CHASING DOWN THE MUSE:Collaborating on art -- and life

” one is ultimately self-sufficient.” "” Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Sometimes it takes the work of a community of folks to get things done. This community may be in the larger sense, such as the community of the world or the nation or the state in which we live.

It may be the community of Laguna Beach, a neighborhood community such as that in South Laguna, a community of friends, or a committee.

It may be the somewhat temporary community of the Sawdust Art Festival "” my summer home away from home.


Each year the artists at “The Sawdust” "” as it is affectionately called "” come together for the Artist Benevolence Fund Auction of art works.

Most of the 200 artists contribute some piece of their art work to benefit others. The Benevolence Fund auction, which will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, provides financial aid to Laguna Beach artists during times of unexpected personal tragedy or disaster.

It is not uncommon to find the very artists who were once on the receiving end are the ones giving.

The event is a collaboration of sorts as the artists come together to give back to their own community.


On another level of collaboration and community, Betty Haight and Kathy Jones "” second-year artists in the Sawdust Festival who do “collaborative art” "” have conceived an innovative plan.

When it comes time "” as it is now "” for the benevolence fund auction, Betty and Kathy pull in as many artists and/or visitors as they can to work together in partnership on a collaborative piece.

In 2006 it was a collaborative painting. This year it is a sculptural piece.

A small community of artists has come together in the creation of this special piece, even while offering up solo work as well.

Kathy and Betty, of course, made the sculptural piece that is the foundation of this collaborative piece.

Michele Taylor’s contribution is the “heart” of the piece. Suzette Rosenthal’s many skills are being put to good use. Reem Khalil “topped” it all off. Charleine Guy, Bette McIntyre, Linda Ames, Troy Poeschl, Diane Valentino, Hedy Buzan, Patty Barnett, Susan Wade, Lana Hutcheson, the glass artists and I have all added our bits.

The partnership has added to some lives involved in small ways and certainly taken from none.

If only the world could collaborate as simply. Just a thought, but it seems we all could be partners for a lot more than just a single fund-raising effort.


Think about it.

In a time when things sometimes move at what seems a frantic speed and we seek connection and consolation in everything but each other, perhaps there might just be some small collaborative efforts that are calling for us to come together as partners.

Instead of isolation and fragmented lives, let us join to seek areas of community.

Perhaps, instead of speaking of the things we fear, we might start talking about the things we love, the things we care about. Who knows what, in conversation and collaboration, we might find out about each other?

I am thinking of the world as a whole, but everything begins with small steps.

As a start, you might come out to the canyon community of festivals on Sunday to enjoy the cool breezes, stop at the art auction to see what collaboration has wrought, and talk to the various artists about their work and their lives and what they love. Why not? It just might start something good in your life.

“Know that creative solutions come from new connections.” "” Margaret Wheatley

  • CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, and creative coach exploring the many mysteries of life in the moment. She can be reached by e-mail at
  • or by phone at (949) 252-3883.