VALA GalleryDuring a somewhat long-ago online debate over haiku conventions, a poet whose name I don't immediately recall suggested that what often is called a cliché might more accurately be termed a truism.
With that in mind, let's take up the phrase "art with a heart."
It pops up most often when artists use their gifts and skills to benefit others ... and also when art is obviously deeply felt and personal, rather than purely theoretical.
In both senses, the phrase holds true for Stephanie Gray's Casting Circles, now on display at VALA Gallery in Mission.
Let's take the second meaning first. Gray's work is colorful, intuitive, sweeping and steeped both in the feminine and in sacred imagery. Works such as Underwater Secrets (pictured above) mine the territory where consciousness meets creativity and emotion intersects with intent.
I am passionate about the transformative power of art, Gray writes — and that shows not only in how and what she creates, but also in the way she puts her works to work for those around her.
This, of course, brings us around to the first sense of the truism.
Gray is donating a portion of each sale to the Heart of America Alzheimer's Association, and tonight she'll be giving an artist's talk at VALA about the creative process as part of an event to benefit the organization.
Tonight's reception will also include a presentation by Karen Clond of the HAAA, on the parts of the brain which are spared by the disease, and on the way creative therapy can benefit Alzheimer's patients.
Perhaps it's better, then, to think of Gray's show as art with a heart ... a soul ... a mind ... and a gentle, supportive spirit.