By Patrick Dennis

I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…

I don’t get sad very often.  I’m usually a relentlessly happy guy.  But after 12 loving years, my special “little girl” Sadie (a St. Bernard) just couldn’t hold on any longer and I lost her to that place where especially good dogs go to play with their friends.

Even though I had about a million great memories to rely on, I couldn’t shake the sadness of my loss. I started thinking something was wrong with me. Then word got out (imagine that) and people started sending me messages on how to cope.  The outpouring of love and support was humbling and appreciated.  Best of all I began to develop a brand new sense of my place in this world as I listened to stories told by friends and strangers.  I’m a speck!  The world is a huge place and this event that was so important to me didn’t even slow down the cosmic flow for a second.

When I got the news that my dear friend (and Atlanta INtown publisher) Wendy Binns has effectively beat back cancer with a vengeance, it sure gave me a new sense of understanding and courage. I think I now have a special appreciation for those persons coping with illness, an aging parent, poverty, and yes loss of a loved pet and look at it from a surprisingly artistic perspective.

Thankfully, I can paint what I see in my mind fairly well or at least I’ve managed to fool some people into thinking so.  After a lot of reflection I began to paint a scene where I’d want to be.  Of course there are hills, a great skyline and water because those are important to me.  The color palette I chose was different for me: somber but with a light that seems to direct the eye across the scene in a peaceful way.  I named it “Sadie’s Way” because she led me to this place in my mind after a lot of encouragement from friends.

Now that it’s done and framed I can look at it and think of my “little girl” with a happy sigh instead of trying to figure out why my eyes are watering and trying to blame it on the pollen.

Lots of artists have creative ways to handle stress and changes.  Some effectively dive into their work and create amazing art.  Some get very busy with events to showcase their work which helps validate their chosen vocation.

There are lots of opportunities for artists this month, and even more for those who just have an appreciation for these talented folks.  My personal advice to you, dear reader is to view art with an open mind and consider the story behind it.  If the art prompts vivid memories whether happy or sad, allow them to fill you up.  Most of all I hope you will take the advice given to me so thoughtfully and know that even in your darkest moment when you feel like you just cannot find your way, art can and will bring you back to life.

Upcoming Atlanta art events:

May 3
Atlanta Fine Arts League

Botanical Exhibition
6 – 10 p.m.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Cocktails in the Garden
Web: AtlantaFineArtsLeague.org

May 3
ArtSSpring presents “Step into Spring”

Huff Harrington Fine Art Gallery
4240 Rickenbacker Rd., Atlanta
Part of 30 days of art events
Free to attend.
Website: artsandysprings.org

May 5-6
Buckhead Spring Arts & Crafts Festival

10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday
11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday
Chastain Park on Park Drive
Free to attend.
More than 175 great (mostly local) artists and crafters!
Website: buckheadartsfestival.com

May 12
“Birds and Bees”

Decatur Market & Gallery
5 – 10 p.m.
153 Ponce de Leon Pl., Decatur
Gallery opening, reception and outdoor market
Free to attend.
Website: decaturgallery.com

May 19
Kirkwood Spring Fling

10 a.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday
Bessie Branham Park
2051 Delano Dr. NE, Atlanta
Free to attend.
Web: kirkwoodfling.com

May 26, 2012
Decatur Arts Festival

Old Courthouse Square, Decatur
10 a.m. Saturday
11 a.m. Sunday
Free to attend.
Web: decaturartsfestival.com

Patrick Dennis is an artist, gallery owner and President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. Email him at Patrick@affps.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.