blue ribbons & cheese.
last weekend, i got to be in williamsburg, va’s 50th annual “an occasion for the arts.” and the very special thing is that i won a ribbon! one of three ribbons of distinction given to just 3 of about 70 2D artists. (the 3D artists -jewelers, woodcarvers, sculptors and the like- had their own judge.) anyway, the important thing is that i am humbly honored to have won. especially because of who the judge was. (i used to live in the area, so yes, i ate at the cheese shop like 4x. and seemingly ate everything out of the bake case at the blackbird bakery over the course of the weekend. so grateful i’m jury exempt for 2019 & get to go back!) ;)
so here was my letter to the judge shall explain why this ribbon, besides being an immense honor, was just such a freakin’ big deal:
dear dr. harrison,
i know i didn't get to tell you the WhoLE story.
you had more than 70 artists to talk to that morning.
but here's why my ribbon of distinction at last weekend's an occasion for the arts in williamsburg, va meant so very much to me.
you're the chief curator emeritus at the chrysler museum of art in norfolk, va.
my dad was in the navy and took at least five (maybe it was six) various assignments in the norfolk area, including two tours of duty on aircraft carriers, just so i could go to the same school for all four years of high school.
every wednesday after school, my mom and i would drive to the chrysler museum of art downtown norfolk for free admission wednesdays.
i'd stare at the angels proclaiming the good news to the shepherds, visit my favourite hopper, ponder being a "neophyte" myself amongst the masters and creators of art. i'd draw the ancient south american sculptures and figurines, and keep waiting for something to crawl out of the cracked lid of the sarcophagus.
not only did i get to play with metallic andy warhol cloud balloons in a room lined with pink neon cows, fall in love with the colours of dale chihuly's glass works, and get to see dr. seuss' original concept sketches and paintings in the four colours of ye olde process printing, but one year, another very special exhibit changed my life:
it was a touring exhibit of children's book illustrations. dinosaur bob. babar. the rainy day. alan say. and the painting that brought me to my knees and made me want to be an illustrator: dorothy and her three friends (& little dog, too) marching into the emerald city, bespectacled in green sunglasses so as not to be blinded by its brilliance. charles santore's oversized watercolour set me on my current career path.
instead of being an animator at disney, i wanted to illustrate. i wanted to tell stories visually. to paint pictures that enchanted people so much that they wanted to explore the tale. to step into character and experience the great big beautiful world as it is, and as it can be in the realms of our unique and limitless imaginations.
thank you for your years of dedicated service to the visual arts.
thank you for your beautiful museum.
thank you for recognizing l'il ol' me last weekend as an artist of quality and precision. an artist who you said such amazing things about at the awards ceremony that i wish i could have paused your speech and written it all down. i do remember you saying how anyone that collects my pieces would look at them and keep discovering details for years to come. and i remember how you said that they were created in such a way that they become their OWN fairy tales.
man, do you know how to make an artist blush.
what a compliment.
thank you from the bottom of my tiffany glass-doodling heart.
with all the joy and all the colours and with my continued profound gratitude,
hallie m. bertling
gca alumni class of 1999
chrysler museum haunter
humble faerie tale painter
p.s., i just went to the chrysler museum’s website, and thanks to their sponsors, it’s free admission ALL THE TIME now. go. it just might change your life.