Oceanside CA— Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation, and ArtWalls, Oside are excited to present the works of local artist, Don Reedy. An opening reception will be held, Thursday, August 15, 7:30, O’side Bakery, 3815 Mission Ave. Talk with the artist, enjoy light appetizers, a no-host bar and music by Stefani and Friends.
Don Reedy had never picked up a brush until November of 2017. He says he couldn’t paint or even draw a straight line.
“I have a cartoonish bird I’ve drawn for kids for years. It’s awful. But that was before cancer.”
He had a lot of experience under his belt teaching, being a U.S. Marine, attending law school, starting a shoe repair company, selling both architectural and manufacturing software, creating an Inc. 500 commercial cabinet company, acting as President of a hospitality software company during the Dot.com era, and of course real estate (The Most Interesting Man in Real Estate according to Google).
“But never ever a drop of paint other than on the walls of my home”, he says smiling.
But that was before cancer.
In October of 2017 he was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer. It was a particularly virulent form.
“I was genetically disposed to (how shall I say) not live long and prosper because of it. So began my journey through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The lack of energy from treatment was devastating to me, since having a passion for doing was a gift I had almost taken for granted. Suddenly my fatigue made work impossible, my recovery long, and my emotions ebbing and flowing every day.”
One day a couple of friends brought a gift. A small easel, a package of 24 acrylic paints, 5 small canvases and a few brushes.
“I had remarked to them that I had always wished I could paint. They simply acted on a random statement and reached out in love.”
Without expectation, without fear and without the world looking in, he put down his first few colors on that white canvas.
“My heart soared and beat. My eyes took in the colors and then the textures. My hands took to brush, to palette knives, to water and to wonder. I don’t understand how what’s happened has happened. But each week I created some new thing. Lines and colors and textures came easily, coupled with hours of just looking for a change that would make me feel happy. The process of putting down paint on canvas seemed not only palliative and freeing, but also exciting and adventurous. I was hooked.”
He hid his cancer from all but closest friends and family until the end of July 2018. At that time, he felt the need to tell his story with help from the paintings he’d had done and how he came to do them.
“I had finished about 40 paintings of various abstract ideas, and to my surprise people seemed to like them. Was it pity? Did what I created move others as it had me?
I’m an old prodigy it seems. What you see is my life’s pain and pleasure rolled out in color. I want you to love your life, and so I show you mine.”
Don Reedy was born in Youngstown, Ohio and now lives in San Diego, CA. He loves his wife Beth, sailboats, guitars, the Bible, dogs and music, and never tires of a good story. His first love is spiritual, and his travail with cancer just jump started another episode with his ongoing love for all things interesting.
Footnote: As of November 25, 2018 I have been issued a reprieve in the form of having been diagnosed as “in remission.” This means that the cancer is, for now, dead to me. It’s gone. Constant vigilance is required, as a recurrence will be dark, but for now I am free to paint and live as best I can again.
A Beautiful Blessing
When you make it to a certain age you pretty much begin to believe in the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But when by what surely seems a miracle not only does this old dog learn a new trick, but in doing so turns a life and death struggle into a passion and pure joy…..then you’ve stumbled onto my story.
I couldn’t draw a straight line, but I often attack passion straight on. I can’t draw anything in perspective, but having lived a life filled with joy and hardship, zest and illness, pragmatism and poignancy, I have a different perspective on a lot of how and why we live and breath and do with what life throws in front of us.
And so look through these paintings, all of which I started on in 2018 after having never painted anything other than my house. Look at how the chance caring gift of a friend and a casual comment have unleashed a “new trick” in this old life of mine.
Each of the paintings has a story, of course, and if you like the story and the painting I’d like you to hang both in your home or office. In the “About Don” section I tell a bit about my life and how I come to you today with canvas and a miraculous story of fear, depression and the climb out of a cancer I thought had me in it’s grasp.
Enjoy what God has done in my life. My message is a simple one, and these paintings help express and explain that message.
You see, sometime in 2016, Don had been diagnosed with cancer. This, of course, drastically changed his perspective in life. Naturally, he also did what he could to distract himself so he would not be consumed by the thought of cancer. That’s why he and his friends went to attend Paint Night.
That was the time that Don discovered his previously hidden talent. The joy that it brought him was overwhelming. It gave him the motivation he needed to stay positive and fight cancer. Ultimately, as Don continued to pursue his new passion, he beat cancer.
Now, Don wants to use art as part of his healing process. He wants to share his art with others. He wants to spread his message of hope and inspire others to keep their hopes alive even when they are given a devastating diagnosis. Don knows that being full of hope is what makes a big difference even in seemingly impossible situations. He can attest to this. It happened to him.