Arts

Sue and Al Mink in FlorenceFor Sue and Al Mink, traveling is not just another trip but a cultural experience. They call Lake Monticello home but they hang their hat in other places every three months during the year. Currently they are in Panama.

“People often ask us, ‘How do you do it?’” said Sue Mink, who explained  how she and her husband afford the lifestyle that some who have a passion for travel only dream of. They recently started a blog discussing the strategies they use for getting away from it all.

“We’ve always been adventurous. We moved frequently with the Air Force and soon learned that we can make anywhere a home as long as we are together,” said Mink. “We have explored much of Europe and have taken major trips to Central America, Russia, Ukraine, China and Japan. Each time we traveled, we discovered wonderful places, but only really got a taste of any one location. We wondered what it would be like to actually live in these beautiful or exotic settings instead of just visiting them.”

Mink described how she and her husband took their dreams and made them a reality.  It was after Sue’s mother was diagnosed with a terrible disease and died relatively young. As they were driving home from her funeral, they realized that their time could be much shorter than they had always thought.

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Jason AbbottKicking off a new year of programs at its monthly meeting on Jan. 20, the Fluvanna Art Association welcomed artist Jason Abbott, who focused on the business of art.

Somewhat shy, Abbott broke out of his shell by using humor.

“Public speaking is worse than death,” he said. “So if you’re at a funeral, you’re better off in the box than giving the eulogy.” The members laughed at his opening, immediately warming to him and setting the stage for a frank discussion about his career in the often-competitive art world.

He began by talking about his yearning to become a commercial artist. He got sidetracked by other career obligations suggested by outside forces, he said, and ignored his inner artist.

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Deborah NixonOnce Deborah Nixon found her inspiration as an artist, she never stopped. Her interest in art was a result of her mother’s yearning to become an artist, Nixon said. But like many women of the pre-World War II generation, she didn’t cultivate such aspirations and instead became a secretary. But her desire to become a painter never left her and after retiring, Nixon’s mother began painting again, taking Nixon’s sister, Beverly, with her to an art in the park class on Saturday mornings. At first Nixon didn’t join them, but years later when her mother’s vision began to fail and she could no longer drive, Nixon joined the group.

“My mother and I would make each other crazy because she was very precise,” Nixon said. “She started in one corner and worked down and out from that.  After I saw an exhibit in Spain of Pablo Picasso, I became very wild in my painting.” Nixon said she became very proficient at copying Pablo Picasso and signed her copies D Picasso.

“Picasso and his free style, which is actually as brilliant as we imagine, has influenced my painting since then,” Nixon said. “If you get a line or a color wrong, it matters. You’d think, just looking at Picasso, that he just threw paint on the canvas, but I learned when I tried to copy him that if you got the line wrong, it ruined the painting.” Picasso and the impressionists became her inspiration and it shows in her fluid, sweeping motions and the vibrant colors seen in her work. 

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Fred LangAs a boy, Dr. Fred Lang grew up in Vallejo, Calif., next to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard where they built submarines. The submarines fascinated him as did the many wartime stories their commanders told. The stories he heard and his interest in politics were shaped by his early experiences and influenced his career choices later in life; from getting his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Santa Barbara to a master’s degree in public administration to his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

Lang became a professor for the University of Phoenix in its online doctorate program in the ‘90s. He had difficulty transitioning from the brick and mortar classroom to a virtual one, he said. His doctoral dissertation focused upon distance learning and how to teach in a virtual classroom. Today he teaches leadership seminars online for Bellevue University.

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Henna body art. For hundreds of years, face painting has been used across cultures, from the Picts of Scotland to the Lakota Tribes of North America, the Zulu in Africa, the Maori in New Zealand, and the Aborigines in Australia, India and other areas of Asia and South America. Wherever early peoples formed tribal groups, they would adorn themselves with symbols or color, communicating to others their religious and spiritual beliefs.

Face painting has evolved over the centuries from being largely symbolic with special meanings to being used as camouflage by the military or as theatrical makeup. The opera was the first theatrical venue for face painting to enhance the character. Later clowns became a specialty in the circus. Nowadays women will not leave the house without putting on “their face.”

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