Why I’ll Absolutely Be Attending More Art Auctions in the Future

A few weeks ago, a friend invited me to be her plus-one at a VIP event hosted by Park West Gallery. The weekend-long event took place at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey, California and included a free Ritz stay, excellent food and drinks, art auctions, raffles, exclusive previews of works from Peter Max, Autumn de Forest, and Godard, and artist introductions with de Forest and Godard. All of which translated into a posh, sea-side weekend filled with art, food, and wine.

Despite the fact that I run an online art magazine and have been involved with the arts in one way or another most of my life, prior to this trip I had never attended an art auction. A cattle auction, yes (what can I say, I’m originally a small town gal), but an art auction, no. I’m happy to report art auctions are way more exciting than I would have guessed: it’s kind of amusing to watch two people attempt to outbid one another while pretending they aren’t annoyed the other person hasn’t given up yet. And seeing someone spend tens of thousands of dollars in mere seconds is rather thrilling. It was hard not to get in on the action myself, but at this point I am about out of wall space until I get a larger place.

While the auctions were good fun and browsing art is always a brilliant time for me, I think my favorite part of the entire weekend (besides discovering that there is a drink called the gingerberry mojito and it’s about the best thing ever) was meeting the artists. Godard was hilarious and definitely knows how to work a crowd. He could have been a stand-up comedian just as easily as a painter. And listening to the young de Forest explain her creative journey with testing out various mixed media was intriguing.

Artist Michael Godard
Artist Autumn de Forest








Part of the reason I interview artists for my TreeHouse Arts site is because learning the process of how their work is created – whether that art form be painting, photography, music, writing, or anything else – makes a huge difference as far as appreciation and understanding are concerned. Learning about the artist behind the art gives people a vested interest in the work. Getting to know Godard and de Forest, even on a superficial level, had that effect on me.

To see some of the work shown at the event, take a look through the slideshow below. And if you get the chance to attend an art auction in the future, I highly recommend it.

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Light Up the Desert with Your Dreams at the RiSE Festival Near Las Vegas

Image watching thousands of glowing lanterns slowly rise into a black, star-speckled sky, covering the vast darkness with flickering golden globes of light while you stand in the middle of a hushed crowd filled with gently smiling faces. Sound overly dramatic? It should – I wrote it like that because using an overt amount of elaborate language is the best way I can convey to you how it felt to witness the RiSE Festival firsthand. Simply put, it’s one of the most magical (man-made) scenes I’ve ever witnessed. It honestly brought tears to my eyes.

Located on the Moapa River Indian Reservation an hour outside of Las Vegas, promoters of the RiSE Festival say the event was created to bring light into the darkness, both literally and metaphorically. The idea is to take a lantern, write your desires on it and then send it floating into the ether while you let go of whatever’s been holding you back from realizing your dreams. It’s a beautiful concept and another reason why I got a bit teary watching it happen: what’s not to love about so many people coming together in the spirit of creating more positive lives for themselves?

Here’s how it works: your ticket gets you two paper lanterns, a bamboo mat with a black marker, and a book of matches. For lighting purposes, the organizers have planted tiki torches throughout the area. Set up camp near one of them, then write your hopes, dreams, wishes, or resolutions on your lantern. There are two official launches with a countdown by the DJ and while the sight and comradery of those are impressive, you can also just let yours go whenever you’re ready.

A tip: when you’re checking in, ask the people handing out the packages for the best way to light your lantern. There’s a bit of a science to it – you receive two lanterns just in case your first one decides to sail into a nearby crowd of people and get dragged down in the dirt instead of flying into the sky. Here’s video of me successfully launching my second lantern because, well, see previous sentence.

I’ve been to plenty of festivals, concerts, and lots-of-people-everywhere types of gatherings in my life and RiSE is one of my favorites. Besides the obvious, “look how pretty the desert sky is all lit up with a bunch of lanterns,” photo-op attraction of the festival, what really makes this one worth attending is the overall vibe of the place. I’ve never been to an event selling alcohol to hundreds of people without witnessing a few fights, harsh words, or at least a little bit of attitude. You won’t find that at RiSE: it was remarkable how peaceful and happy the crowd stayed throughout the entire night. And quiet. Seriously, for an event involving open flames, live music, fireworks, food trucks, and booze it was incredible how silent it remained.

For those of you wondering if this event is environmentally sound, the short answer is yes: the lanterns are biodegradable, have a short burn/flight time, and their website insists they recover 100% of the lanterns along with any additional litter left behind.

This fall, the RiSE Festival will take over the desert once again. Tickets for Saturday, October 7th already sold out, but a few tickets remain for Friday’s launch, so if you’re interested in attending buy yours now before they’re gone. If you’d like to take part of a truly powerful event or perhaps just want to hang out with a bunch of peaceful, groovy people in the middle of the desert while Instagramming awesome photos, then this event is a must.

What I Learned at My First Art Show as an Artist

I recently attended my first art show – not in one of my usual roles as press and/or buyer – but as an actual artist whose work was on display. I submitted my photography to the 53rd Annual Newport Beach Art Exhibition almost on a whim: my brother, who’s an artist, sent the submission link to me thinking I’d like to go in order to meet artists and interview them for my art blog, TreeHouse Arts, which is something I do fairly often. He said he would be submitting some of his own work and for some reason this time I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll do the same.”

When my work was accepted I was surprised, delighted, and a bit confused on what I needed to do. The committee sent plenty of pre-show emails that answered most of my questions about the process, but here are a few things I had to figure out on my own:

1. Whatever amount you think you should price your work at, double if not triple it. Consider the cost of printing, framing, materials, and labor. That goes for selling your art in general: I get that it can be difficult to come up with a figure that seems fair, but whatever you do don’t haggle your prices with buyers or give away insane discounts to your friends. Doing so devalues not only your own work, but art as a whole. If you never seem to sell anything and constantly hear your work is too expensive, then lower your prices, but if not: slam a number on it and stick with it.

2. If your work is being judged, don’t spend a lot of time worrying about that aspect of the show. Art is subjective and most of the time you’ll never agree with who won what prize or how and you know what? It doesn’t matter. You’re there to meet fellow art lovers, get your name out there, and maybe sell a piece or two in the bargain – focus on that.

3. Spend as much time as possible chatting up the other artists because most of them have been working the circuit for decades and have all of the info you’ll ever need about the entire scene. And they also know some really good art gossip, if you’re into that.

4. Study the other works: snap pictures and scribble down notes. It’s amazing what you can learn about your own art just by studying someone else’s creations.

5. Your frame matters: I would never have guessed what a good frame can do to a piece of art. Some of the most mundane pieces I’ve ever seen spring to life with the right frame surrounding them. I guess that’s the reason custom frame work is so expensive.

6. Bring plenty of business cards and make sure they look super awesome. In the creative arts industry, even the business cards are mini Picassos.

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The Creatures of Costa Rica ~ Travel Photography ~

If you’re a fan of watching wildlife play around in their natural glory, you will fall in love with Costa Rica. After my visit, I’m convinced the country contains at least one of every bird and lizard on the planet. Had I known I would see so many creatures I would have invested in a better camera. I’m still bugged I missed getting a shot of the red poisonous tree frog who tagged along with us on our zip lining tour. Or a decent image of the colorful crane that I found wandering around my hotel room. Ah well – it’s just another good excuse to go back again. In the meantime, here are a few shots of some of the wildlife I encountered on my trip. Pura Vida!

According to the local tico who pointed it out to us, spotting a wild Scarlet Macaw is a rare event, in part because we were nowhere near where they normally hang out and also as they’re an endangered species. I’ll tell you this much: seeing one of these beauties in flight is a spectacular, rainbow-colored event that I will be forever grateful I was lucky enough to witness.

Turns out a resting crocodile looks fake—still as a garden statue made of rock placed between the flowering petunias and rose bushes. Until your boat driver decides to make the prehistoric beast move by ramming the riverboat into shore a few times. Then you change your observation real quick because nothing looks more alive than a ticked off croc diving into the water and chasing down your boat.

The iguanas seemed to be constantly asking the question, “Where’s Waldo?” And the answer was “everywhere.” Seriously, there were hiding all over: in the middle of the road, hanging from tree limbs, napping along the coastline, creeping around your hotel room, chilling on the sidewalk, everywhere. Some of them were almost larger than me. It’s a good thing I really like lizards.

Ever heard two hogs mating? Me neither, but if you crossed that imagined creepy noise with whatever sound the monster who lives under your bed makes right before he eats your face, you would come close to the terrifying, echoing commotion of howler monkeys.

Related to the raccoon, coatis are friendly, curious, and look like if you spoke their language they would have something intelligent to tell you. Or maybe they would just say, “give me your mango, macha.” Either way, they definitely travel in packs and cause traffic jams. Ah, to live in a place where the morning commute is stalled not by other drivers, but wild animals posing for pictures.

It turns out sleeping long-nosed bats will let you climb right up on them and snap a bunch of pictures. Probably because they’re vampires and if they left the shade of the tree the sunlight would kill them. In any case, unlike crocodiles, these furry little guys don’t wake up regardless of how much noise you make, which is a good thing considering there were a few dozen of them per tree. I love bats, I just don’t want them in my hair.

If you’re with a tour company owner who tells you he’s going to sneak bananas onto your boat and bribe the driver to let you try and feed wild monkeys with them, just go with it. Believe me on this one: there is almost nothing more amazing than having a wild animal trust you enough to climb in your lap and eat out of your palm. Don’t blame me if you end up with fleas though.

Sharing secrets with my buddy


53rd Annual Newport Beach Art Exhibition

Saturday, June 17th, 2017 from 1:00 – 6:00 pm

Natasha will have her photography on display at the 53rd Annual Newport Beach Art Exhibition on June 17th. Her works Dark Hedges of Ballymoney and Huntington Beach Sunset will be available for purchase and included in the Photography category for the event’s juried art exhibition.

For more information about the event visit: http://www.visitnewportbeach.com/events/newport-beach-art-exhibition-2/

100 Civic Center Drive
Newport Beach , CA