Sunday, March 29, 2020

Lauralee, Balls of Silver, Nerves of Steel

Lauralee, Balls of Sliver, Nerves of Steel
Judy Takács
I'm writing from the safety of my home and studio, during this Corona Spring where so many are on the front lines making sure we have food, medical supplies, healthcare, transportation, all the things that make our world livable. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all of you.
Just over a month ago, it was all celebration and girls weekend fun, with the opening of my Chicks with Balls show at the Zanesville Museum of Art.
Now, because of corona, and Ohio's "stay at home" order (that's Midwest for "lockdown") the museum is closed, and my paintings are in suspended animation; can't pick them up, can't see them.
Last fall, however, was when Lauralee contacted me about posing for Chicks with Balls, little did I know how inspiring her story of tragedy and recovery was, and how much more poignant it would be in the months to come.
When she posed, her story was still mostly private…an incredibly difficult one to tell…even hearing it gives me heart palpitations. Because of this, I held off on writing the blog about Lauralee, Balls of Silver, Nerves of Steel.
But, just this morning, Lauralee made the incredibly difficult and courageous move to come forward with the telling of her story. I respect and admire her immensely for this.
To me, the takeaway is that humans can go through the most horrible times imaginable, keep moving towards the light and come out of it…often with more wisdom, empathy and a sense of connectedness to the world than ever before.
Her story points to a message that the world needs to hear. And no one says it better than Lauralee herself.
Lauralee writes,
“I have been reluctant to share my story until this year, the 25th anniversary of the life trauma that qualified me to be one of Judy Takács' Chicks With Balls. Some of you know some of my story. Some who sat with us in the hospital day after day know it really, really well. Some of you will be learning it for the first time.

With Corona Virus suppressing all of us, it seemed no longer so necessary to hold our story so privately, as it is a story of survival and loss.
At 9:30PM on August 19, 1994 as we were returning from vacation at my parents' and Epcott in Florida we were hit head-on by an epileptic having a seizure behind the wheel of his car just north of Marietta, Ohio on I77. He and my husband died instantly and my three children and I were critically injured. Life flights eventually ensued for my older two that same night. My youngest and I spent five days in a Marietta hospital before it became obvious, I too, needed a life flight to University Hospital, Cleveland. Intensive care was home for over a week and my 14 year old daughter was on life support initially. Eventually my older two were transferred to Metro Hospital closed head trauma unit and that began a year's worth of cognitive, physical and occupational therapies for them. My youngest, 11, was furthest from impact and released from hospital first with no home to go to. A classmate's family took him in. Three of us spent a full year in physical therapy. My oldest spent 6 months in a body cast and should be a paraplegic, but isn't (miracle). My daughter survived massive injuries with no surgery because she was too fragile for surgery (miracle). Eventually I was diagnosed with PTSD, go figure. I'd fought unconsciousness to keep my daughter trying to breathe with the firm knowledge I was the only surviving parent in that van.
It took years of therapy and hard work to piece myself and children back together and we are always a work in progress with so, so many success stories we could tell. We can all prove what it means to be a good human specimen and humane so do it!
I think our nation and the world has this kind of fight ahead of us but I am convinced we can get it done. So in the spirit of the survivor's journey hang on, hold tight, laugh and cry and keep going.”

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Maria, Incognito In Kimono

Counting down like crazy for the upcoming Chicks with Balls show at the Zanesville Museum of Art, (It opens in 8 days!) but I would be remiss if I didn’t give you at least a little teaser of one of my most recent and most favorite portraits from the collection that is included in the show!

Maria, Incognito In Kimono…a detail
Judy Takács


Opening Reception:
Chicks with Balls:
Judy Takács paints unsung female heroes
Thursday, February 13, 2020
5:00 to 7:00
The long-awaited SECOND Chicks with Balls
launches at the Opening Reception.

Gallery Talk at the Zanesville Museum of Art:
Chicks with Balls: You, me, and every woman we know
Saturday, February 15th, 2020
2:00-3:00

zanesvilleart.org


Satellite Exhibition at The Art Loft Zanesville:
My Epic Triptych, Love, Athena will debut at their First Friday Artwalk
Friday, March 6th, 2020
5:00 to 9:00



Guest Lecture at The Art Loft Zanesville:
Beyond Chicks with Balls: The Goddess Project
Thursday, March 19, 2020
6:00 to 7:00





Both first and second Chicks books will be for sale at the Opening Reception and at the ZMA Gift shop for $50 each, during the run of the show. I’ll be available all the events to personally sign books!

ZMA Museum Hours:
Wednesday thru Saturday: 10:00 to 5:00

Thursdays: 10:00 to 7:30

The Art Loft Hours:
These are working art studios with a beautiful gallery common space, open for the First Friday Artwalk (March 6) by appointment and by chance.
Call first: 740.704.2118

Friday, January 17, 2020

Mary, as Luna, Goddess of the Dung Beetle Ball

Mary, as Luna, Goddess of the Dung Beetle Ball
Judy Takács

The story behind this painting begins in the middle of the most harrowing time in Mary’s life. 

It was a time whose concerns did not include breast cancer…until they did.

Its never a good time for a breast cancer diagnosis, but because she put her family’s concerns ahead of her own, she ignored symptoms that otherwise would have been dramatic and alarming.

After a slow and tumultuous several years battling the cancer, Mary was left happily in remission with a double mastectomy. 

Not wanting to endure continued surgeries, recoveries, complications and also needing to get back to the easel (she’s a phenomenal artist, and founder and director of Hull Art Academy of Art in Dallas, Texas)…Mary made a sensible and measured decision to forgo reconstructive breast surgery.

This simple and logical, personal, cosmetic decision was met with extensive pushback from armchair psychologists and nosy acquaintances.

Some folks actually asked her if she was trying to become a man. 

There were women who inexplicably said they’d be concerned if their husband still found them to be sexy with no breasts. 

Even doctors put intense pressure on her to reconsider, using sexist generalizations about how a woman’s self-esteem is related to her breast size. 

She was also strongly advised to clear it with her husband and consider his feelings on the matter. He was all but asked to sign a consent form agreeing to keep a wife without breasts. 

Because her husband is a loving and supportive best friend, his response was, “Unless you’re filling them with beer, I don’t know why my opinion matters.”

One of the unexpected issues with choosing to remain breast-less is that no plastic surgeon will tidy up the extra skin so your body will look smooth and intentionally breast-less.  Mary was told by a plastic surgeon that they only do surgery if you’re changing the size or shape because you’re not happy with what you have…not if you’re removing them.

Before disrobing for the posing session, Mary braced me with dire warnings of what I was about to see. In Mary’s eyes, she saw sagging skin with puckers, dimpling and scarring. I geared up to not display shock, or even wince…never having seen a double mastectomy in person. 

Her warnings were, in my eyes, very much unfounded, and her breastless-ness seemed very natural and quite lovely…exotic, other-worldy even. 

Thus came the inspiration to interpret her as a mythological character. 

I cast Mary as the Roman Goddess Luna; embodiment of the moon, driving her horses and chariot across the night sky. 

Mary’s Luna, however, is driving Dung Beetle Balls across earthly terrain.

Why Dung Beetle Balls?


Mary beautifully navigates her sometimes tumultuous life and identifies with the humble dung beetle, who literally takes the shit of other animals and rolls it into positive action. 

Dung beetleballs are created by dungbeetles to attract mates, store food, and safely house and feed baby beetle larva. Their production is a methodical process where the beetles roll the dung of other animals in a single direction away from their original source, using the heavens as their guide; sun by day, moon by night. After the dung ball has finished its job helping beetles pro-create and survive, it returns to the earth to fertilize new plant growth that will feed other animals whose dung will continue the cycle. 

Mary’s shit…hand-typewritten words from naysayers and doctors about her cancer and decisions …is rolled into her giant dung beetle ball as she marches forward in life, rolling it into positive action.



And Why Mythological Characters?


As I march forward in my art life painting people…especially women of strength and courage, I am shifting focus from my Chicks with Balls series to other forms of inspiration and imagery. 

I, like countless artists and authors before me, have found a very deep well of stories, themes and fantastical details in mythology. And by mythology, I mean the tales, legends and beliefs from all the religions; Pagan, Ancient Greek, Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Hindu…wherever there are colorful characters with stories to tell. These fictions have inspired art, literature, fairy tales and belief systems for eons. Their lessons and warnings reflect the prejudices, ignorances and injustices of the time they were written, and have endured because of timeless characters to become deeply rooted in our contemporary subconscious…for better and for worse.

I’m excited to explore these concepts and re-examine classic mythological characters and tell their stories through a contemporary lens. I dispel stereotypes with the #Me(dusa)too diptych, and put non-traditional bodies into action via my Venus interpretations and the Winged Victory triptych.

Mary as Luna bridges the gap between my Chicks with Balls series and my Goddess series, so she holds a very special place.

Because Mary’s portrait is part of the Chicks with Balls series too, it will be shown at the Zanesville Museum of Art as part of my first ever, solo museum show!



Opening Reception:
Chicks with Balls:
Judy Takács paints unsung female heroes
Thursday, February 13, 2020
5:00 to 7:00
The long-awaited SECOND Chicks with Balls
launches at the Opening Reception.

Gallery Talk at the Zanesville Museum of Art:
Chicks with Balls: You, me, and every woman we know
Saturday, February 15th, 2020

Satellite Exhibition at The Art Loft Zanesville:
My Epic Triptych, Love, Athena will debut at their First Friday Artwalk
Friday, March 6th, 2020
5:00 to 9:00


Guest Lecture at The Art Loft Zanesville:
Beyond Chicks with Balls: The Goddess Project
Thursday, March 19, 2020
6:00 to 7:00





Both first and second Chicks books will be for sale at the Opening Reception and at the ZMA Gift shop for $50 each, during the run of the show. I’ll be available all the events to personally sign books!

ZMA Museum Hours:
Wednesday thru Saturday: 10:00 to 5:00

Thursdays: 10:00 to 7:30

The Art Loft Hours:
These are working art studios with a beautiful gallery common space, open for the First Friday Artwalk (March 6) by appointment and by chance.
Call first: 740.704.2118

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Hillary Emerges…and so does the SECOND Chicks Book

Hillary Emerges
Judy Takács


Our sweet high school babysitter grew up into a beautiful athletic woman who posts gorgeous selfies, with healthy foods and positive affirmations while hiking the desert mountains of Arizona. 

Maybe you know someone like this too.

If she weren’t one of your kids’ favorite babysitters…and you hadn’t watched her grow up since the age of 14…you might limit these posts, or even turn them off because…well, her life looks too idyllic and maybe yours isn’t.

But, as a wise internet meme once said, “On Facebook, you’re comparing your real life to everyone else’s highlights reel.” 

And, I was to find out eventually that the selfies of the gorgeous girl going on gorgeous hikes were not just Hillary’s highlights reel…at times these hikes were her life-line. Hillary is very forthcoming about her struggle with alcohol addiction and bulimia. She will readily tell you how healthy living, a positive mindset and her faith is continuing to save her. 

Saving others also saves her.

Hillary has worked for Water4Kids, an organization which drills deep wells and water filtration systems for areas of the world where there is no access to clean water. This is a noble and difficult goal, which Hillary speaks of passionately and fights for daily. Lack of access to clean water has many heartbreaking and unexpected repercussions. Diseases like e.coli, cholera and dysentery are rampant in the contaminated water these people drink from. Children cannot attend school because they spend their days walking many miles to fetch water from faraway sources and bring it back to their village. Women must often make the choice between preparing food and spending hours bringing home water. Villagers must choose between dehydration and dysentery.

Water4Kids reaches areas with the greatest need by drilling deep wells in remote villages throughout east Africa and Central India close to their schools and medical clinics.  The benefits are life changing and immense, and the organization has drilled 500 wells to date! 

She now works for a technology company that helps churches and ministries organize events.

Hillary posed for me the day after Christmas, when she was back in Cleveland visiting family. Together we decided that some big shiny Christmas balls would be absolutely perfect. I presented a triple image of her, emerging from the balls and representing her own emergence as the vital, smart, healthy, kind and positive young woman she has grown to be.

Because I loved this image so much, and also because it was purple…I chose Hillary Emerges to grace the cover of the long-awaited SECOND Chicks with Balls book!

I shall be launching the book, February 13th when Chicks with Balls heads to the Zanesville Museum of Art for its (and my) first ever solo museum show!



Opening Reception:
Chicks with Balls:
Judy Takács paints unsung female heroes
Thursday, February 13, 2020
5:00 to 7:00
The long-awaited SECOND Chicks with Balls
launches at the Opening Reception.

Gallery Talk at the Zanesville Museum of Art:
Chicks with Balls: You, me, and every woman we know
Saturday, February 15th, 2020

Satellite Exhibition at The Art Loft Zanesville:My Epic Triptych, Love, Athena will debut at their First Friday Artwalk
Friday, March 6th, 2020
5:00 to 9:00


Guest Lecture at The Art Loft Zanesville:
Beyond Chicks with Balls: The Goddess Project
Thursday, March 19, 2020
6:00 to 7:00





Both first and second Chicks books will be for sale at the Opening Reception and at the ZMA Gift shop for $50 each, during the run of the show. I’ll be available all the events to personally sign books!

ZMA Museum Hours:
Wednesday thru Saturday: 10:00 to 5:00

Thursdays: 10:00 to 7:30

The Art Loft Hours:
These are working art studios with a beautiful gallery common space, open for the First Friday Artwalk (March 6) by appointment and by chance.
Call first: 740.704.2118