It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since my mother’s death. One year since she held my baby daughter for the first time, wrote a simple note of pure gratitude in her daily journal and went to bed… only to pass away hours later from a sudden heart attack.
My mother, Lynn Powers, was an extraordinary water-colorist. I don’t just say that because I loved her. I was told by others of her talent long before I discovered it myself. And so, in the depths of my grief from her sudden passing, I slowly began to learn of the impact she had on the world. I call it the ripple effect – the way each of us can touch those around us in ways we will never know.
My mother, the artist, used to say she loved to “wallow in color,” meaning she loved to sit and immerse herself in it without trying to change it. To wallow, to bask, to drown in color.
I needed to do something. I found myself days after her death taking a 360 photograph of her studio. The brushes were still damp from their last interaction with her canvas. I felt like I was bottling up her story into this virtual experience, and in that moment I realized I could transform any of her paintings into complete worlds. I could imagine how an observer might enjoy her painting upon the wall, but could also take a journey through my mother’s beautiful garden that she loved so much, seeing the inspiration in all its original glory. For art lovers, we often wonder what went into a painting, with virtual reality we can experience it.
Tonight, we hosted the opening celebration for Wallow, the world’s first virtual reality gallery. My mother’s paintings adorn the exposed brick walls of this quaint space in downtown Carlton, Oregon. Before each painting is a virtual reality viewer that tells her story. We’ll be rotating the exhibits to display local and national treasures. As wine is such a rich part of our local culture, I’ve included a virtual reality wine tasting bar, where guests can enjoy a glass of wine as they view the vineyard their grapes came from. We’ll host events, including art classes and children’s education – both in the gallery and in local schools. My mother’s ripple effect will continue to expand and impact lives for many many years.
I found a moment in the chaos to stop Time and look down at the event, like a 3D model of sorts. I wondered if that’s how we might look to my mom, and if she’d feel happy. I looked at the large elderly plants at either side of the entrance, both transported from my mother’s garden. I saw my son and one-year-old daughter running through the legs of other family members and friends, laughing. I caught the eye of my sisters, and we knew everything with saying nothing.
I think my mom would be very proud.
I hope you will take a moment to enjoy Wallow with me. Please visit our new website, wallowgallery.com, consider donating to the foundation, and you are always invited please to come stand before a painting, enjoy a glass of local wine, and wallow in color.