcoming city, we know only too well what the people trapped without service in the earthquake regions of Turkey and Syria have been going through.

Simply by purchasing the poster version of the original Gundis gift painting, 3 Pillars in Light: We Stand, We Rise, to beautify your space or gift to others, you’re:

  • Providing food, clean water, and medicine to survivors
  • Providing shelter and temporary housing to people who lost their homes
  • Providing psycho-social and mental health support to survivors
  • Supporting economic relief efforts
  • Supporting long-term recovery efforts

Thanks so much in advance for supporting our interconnected humanity living through the aftermath of the earthquake. And thanks for engaging the power and love of art for a cause as a force of good! Let’s make a difference with your care and my art…