Considering your artist myth

Happy November.

I write this in the wake of a very busy month and on the heels of another marathon of exhibitions, shows, holidays, travel, the Artstravaganza, and workshops amid the ordinariness of life.  I am not alone as it seems everyone’s dance cards are full.  Among the myriad of events, I attended two lectures, both equally powerful and inspiring.  Both got me thinking and reflecting on myself as an artist who is actively engaged in my communities and the communities in which I am actively engaged.

Dean Steven Tepper and Sharon Loudon

The first lecture was given by the dynamic duo of Dean Steven Tepper of ASU and author and artist Sharon Loudon.  Sharon has compiled the stories of 80 artists in two books showing how artists extend their practices beyond the studios to be agents of change in their communities. If you have not read her books, I recommend them to anyone who is serious about themselves as an artist.

The conversation touched on the aspect of the artist myths that may influence how we view ourselves and our artistic practice.  Consider the myth of the starving artist.  Or the sellout myth.  Or the tormented artist myth.  Or any of the multitude of misconceptions that artists have been prey to for generations.  What myth or limiting belief are you living by – consciously or otherwise? Once you de-mystify this limiting belief that is most likely holding you back you can change the narrative and your perception of yourself as an artist.  This is very powerful work that you may not even realize the depth of influence these stories have on your expression.

Joanna Grabski and Tess Mosko Scherer

The other lecture was by the new Director of the School of Art at ASU, Joanna Grabski.  Joanna discussed the artistic culture of a city, and that it is the people and projects creating its identity.  As she spoke I thought about the artistic culture at AAG and how we show up as a community in support, collaboration, and celebraton of one another.  Or show up in the face of opportunity such as for exhibition or education.  But opportunity need not end there. By showing up and engaging with your artist peers, unlikely opportunities come alive.  It is these opportunities that create the culture, foster collaboration, and exploration of similar or opposing ideas.  Every gathering of two or more is ripe with opportunity.

I invite you to examine your contributions to AAG’s artistic personality.  Contribution is not necessarily financial or dependent on volunteering your time.  It can be showing up for other member’s exhibitions or events.  It could be friending, following, sharing, and commenting on social media.  Or checking in on a current or past member that you haven’t seen in a while. Perhaps you do some of this, or none of this.  I invite you to look at yourself as an active member in a new way.  Question your motives. Question your actions.  Is what you are doing enough to satisfy your own needs as well as those of AAG?  Is it reciprocal? Proportionate? Generous? Collaborative?

From my perspective, AAG is an extraordinary organization with a strong core value system of social engagement, encouragement, and personal artistic expression.  I am proud and honored to be aligned with a vibrant community such as ours.  As we plant the seedlings for the next 90 years, let’s do so with intention and purpose that moves from a group of individual artist members to one of collaboration within and beyond our borders extending to the city, surrounding communities, and beyond.

In the spirit of the holiday season, on behalf of the board, I wish you happiness, good health, and creative expression during this holiday season.

My best,


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Tips for Dealing with Rejection


I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection lately.  As artists, we work in an industry that is based on judgement.  For many of us, this is a contradiction to our own inner work as eloquently conveyed in the words of Brene Brown, Comparison is the thief of happiness.

Unpacking rejection, I realize, it is a matter of the heart. Being rejected by one you love, or from a show, stem from the same place in your heart.  Although one has a greater impact than the other.  When your heart is tethered to an external source or outcome, heartache is inevitable.  There is grief in not getting something that you wanted.  Facing rejection is a rite of passage of sorts, all artists, all humans, have to traverse its pain.

Every artist that entered the Sky Harbor Show experienced a form of rejection as no single entry was accepted in its entirety.  Even for some who did get in, they experienced a sting of disappointment that the piece they really wanted to get in was not selected.

The Sky Harbor Museum show was a difficult show to jury.  309 pieces were submitted with no theme to unite the work.  The reality is, it isn’t so much that the work was judged against, it was about how your work conveyed in relation to others.  The curators had to consider how it will hang together to create a cohesive exhibition that would not confuse the viewer.  With 8 cases – each case becomes its own micro exhibition.  However, all 8 cases have to unite in some way.  Rejected or selected may have had nothing to do with the quality of your work and more to do with the scale, subject, color, medium, or some other consideration.

Despite all that, being rejected from a show hurts. I’ve assembled 5 tips for dealing with rejection, adapted from author, Amy Morin.

Five tips for Dealing with Rejection:

There are many essays written on Rejection. Essentially the message is the same; that rejection taps into our number one greatest need, the need to belong.  With that comes our greatest fear, of not belonging.  How you deal with it allows you to grow or to stagnate.  Rejection has the propensity to build grit and resiliency or can cause continued pain, insecurity, and even anger.  Below are five tools to help you navigate the terrain of rejection.

  1. Acknowledge your emotions. As Pema Chodron says, lean-in to your emotion, rather than disregard or discard them. This allows you to grow emotionally.
  1. View it as an opportunity for pushing your limits. Don’t be afraid to go for it, even if it may be a long-shot.  If you don’t get rejected you are living way too far inside your comfort zone. Keep putting yourself out there and living on or beyond your edge.
  1. Speak to yourself with compassion. Rather than bashing the juror as well as yourself, give yourself a kinder more affirmative message.  This is a great quote sent to me from Dan Prendergast;  It is not rejection.  It’s just a difference of opinion. – Sharon Loudon
  1. Don’t let the rejection define you. Keep it in perspective.  Don’t let yourself, your work, or value as an artist be defined by one show, one juror.
  1. Learn from rejection. What did you gain? Turn it into an opportunity for self-growth.  With each rejection, get stronger and better.  Rejection can be a great teacher, to move toward something more.

I invite you to look at what you believe to be true for you.  And then remember these wise words:  Sometimes not getting what you want is a stroke of luck – Dalai Lama

And remember, peace begins where expectation ends.



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September 2017

Welcome Back!

I write this from Mystic Connecticut while visiting with my family.  It has been a welcomed reprieve from the Arizona heat.  It’s raining.  I find myself missing the majesty of Arizona monsoons and home.  As I contemplate the weather and the contrasts between the two states, I begin to think about AAG and the storms that had been weathered over 90 years.  By weathering storms we find our strengths and that is what sustained us for 90 years.

This summer I have been honored to work with AAG’s leadership team planning the upcoming year.  What an extraordinary group of people we have volunteering at AAG. I am impressed by the vision, integrity, and dedication of each.  The sharing of ideas and creativity was met with laughter and camaraderie. Although it was a lot of time and energy, we have planned an extraordinary year ahead.  I hope you, reader, will partake in as many of the opportunities we have created.

We will kick this year off with the 90th Anniversary exhibition at Sky Harbor Museum. AAG will host a virtual reception on October 22 at AAG.  It will be our first Virtual Reception with a slide show of the exhibit as Airport Regulations prohibit a reception on site.  If you are traveling between October and May, be sure to add time to visit the show in terminal 4.

Our first meeting of the season is on Tuesday, September 19. It’s a meeting not to be missed, with a robust agenda outlining the plans and giving a financial overview of AAG. Join us for a reception for last years’ Artists of the Month and Year.  We will end the meeting with a presentation by husband and wife, Roy Wasson Valle and Koryn Woodward Wasson.  The energetic and engaging couple have created an interactive program that is sure to inspire and delight.

Lots of exciting news will be shared at the meeting, however, noteworthy, the Statewide Exhibition is back! Our orphan show has found a home at the ArtsHQ in Surprise.  ArtsHQ is a professionally run public gallery that is staffed and operated by experts in the field.  It is a wonderful opportunity and partnership for AAG.

In addition to our programs, workshops, exhibitions, the ARTSTAVAGANZA, and plethora of other activities, the year has been designed to be creative, fun, and inspiring through the sharing of new experiences and ideas.

Save the date – December 8!  The ARTSTRAVAGANZA will have glass blowing, raku ceramics, 3D printing, and alcohol ink projects on different surfaces, along with a buffet dinner and drinks.  I am really excited to have such diverse artistic experiences at AAG!

I am excited about the year and look forward to seeing you at AAG.


Tess Mosko Scherer | President, Arizona Artists Guild | 928-300-7185


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Honoring Josie Taglienti






Yesterday I was privileged to honor Josie Taglienti with a Distinguished Member Award for Outstanding Leadership as Chair of Life Drawing.  Josie, an AAG icon, has been around longer than she or I could remember.  Josie was the first person I spoke with at the first AAG meeting I attended.  We squirreled ourselves away in the back studio and talked art, AAG and shared one another’s stories.  Apprehensive of joining the guild, she immediately put me at ease with her gentle nature and warmth.  We have been connected ever since.  I attended life drawing for a long time, chaired the figurative group, and then continued to work closely with Josie when I was treasurer and in my presidency.

Josie set her mind to create a warm environment for life drawing. She wanted attendees to feel at home.  Her Italian heritage dictates that she feed people.  Josie succeeded in nourishing us in body, mind, and spirit.  From the morning spread in the kitchen, to the encouragement she provided, Josie not only succeeded but surpassed her vision.  The artistic growth and expression of ‘the regulars’ is testament to her achievements.

Too many years to count went by in the blink of an eye.  Yesterday, Josie stepped down in a teary farewell.  Finally, we will be able to nourish and encourage her as she makes her way to an easel and joins the group in art making – leaving the stewardship of the group to another (for now it well be Barry Farmer and myself).

With gratitude and a humble heart,


Tess Mosko Scherer
Presidnet, Arizona Aritsts Guild

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As I write this, another AAG year is quickly coming to a close.  I am stunned that it is here so quickly.  The time went by in a blink.  From my perspective, it has been a stellar year.

Distilling our mission down to its core, AAG promotes the visual arts through education, exhibition, and outreach.  Underneath all of that is community.  We are a unique community of artists with common values.  We come together with compassion, creativity, encouragement, and an openness to growing, expressing, and exchanging ideas.  When I speak about AAG people are astounded to hear about what we do, who we are, and how we serve not only one another, but a broader community as well.  There is no other arts organization quite like ours.

I am enthusiastic about the Perennial Picassos, the newest segment of our outreach program that will bloom Sept 20th.  This program will address the changing needs of some of our members and their friends or family members who have lost some or all of their independence due to illness or circumstance, be it temporary or permanently. This program, like the others, has the potential to be cathartic for both the participants and the volunteers who run it.

These past few months I have been thinking about our upcoming anniversary…. 90 years.  It is something to be immensely proud of.  There are few organizations that have been around for as long.  It is something to honor and celebrate, and we will do so in style. Many exciting plans are coming together to make this a celebratory time.  The first is the exhibit at the Sky Harbor Museum (prospectus).  The deadline for entry is  August 10.  We will host a day at the end of July or the beginning of August to assist you with your entry, as it is a mailed-in digital entry.  Stay tuned through eblasts and the website.  If you are not signed up for eblasts you might want to be sure to do so.  This is a great opportunity!  I hope you decide to get involved in planning or participating in some of the other events that will happen throughout the year.  There are many opportunities.  Email me if you have any questions about the exhibit or if you want to volunteer.

This afternoon I attended a memorial service for a dear friend. Lila Bush was 94 and one of the most delightful people I have known, though I only knew her a short while.  We met at a time of her life when her character was fully formed and layered with a patina of a life well lived.

What is remarkable about Lila is that she was remembered for the way she made people feel.  Story after story, the theme remained the same.  I share this not so much to share about this personal loss, I share it to plant a thought that has been rolling around inside me these past few days:  As creatives we master skills to visually give voice to our emotional experiences.  The more honest the expression, the deeper the impact.  The depth of the impact is directly proportionate to the rawness of what is being revealed.  My questions to you is – do you know how your art makes others feel?  And if not, what do you need to do to find out?

All of the art that I love is because of how it makes me feel when I am with it.  That does not diminish or dilute the skills or techniques needed to make it. Quite the contrary, sometimes the awe of the skill is the emotion that is experienced.  Sometimes it is the memory of the person who made it or how it was acquired.  Mostly it is the work itself.

As we bid farewell for the summer, I want to thank you for this opportunity.  I am humbled and grateful to hold this position, and excitedly look to the year ahead.

May the summer treat you kindly and inspire you wildly.


Tess Mosko Scherer, President, Arizona Artists Guild

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the nature of your creativity and role as an artist

Happy Spring!

What a vibrant time of year!   Wildflowers bloom as the landscape awakens from it slumber and the air is abuzz with creative energy and happenings.  Every weekend hosts an arts festival somewhere.  The Canal Convergence in Scottsdale, Spark Festival at Mesa Center for the Arts, Art Detour in downtown Phoenix, Art Expo and the Celebration of Fine Art white tent shows in Scottsdale are just a few that come immediately to mind.

I probably missed more opening than I attended – and I attended a LOT! Congratulations to all of our members and friends of AAG who participated in these events either by organizing or exhibiting. It has been a stellar couple of weeks.

Steven Tepper
photo: Phoenix New Times

In early March, I was fortunate to attend a lecture by Steven Tepper, Dean of Arts and Sciences at ASU.  If you are not familiar with him, you should be.  With sociology degrees from Princeton and Harvard he brings a unique and fresh perspective to the roles of the artist and arts educator. His ideas have become national initiatives, breaking beyond the boundaries of his ASU campus.

Tepper began his talk posing two questions: ‘what is the nature of creativity in our world’ and ‘what is the role of the artist’?  With these questions as the compass, he took us on a historical journey looking at art through the lens of the sociologist.  Essentially, he posed that since the 19th century, art was part of everyday life.  If you wanted to listen to music, you played it. If you wanted to hear Shakespeare, you recited it.  If you wanted pictures of your family or loved ones, you painted them. With industrialization came the gap between us and art as an ‘every-person expression’.  Suddenly, the artist was on a pedestal, the act of making art was idealized and out of reach for the ‘non-artist’.

He shared a lot of data and statistics.  What was interesting to me was that in 1950 there were 250 non-profit arts organization.  Today there is over 100,000. This growth redefined how society viewed art and broadened the gap between society and the artist even more. Today we are poised to see even more change.  As artists we will have to reimagine how we interact with society and how we invite society to interact with our art.

No one can predict what the future will hold.  The present time does not have room for complacency.  That thought takes me full circle to Tepper’s initial questions: ‘what is the nature of creativity in our world’ and ‘what is the role of the artist’?  I would like to reframe those questions to make them a little more personal – ‘what is the nature of your creativity’ and ‘what is your role as an artist’?

Have a wildly creative month,


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2017 Scholarship Recipients

Arizona Artists Guild is proud to announce that it has awarded $7,000 in Visual Arts Scholarships for the 2017 year.  Please join us for a reception in their honor at the Shemer Art Center and Museum on March 9, 2017 from 6-8:30 pm.

This year’s scholarship exhibition will be co-curated by 2015 scholarship recipient, Zachary Valent and Tess Mosko Scherer, AAG president.   The exhibition, titled, New Art in Arizona will run from March 9- April 6, 2016 at the Shemer Art Center and Museum | 5005 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 |

Additionally, each scholarship recipient will give a 10 – 15 minute presentation of their work on May 16 at Arizona Artists Guild |18411 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix.

The 2017 AAG Scholarship Recipients are:

Andrew Noble | ASU | AAG Ruth Magadini Scholarship $1000

Layne Farmer | ASU | AAG Erin O’Dell Scholarship $1000.

Brandi Lee Cooper | ASU | AAG President’s Scholarship $1500

Tyler Griese | ASU | AAG Marigold Linton Scholarship $1500.

Elizabeth Tabor | ASU | AAG Scholarship $1000

Shannon Ludington | ASU | AAG Scholarship $1000.

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Scholarship News

Superbowl Sunday was not just a big day for the Patriots, it was also a big day for 6 college students who were juried to receive this year’s AAG’s scholarships.  The reception will be at Shemer Art Center and Museum on Thursday March 9, 2017 from 6-8:30 pm.

The recipients will present at AAG during the general meeting on May 16, 2017.

I hope you can join us for one or both events.  It is gratifying to hear the impact AAG has on these young adults. So much so that they continue to stay involved.  In addition to the scholarship, they receive a one-year membership.  I have stayed connected with all of last years’ recipients and am so proud to see the work they are producing, knowing in a small way we helped.

And they have been ambassadors for AAG spreading the word!  Additionally, two of last year’s recipients are board members of AAG, one is also volunteering on the scholarship committee as a juror and will assist with the installation of this year’s show at Shemer.  All of last years’ recipients helped distribute applications,.  Several of last year’s recipients have continued to garner advice and counsel on this year’s scholarship program, and several have been involved in shows at Shemer Art Center and Museum, with one of them acting as a curator and juror for an upcoming exhibit, Photography with Presence.

Also exciting is how many individuals are donating to the fund.  In addition to our fundraising events, we had the granddaughter of a member raise $350 through a high-school fundraising event, earmarked for scholarship. We are partnered with the Glendale Art Council who donates annually, and a private donor who contributes $1500 annually for a scholarship in her name.  We still have a ways to go in creating a self-generating fund for this program. Anything you can do to assist be it through funds, fundraising, or ideas would be greatly appreciated.  Each donation of $25,000 goes directly into our scholarship investment fund generating a $1000. annual scholarship in the donor’s name in perpetuity.  Please reach out to me if this is something you would like to do, find out more information about, or to stipulate in your will.

2018 ushers in our 90th year.  It’s an exciting time!  Planning is already underway to celebrate our endurance, sustainability and impact.  Our mission has not wavered much through the years – promoting the arts through education, exhibition and outreach.  Historically we have been strong in exhibition and education.  Over the last few years the Outreach program has grown and is at its historical strongest.  In addition to the scholarship program, we are offering free monthly art classes to veterans, non-English speaking elderly refugees at an adult center, and to young girls who have been sexually abused or trafficked.  We are working with the Az Arts Commission in expanding our reach to isolated elderly whose lives can be transformed through art and the socialization at AAG.  It is an exciting time for us at AAG.

Be sure to join us at the Artstravaganza on March 10, with proceeds divided between our scholarship and outreach programs.  It’s a fun-filled creative evening with proceeds going to a great cause.

Thank you all for your continued support and interest in AAG. Have a creative and inspired month.


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the choices you make that give voice to your art

Happy February.
Last month at the general meeting I referenced “If Everybody Did It”, a new book written by Marcia Losh and illustrated by Phyllis Arnold. Essentially, the book invites you to consider the consequence of choice and the influence, impact, and effect one person’s choice has on others – not only on their individual lives, but on their community and the earth as well.  It is a beautiful story written for children with a moral for all.  We know so well how one choice can change the path of many.

In light of current poitical and social climate I have been thinking about the choices we make and more specifically the choices we make as artists. As artists, we face a multitude of choices as we determine the course of our current project – from composition, materials, color, placement of color or texture, design, perspective and so on.  As artists the choices we make in and out of the studio are driven by our creativity, our curiousity, and our personal experiences or perspective.  Perhaps it is because we study perspective that we are able to view situations from several vantages points.  When not bogged down by our own ‘stuff’ obscuring our view, we are generally open to different points of view. Living outside the box we approach the world from a creative perch.

With choice comes voice. What is the voice of your art? For instance, if you are a landscape painter, are you creating pretty images of the natural world? Or do you remind people of the fragility or conversely the mighty power of that same world?  Or do you transport people from their world into the one you created in your paiting, stirring introspection and personal reflection?

As artists, living a creative life, we use our choices to determine the voice of our work.  What is your artistic voice?  If your focus is about mastery of a medium, technique, or skill – that’s ok. If its about having fun – that’s ok, too.  If you have not considered the meaning behind your work, consider this an invitation to do so.  I pose this question to myself in my work in and out of my studio and particularly in my leadership position as president of AAG.

We have a great month ahead. Be sure to read the newsletter and check the website for details.  Don’t miss the general meeting this month, Tessa Windt will be leading an interactive program on Feb 21 that is sure to be inspirational and thought provoking focusing on the arts and aging.  Roger LeBrash will open his blacksmithing studio to the sculptor’s group on February 6. Roger is a gifted artist and businessman, with his son Jason, they own and operate one of the largest blacksmithing shops in the state. You do not have to be a member of the sculptor’s group to attend.

As usual, my perverbial door is always open and I welcome your thoughts.
Have a creative and inspired month.


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Happy New Year!

I write this while in Mystic, Connecticut enjoying the holidays with my family. Sitting here this morning listening to the wind howl as it moves through the natural and constructed landscape outside my window, I think about my family of origin and my AAG family, and the impact of both on my life.  Reflecting on the year that is ending and contemplating the one about to begin, I find myself proud of what we have accomplished and excited by what lay ahead.

2016 was an expansive year. We opened the door to partnership with other arts organizations, strengthened our administrative and organizational structure, refined our website and increased our social media presence. Membership is on the rise – but more important, so is member involvement- more members are participating in guild events! That tells me we are on the right path and you like what we are doing.

Working with the Arizona Arts Commission we are expanding our outreach program. Karen Wintergartner, David Bradley, and I are participating in their Creative Aging/Generations Lab program. We recently met with the Commission to review our already impactful Outreach Programs and plan our expansion. Working closely with the Commission we are building partnerships to assist us in reaching our goals. We expect to have a working plan in place by May.  Stay tuned for more details!

Following Art Smith’s brilliant instruction on mandalas, I led an impromptu calligraphy session at the first StreetlightsUSA class. The girls left the class equally uplifted and ignited. True to form, we had more volunteers than students, speaking volumes to the heart of our community.

Our Veterans Program continues in its vibrancy under the helm of David Bradley, Art Smith, Lisa Wyman, and Mark Woehrle.  Entering its fourth year the Veterans have established a community within AAG that supports, nourishes, and inspires. Giving back to those who have generously given of themselves is rewarding and humbling.

With Karen Wintergartner, Art Smith launched a class for non-English-speaking refugees at an adult day center. This program is positively impacting the lives of adult immigrants who are often overlooked as they are no longer in the work force and are isolated from regular community building experiences.

Many AAG members exhibited in the Arizona State Fair, with several winning awards. What few people may know is that David Bradley worked closely with Fair Director, Chi Isiogu to improve the quality of the exhibit.  Among the work they did together was to rewrite the prospectus,  review the juror selection process, and create the veterans art exhibit.

The Fine Arts Fiesta in Spring and Fall were hugely successful not only in money raised, but also in attendance and increased fun! Expanding the event, the Artstravaganza as it has been renamed is on March 10, 2017.  Save the date!!

Speaking of fundraising, the Art Supply Exchange continues to thrive as one of AAG’s most successful fundraising program.  Alicia Plogman and Alice Pelchat work tirelessly to fill the shelves with materials to foster our creative experimentation.

With the closure of Gallery Glendale we are forging new relationships with other venues for next year’s Statewide Exhibition. In doing so we are increasing community awareness to a broader audience.

These are just some of the past and future highlights that come to me in this morning’s reverie. Please pardon if I overlooked anything.  As I look toward the upcoming year, I see it full of transformative and creative possibilities for all.

On a personal note, may the new year treat you kindly, inspire you wildly, and fill you with unexpected and welcomed experiences.


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