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Some 2016 highlights because lowlights are lame. Getting back into pen and ink drawings, selling one of the furniture drawings, getting commissioned by @filmlorraine to do the poster for Endangered!!!, making the custom typefaces for the pageant sashes for Hairspray Jr., watching my political hero, @berniesanders make pivotal speeches, supporting and voting for Bernie in the Primaries and supporting and voting for @hillaryclinton in the general election (I'm still with her), getting to enjoy the gardens at the @cummermuseum , the birth of my sweet, freindly, loving nephew Cooper, and hanging out with the @Weezer Family and enjoying an insanely amazing show. There is light in the darkness, we go high when they go low. 2017 will not be easy, it will be our year of the next four to stand up, be bold, be kind, and not let anyone stop us for enjoying the positives of life and the beauty of our world. #2016 #newyear #lookingback #weezer #endangered #hairsprayjr #newnephew #berniesanders #hillaryclinton #newart #drawing #penandink #politicalheroes #shortfilmposter #gardens #flowers #beautyoftheworld #dontletthemputyoudown #imstillwithher #lovetrumpshate #weezerfanclub

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I will not stray from the truth, 2016 has been a bittersweet year for the United States. As a whole, we have suffered from an outpouring of hatred, political piracy, and deaths of beloved people. While, I could expand upon these issues, I won’t, I would like to focus on the positive, the events making 2016 good.

To start out 2016, I had left 2015 behind with many new paintings and an application submitted to graduate school for the 3rd time. I was burnt out. I began drawing again which has been the most pleasant experience for myself and inspirational. Painting is always a stressful media for me to use, being a perfectionist about my art and knowing with oils, I could easily modify, I would freak myself out over getting everything just right. When I went back to drawing, it forced me to let go of perfection and to work with mistakes. I also got to explore observational ideas as well instead of setting up a stage. This was a much needed transition for me artistically and payed off very well in helping to lead me to the next step. I played pretty low, didn’t participate it shows, just gave myself a break to work and solve artistic problems without putting myself in a strenuous mind set.

I also have been continuing writing poetry, my poetic expression expanded into short story writing. As I have been working on a poetry for the past eight years, I’ve now added a short story manuscript. This seems like a heavy load, but really its therapeutic and a work as I go type of process, not a commitment at the moment. With this, my songwriting has increased, there had been a death in the family of a person who was musical and had encouraged my music. It was unexpected for this person to pass on and came a week after I wrote my first song of 2016 to be recorded on a short demo. Somehow, I think he was passing his musical energy onto me. When these songs come to fruition, they will be dedicated to his memory.

Meanwhile, my cousin gave birth to a cute little boy whom I refer to as my nephew. He has been a joy to be around and watch grow. Talk about one of the happiest babies I have ever known! He smiles, giggles, plays, and now he’s trying to walk. He loves to play with my jewelry, I don’t mind at all. My Aunt Rosa used to let me play with all her breakables when I was a kid and never blinked an eye, with my nephew, I feel the same way. I trust my nephew to handle the jewelry with care and I make sure he knows what he can do with it in a proper way. (Of course he still has to learn boundaries, he’s a good little guy though.)

Over the summer I went to see Weezer, which I may have previously posted about. I got to hang out with our Weezer Fan Club Family. We all enjoyed the show, the guys did an amazing job as usual. What has been so great about being involved with Weezer is the wonderful people I have met and gotten to know. Everyone is friendly and although we all have our agreements and disagreements, it does not get in the way. What I have realized over the past couple years is community is extremely important and it doesn’t matter if they are right next to you or in a totally other state or country, as long as you build bonds with people and can communicate, you will be in a healthy place.

After the show, I had a slated move date to Los Angeles, I was set, I had bags packed, I was just trying to seal a deal on a lease. I couldn’t get anyone to lease a place to me due to not having a job in the state. There were so many obstacles getting in the way, it was to the point I had to go back to my job. This was not the only reason, I needed to keep my health insurance, then my Grandma’s health was threatened and I had to help my family get her back to a good state (She is doing better that ever now!), and then Frida Kahlo also had a hand in keeping me around. As much as I wanted to leave and finally start my new life and career, Big G had other plans, the Insurance provider had other plans, and Frida had her own plan too. I do believe there is a reason for everything and I know these are the reasons. I would have loved to have started my life again, but I guess my work here just was not quite finished. I get to see Frida this coming week for our visit. This was a long time coming and I cannot wait for our visual communication conversation.

Another reason keeping me in town was to make sure I did the best possible work on a poster commission. My good friend and former Screenwriting professor, Lorraine Portman had me create a poster for her comedy short film, Endangered!!! It was my first commission and one that would be at film festivals. Working in collaborating on the design was an awesome experience as Lorraine passed on her ideas and I brought them to life. This is a big deal for me, never did I think I would fulfill a dream of designing a real poster nor think it would get to be at film festivals and promoted online. Ten years ago, if I knew this would happen, my younger self would have been crazy excited! That girl would be proud of what I have gotten to do with Endangered!!!

This year also charged me up politically, my whole life I have been a Feminist. I’ve always been involved, but the unfortunate events have inspired me to expand my voice. In 2017, I plan to embark on artwork centering around people who feel victimized by hatred. I want to visualize them and write their stories to share with the world. I also want to be active in lending my voice to rallies, speeches, any public speaking engagement. I may be a powerful writer, but I am a charged up speaker as well and this passion needs to be channeled to the nation. Also, the plans to relocate to Los Angeles will happen for the sake of my future and health. With this, I would also like to get involved with the Girl Scouts and volunteer with a Troop. My students have inspired me to take action on this long pondered dream. I would share my stories about being a Girl Scout with my students and they would remind me of all the fun and prosperous activities they engaged in. I feel it would be a good group to be involved with again. I’ve also reapplied a 4th time for graduate school, I hope this time they will see I am an excellent pick. If not, I have so many plans, I know I will not be idle and my talents will be going to work for the greater good.

I sincerely hope we will have a good four years to come due to our fighting against the evil raised. Do I fear whats to come? Yes. This is why we retaliate with our votes, our voices, our art, our communities, everything, but peacefully, civilly. We must not be the hate we dislike. Do not turn yourself into a monster to fight the monster. Be a hero/heroine. Be a leader, be a role model, be positive, and support one another. If you see bad things, call it out, do not stand idle and be an enabler. Take back the good of this world and reject bigotry in all of its forms.

Happy New Year to all! There is light amongst the darkness, do not be afraid to walk through. Stay strong, be brave, enjoy the beauty of this world, do not forget it exists, do not believe it has died. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the manipulators.

-Johanna Falzone Dec. 31st, 2016

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