"Story Time" Unveiling.
A Commission for Leah and Jesse Elliott.
I met Leah Elliott through her big brother, Brad, growing up in Arizona. He and I were in the Maryvale High School Thespians together in the 80's and stayed in contact over the years, collaborating on various film and theater projects, including the founding of Planet Earth Theatre in the early 90's (where he met his wife, Lynn). I remember Leah helping with my make-up and hair on one of Brad's independent film projects after I returned home from art school in Colorado.
Leah followed my art career over the years. A color pencil portrait of Brad as Gandalf in "The Hobbit" hung in their childhood home. Back then I was in love with watercolor and had given her brother a small landscape I had painted, inspiring Leah, herself very creative, to try her hand at the medium.
Leah, a fan of fantasy and now a professional make-up artist, reconnected with me on Facebook. Her posts at the time, which documented life with her autistic son, Jesse, were filled with images of fantastic dress-up in magickal costumes, special effects make-up and ever-changing hair colors. Those playful posts have now given way to somber images of a bald Leah, resulting from chemo and her struggle with terminal cancer.
She is understandably concerned for the future of her special needs son and is committed to making lasting memories in the remaining time they have together. This prompted Leah to reach out to me asking if I would consider painting a commission as a keep-sake for Jesse, a visual reminder of his connection with his mother and symbol of her eternal love.
Leah, in Phoenix, and I in San Diego, collaborated to create the reference for her painting. Every element holds a special meaning - the gown is reminiscent of the wedding dress Leah longed to wear when renewing her marriage vows, the storybook a memory of happy times reading to Jesse, the green security blanket is what brought Jesse comfort at night... all set in the fantasy world of hidden magick Leah so loves.
Leah followed our painting progress online, but the painting takes on a whole other dimensionality when viewed in person. Thin layers of paint were built up over a metallic under-painting and embedded with foil and glitter, with a sprinkling of foil heart confetti symbolizing the love between mother and son. The Incognito Witch trademark elements are also present, like the splash of color under the eyes and the silver stars that connect individual magick with a greater realm. I wanted her and Jesse's first live viewing to be a memorable event, honoring them both.
The unveiling took place at the May 15, 2015 opening reception at Frontal Lobe Gallery in Phoenix, AZ, during my solo exhibit. The reception was a costumed affair, with guests invited to dress as their Inner Incognito Witch or Goddess. I appear in this video as Ginger Anxiety, one of my Incognito Witch film characters and Selfie subjects.
Leah, the guest of honor, was invited to say a few words with Jesse at her side. Brad and Lynn with their two daughters, Jesse's cousins, and close friends and guests where there to show their love and support. This short video captures those moments.