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Letter 6 - Izzy Greer Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

To Izzy
My friend’s daughter collected remnants from the property to memorialize the memories in dramatic pieces of art which inspired an art show five months later

 

Dear Izzy:

It’s hard to believe that you and I have known each other since you first moved to Santa Barbara seven years ago as a fifth grader at Cold Spring School.  Now you are a junior, soon to be a senior in high school, and starting to think about colleges and the college admissions process.  The next stage of your life is like lifting the wings of a baby bird as it first takes flight from its nest.  As your friend and mentor, I am truly amazed how well you have blossomed and matured during the past couple of years.

Like many of us that night you and your family had to evacuate.  You and your 9th grade brother, Alex, were home on Mountain Drive as your mother was racing to help pack some overnight bags and the animals.  The fire started within minutes of your home, maybe just a quarter of a mile, maybe slightly more.  Lucky for all of you as well as my family that the wind shifted and your house survived.  Your family opened up your home to my family, our dog and two cats.  The boys and I were able to feel safe, secure and welcome at your house for almost two weeks after the fire.

I am so glad that you asked to visit my property after the fire.  Luckily, the demo crew that I hired included a man named who had lost his home in the Painted Cave Fire.  He and two of the other workers knew my house from work they had done over the years on small remodeling projects.  They knew where to look.  They remembered book shelves and cabinets and found many pieces of china, melted silver platters, and so many burned and twisted pieces that had hidden meanings. I helped sift a couple of times during those early days, but there was so much work to be done – finding a new house to rent, buying new clothes and supplies, that sifting through the memories at times was sometimes impossible. It was devastating to find a ceramic piece, hold it, touch it and then to have it crumble in my fingers.  The deathly smell was overwhelming.  How much did I really want to salvage?

   

You were brilliant, thoughtful and creative and magically transformed these memories into beautiful works of art.  I had no idea the dramatic effect that your pieces would have on me and the community as we began to reveal them.  Then, came the eve of the three month anniversary – I couldn’t get the date out of my mind.  Your pieces inspired me to focus on the positive aspects after the fire.  What could I do to help the artists and musicians who had lost so much – some terribly underinsured or not insured at all?  I had an epiphany to create an art show and fund-raiser with the help of Art from Scrap and the community.  We have named the art show, Phoenix Rising - from ruins to monuments -  as a symbol of the positive that can come from the ashes.  It is truly happening as artists and small gifts come into my life that I can in turn give back to others.  I am excited that you will be working with us as the guest curator with Holly MacKay of Art from Scrap.  We have more than two months to work on the show. 

Once again, Izzy, you are truly ahead of your time.  You have offered so much to me in terms of healing and realizing that art can be a healing element.



A few nights ago I was reading through a Rumi book of poetry called The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.  I was searching for one in particular about a caged bird.  I remember when the poem came into my life.  It seemed to solve all of my problems and give me the answers I was searching for.  When you gave me the sculpture that was created from remnants from my property, I still wonder how you had the insight to chose the little bird cage Christmas ornament and inside, in the very center, you placed an unlit match.  I am amazed by our connection.

As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and now also as a survivor of the Tea Fire, as an evacuee that horrific night, your natural awareness and perception are a gift that is already enabling you to believe anything is possible.  The art that you created is not only a gift to me, but a gift to the community.  With the recent fires, the gang violence and the economic crisis, I see art as a means to bring healing and love.  As we all simplify and scale back, there is always the possibility to create art and hopefully by creating art and supporting artists, galleries, and museums, we will witness more calmness, joy and peace.

Thank you for everything you have created.
With Love,

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