You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
"I'm an artist, writer, actress, business owner," says jack-of-all-(artsy)-trades Elena Davis, who's also a massage therapist, yogi and the owner of Peace of Mind Massage, where you'll find some of her artwork, as well as her new yoga-inspired clothing line, Peace of Mind Designs. How do you go from masseuse to artist and mindful clothing designer? The connection isn't so hard to draw: "Massage is an art, similar to painting," Davis says. Always inspired by yogic notions of mindfulness, she adds, "Anytime you are doing art, you are so present -- you have to be!"
And being so present helps explain how Davis has been able to realize her dreams.
She first showed art five years ago at the purple, pueblo-style building on the corner of South Pearl Street and East Mexico Avenue, which currently houses Mortgage West and has been used as gallery space before. "Other than that," Davis says, "I haven't really tried to pursue art."
But recently Katrina Gustafson, owner of Karma Yoga Center, where Davis practices yoga, noticed Davis's art when she stopped by Peace of Mind for a massage. Davis's peacock pieces, in particular, were "just so fitting at Karma," Davis says, and so she jumped at the opportunity to display her stuff in the lobby of a studio that is already "peacocked-out," as Davis puts it.
Aside from her current show at Karma, Davis also displays her work at Peace of Mind. She uses acrylic on canvas, flawless intertwining interesting textures and objects -- peacock feathers, shells, glass, even cherry blossoms -- into the designs.
"I like using different shape canvases, and I love multimedia," Davis says. She's inspired by Chinese culture, a nod to her heritage and upbringing by a Buddhist mother. This explains the peacock feathers, which are associated with Asian culture.
Davis began painting and drawing when she was five; she used to draw clothing inspired by Archie comic books. Davis's childhood was filled with comics -- "tons and tons of comics," she recalls-- and she still cherishes an Archie collection passed on by her sister. (Davis always wanted to be Jughead, not Betty or Veronica like the other girls.) And that was her unlikely entree into another artistic field.
"From a young age, I had really wanted to do clothing, but I never thought in a million years that would happen because I don't know how to sew," Davis says. But then she met Dexter Varra, owner of Local Ltd.; last spring he helped Davis complete her clothing line. Davis now sells her clothes at Peace of Mind, Karma, the South Pearl Street Farmers' Market and Yoga Rocks the Park.
The energetic artist and entrepreneur is also a writer -- mostly poetry and blogging for her business, but she'll be trying her hand at screenplays this fall when she takes a screenplay-writing class at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.
The dialogue aspect is what drew her to screenwriting. "And, since I also do acting, it ties in to that because my ideal dream would be to write something I could then act it," Davis explains. She hones that craft at unique place called ActAsana: "It is a new acting school and yoga studio combined, where you do yoga and meditate then take an acting class," says Davis. She met ActAsana's founder, Lea Marlene, on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica led by Karma's Gustafson.
"I'm not Picasso or Meryl Streep or Edgar Allan Poe, I just like art in all forms and expressing myself in lots of ways," says Davis. "I've really been able to be good at massage, and that's the money maker.... That's what is cool about the now -- I have an established business and can step into some of the other things that are harder to pursue when you are depending on them for money."
The Florida expat, the daughter of jazz and blues musicians, has been in Denver for the better part of a decade, and brought her folks along for the ride. "We all love Colorado," she says. "It is so different from Florida, and so much better for the art scene."
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