Wednesday, October 6, 2010

JQL October show in Kirkland, WA

New paintings by Jhenna Quinn Lewis are going to be shown through the month of October at the Howard/Mandville Gallery in Kirkland, WA. The show opening is on Saturday, October 9, from 6-8 p.m. Click here to see more pieces from the show.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A whale of a project

My dad and I have been working on editing his book, Alki, After the Drunkalog, together since 2003. Without me, he'd been working on it on and off for at least 10 years. It's definitely a whale of a tale :)

I just finished a fact-checking stage in the editing process, and as I read the last page before finishing I realized how powerful his story and his words really are. Maybe I'm prejudiced because he's my dad and his story is part of my history, but I know that my dad has a powerful, mostly beneficial, effect on people. I write 'mostly' kind of tongue-in-cheek because my dad, while always coming from a place of kindness and fairness, can be quite honest and blunt with people, and for those who aren't used to being talked to that way, it can be not so nice.

So, in honor of my dad and the perfect timing of Father's Day (which was yesterday, I know), I'd like to share the beginning and the end of "Drunkalog" - the first part of my dad's magnum opus that is his life story.

*Note: I'm changing names, including my dad's, just to protect anonymity. You'll see why.


Thank you, Dave. My name is Butch and I'm an alcoholic. Today is my second anniversary of sobriety in AA. I'd like to tell you what my life was like, what happened, and what it is like now. Please bear with me if I bounce from story to story because my life has been really scattered.
I'll begin by saying that I am a loyal member of the CIA. That is, the Catholic Irish Alcoholics. My mother's father, my mother, and her brother and sister all died from alcoholism. My father sobered up after 31 hospitalizations. Two of my older brothers preceded me into AA. If it wasn't for an intervention by my father and my brother Chris in 1962, I'd be dead now. I sincerely believe God protects fools and drunks because I'm here as living proof. "John Barleycorn," the booze, is an equal-opportunity demon who has no respect for money, education, power, sex, social status, or nationality.
My first drunk was in my mother's belly. She walked around intoxicated for the first six months she was pregnant with me. Our family was living in her parent's home in Boston because she had left my father after I was conceived. Occasionally, her sister or brother would haul her off to a drying-out center outside of Boston called Drop-Kick Murphy's. The story told to me later was that she'd sober up for a couple of days and then dive back into the bottle. Finally she went so far downhill physically and mentally that my uncle Richard, her brother, forcibly put her into the psych ward at the Cardinal O'Connell House of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton Center. When I was born there in September 1939, I had the shakes, little resistance to respiratory illness, and could not tolerate milk. But at least I was sober.


In a way, what has happened to me the last three years is a miracle, but it is a miracle with rough edges. I have learned to love and accept who I am. I have learned to forgive others and myself. I have a spiritual life now and am actually a recovering as well as a practicing Catholic. I have been granted the grace of sobriety today. I have been open to being a vessel of hope for other suffering alkis by carrying the message as Step 12 suggests. The Step meetings have taught me a new way to live that is alcohol free and filled with love and compassion. The meetings have also given me a forum to share my strength and hope with others through talking about what my life was like, what happened, and what it is like now. In my heart of hearts, I will always be grateful to the Blessed Mother and the AA program for saving me from prison, an insane asylum, a broken body, or an early death.
This brings me to the end of my story. All I can say is that I am a grateful 24-year-old alki. I don't know what will happen next in my life, but I do know that this program has given me the spiritual and mental tools to stay on my feet no matter what life challenges me with so that I don't have to drink. If anything I've said is helpful to you, please use it and to hell with the rest. To "Nick Romano" I say, "I want to live slow, die old, and still have a good-looking corpse."
Stay sober today and keep coming back. AA works. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.

And there we have it, readers. I'm happy to be a part of this project with my dad. He's one interesting, amazing person whose story packs quite a punch. Happy Father's Day, Dad. Now let's finish this thing :)

*Note: Nick Romano is the main character from the book Knock On Any Door by Willard Motley. He was one of my dad's heroes when he was younger. His other heroes included John Wayne and his older brother "Chris," who taught him some tricks to get booze, skip school and win in a fight. Romano's famous line is: "Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hooked on phonics

I'm back to work on Alki today after a few-day hiatus, and I'm excited about it. Work doesn't usually inspire such positive feelings, but how can I resist this story? Here's the paragraph I'm starting with today:

"As the heat of summer weighed down on us, we began making plans to leave Florida. This time we wanted to leave the state legally. In order to make sure we would not be in violation of the court, we asked our attorney, Mr. ----, to double check with the judge and HRS, restating our desire to leave and start a new life in California. Mr. ---- wrote us a letter informing us that we could leave the state as long as we followed the court's stipulation granting ---- visitation. Given the good news, we made arrangements to continue the estate probate from California. We also figured out what we should do about Kara's dog bite case."

So much going on! And about my family. It's an exciting project to be working on.

Right now, we're at the tail end of the fact-checking/first-read-through stage. Soon, we'll be working on the structure (chapter breaks) and order (chronology) of parts of the story, and then comes the final editing stages(!), which is even more exciting - to be finished at long last and sharing the whole story with everyone.

P.S. I was bitten in the face by a German Shepherd when I was 4 years old. Thankfully, a talented plastic surgeon was called in and he did a great job patching me up. No follow up surgeries necessary. All that's left is some minimal scarring and a hefty fear of German Shepherds. :) -sorry German Shepherd lovers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rocking the runway

On Saturday, Brianna modeled in a fashion show organized by a local Relay for Life team to raise money for breast cancer research. Here's Brianna modeling a dress from a local clothing boutique. I think Brianna has a Ralph Lauren vibe in this.

To view more of Brianna's videos, check out her Youtube page.

Model pics

Mom, Brianna and I just put together a disc of our favorite picks from some of Brianna's various photo shoots. These were test shoots, an industry term we picked up in L.A., meaning photo shoots done for free - the photographer or designer gets a free model and the model gets some free shots for her portoflio.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trompe l'oeil gifts

Recently, my mom painted two pieces commissioned by my brother's girlfriend to celebrate their anniversary. Of course, when the pieces were finished and we were shipping them, we wanted to keep them! My mom will just have to commission herself to do another set of lovely trompes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Working on Alki, After the Drunkalog

I found this quote while editing my dad's book:

View what is universal in the mundane world of everyday experience and find hope in it.

That's a wonderful idea, and it reminds me of a quote from my mom's artist statement:

I try to bring out a subtle inherent quietness that the viewer can be drawn into...I endeavor to capture the everyday items and scenes that are a part of our lives, but that we lightly pass over, take for granted, or completely ignore...Through experiencing the beauty of our ordinary life we are able to create a mutual solitude.

Finding happiness and beauty in daily life seems like an admirable goal. I know when I'm looking around me during my day, I feel good when I notice something lovely, usually an interesting detail, like the shape of a flower bud or the play of light on something. I feel connected to that detail, that moment, that space in the universe. And feeling "connected" is a nice sensation.
Have a great day everyone!

Monday, April 5, 2010

New times

We had an exciting Friday evening last week. My mom had a show opening at Davis and Cline Gallery, and everything went very well. It was overwhelming and humbling for me to see my mom's work on the walls. I love her paintings, and I'm very proud of her.
So many people came to the gallery during the three-hour First Friday Art Walk. I had fun talking with friends and strangers alike about the new pieces.
In the show, my mom included a few of her traditional pieces, the ones people usually associate with my mom's name, Jhenna Quinn Lewis, like simple compositions of one or two objects on a table with a dark, or moody background. The gallery owner, John Davis, gave us a cool phrase to use to describe my mom's dark backgrounds when he praised her for her skill at creating "complex black" backgrounds.
My mom's newer works are trompe l'oeils (a French phrase meaning "to deceive, or trick, the eye" and is pronounced in English like tr-ahm-ploy). To read more about the pieces in this show, there's a short essay written by my dad, which we used as the introduction to a Blurb book we put together (click here to preview the book and read the essay), and an article by Vickie Aldous printed in the Ashland Daily Tidings (click here to read the article).