Back in the day, Ginger Louise appeared in CityBeat's pages on the regular. She was an active artist and arts organizer who threw art and fashion events at alternative venues around town. A few years ago, however, she dropped out of the scene and, until recently, remained relatively low-profile while she struggled with serious health issues.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, she'll make a grand re-entrance into the local art world with a solo show opening at A Ship in the Woods (2690 Via De La Valle in Del Mar). CityBeat sent her an email Q&A to find out more about how her struggles have affected and changed her art:
CityBeat: You're back! Back in the day, you were a mover and shaker in the underground art world, organizing Visual Graffiti shows at spots like Landlord Jim's and other alternative venues around town. Some personal health struggles kept you from remaining active in the art scene. Can you tell us more about that?
Ginger Louise: Yes, my health had started to decline, at first slowly then more rapidly over a period of several years, to the point where my doctor didn't think I was going to make it, so to speak. At one point, he gave me three to four months to live. I was seeing specialists for every system of my body, and no one could quite figure out what was causing my issues. Some of the doctors just thought I was crazy because mold toxins are very difficult to find in the body unless you run certain tests for it, and doctors don't learn about mold exposure in medical school, as far as I know.
I had a company come out and check my house for mold, and there it was, in the ceiling under the bathtub, in the ceiling under the toilet and in the laundry room. I knew it had to be environmental when my son and fiancé were getting sick, too.
A big part of getting sick has been an intolerance to chemicals in my environment, so painting became impossible for me. I was so sensitive to the mold spores, I had to give up my condo and absolutely everything in it to survive, and that included my art; although, a few pieces have made their way back to me, which I am grateful for. My son, too, had to lose everything, just like me.
It was definitely a lesson in the importance of health and our mother-son bond over material possessions. My son and I were actually homeless and living in our car, camping, friend's sofas and a storage unit because of our environmental intolerance and lack of the ability to work and function. My son had to be home-schooled through his computer using the wi-fi at Whole Foods and Starbucks.
It was crazy, but we stuck together and never gave up, no matter how hard or ridiculous it got.
How has your struggle affected your art? How have you personally been changed?
Wow! We are different people now. My son is becoming quite the artist, as well. I really appreciate life and continue to push myself to keep on no matter what. I don't sweat the small stuff, and my philosophy on life is totally different because of my experiences.
I am thankful for everything I have and what we have lived through, because it has made us who we are today, less judgmental, more positive, happier. It's a whole different outlook. I believe the experience has pushed me forward as an artist in ways I could never have imagined. I actually made my first collage while living in a storage unit in Texas on a small piece of sheet metal using paint-sample paper, glue and a hummingbird magazine from Home Depot.
My art has become more of a spiritual, go-with-the-flow process [that] it always was, but now I am certainly more aware of it and trust in that flow process a lot more. I have given up control of it from a logical perspective and [recognize] the signs pointing where I should go... judging from how it feels. If you really look at my art, you can read it from a very deep place and get a lot from it. Lots of symbolism and emotion behind it.
Do you enjoy the new mediums you're working in?
Yes! I love them. I have always loved books and photography, so I just combined them, spun them into a new artistic medium for me, which just keeps morphing, expanding and growing.
What sort of conceptual themes can people expect to find in the work that'll be in your upcoming Ship in the Woods show?
My main piece is titled "The Matrix," and, for me, it represents the connectedness of everything around us without limiting us to space and time. The usually invisible flow of energy made visible through the layering of the past and present, all aspects of life rippled together. We are living in one big blob of connected energy, which presents itself through our perceptions, beliefs, experiences. Very quantum physics.