The Heroine’s Journey of Jennifer Gillooly Cahoon

What is the thing I love about my work? In my line of work, it’s all about the beauty of creating connections and building community. Whether I’m helping artists network with one another and helping them to be seen and prosper, introducing a new student to the joy of connecting with their inner-selves through the process of creation, introducing like-minded souls to one another thereby fostering new friendships, or creating a piece of art of a loved one for someone’s home, the connections and building of relationships is everything. I absolutely adore fostering loving relationships and building a meaningful community.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is striving to continue to live in and appreciate each moment. I’m a very fortunate woman who has an incredible family by her side and a young business that is helping bring so much beauty and joy to so many. It can be easy to get swept up in the day to day grind involved in keeping and maintaining balance—focusing on gratitude helps to re-center me when things begin to feel overwhelming. Learning to appreciate and enjoy the ride in everyday moments is perfect happiness.

What is my greatest fear? My greatest fear rises from the fact that my children are growing up in a tumultuous time here in the States. I worry that they might not be able to live a life chasing their dreams, or that they will grow up in an environment where they will have to struggle to sustain themselves. I hope that I’m setting a good enough example for them and that they carry the importance of doing what you love – and I pray to any god that will listen that this country will be a place they can still do that as they grow into adulthood.

What is the trait I most deplore in myself? As I’ve grown and matured, I have learned to not be so quick to make snap judgments about others. I do occasionally find myself falling into the trap of occasionally still writing people off based on just a sliver of themselves they happen to present to me in an isolated moment. I hope to continue to grow and mature and to learn to be more patient with others whose ideas and ideals may not align with my own firmly held beliefs. It is after all, only through building relationships with others that we can truly come to understand one another and resolve conflicts in our society.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? Two people come immediately to mind. Enrico V. Pinardi, Professor Emeritus (Rhode Island College) and Jeanne Bessette (Artist and Teacher). Enrico (known as “Henry” to his “kids”) became my mentor in college. He has lived his life as an artist unapologetically, carving out an amazing life and putting such beauty into the world not only with his own art, but through the art work created by his students that wouldn’t have been possible without his firm but loving guidance. Jeanne has been a powerful female role model for me not only as an artist, but as an artist business woman. It was through her early influence that I saw what could be possible for me in my own life. For that, I’m very grateful.

What is my greatest extravagance? Travel. Whenever and where ever I can. I’m lucky enough to be headed off to Ireland for the first time ever this spring and am over the moon excited!

On what occasion would I lie? I’ve occasionally told a white lie here and there to protect someone’s feelings. If I feel a small fib or bending of the truth won’t harm and might build up the confidence for someone to push forward, I might tell one.

What is the thing I dislike most in my work? Sometimes, the amount of time I need to dedicate to it. Although I usually don’t feel like I’m “working” I know I’m missing out on some important moments with my family. I look forward to being able to reclaim more time for them in the years ahead.

When and where am I the happiest in my work? I’m always happiest when I feel I’m making a real difference in the quality of someone’s life. Whether that’s in the role of a teacher, gallerist, commissioned artist or creating networking connections for others—If I’m making a positive difference in someone’s life, I’m elated. That included me when I’m taking the time to create my own work and can get lost in the bliss of the “zone”. Self-care and self-love is critically important too, and making art is a big piece of that for me.

If I could, what would I change about myself? If I was super human and didn’t need sleep to survive, that would be fantastic! LOL There just aren’t enough hours in the day some days. Not needing sleep would solve a lot of time crunch issues. ; )

What is my greatest achievement in work? My greatest achievement is helping to make the lives of other people better. Giving people the tools to use art to bring some kind of peace and balance into their hectic lives is everything.

Where would I most like to live? My dream home would be in Tuscany IT. I was lucky enough to study marble carving in a little town called Pietrasanta and the love affair with that world has never ended.

What is my most treasured possession? If I had to choose just one, it would have to be a life-sized female torso I carved in Pietrasanta Italy when I was in my early 20s. I call her “Bella Donna”

What is my most marked characteristic? I’d like to think my most marked characteristic is my desire to help others through my work. I get a real thrill out of feeling like I’ve made a real difference in someone’s life.

What is my most inspirational location in my city? I’m trying to make my new business that place! There’s nothing else quite like it here. Bringing artists, aspiring artists and the general population together is proving to be a beautiful effort and great for the city! In terms of my favorite spot to get away from everything, I’d have to pick a hiking trail in a place called Hunts Mills. It’s where I go to get away from everything and re-center with Mother Nature.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink in my city? There’s a great spot called Avenue N. The chef is wonderful and the menu changes seasonally. It’s a hidden gem for sure with lots of creative items on the menu.

What books influenced my life and how? The first book that really made a huge impact was “Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain” by Betty Edwards. I read it at 17 and It completely changed the way I approached creating art—I still use it today!

Philosophically, “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Cambell opened my eyes to the world of comparative mythology and softened my then hardened views against organized religion. I began to see religions speaking a common language the best they could given their cultural place in time. Suddenly, the stories and their commonalities became a thing of beauty.

Who are my favorite writers? I don’t read as much literature as I used to—most of what I read now is informational texts in my field of visual art. Some of my past favorites include Margaret Atwood, Douglas Adams, Paulo Coelho and Toni Morrison.

What music would I listen to on my last day? It would likely be a combination of Tori Amos, Jeff Buckley and mix of 80s tunes.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? In contemporary fiction, Hermoine Granger is tough to beat. I love the fact that she’s an outsider and female who uses her cunning (and magic!) to help overthrow evil in the world. Good stuff.

Who are the heroes and heroines in real life? I have a tremendous amount of respect for Malala Yousafzai. She’s the epitome of strength, grace and a powerhouse for the betterment of women in today’s world.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Monty Python and the Holy Grail should be required watching for everyone. It makes back and forth quoting banter over a couple of drinks a lot more fun.

What role does art play in my life and work? It’s the core of what I do! I came to open my business (HeARTspot Art Center and Gallery) as a painter and formal public educator. Not only do I continue to create my own work—I also empower and network for other local artists and art educators. Providing a space where I can give the gift of art or learning how to create art to enrich one’s life is a truly remarkable opportunity.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor or partner in crime? Without a doubt, my husband. Without him, none of what I’ve come to build would exist. He’s my biggest cheerleader by far.

Whom would I like to work with in 2018? Funny you should ask. I was just recently offered an opportunity to work with other artist educators as part of a group I admire greatly. It’s all a secret for now though until it comes to fruition, so mum’s the word… Other than that, I look forward to working with the large number or new artists and students who walk through my door.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2018? There’s a large number of artists I’m connected through via social media who I would adore meeting in person! Jeanne Bessette, Lezley Davidson and Aunia Kahn and Lauren Rudolph would be among that group.

What project would I love to work on in 2018? I’d love to build a non-profit arm for the education portion of my business so I could qualify for grants to work with at risk and special needs populations more. It would also allow the kind souls who donate to my scholarship program for disadvantaged children to be able to write off those donations.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? For me, that translates as never really being in a place where I’m not involved in working on my art or with other artists to some extent. When you’re devoted to your passion and make it your life’s work you often don’t feel as if you’re working—it fuels you. Having that part of me be absent doesn’t feel like it would ever be an option.

Which creative heroes should Peter invite to tell their story?

Jeanne Bessette, Lezley Davidson, Lauren Rudolph

How can you contact me? I can be reached through my website at www.heartspotart.com, or directly by email at heartspotartcenter@gmail.com

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