One of the most touching parts about hosting Aurora Studio & Gallery is getting to know its participating artists. It seems as though we attract the kindest of the kinds. I have felt this sentiment in the past, but now during this pandemic, it feels like plush velvet.
Starting with one of our volunteers, Kyley Shurrona. Ms. Shurrona creates portraits of individuals who have been affected by a health issue, when she sells those portraits, she donates a portion of the proceeds to an organization that supports individuals and their families. She began doing this at seventeen, at eighteen Shurrona is the embodiment of compassion.
And take Autumn, who at the beginning of the pandemic started making masks for family, friends and community. She then called me to ask if anyone needed extra food as she was putting together care packages for people who needed them.
Last week, I heard from a former participant who was doing the same, helping distribute food to others. People who are taking their own personal resources and sharing. In a world that seems to be full of greed, power and the mine, mine, mine mentality it is heartwarming to know the real truth is ours, ours, ours, let’s share. It has been a powerful for me to observe this love from so many who themselves are financially struggling and trying to make do with less in order to help another person.
I also have to mention artist Joyce Thornburg in this note on giving. A couple of months ago, at the start of the pandemic, Joyce donated a car load of art supplies. Since Aurora Studio has been closed, we have taken those supplies and created anti-stress art kits for participants. So, over the weeks, I have distributed art packages and food to those whom we have supported.
On some days, I am not clear on what the future holds for Aurora Studio. We run on a shoe string budget, which means the leadership I have offered also comes from giving. Right now, some bills are on hold. However, creating a program like Aurora Studio has taught me so much about the capacity that people have to share with others. I feel assured that we will continue and the community will be there to support us every brush stroke on the canvas.
The month of May marks Aurora Studio’s eighth year since its inception. And as part of our anniversary, we are asking that you help us celebrate by visiting our on line auction on the eBay for Charity Web-site. The web-site has been set up to help our artists who are part of Aurora Studio, a supportive art space for artists who have been impacted by mental health issues, addiction and or homelessness.
On the eBay for Charity Site for Aurora, you will see original artwork, art books, T-shirts and other miscellaneous items. Scroll down the page on this site to see the items. We will update the site with several more items in the coming weeks and can arrange local pick ups. The link is:
While groups from Aurora Studio have not been able to meet during this pandemic, here is what we have done. Volunteers from Aurora Studio have delivered care packages of art supplies to many participants to help alleviate stress during this time of quarantine. Phone calls, to offer a friendly “Hello in there”, during his time of greater isolation is meaningful to all who are homebound. We have worked with other local organizations and hosted regular Zoom Groups and organized a couple of outreach groups to youth.
I am hoping that you are all managing to do things that are nurturing to you at this time. I understand that this period has been a struggle for us all, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. This is why Aurora Studio & Gallery has continued to provide as much support as possible over the last two months and into the future.
We will all continue to heal through ongoing conversation, support and love.
During this pandemic volunteers from Aurora Studio continue to reach out to its Artists. Over the last two weeks participants have received care packages of art supplies to help alleviate stress during this time of quarantine. All have gotten phone calls, having a friendly “Hello in there”, during his time of greater isolation is meaningful to all of us who are homebound.
Last week, Aurora Studio partnered with the Youth Villages Life Set Program to host two on line art groups. The intention of the groups was to come together and help reduce stress through discussion and art. The groups were co-facilitated by Kyley Shurrona and Lori Greenberg and focused on lessons that we are all learning from the pandemic. Below is the list of lessons that the group decided they would like to take with them into the future as part of this experience.
Learning to slow down.
Learning how to be alone.
Learning how to live with myself.
Becoming more self aware.
Realizing that not everything goes your way and that it’s good to find a balance.
Learning how to listen to others.
Appreciating the meditative quality/time.
Learning to express one’s feelings through art.
Witnessing all the care people are sharing with others.
Appreciating the little things.
Working on patience.
Remembering to reach out to others – especially those who are homeless.
Remembering to connect with others, especially elders.
Trying to stay active (and away from too much movie/tv/video/computer habits).
Creating balance – looking at self care, eating well, exercise.
Becoming a person of substance.
Using this time of isolation to rethink and grow.
Appreciating the simple things, simple moments, being able to hug.
As I look at this list, I believe each of us can find a personal lesson from these youth, ages 17-21. It helps me feel like the future for our world is in good hands, reading their messages brings me hope.
Aurora Studio board members and volunteers, plan to take this time of quarantine to continue reaching out to members of our community to help keep with our mission. That mission is to provide a supportive art studio for artists who have experienced mental health issues, addiction or homelessness. Aurora Studio offers a safe environment with facilitators and visiting artists that enhances personal growth through the visual arts. We are utilizing this time to incorporate ways in which we can reach varying segments of the community and build a greater infrastructure.
I am hoping that this note finds you well during these stressful times. There have been pandemics before and we will get through this if we do our best to take care.
For most of us in the U.S. it means getting quiet, living more simply, staying away from others for a short time.
For other people in the U. S. this task is not so simple. Many people need to continue to work for fear of eviction or lack of food. For others having a place to get meals is now more of a challenge, soup kitchens that provided congregate meals aren’t serving (although many are offering food boxes for take out). For others missing the support of community can enhance anxiety and fear, possibly leading to relapse. Buses are not running or taking few riders, to be “safer”, while completing their limited routes.
Photos taken from a YOUTH GROUP this past January. Kyley Shurrona, Aurora Volunteer was the Instructing Artist.
Pandemics happen, thankfully NOT very frequently, not even in our lifetimes. Every day I have been thinking about what I can do to help. I am now in a higher risk age group, so as hard as it has been, I haven’t gone into the community to reach out and do some of the things I had done not so long ago.
As Board President and coordinator for Aurora Studio this is what volunteers and I have done. We have been calling all of our participants weekly to check in, see how they are doing and insure they are all set with food and medications. I have hosted an on line art group with our friends at Seek Healing. I am working on future planning and last week hired Aurora Studio’s first time ever Grant Writer.
Making art during turbulent times is one way to navigate. There are times in each of our lives when we truly don’t know which way the boat is heading. All we can do is observe and document our passage. As humans, we can do this through the arts, it is one of the many gifts the arts bring us.
In September, I left my job in order to set the sails for Aurora, for the program to become more sustainable. Plans for sustainability include one and a half time paid staff (as we are now primarily volunteers, myself included) and a space of our own (we now use a local community center one day a week).
During these times of financial uncertainty, I am asking each and every one of you to do your part, be the helper that Fred Rogers talked about. Whether you donate to your local food pantry, hospital, homeless shelter…help in whatever way you can.
And, if you want to support a program that promotes individuals with life’s challenges turning them into art and creating community, of course Aurora Studio will accept donations. Donations can be made at: www.aurorastudio-gallery.com/donate
We truly are in this together. I wish you and yours safe passage (and remember to wash your hands!).
I am writing this note to let you know that with the challenges we all face at this time due to COVID 19, Aurora Studio will not be hosting any classes. This is out of concern for those people we care about and want to take care of at this time (including ourselves).
This means that we will not be hosting our weekly classes at the Community Center or the group at Seek Healing.
I (Lori Greenberg) am available for phone check ins with our community. And would like to offer phone check ins with a few of the members of the Seek Healing Community as well. Over the course of this week, I plan to look into how to host an on line group to see if this might be something the folks from Seek Healing would be interested in.
I am thinking our groups will be in hibernation for the next 2-4 weeks and I will be paying attention to public health info and will notify you when we will start up again.
I wish everyone a safe time, taking walks, listening to music, reading, FaceTiming, chatting on the phone. I will be around, but not in social settings at this time.
Friends of Aurora Studio & Gallery are excited to announce the fifth annual Zelda Fitzgerald Celebration. This year’s week long series has a little something for everyone.
The kickoff is Monday, March 9, 6pm at Pack Memorial Library, Lord Auditorium, 67 Haywood St, Asheville, with “Z – A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Anne Fowler.
Therese Anne Fowler is the New York Times bestselling author of “A Well-Behaved Woman” and “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald”. “Z” has been adapted as an original television series for Amazon Studios, starring Christina Ricci. “A Well-Behaved Woman” is currently in development with Sony Pictures Television.
This event is FREE to the public and includes an interview by Dr. Lisa Nanney, professor of literature and American Studies at U.N.C. affiliates.
Tuesday, March 10, 5pm – The Reading of the Proclamation, that Tuesday, March 10th is Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Day, City Hall Meeting starts at 5pm, 70 Court Plaza, Asheville, 28801.
Tuesday, March 10, 6pm – The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52. N. Market St., Asheville, 28801.
“Amid the Rubble and Ashes: The Highland Hospital Fire”
In recognition of Asheville’s annual Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Day The Thomas Wolfe Memorial staff will take a look at the events surrounding her tragic death. This event is being presented on the 72nd Anniversary of the hospital fire.
FREE OF CHARGE.
Friday, March 13, 12 noon, Asheville Art Museum, 2 South Pack Square, 2nd Floor Gallery, Asheville, 28801.
“In Conversation: Zelda Fitzgerald”
Zelda (actor Terry Darakjy) and “reporter” (actor Carol Anders) have created a thought provoking interview which takes place in March of 1948, days before the tragic Highland Hospital fire. The interview explores Zelda’s the therapeutic sustenance she receives from the arts. This imaginary interview is based on historic research.
Free for Museum Members or included with general admission.
(Buncombe County Library card, holders can go online to reserve a ticket).
Saturday, March 14, 12 – 3pm, Phil Mechanic Building, Stand Gallery, 109 Roberts Street, Asheville 28801
The Story of Zelda – As told through Mixed Media by artists from Aurora Studio & Gallery, ART OPENING.
Scraps of ceiling tin, copper and aluminum siding forged into a colorful palette of texture and design to create silhouetted pieces that capture milestones in the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. This exhibit will be on display for the month of March. Presented by Aurora Studio, a nonprofit art space for artists who have been impacted by mental health needs or addiction. Aurora Studio & Gallery is the host of the week long Zelda Event series. Light refreshments will be served.
FREE OF CHARGE.
The week closes on Saturday, March 14, 8 – 11pm, with A ROARING 20’s Party with Queen Bee & the Honeylovers at Ginger’s Revenge, 829 Riverside Drive, Suite 100, Asheville, NC 28801.
Queen Bee and the Honeylovers are an unabashedly joyful swing band that performs all-original compositions with a dedicated ‘nod’ to the small-jazz-combo and ‘hot club’ legends who first defined the genre. Their debut album, ‘Asheville’, celebrated their hometown’s history and won them #41 on WNCW’s listener-voted poll of Best Albums of 2019 among other honors. Their video for “Beacham’s Curve” won Best Soundtack at the 2019 Music Video Asheville Awards. The Honeylovers are: Whitney Moore, Mattick Frick, Trevor Stoia and James Posedel.
Come decked out in 20’S PERIOD APPAREL, and you may win a PRIZE FOR BEST COSTUME! This event is free of charge with any donations going to Aurora Studio & Gallery.
This year members of the committee have put together the first ever ‘SPIRIT OF ZELDA AWARD” which will go to a woman in the community who has demonstrated both community spirit and artistic strength in the face of adversity. This award will be announced at the Roaring 20’s Party (applicants have until February 14th to apply, the application can be found on Zelda Fitzgerald Day in Asheville’s Facebook page.
The Zelda Fitzgerald events are the brainchild of James MacKenzie who had a desire to have the city of Asheville offer an annual remembrance for Ms. Fitzgerald. Each year a proclamation is written and read to proclaim March 10th Zelda Fitzgerald Day.
Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama on July 24, 1900, had a zest for life and the arts. In 1920 she married F. Scott Fitzgerald and together they became early 20th century celebrities. In fact, Zelda was coined the first American Flapper and early on, was the muse for F. Scott.
Zelda began her painting career somewhere around the time she and her husband moved to France in 1924. Her passion for ballet began a few years later in 1927. A published writer, it is said that her husband may have stolen much of her writings from her diaries for his own novels. This and other infidelities drove a wedge in the couple’s relationship. Within ten years of marriage, her relationship with F. Scott and her own health severely deteriorated and Zelda had her first “break down” and hospitalization around 1930.
Zelda’s mental health needs eventually brought her to Asheville, where she received treatment on and off for about ten years at Highland Hospital. She tragically died in the Highland Hospital fire, March 10, 1948.
Aurora Studio & Gallery is a supportive art space for artists who have been affected by mental health needs, homelessness or addiction. A part of offering this series is to shed a light on the powerful healing aspects the arts have on wellness. If you would like to find out about how to get involved, the web-site is: www.aurorastudio-gallery.com.
More information on the EVENTS can be found by checking out the Zelda Fitzgerald day in Asheville Facebook Page.
Friday, March 10, 2020 will mark Asheville’s Fifth Annual Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Day. For the last four years, the City of Asheville has read a proclamation declaring March 10th a day of remembrance to an artist who spent much of her life in Asheville, and we are planning several events that will be part of this week of celebration that takes place from March 8–14, 2020.
New this year is the Spirit of Zelda Award, which has been established to honor the free and creative vitality of Zelda Fitzgerald who left a lasting mark on the city of Asheville and the world. Zelda’s dedication to the arts were witnessed through her painting, literature and dance.
This *$100 Award* is provided by The Zelda Fitzgerald Day Committee to a woman residing in Western North Carolina who embodies artistic passion while building and strengthening community.
Candidates for this award demonstrate a steadfast determination, utilizing creativity to achieve desired goals. Overcoming barriers i.e.: sexism, racism, financial setbacks, recovery from health issues or addiction, etc. will be given priority. Creative gifts could include: writing poetry or prose; performance art; the visual arts; dance; music; non-profit work; community organizing; gardening or other. A strong candidate is someone who serves her community to help make the world a more compassionate and connected place.
The award is intended to aid in the completion of a current or future project.