There are two things that are undoubtedly non-discriminant: art and cancer. The lineage of artists of Quayside Gallery, a member-operated and staple Pensacola museum, have come together to turn those two things into, quite literally, a celebration of life.
The indubitably named fall show series “Celebration of Life” began on October 10 and runs through November 19 with a reception during the Oct. 19 Gallery Night. The show will feature the works of Quayside members who, just as all of us, have been touched by cancer.
“I am a 10-year cancer survivor of breast cancer, and my husband Gene is a six-year survivor of prostate cancer,” said 12-year gallery member Eve Wilcox. “I think the toughest thing about dealing with cancer is hearing from your doctor the first words ‘you have cancer.’”
Terrified and feeling helpless, Wilcox soon found comfort knowing that she and her husband were in the caring hands of their doctors who helped them each day through their treatments. She was also able find solace in her art, which will be featured in the fall show.
“Art, to me, is like breathing. If I could not have my art, I would stop breathing,” she said. “Art is a release form from your worries and troubles. You tend to lose yourself in painting or any art form.”
Last year, Wilcox participated in Relay For Life, a signature American Cancer Society event in which communities come together to celebrate loved ones going through cancer, remembering those lost and fighting back against cancer.
“The American Cancer Society is a wonderful and helpful organization,” Wilcox said. However, it was her art and the brainchild and organizer of the “Celebration of Life” show that she was able to showcase her talent with other gallery artists to providing awareness to the community of this dreaded disease.
“Everybody has a story about cancer,” said Quayside member and event chair Capri Boyles Jones.
Jones’ ultimate mission of the show is to exhibit art by members who have been affected by cancer either personally or through their relationships. They will be able to honor, support or give memory to these patients.
Although not all the members in the show have had cancer, they still honor their loved ones through their pieces.
“I am not a cancer survivor, but my husband is: twice over with prostate cancer and once with melanoma,” said Carol McCreary, a five-year member of Quayside.
Now in remission, her husband is being honored with her two pieces titled “Sometimes” and “Go Towards the Light,” two very indicative titles that capture some of the many emotions one experiences while going through his or her cancer journey.
She, too, uses art as an outlet to cope with the suffering of those with cancer. “Art is spiritual for me because I certainly am not making artwork without a holy muse or whatever you want to call it,” McCreary said.
Many of the artists are donating all or a portion of the proceeds of the sales of their pieces to American Cancer Society. Quayside Charter member Joan Blackburn has also been affected by cancer. She had three sisters pass away from cervical cancer, thyroid cancer and Myelodysplasia.
“I have two paintings in the show, ‘Collectibles with Geodes’ and ‘Yellow Orchids,’” she said. “I feel that art is therapeutic for anyone.”
“When a person is being creative, it fills a need that is inherent in our souls … and it gives me a feeling of joy, freedom and peace within when I am creating an object of art,” Blackburn continued. “I’m very willing to help the [American] Cancer Society in any way that I can because of the help they gave my sisters in [their] time of need.”
Other artists participating in “Celebration of Life” have more simplistic, yet powerful, ideals about the show. Three-year gallery member and acrylic/mixed media artist Patricia O’Neal claims the general response of the artists in the show was very positive and enthusiastic.
When asked how the show came together, she provided, “A lot of hard work from Ms. Capri Jones.”
O’Neal, a uterine cancer survivor, has been in remission for nine years and will be showing one piece titled “Perennials Gone Wild.” Her objective for this show in relation to those suffering from cancer is one simple message: “To never give up and to celebrate each day for the gift it is.”
CELEBRATION OF LIFE RECEPTION TO BENEFIT AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
WHEN: 5 p.m., Friday, October 19 (Gallery Night)
WHERE: Quayside Gallery, 17 E. Zaragoza St.
DETAILS: quaysidegallery.com; 438-2363