When you think of the name Esther, you probably envision a lady close to 90 years old, sitting in a rocking chair, watching the sunset from the front porch.
Nope: not this Esther! At 38, she is a youngster when it comes to up-and-coming artists in southern Arizona. Although not originally from here, after 20 years, the ole southwest is now her home.
Esther grew up in rural Maine, a land full of forestry and potato farms. When the fall seasons came, the landscape turned into a rainbow of pigments. Leaves turned from green to a lively spectrum of colors. As temperatures dropped, so did the leaves. With every winter, came a cold darkness. White, brown, and black became vast across the frozen horizon. Although Esther’s adventurous heart found fun outdoors no-matter the season, autumn was her favorite. And there was a certain sadness that creeped in with every snowy season.
But with every spring, colors came back. It was shortly after the spring of her high school graduation, fate presented a unique opportunity. She was given an open invitation to visit Tucson, Arizona. As any young adult , full of energy and possiblity, she saw a chance for change, but paused that thought. Autumn came and went in the Northeast. Winter again prepared to settle upon the territory. Her heart sank. She did not want to spend another season in the dark. All colors were gone by November. She decided it was time to take that leap of faith. She set her sights on the horizon; toward a land of sun. And quite the leap it was, over 3000 miles from Maine! She towed a wood trunk packed with keepsakes and a suitcase of clothes. She boarded the plane for Arizona.
Upon landing, she exited the airport to shock: a wave of hot air encapsulated and stifled her. It was Thanksgiving. However, the only thing on her mind was the sweltering parking garage outside the airport. SHE felt like a cooked turkey. She was to be served to a city that was sure to swallow her whole, as a rattlesnake does it’s prey.
The desert climate felt miserable: no shade, just spiny cactus; no water, just waves of heat and baked dirt. She ignored this observation, deciding to stay. College and work became void of inspiration.
After some years, something changed in her. Esther found ways to merge her past with her present. In her past, the source of her creativity was the quiet, colorful New-England community, with it’s abundant natural resources. In her eyes, the forests were full of adventure. Instead of watching television, she painted, built tree houses, rode bike, picked apples, swam in lakes, and whittled toys from birch tree branches.
In her present, she began to treat Tucson as another place for adventure. Her curious, creative spirit reached out again for meaning, to find color.
Esther began to visit old abandoned mining towns. She investigated the history behind the many ghost towns in Arizona. It was as though the voices of the people who once lived there began to speak to her. Through these off-road adventures, she began to see color everywhere. This was because her heart thirst to see more to life than the desolate desert, with it’s brown and grey earth.
The Tucson skyline seemed to twinkle more brilliantly at night. Downtown had more meaning as she read books about the colonials and Pueblo people who settled the area.
Esther found a way to bring color back into the desert with her artwork. She focuses her paintings around the historical structures that hide in plain sight, in and around Tucson. She paints them with accuracy, but adds a special punch of color. It’s these colors that breathes life into the history of Arizona. She brings a voice back into the places that once were very much alive.
The banner she hangs at her exhibitions has a rainbow with a butterfly. This is because Esther now realizes, as an artist, she brings the rainbow of colors with her from her past. The colors were never gone. Her eyes just needed a different perspective.
She now enjoys Arizona’s natural resources, in a desert land she calls home. In her free time, you are likely to find Esther gallivanting the many trails on Mt Lemon, Tanque Verde Canyon, and the hillsides of Bisbee. She mixes work and play by foraging branches to craft as walking sticks. Custom carved rattlesnake canes are a popular item. She encourages others to find the color in their lives; to express themselves in a way that brings meaning. And thus came the name for her business: Art Expressions.
Although she misses the many colors of autumn in the Northeast, she finds a sweet medley of colors in Tucson’s unique sunsets. Never before, had she expressed her awe. Her paintings reflect this. And when the crack of monsoon hits and the sky dances with lightning, more creativity ignites.
She may have intended to simply visit two decades ago, but with her fresh, creative perspective, she saw a rainbow of reasons to stay.