The Dreaded Holiday Letter

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, “A year-end ritual we have learned to love and hate simultaneously, the holiday newsletter has always been Americanish—efficient, egalitarian and increasingly secular. ” The tradition apparently began in the late 1940s. And so, in the spirit of tradition, here’s ours!

Greetings and best wishes for a wonderful 2021 from the Ibañez-DeVries family!

Yes, it’s the dreaded Holiday newsletter in which we brag about our accomplishments in 2020, the Year of Vision. If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter, please use the contact form. If you find specific items of interest, please pass on the information to your friends.

In this edition, you will see an overview of Summer at the retreat center B&B, the latest news about Alvaro’s art and the new gallery building, Denise’s writing, and links for the authors who generously shared their work at the gallery’s monthly events.  Our daughter Delia had an exciting year too, as you’ll see below. As we plan for 2021, we hope to continue to offer hope and encourage creativity as we attempted to do this year.

But first, let’s start with the social media stars of our family, A.G. the cat and Dulcinea (a.k.a. Dulce). A.G., now almost 6 years old, continues to supervise all activities. Dulce, now 13, enjoys welcoming guests and taking us on walks.

Summer at the retreat center B&B began early this year, with visitors arriving in March. Thanks to our listings on AirBNB and VRBO, we were fortunate to host some wonderful families who were attracted by Alvaro’s art and the natural charm of the Northern Neck. 

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We received some excellent publicity from the Rappahannock Record and the regional lifestyle magazine, the Local Scoop.

In the coming year, we would like to hold mini-retreats for writers, for which Denise has designed some creativity prompts and activities.

After our cross-country move in March, Alvaro began construction of a new gallery building from the ground up.

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The progress of the work is shown on the gallery Facebook page along with highlights of monthly events. 

The new gallery will house Alvaro’s Surreal Arizona collection, as the outdoor mural shows. 

The gallery’s Meet the Author Outdoors events began in September with historical fiction writer Stan Parsons, who lives in Northumberland County. He read from As The Dust Falls, the second book in the Gannaby family saga. He was joined by Lois Williams, a non-fiction author who coordinates the Lancaster Virginia Historical Society’s virtual history lectures. She read from her book The Lees of White Stone, Lancaster County, Virginia, 1650-1900. 

At the September open reading, we met John Cowgill, a photographer and writer who would become a regular visitor. That was also the first visit for J. Thomas Brown, whose book Land of Three Houses was featured in November.

October brought Sean Gates, author of the Dark and Lonely Road, and memoirist Ilona Duncan. She presented At Home on the Road and My Jewish Great Grandmother

Gail Wilson Kenna was featured in November along with J. Thomas Brown and Denise DeVries.  Ms. Kenna’s presentation took the audience on a journey from the Gold Rush depicted in her great-great-grandfather’s letters (Here to There and Back Again) to her travels in the Middle East which inspired The Story of a Contrary, Contumacious Cat, and her years living in South America, where she wrote The Face of the Avila and Beyond the Wall.  Denise DeVries introduced her new novel, Sweet Tea and Vinegar Pie.

In December, visitors were able to see some of the Surreal Arizona paintings in their new home, leaving more space open in the original gallery. 

Delia Ibañez showed one of her dance films in the B&B, and Denise read poetry from her chapbook Embroidering the Crazy Quilt

Plans are currently underway for the January event to be held on the 23rd and 24th.

In 2020, Denise’s writing seemed to blossom like the spring flowers that surround our 40-acre property. Early in the year, the Tempe Library Readers Theater performed her play, A Two-Faced Spinster. After returning to Kilmarnock in March, she continued the Bilocalalia blog, and completed Measured Moments, the way we see it, an illustrated anthology for the Tempe Legacy Writing Club.  In November, Chesapeake Style Magazine published the first section of Denise’s three-part article called “Growing up in the Northern Neck.” Denise finished her historical fiction novel, Sweet Tea and Vinegar Pie, which is available in print and as an e-book. It is the first in the Hull Crossing Chronicles series. She is currently working on a companion series called the Key to History. Delia Ibañez designed the cover for the first book in the series, Steamboats and Ghost Crabs, which should be available in mid-January. Alvaro provided the cover art for both novels.

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Delia graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University in December with a B.A. in Performance and Movement. During the past year, one of her dance films was shown at the IDEA Museum in Mesa; she was featured in several projects by choreographer Yvonne Montoya, including a video for the Tempe History Museum, and she created a multi-media video for the Phoenix Art Museum. Her final project for her B.A. was “Rare Sea,” a showcase of work created by artists in various media using her creative prompts. Delia is currently updating her website. If you would like to follow her work, please contact her through the Rare Sea event page on Facebook.

And now, we begin to plan for 2021. From monthly gallery openings to a multitude of murals, from blog posts to time travel stories, Alvaro and Denise expect another busy year. Please visit us in person or online, and let us know if you would like to share your creativity with others through one of our events. 

We end 2020 as the lights are going up in the gallery, making a perfect ending to 2020, the Year of Vision.

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