Kiki, 12/15/23, 1:18 PM,  8C, 7542x9466 (241+581), 100%, Repro 2.2 v2,  1/20 s, R85.8, G60.3, B75.9

Healing with Heart is back for a second year after its successful debut during last year’s Sweetheart Auction. This special initiative of the Cancer Foundation pairs cancer survivors or current patients with local artists in a collaboration intended to produce compelling visual messages of healing and hope.

There is power in storytelling. Our objective is for each pair to establish the kind of open dialogue that produces a meaningful exploration of the subject’s journey through cancer. We have seen our pairs form real connections as they discover how their stories intersect, illuminate each other and result in a unique work of art.

We launched Healing with Heart with four collaborations, each of which produced a piece that is both personal and powerful. This year, we are presenting two works we think have the same impact. They are intended to inspire people who face their own journeys through cancer or who care for someone who does. It is our hope to carry this initiative forward as we find other artists and patients, or caregivers, who are willing to share their talents, stories and insights.

Kiki Martinez, in collaboration with Suzanne Sakelaris

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Journey Through Cancer
Suzanne Sakelaris

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my first thought was, “Thank God it’s happening to me and not my children.” I went to get the huge lump in my thigh checked because my 13-year daughter, Simone, made me promise I would.

They say that once you are diagnosed with cancer it becomes a journey that shifts you for the rest of your life. I would say that’s true. The gratitude I have for surviving and for having access to the best possible care makes me want to help those who don’t. I had just gotten married, and my new husband’s corporate insurance was incredible. Had I been diagnosed earlier I would have been a single mom with a business who was struggling to make do with limited insurance. I am grateful the universe was protecting me.

When asked to participate in Healing with Heart with Kiki, it felt like fate. Kiki has been an integral part of my life and my kids’ lives for over 19 years. We have inspired and supported each other through child-rearing, careers, divorces and life’s second chances at love. Kiki’s piece speaks to our Taurean bond. Her skull series was imagined during our trip to Taos 18 years ago, and the roses reflect how she answered my prayers seven years ago. The painting is inspired by our collective creative thoughts through the years. It echoes the strength of our friendship and the epic talent of a master artist. Its message is that prayers can be answered, miracles do happen and beautiful things can bloom out of dark situations.

Suzanne has 30 years’ experience in brand strategy and media relations as an executive at Ogilvy Worldwide, Weber Shandwick Worldwide and Ruder Finn Worldwide. She is also the founder of Artisan Minds and Artisan Communications, consulting in brand strategy/design, creative direction, communications and reputation management, and provides services as an interior design strategist.

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Artist Statement
Kiki Martinez

When I think of Suzanne, I think of us pulling a “Thelma and Louise” in her vintage convertible, laughing and trying to escape our toddlers for a weekend in Taos 18 years ago. That weekend, Suzanne inspired me to create my skull series — a break from my normal body of work. The series has become one of my favorites, and it seems fitting to paint a bull because we are both Tauruses. And I have not done a bull in my skull series.

Taurus women are loyal, patient, emotionally strong, loving, creative, passionate and stubborn. Those are the qualities I most love in Suzanne, myself and our relationship. When painting this piece, I was reminded of how much we’ve been through together and how grateful I am to do this with her because she survived her cancer diagnosis and surgery and continues to make me laugh until I cry.

I added roses to the piece because we have given each other roses throughout the years. The symbolism of roses in this painting is beauty arising from sadness. Pink represents grace, gratitude and joy; red is for passion; and yellow is for friendship.
This painting was created with tears of gratitude for our journey together and for the fate that brought us to Santa Fe from New York and London to forge a friendship that is more like a sisterhood. I poured my love for Suzanne into this piece, and I believe it’s a reminder that we can survive anything as long as we have love in our hearts and can share it with others.

The oil paintings of Kiki Martinez are instantly recognizable as her own. Achieved with a painstaking multilayered Old Master glazing technique, and rendered in a moody sepia-tinged palette, her work imbues classic imagery with modern sophistication. Martinez holds a graphic arts and economics degree from Smith College and studied oil painting at the School for Visual Arts in New York. https://kikimartinez.com/

“Caution: Rocks in the Road”
Dianna Shomaker, in collaboration with Allen Bourne

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Journey Through Cancer
Allen Bourne

Discovering my cancer was accidental. A cab I took home from the airport was broadsided by an SUV, sending me to the emergency room with lacerations, a concussion and fractured ribs. A scan for liver and spleen damage revealed that I had tumors in my abdomen. This was a shock to my wife, Cindy, to whom I’d been married only six months and who had lost her previous husband to esophageal cancer.

A biopsy determined it was follicular lymphoma. Chemo petrified me, based on friends’ experiences. But luck presented me with an oral option through a clinical trial that stopped the cancer in three months, though I continued on the protocol for six years and remain cancer-free.

I felt a bit guilty that I never had any symptoms and that my treatment stopped the cancer so quickly, with scant side effects – a stark contrast to my father, friends and other patients whose cancer trips were incredibly rough. I eventually developed a peace about it knowing that my participation in research would benefit others.

I became familiar with Dianna and her abstract art – my favorite type – while marketing the Placitas Artists Series as a board member. Given her nursing and art background, it seemed there could be no one better to capture the abstract aspects of my contracting and healing from cancer.

After a 35-year career in communications at agencies, design studios, corporations and print media, Allen devoted his efforts to photography. The chance purchase of an Eliot Porter portfolio launched Allen’s interest in abstract photography, particularly of nature. www.allenbourne.art

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Artist Statement
Dianna Shomaker

As a former nurse and professor of nursing for 30 years at the University of New Mexico, I’ve seen a full spectrum of the human condition and how patients deal with their experiences, including cancer. But I’d never tried to capture that in my painting.

When Allen approached me about collaborating on this effort, we sat down and talked about what he went through. In putting down the paint, I wanted to start at the left by showing the warmth of the newly married couple. I followed this to the right with the dark center, which reflects the gloom and chaos brought on by the cancer – a dense tumor with tendrils reaching into the surrounding tissue – plus the tenacity of the couple for defeating it. What follows represents Allen’s sense of acceptance, confidence in modern medicine, and the light of a bright future owing to successful treatment.

Early on, Allen provided me with a few of his abstract photographs, which are subtly incorporated into the painting – much like the concepts that reside in him. We met several times after that to talk about various updates to the work, each time finding ourselves more in alignment with this representation of his journey.

Guided primarily by intuition, Dianna creates abstractions through oil, acrylic or encaustic. The results have been rewarded with accolades and prizes regionally, nationally and internationally. She retired as a professor emeritus from the University of New Mexico in 2000. Her current professional life is devoted entirely to art. https://www.diannashomaker.com/