Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Freedom is my goal

When I left the practice of law, I naively thought I would be able to just step out of my lawyer shoes into "new" shoes and keep walking. Turns out it wasn't that easy.

Being a lawyer-turned-artist has been a huge blessing. My years arguing cases before appellate courts, culling facts from transcripts, and writing concise, persuasive appellate briefs gave me professional skills that the average artist does not possess.

My technical writing background has helped me write multiple press releases, two successful art grants, and collate an art event list that populates the inbox of over 200 people each month.

My public speaking experience has allowed me to confidently practice as a certified Zentangle (R) teacher, speak with the media, and give a 20 minute presentation about my work as a visual artist at Duluth's American Association of University Women's annual fundraising dinner.

And the same, "I know where I want to go, but I'm not sure how I'm going to get there" internal drive that got me through law school and into the prosecutor's office gave me the fortitude I needed to spend a year drawing on a piano and hire a film crew to create a 17 minute art documentary that is now available on Youtube.

I am grateful for every one of these skills. Without them I do not think I would have been able to accomplish all I have in the four short years since becoming a teaching artist. I am grateful and I am tired.

While I no longer practice law, I feel every day that I use my legal experience to practice art. While essential to being a successful artist, the control and discipline I experience as a lawyer-turned-artist tempers my creative spirit.

As a practicing attorney, I had a box in my closet filled with art supplies with the words "Free Me!" written on it. Since leaving the practice of law, I've wrestled that box out of the closet, spread its contents far and wide, shared its creative joy with every possible being and as I write this now I know that I am not yet free.

Intense creative productivity has dominated my four plus years as an artist and now the call for quiet fills my soul. No internet noise, no classes to teach or attend, no projects to plan, just quiet. A three month sabbatical to just be. Freedom is my goal. I'm looking forward to experiencing what silence has to offer. I'll see you in April.

Esther Piszczek wearing her Heart Wall pattern (silk scarf and cotton knit skirt),
custom printed at Spoonflower.com. Skirt sewn/designed by Vivian.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Life & Art Entangled: Film Release

It is with great joy that I announce the release of Life & Art Entangled. I hope it inspires the world.

Check out film maker David Cowardin's blog post Here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Life & Art Entangled @ Zeitgeist Arts

I am an artist and certified zentangle (R) teacher. My husband Paul is a registered piano technician. It only made sense that an artistic collaboration was necessary. In December 2014, he and his then business partner found me a free, 1977 Krakauer studio upright piano with water damage to its lid and battered casework, but its insides were solid. I painted it white in January 2015 and then began to draw. As black zentangle inspired lines filled that white surface, I imagined preserving those lines on film. 

In April 2015, David Cowardin and Joe Oliveiri of Lola Visuals made that dream come true with the completion of the art documentary Life & Art Entangled featuring the videography and story telling skills of Lola Visuals, Jazz pianist Peter Brown's musicality, my artistry, and my husband's piano technical skills. Life & Art Entangled premiered at the Duluth Superior Film Festival in June 2016.

Last night I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the support and enthusiasm of those who attended the joint film release party/art opening at Zeitgeist Arts in downtown Duluth. This opening was a celebration for me of so many dreams come true: 
~16" stoneware platter created by
Dorian Beaulieu,
patterned by Esther Piszczek.
  • the release and screening of Life & Art Entangled documenting my first completed art piano;
  • patterns on clay, on the wall, following a year of ceramics classes at Lake Superior Community College, including a collaborative piece with my ceramics teacher Dorian Beaulieu;
  • the completion of my first coloring book with local publisher Whole Person Associates filled with original zentangle inspired art; and
  • a dress made out of fabric printed with my own designs.
    Me, posing with the art piano on Monday, August 1, 2016,
    wearing a dress designed and sewn by my niece Vivian
    on fabric printed with my patterns.
It was a truly magical evening. Dreams really do come true.

Zeitgeist hosts Life & Art Entangled Exhibit, Fox 21 News, Duluth, August 2, 2016.
Duluth filmmakers document life, by Esther Piszczek, Duluth Budgeteer News, July 29, 2016.
Patterned Peace: a dream realized, by Esther Piszczek, episzczek.blogspot.com, July 1, 2016.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Patterned Peace: A dream realized

It's funny how things happen ... One Saturday last July I attended an artist fair and my friend Patty, who was bombarded by customers eager to buy her beautiful hand felted creations, had only two seconds to speak to me. She said something like, "Coloring books are all the rage. Your artwork is perfect for it. You should do this." It got me thinking. I had already considered the possibility of creating a coloring book, so this wasn't a brand new idea, but her words got me thinking more seriously about the idea.

The following Thursday, a group of friends attended my art reception at a local restaurant. The next day I received an email from one of those friends, Jack Kosmach, who works for a well established health and wellness publisher, Whole Person Associates, in Duluth. The company was considering publishing a coloring book to add to their already diverse offering in the health and wellness field and he thought  my artwork would be perfect for it. I was thrilled and couldn't believe that within a week of my friend Patty mentioning the idea to me that I was actually approached by a publisher. I said, "Yes!" immediately.

Today, my coloring book is available on Amazon.com. I am particularly proud of this effort because it isn't just a coloring book. Every pattern used to create the 40 pieces of hand-drawn artwork in the book are included in a tangle index with information on where to find visual step-by-step directions on-line so coloring enthusiasts, who may want to draw their own patterns to color, can find out how to do that line by line.

I am hopeful that this book, which is so very different from the others I've seen on-line and in almost every store I visit, is well received and loved by those who choose to own it. Over and over and over again I am reminded that all things really are possible.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Since my post on May 13 entitled Spring, Sunshine, and Free Flowers, I've received some lovely photographs of dandelions. Here is one of my favorites from just outside Duluth, MN. Thank you Krista!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Spring, Sunshine, and Free Flowers

As Spring gently settles into the Northland, tiny green leaves sprout from branches, tulips, daffodils, and blue bells add dashes of color to many a still gray day, and the birds sing a cheerful song even when the temperature dips far below what anyone might imagine for this time of year. The local weather forecasts a low of 26 degrees Fahrenheit for Saturday night, May 14, and the possibility of snow flurries for Sunday morning. Brrr!

I admit that I visit my family in Pennsylvania at the end of May to experience Spring in a much more Southern clime where the trees are fully leaved, the entire world smells like flowers, and shorts are actually temperature appropriate for at least some of my two week stay. After enduring winter's lengthy stroll toward Spring's slow unfurling, I'm impatient for consistently warm sunny days that I know are still at least a month away in Duluth, MN, where it doesn't really feel like Summer until July 4 each year.

This Spring has been exceptionally genteel featuring spurts of glorious warmth, stunning blue skies and unending sunshine. Predictably and seasonably, however, the weather returns to days of cloudy gray where a 20-25 mile per hour wind off of chilly Lake Superior is mildly described as breezy.

Since moving here 4 years ago, I've truly come to appreciate the value of seizing the moment where the weather is concerned. I used to take sunshine for granted. No longer. Now when the sun shines I make it a priority to spend time outside soaking in its beautiful warmth and energy while walking along Lake Superior or sitting on my favorite park bench with a good book. And, although some here still fight the juxtaposition of the calendar month and actual real-weather-feel, my full length down coat is there for me regardless of what my mind tells me the temperature ought to be.

Today a short span of sunshine brightened what was otherwise a gray and dismal week and brought a lawn full of Dandelions to my attention. The Dandelion is thought of highly in healing circles for its liver cleansing greens and edible flowers, however, it is much maligned in lawn circles for its tenacity and propensity to overtake any available grassy area.

While I was pondering their bad rep, however, it occurred to me that Dandelions are FREE flowers. You don't have to buy them, you never have to plant them or replant them, and guaranteed they will appear on next year's lawn as well. Dandelions just keep popping up spreading sunshine. And I like sunshine, no matter what the thermometer reads.

Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

Saturday, August 8, 2015

It is a small world after all

I love "small world" stories. I love experiencing them first hand and hearing them from others. I love them because their very existence speaks to a larger, more powerful universal force that connects us all. I believe this universal force is always at play in each of our lives, but at times is more tangible resulting in seemingly impossible connections that form the basis for extraordinary "small world" stories.

My last "small world" story, Miraculous Reunion, was posted August 7, 2014, after I bumped into my dear friend Deepali and her family at the Maritime Museum in Duluth. I hadn't seen her in the 26 years since I left India as a Rotary Exchange Student. Some would say this meeting was merely coincidence.

After experiencing and hearing about similar "small world" happenings, I no longer believe in coincidence. I believe in an invisible source so expansive, loving, and all-knowing that it takes my breath away when I try to wrap my tiny, limited human brain around it. My heart, however, knows that every "small world" happening is the visible manifestation of that larger force making itself known in a gesture of infinite support and extraordinary unconditional love for those who experience and hear about these events from others.

Here is my newest and most extraordinary "small world" happening.

On Thursday night, August 6, I was at the opening reception for my largest-to-date art show at Pizza Luce, a popular, downtown restaurant in Duluth, MN. Toward the end of the evening, I noticed a man sitting in the center booth across from the reception table looking at me from time to time. When his group got up to leave the restaurant he approached me to say he enjoyed my artwork. He also said he was traveling up to the Northern Tier near the Boundary Waters from Texas. I now know that he was referring to the Boy Scouts of America Northern Tier High Adventure Program located outside Ely, MN near the Canadian border and Lake Superior. I mentioned that my sister lives in Texas.

Others from his group joined the conversation. I asked them where they were from in Texas and one of them, Mark Bush, said, Arlington. When I mentioned that my sister owns Jason-Little Road Animal Clinic in Arlington, Mark said, "Dr. Froelich is your sister? My daughter Grace works for her!"

In that extraordinary "small world" moment I felt incredibly loved and supported, as if my sister was right there beside me cheering me on for all I've accomplished, as an artist and a person, despite the miles that separate us. "May you live knowing all things are possible" - Esther Piszczek
(L-R) Jared Bush, Esther Piszczek, Mark Bush at Pizza Luce, 11 E. Superior Street, Duluth, MN, August 6, 2015. In the background, "May you live ..." a collaborative piece with calligrapher Brenna Jordan of CalligraphybyBrenna.com