You May Say I'm A Dreamer

My dream, Adolescent & Family Behavioral Health Services

I am so thankful I am not the only one.  Art Prize is going on in Grand Rapids, MI and clearly there are a lot of dreamers that create art and maybe more dreamers who enjoy art.  This year there are two artists that lift my spirits.  Interesting to me is the fact that they both fought cancer and now have a story to tell through art. It doesn’t matter what your walk in life or what tragedies or hurts life may bring, their stories will inspire you to not give up or give in. Patricia VanPortfliet Patricia is a phenomenal photographer who would not have ever know it if pain had not been a part of her life.  Patricia started using photography to help her in her journey of self exploration.  Patricia pushed herself beyond anywhere she ever thought she could go; she will be the first to tell you, it was not easy, but well worth the push.  With the support of husband, children, and friends, she was able to begin a journey that she will never complete because she enjoys growing as a person. When Patricia found out she had cancer, she rode an emotional rollercoaster many days.  She had just begun to find her voice through art and now she would have to put it on hold.  There were so many things she had to put on hold; determination and love of others was not one of those things. Once Patricia recovered, she continued with her art right where she left off as though she hadn’t missed a beat.  She has expanded her comfort zone in ways she never dreamed, yet through art she is able to imagine so much more.  Her unwavering strength, love, and compassion consistently encourage me. This year is the first time she has participated in Art Prize as an artist; she was a dreamer viewing the art before.. You will be able to see some of Patricia’s art on my new website later this month.  I can hardly wait.  She rocks! Mark Carpenter Mark declares he is not an artist. Maybe he is not a professional artist, but he is creative and he is a dreamer.  Mark’s Art Prize submission resonates with me because he is doing on a large scale what I do on a small ceremonial scale.   As part of a group experience or an individual session, I have kids and adolescents release balloons as a way of releasing fears, shame, guilt, and other things that hold them down.  In addition, they release balloons as a way of launching hopes and dreams; it symbolizes breaking free and expanding their comfort zone.  Kids have released feeling responsible for taking care of a parent, and others have launched hopes for the end of abuse; that is just the beginning of all the things released and launched.  So my hats of the Mark, Lights of the Night: Where Hopes Take Flight. [Please note, I did not write this section.  It is excerpt of Adrienne Wallace].   After three years of attending Art Prize, voting and being amazed at the creativity of all the artists that dared to bring their work to a public competition; Mark Carpenter decided it was time to get involved. It was time that he added his voice, vision and hope to the Art Prize platform. So he began to mash-up all the things that he really liked, things that he had an affinity for, things that could be done using his current skills. He’s not what you might call an “artist.” He doesn’t have skills in painting, sculpture, music or anything that is probably termed “art.” But he does dream big, he’s a survivor of cancer and has four kids that he wants “to have a first-hand experience in dreaming and doing.” And so on some odd night in February 2012 it hit him. He would launch a few thousand Chinese lanterns into the Grand Rapids skyline as the first public participatory “performance” entry at Art Prize.  Where Hope Takes Flight[/caption] Then he started to think, which Mark does a lot of, and he realized that when the community would come together to launch the lanterns, that this art, would mimic life in the most profound way. Consider his dream for this event. He can only actually accomplish it with the help of other people. It is impossible for him to launch thousands of lanterns sky lanterns on his own, so he had to reach out to others with his fragile, fledgling dream and ask for help. Unsure if help would arrive or if his dream would reach a pinnacle, Mark extended a hand to the community. If he is to see his dreams come to light, then he must become an example of courage and vulnerability and release this Art Prize idea to the greater community. “If we are to see our dreams come alive we must engage others and ask for help,” Mark discusses, as each lantern is launched at the event, it will rise with the wish of someone from our community.” He adds, “it is not the captor of the dream who will lift the lantern into the sky and set it free; it is the other members of the community in which we live, work, and play that will lift our hopes, our dreams and our wishes to the sky for each other, the ultimate in supporting your neighbor.”So art mimics life, and the event mimics life, and so our event is art. But grander still, is the dream and the dreamer. Mark dares you to dream so that this event might inspire every person that participates in it be moved, experience a sense of awe and tranquility. That that tiny spark lighting the sky lantern of the one dreamer, the one person in our community, be united with the spark of all others to ignite a renewed sense of community and hope as they together burn brightly into the night sky. And so it is in life – we must share our dreams and ask for help and then set our dreams adrift into the universe, straight up to the sky, destination unknowable, filled with the hope and good will of the entire community. Find Patricia VanPortfliet’s photography at Georgios Gourmet Pizza at 15 Ionia; enjoy pizza and let your imagination fly.  Find Lights of Night on Friday night in the sky or launch your hopes and be a dreamer at the Gillette Bridge, Bridge Street Bridge, or Ah-Nab-Awen Park. I’m looking forward to seeing Patricia’s art and working as a volunteer helping hope take flight at Lights in the Night.


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