November 15, 2010
The dragon is not always a symbol of fierceness. The Lakota people consider the dragon a symbol of retreat; to journey inward to your own center of peace and quiet. Sharon Armstrong is a psychologist who does art work with her patients. Her strength is in mask making. For years she has taught people to make their own faces in a mask. It helps people clarify who they are and where they are going. Working on it provides them a kinship with themselves and others. But, for the Burning Man, held the Monday before Labor Day each year in the desert, Sharon built a 23 foot tall dragon. Sharon returned home and erected it in her mother’s garden at the Center for Creativity and Community in San Andreas.
The dragon’s name is Uncegila and is surrounded by a labyrinth. The unveiling was held Sunday and people came to walk the labyrinth and visit the Center, the Gallery, housed in a 100 year old restored barn, and the Garden.
Sharon, on the left, with Madalaine Krska, showed everyone around the Center which came about in an unusual way. Her mother, Floy, heard Sharon on a television interview comment that she wished she could found a Center for Creativity and Community. Floy decided right then and there that she could make that come true. Floy took her rental at 23 West St. Charles Place in San Andreas, and is helping her daughter transform the building into a non-profit Community Center. There is space for art work, teaching ceramics, photography, creative writing, video, painting, drawing, mask making and music. Their vision is to provide a gathering place for people of all ages to explore and express their unique creativity regardless of their ability to pay.
The Center is just getting started, but classes have already underway. Nanette Klass teaches drawing.
Ruth Nicols teaches harp and Tai Chi.
Floy’s vegetable and flower garden was planted by area children.
Sharon teaches mask making; and her husband, George, teaches landscape painting.
But you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy the center. My brother Bill, above, joined me and walked the labyrinth around the dragon. Eventually, the gazebo with a fountain and picnic area will be open to the public. The lovely Victorian House can hold an audience of 30 people for performance events. Two sound proof rooms allow people quiet space for writing or music lessons.
Or, like me, you can lie in the hammock and relax and contemplate the dragon from afar. The website is: http://www.center4creativity