Recovery in Action Summer Art Show

Works of artists who have experienced mental illness were shown in this event held at the Marin Fencing Academy.

Marin Mind/Scapes on CMCM TV’s Channel 26

Marin Mind/Scapes will be shown on the Community Media Center of Marin’s Channel 26 on Saturday, August 21st at 8pm.

Mind/Scape artist’s online portfolio

No. 5 (Ink, Watercolor on paper, 24 x 36)

John Byron Griffin’s online portfolio is featured on Nami Marin’s blog. Also a writer and a musician, Byron’s portfolio is accompanied by his artist statement about each piece. It was wonderful to see Byron’s work appreciated at the Marin Mind/Scape exhibit, and it’s now available online for all to see.

Artful Recovery

WHERE: Riley Street Art Supply

1138 Fourth Street

San Rafael, CA 94901

415. 457-2787

WHO: Saturday Art Group from the Enterprise Resource Center in San Rafael (part of the Health and Wellness Campus).

MISSION STATEMENT: The mission of the Enterprise Resource Center is to provide a caring, community environment where people can talk about  their mental health challenges with peers and  learn about local resources.

Exhibition Dates: July 8th – August 12th, 2010

Gallery Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Sunday – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Reception for the Artists:

Friday July 9th, 6-9 pm

coincides with San Rafael Art Walk

About the Exhibit:

Work in this exhibition includes drawings, paintings and collages.

The artists use a range of materials and techniques – pastel, pencil or pen on paper, acrylic on paper or canvas, watercolor, collage, hand colored screen prints and other combinations of mixed media. There will also be a few of the class group drawings where an image is divided up into parts and each artist works on their own section that is then combined to create a completed piece (similar to pieces from a puzzle). Susan Goldsmith is the art facilitator and  curator of “Artful Recovery”.

How Landscape Heals

Saturday’s event for Marin Mind/Scapes at the de Young Museum was a wonderful experience. The Piazzoni Murals Room formed the perfect setting for our program on the Healing Power of Landscape. The program began with Dr. Michael Freeman’s seating slide show entitled The Titans’ Circle of Life, Inspiration, Courage, Leadership and Passion, accompanied by songs of James Taylor.  Images of leaders in all walks of life, including Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Winston Churchill, Judy Garland, Sir Isaac Newton, and Thomas Edison.  One visitor who wandered in from the bustling halls of the de Young asked incredulously, “Carrie Fisher? I didn’t know she had bi-polar disorder.” Yes, and so did Ernest Hemingway, Paul Robeson, Abraham Lincoln, and many other famous leaders and visionaries.

Dr. Freeman’s presentation on The Healing Power of Landscape was fascinating in its depiction of the evolution of humans and our migration from our origins in Africa. Dr. Freeman spoke of how our hunter/gatherer beginnings link us to the landscape and the many different ways that landscape connects us with our selves.

Laurie Thompson, librarian of the Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library, and Marilyn L. Geary, Marin Mind/Scapes project director, introduced their film Marin Mind/Scapes, after which Dr. Freeman moderated a Q&A session with the amateur and professional artists in attendance. Questions included how to break through artistic blocks and whether the artists think of others when creating art or only their own vision. The audience responses have been very positive and gratifying. Several wanted more time for the Q and A session.

“A varied presentation (slide show, video, panel discussion). Didactic, information, impressionistic. Bravo!”

Byron Griffin, Homa Karimzad, Marilyn Geary, Sherrill Miller, Steve Emery, Kathleen Lipinski, Charm Dupress, J. Thomas Soltesz, Laurie Thompson

“This was truly excellent.”

“Excellent in all ways. Very happy I came to this. Thank you so much.”

“It was a wonderful and inspiring experience! Thank you.”

“Excellent film, forum as well.”

“Nature, art, mental health, and oral history all all primary interests of mine and was a delicious combination to encounter.”

A big Thank You to all the artists for sharing their stories and their art. Thanks also goes to Beverly Kell, NAMI-Marin  and Tish Brown of the Fine Arts Museums’ Access Program for co-sponsoring this event.

Thank you for donations to the NAMI Walk SF Bay Area

The sun shone bright on May 22nd in Golden Gate Park for the SF Bay Area NAMI Walk. Walkers from all over the SF Bay Area joined to champion justice, dignity and respect for all people affected by mental illness.

Mayor Gavin Newsom appeared with his baby daughter to kick off the walk. Money raised from the event goes to the NAMI affiliates around the SF Bay Area to support families of loved ones with mental conditions.

Join the SF Bay Area NAMI Walk May 22, 2010

Before I had a mental health crisis in my family, I didn’t know NAMI existed. A therapist recommended that I contact NAMI, and on attending a meeting, I immediately found the support and understanding of family members like myself. Through NAMI Marin I have formed life-long bonds with other family members who also have been challenged by mental health issues.

The stigma of mental illness remains enormous, but through bringing our stories to light, fear of the diseases will fade. Join the NAMI Walk in Golden Gate Park  on May 22, 2010 from 9am to Noon.  Make a donation to NAMI Marin and support a worthwhile cause.

No Kidding, Me Too

Celebrity Joey Pantoliano is making huge inroads in breaking down the stigma of mental illness though his non-profit foundation No Kidding, Me Too. He has created a documentary DVD, now available on,  that explores of lives of six people struggling with mental illness. Proceeds go to the foundation to further reduce the shame and silence around diseases that affect one out of every four  U.S. adults.

It’s hard enough to have a mental illness, but when you are afraid to talk about it, you become more isolated and less apt to recover. Joey speaks frankly about his bouts with depression and encourages everyone to start sharing their experiences so that mental illness comes out of the shadows.

Why Marin Mind/Scapes?

Trail on Elephant Mountain

I have created Marin Mind/Scapes to help change perceptions about people who have a mental illness. Through my personal history of mental illness and recovery, I understand stigma first-hand.

In my early Twenties, I was taken in an ambulance to Herrick Hospital in Berkeley after my college roommates called 911.  It was my first psychotic break. I was delusional and traumatized. I thought I was dead. No one could convince me otherwise.

I was treated with anti-psychotic medications, Stellazine and Thorazine, which filled my brain with a fog so thick I could barely move.  I was lost and devastated.

While I was in the hospital, a friend brought me a book that helped bring me back to life: Eliot Porter’s In Wildness is the Preservation of the World. Each photograph in this Sierra Club publication drew me in to the beauty and wildness of the natural world. Locked in a mental ward, surrounded by people with shattered minds and hearts like mine, I drew strength from pouring over those photographs. Through them, while confined to the prison-like hospital ward, I connected with the beauty and the  strong, vital life force in Nature.

It took years to recover from that break. Like many others, I went off medications because I could not tolerate their side effects, and in and out of paranoid delusions. I did not want to be mentally ill. I wanted to be normal. I was ashamed of my illness, and for years I avoided once-close friends and social situations.

I am fortunate. I could have easily ended up on the streets homeless. Unlike many people who lack awareness of their illness, I knew something was wrong. My family took me in until I became more stable. Over many years of testing reality, (Were those statues really talking to me?), I am grateful to say  that I have recovered.

The wildness of nature continues to sustain me. I am blessed to live in West Marin, in the San Geronimo Valley surrounded by green grassy hills and streams where the salmon spawn. Creating art in such beautiful surroundings brings me home.

We are all part of Nature, and we all, at one time or another, to varying degrees, lose ourselves and our way. Nature and art can bring us back to ourselves and help us recover our core balance. Marin Mind/Scapes celebrates Marin County’s unique natural environment, the artists who express their love of Marin’s landscapes through their work, and particularly the strength and resilience of those artists whose art has helped them recover from mental illness.