Arts and Entertainment

Bluegrass Festival ready to roll

Creative endeavors take time, but they also require the ability to tune in – to intuition, imagination and inspiration. A retreat is a time-honored way for artists, musicians, writers, et al., to immerse themselves in the sea of possibilities.

In November, Debbi Lester, who had just been elected to City Council, had the opportunity to travel with two friends to the coast of Italy for a month-long artist’s retreat.

In a spartan, “monkish space,” Lester turned her focus from the political campaign and the myriad details required to publish Art Access, the regional magazine she’s been producing for 18 years, to painting. A retreat would give her time to carve out space for her own creativity.

“This would use a different side of the brain, and would go deeper, primal, beyond language, to the spiritual.”

In Ascea, Italy, she knew she also would finally have time to grieve the death of her father, who had passed away during her campaign.

When she arrived and unpacked, she was disappointed with the watercolor paper she had brought.

“As a creative person, I like to ask the questions: ‘How do you respond?’” she said. “’If there’s a mistake, how do you turn it into something wonderful?’”

Lester decided to take some time to “be present with the materials.” She experimented, noticing each medium’s properties.

After laying abstract, swirly washes of color, Lester got resourceful – using cheese wrapping to cut out figures dancing and swimming.

To integrate the two worlds – the swirling abstract world of spirit and the hard-edged world of the body – Lester turned to a calligraphic line.

“The brush never lies,” she said. “If you’re agitated, or cautious, the brush will tell.”

The body of work, about 60 pieces, reflects her grief process – from chaotic black and white sketches to colorful, layered depictions of the human form experiencing joy.

Her show, “The Floating World: Dance, Shadow, and Dreams,” opened last week at Arts Studio Gallery, 7869 Fletcher Bay Road. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Lester will discuss the paintings and her process during an artist’s talk.

For more information about the show, contact Art Grice at 842-1294 or visit


The lineup

Noon – The Tallboys

1 p.m – Stay Tuned

2 p.m. – The Voetberg Family Band

3 p.m. – The Blackberry Bushes

4 p.m. – The Misty Mamas

5 p.m. – Nettle Honey

6 p.m. – Deadwood Revival

7 p.m. – The Student Loan

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