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MostLeeOk

My first summer in Alaska was… like every other human story: it was the best of times… it was the worst of times. I am not here to garner sympathy or be a victim. I am here to tell a story. I am no different from anyone else with a heart that hurts and eyes that weeped until there was no salty juices left to muster. I met Lee the first weekend that I moved into my house in Alaska. We met on a dating app called “Bumble.” He said, “My friends are having a house music party, would you like to meet me there?” I said, “Yes.” At the party a lovely duet played : Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini. It was trombone, guitar and singing in Portuguese. We were all nestled in a home in Palmer, AK and all the kids were upstairs having a blast playing video games, tag and screaming–as kids do. Scout, my 8 year old son, has asked me so many times to go back to that house, play with those kids. Lee sat near me and I could feel him looking at me through out the concert. We talked afterwords. He invited me to his hot tub the next week. I declined. I said, “I know your type and the answer is no.” Lee was an avid fisherman and he was good at catching. It was game on. One of the Iditarod racers was at the party, we met him and his partner and the next day Scout and I watched the dog sled ceremonial race in Anchorage. Our time in Alaska started with some pure magic.

Lee became my friend.

Lee knew about “all things Alaskan.” He told us where to go to sled, where to fish, where to hear the best music, majestic and magical places to camp.

One day Lee, Scout and I went to the Anchorage Museum. I’ll never forget how he stopped and looked at an exhibit about Cartography. This one piece had the state of Alaska and every pedophile priest labeled in the area where he had done his damage.

I don’t like to think about Lee and the love affair that developed and ended prematurely.

I don’t like to think about it at all because it still hurts.

What I can say about Lee is that he taught me how to fish for salmon. He gave me advice on smoking said fish. He advised me. He mentored my son. He loved without regrets, without criticism, he accepted my body and loved it as it was, he opened my mind to the concept of freedom and to letting go of past hurts. I am different from having known him. He was exactly what I needed when I needed it.

After his passing… I just couldn’t. Yet, I did. I didn’t want to keep moving forward, keep living. I filled my life with everything difficult and time consuming like becoming a set netter fisher on Kasilof Beach…. like remodeling the first floor of my house. I threw myself into work. Above and beyond my art work… I was pulling in nets, putting up a ceiling, stacking wood. I had several friends who talked me down from my darkest heights. Thank you. But, I kept moving–to survive.

The tragedy is… when you’ve waited your whole life for someone to see you, to love you… “as is”–and he dies.

I started making art with the name “Mostleeok.” Around the state I started using a spray paint tag, “hilee.”

September is National Suicide Awareness Month. I am launching my MostLeeOk product line. I don’t want to forget Lee. He didn’t commit suicide. But, I felt like I could. So the self care wearable art… is more for me and my well being. I want him to know that his friendship meant the world to me…. that I still think about him a lot. So if you need some self care, self love, a hug… please consider buying a shirt or tote bag or minky blanket to remind yourself that you can do this and that you can keep going. You can find the items in my Shop section under “MostLeeOk.”

Lee said he wanted to move somewhere where the butter melted on the counter. I hope he’s in a place where the music is good–according to him that wouldn’t be anything popular or on the radio–and the beer is craft. I hope he is catching all the fish. Thank you for your time that you gave to me. All I wanted was your time.

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North to Alaska

I went to summer camp for 3 weeks in Wasilla, AK when I was fourteen years old. I fell in love with everything “wilderness Alaska”–from Moose, Elk, Caribou meat on the BBQ to mountain hiking/camping, glaciers and white water rafting. It took me 34 years to get back here.

I sold everything in Florida and moved to Houston, AK. I am starting a new life, new career here in Alaska. February 2, 2022 I left FL. February 2, 2021 I had my ladder accident and head injury. I would like to think 2-2 means something special to me. In August I did my first Artist Residency in McCarthy, Alaska. McCarthy is a very amazing place–a defunct mining town transformed into a bustling summer hub for EVERYTHING “outdoor adventure.” You can see fabulous bands in McCarthy like Oregon based, “Free Creatures” to AK’s very own, “Super Saturated Sugar Strings.” It’s a foodie town and of course if hiking, climbing a glacier and white water rafting is your thing… McCarthy brings! It’s a 7 hour drive from Anchorage–but every view is mouth-dropping-luscious. While in McCarthy I painted landscapes of the area. This is a big change for my usual whimsical characters. I hope that my style can be unique but also capture the beauty of the Alaskan landscape.

This summer in Alaska I immersed myself into the land and it’s offerings: I salmon fished both commercially and personally, I collected and made fireweed jelly, wild berry pies and jellies. I smoked salmon that I caught. I learned to use a chainsaw and a wood splitter. I made friends, I lost a friend, I painted.

I am not exactly sure where my road is headed–I do know that I am planted in Alaska and I hope she waters me.

I am sitting near a ledge overlooking a canyon and mountains.  At the bottom of the canyon is a winding river.  This location is right outside of Denali, AK.
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Letters 2020

I want to thank everyone who donated to my kickstarter Letters 2020 Project!  I’ve been writing a letter a day, religiously, since January 1st!  My goal is to bring awareness to the lost of art of letter writing.  I find that children these days don’t even know how to address an envelope!  I have read articles about documenting our lives and although we do a lot of it on social media… that may not make it into the history of humanity.  What I mean by this… is that found letters, even from one average person to another are treasured.  Think about “myspace”–how much of that information was kept, is important and is there a hard copy anywhere?  Social media comes and goes but a letter has the possibility of staying for a very long time… think cuneiform tablets and later, hieroglyphics–staying power!  I also think a lot about data mining and how companies are getting rich off of the average person’s data.  Nice thing about a letter… more than likely–the only people reading it is you the writer and the person you mailed it to.  Isn’t privacy a refreshing concept?

I’m mostly writing about boring stuff… my day, my projects, my hopes and dreams and darkest fears… lol.  If you still want to get on board to getting a letter and if I have one of the 366 date slots open… email me your address!

Here is a link to my kickstarter page:  Kosharek’s cool kickstarter

000000000000letters2020

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Justice Studio

Justice Studio mural photo by Todd BatesJustice Studio mural, photo by: Todd Bates

Photo credit: Todd Bates

January and the beginning of February wrapped up my time with Justice Studio.  Justice Studio is a branch of Nomad Art Bus, not-for-profit, that works with jailed youth, designing and implementing mural art in the Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Center.  Justice Studio was created by Carrie Boucher and KD Rodriguez.  They invite and pay other artists to come into the Detention Center to do murals with the children.

Without getting all mushy and crying… this has been the most meaningful and inspiring project to be involved with.  My part was working with kids individually and as a group doing drawings and spontaneous projects/art to get ideas for what we wanted our mural to look like.  After each student came up with a symbol that they thought defined them in a positive way, we mapped out the mural and commenced to learning how to spray paint.  Spray paint is magical to me.  It’s fast.  It’s colorful.  It also comes with some obvious dangers.  I taught proper protection–wearing a respirator, wearing gloves and wearing safety glasses.

Many people donated money to buy the spray paint and The Camden Pier District donated the respirators.  We can’t really do projects like this without a community effort. My hope and the hope of the Justice Studio is to get kids involved in art–as therapy and as a reason for positive change.  We thank everyone who donated to make this mural possible.  Thank you.

The beautiful thing, to me… as kids come and go in the Detention Center–they will see this mural and future murals–that I am hoping will remind them of what it’s like to be a child and the happiness that bright colors bring.  I think about the students I met and every day I think a positive thought for them.  My part was small in the grand scheme of things but I can’t help but feel overjoyed about being able to be a part of this project.

If you would like to donate to aid Nomad Art Bus and Justice Studio–please reach out HERE.

And if you would like to learn more about Nomad, check out THIS VIDEO!

Thank you!

 

 

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First Night, St. Petersburg, FL

 

Coming off of 2018 and into 2019 was pretty thrilling!  Seeing my girl, Gretchen all around town in billboards, banners, advertisements, posters and in doll form was a total joy!  For those of you unfamiliar… First Night is a city wide celebration on December 31st, ending in fireworks at Midnight.  I ran a tent from 6pm to 10pm where I sold prints, bags, dolls, patches, pins and stickers AND hosted an interactive PHOTO BOOTH!  Hundreds of people came through and had their pictures taken.  I’m thankful for my family for doing me a solid with their volunteer hours.  Thank you to everyone who came downtown and said a big hello!