The Art Car that Helped Heal My Grief


The image you see above is me in my art-truck almost 15 years ago, packed up and heading out to open not my first, and not my last, Process Painting Studio!

The Art Studio at Esalen Retreat Center ready for a Process Painting Workshop 

The Art Studio at Esalen Retreat Center ready for a Process Painting Workshop 

I've described myself, for many years, as a Process Painting Monk. Intuitive Painting has been my meditation, prayer, spiritual practice and life's devotion. I truly believe the most important truths about life and my innermost Soul I have learned:

  1. in the studio with a brush filled with tempera paint in my hand and
  2. while creating the physical and spiritual place for others to do the same!

Creating my art-truck (may she rest in peace) was a process that evolved along it's own timeline parallel to my immersion in the world of process painting.  

You see, on my 30th birthday, in 1995, my sister Connie was killed in a car accident (may she rest in peace).  That fateful day was also the opening of an art show I had curated and organized for the healing art of survivors of domestic and sexual violence from all over the country.  


I was at the gallery all day on the University of Missouri campus giving radio/newspaper interviews and putting the final, powerful touches on the show.  I arrived home for what was going to be my big birthday celebration in the intentional living space I co-founded The Columbia Eco-Feminist Community when my mom called and told me the horrible news.

That was the beginning of a hard inward turn that brought me to a mid-life crisis and a deep spiritual search.  A few months in I happened to watch a documentary about art cars.  What stood out, of all the dozens of art cars and their makers, was a man who had lost his wife and took to painting his car as a healing salve.  

I don't know why but that resonated...completely!

I immediately went out to my 7 year old bright red Mazda pick up track with some sharpie markers and started drawing a small broken heart right on the hood of the truck.

And then came the collage...

Yup, I stood right there in the driveway tearing up National Geographic magazines and gluing pictures of women from all over the world down the side panels of my red truck...each picture was so beautiful, I can still remember, women of Africa, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Russia, and Iran... 

Then came the attempt to seal the collage with different types of (hopefully) weather-proof epoxies which involved many strange and awkward conversations at auto supply and paint stores with me in a shaven bald head (yup I also did that) attempting to explain why I was trying to seal magazine paper to the outside of my truck. 

Ultimately the collage was sacrificed to the Gods of Wind,Water and Missouri weather and the journey of painting the truck with house paint began.

The final blue spiral design you see on the truck at the top of the newsletter is a gifted one.  After many awkward, ugly, disjointed (but necessary and healing) journeys in painting the truck (which, by the way I had to drive around in, displayed for all to see the disjointed state of my inner being), finally I began to experience an integration.  

Juda Lewis

Juda Lewis

The gifted image: 
If you are lucky the Gods grant you a psychopomp- a healing friend who comes into your life when all else is falling away.  Juda Lewis was this friend for me in 1995 and 1996 when my life, belief system, everything, fell apart.  

Juda was part of our little Eco Community and took over the 10X10 shed in the backyard to live in-- she made that shed a "Temple"--or a  "Shemple" as she called it! All the while she painted the exterior of the  "shemple" in enormous sweeping cobalt blue spirals and helped me weave the fence around the garden (we hand-wove a fence 8 feet hight to keep the deer out of the community vegetable garden) she talked and I listened, and I talked and she listened...and that friendship and those days began to heal the grief and saved MY life.


Ever after the sight of blue spirals is healing, touching and soothing to me.  By painting those blue spirals on my truck mixed with the spirit of Van Gogh's starry night I gradually healed the disjoint, the disconnect, the ragged edges of fury and pain from the loss of my sister.

Fast forward to 2014 I have not had a true, big, community birthday celebration on the actual day of my birthday since the aborted one in 1995.

Now, on the eve of my 49th birthday I am breaking the spell and invite you to come celebrate with me on Friday SEPTEMBER 19TH!! You're invited to celebrate 2 years of Juicy Creatives Studio and 49 years of life on my ACTUAL Birthday--and you can help me create a NEW art car from my old, humble Honda CRV!