The Beast Within

Last weekend, about 4,000 people attended the NW Marine Art Works Open Studio event in Portland. Oregon. I opened my studio (number 55) with a collection of paintings and drawings that I had finished over the past year or so. Each one was painted or drawn deliberately–knowing that one day, hopefully, I could given them all away. This weekend’s big giveaway resulted in forty-two not-for-profits receiving a donation in exchange for either a drawing or painting. Twenty-one of these donations were made to The Library Foundation (Multnomah County)—where I am a Trustee. Besides the gratitude I experienced for the generosity of the donors, I loved the stories people told.

When a person or persons came into the studio, I would explain my process: 1) the person decides the value of the artwork to them personally, 2) they can not disclose that amount to me and 3) they have to give that amount to a charity of their choice. Nearly universally, folks expressed surprise when I told them number 2–then a deep expression of love and surprise when I told them number 3. Their facial and body expressions were such a wonderful “gift exchange.”

What I received, non-verbally, was plenty of payment for the artwork. But what was and is transcendent is the bounce-back from giving something away with only one altruistic string attached. With these forty-two donations on June 1 and 2, 2024, I have now given away 287 artworks in exchange for a charitable donation over the past 6 years. My heart bounces with joy knowing that each person has a work of art that is meaningful to them—but also when they look at the artwork in their home they know that my gift is multiplied by their gift.

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