When the Prodigal Father Returns Bringing Light, Love, and Art

At some point in June 2015, apparently, my life became a constant mad rush of art. It’s a good problem to have: a life filled with non-stop art and love and creativity and connection and family and friends–and friends who are my family. Bliss. All. But this poor little blog suffers neglect as my determination to document, document, document wanes. How to fill in the details now? A chronological account? Alas, that method may have to suffice. I’ll throw in a few photos here and there to brighten it all up.


Since June 2015 I have been fortunate enough to curate and/or have my art featured in a variety of exhibitions including the DC Street Sticker Expo 2.0 at The Fridge in Washington, DC, Currents, Haunted, and More Than a Muse at Epicure Café, and Threshold and Baby Canvases Five at Olly Olly. I had the pleasure of being featured in Washingtonian Magazine and Northern Virginia Magazine. I was also grateful to be honored with the invitation to serve as a member of the Transformer 12th Annual Silent Auction and Benefit Party Auction Artist Nominating Committee. And I’ve been hard at work creating a one of a kind Moleskine Mailer for Tempus Projects Moleskine Mailer Collaboration opening January 9, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. Saying life has been a whirlwind would be beyond understatement. I love it, but I’m ready to slow down and look inward for a bit. This year was also wrought with its own certain sadnesses, but I’m not ready to write about them just yet. I’m ready now to be still for a moment and breathe.

As the Winter Solstice approaches, Yule, Christmas, and the New Year, we’re given all sorts of opportunities to make a fresh start. It’s a time to renew our light. I could make a resolution to be a better, more consistent blogger. I could and I may. Yet I see 2016 approaching with more abundant love and art bliss including three Olly Olly exhibitions already in the works and dates booked.



In conjunction with Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016, Olly Olly will hold an exhibition entitled Embracing the Power of Artistic Practice. Featuring work by Lina Alattar, Eames Armstrong, Adrienne Gaither, Zofie Lang, Joseph Orzal, and Mojdeh Rezaeipour Embracing the Power of Artistic Practice will open at Olly Olly with a reception on January 23, 2016 from 7-10pm, include arts programming combining poetry and art, and will hold a closing reception on February 20, 2016 from 7pm-10pm, with performance by Eames Armstrong. Olly Olly’s second exhibition of 2016, Domestic Territories, curated by artist and curator Sarah Irvin, will be celebrated with an opening reception on March 5 from 7pm-10pm. Manifesto, a collaborative exhibition and event at Olly Olly, featuring art from all five members of The Bunnyman Bridge Collective, is scheduled for mid-May 2016.

Jessica Kallista_Another Year in Suburbia (an Excavation)_001

Another Year in Suburbia (an Excavation) by Jessica Kallista

I am also excited to share with you that my first SOLO exhibition, entitled Dear Suburbia (of course) opens Friday, March 18, 7pm-9pm at the Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery. Many thanks to Gallery Director Mary Welch Higgins and Juror Stacy Slaten. The Dear Suburbia SOLO exhibition is a bigger miracle than I can fully describe to you here. When I met my biological father for the very first time four years ago, he encouraged me to start a blog and to post my poems and art, as well as my experiences struggling with mindfulness and motherhood in suburbia. This blog, Dear Suburbia, became a way for the two of us to communicate our current situations after decades of separation. Dear Suburbia brought us closer over common loves and questions about writing, art making, meditation, love, loss, being-in-the-world. We learned from one another. Together we struggled with writing. We were tickled with excitement by the way the world works. We became friends. We started to become our own quirky and special version of family. Daddy and daughter. He passed away very suddenly just nine months after our first meeting. Still, with his help and inspiration, I had my art in an exhibition for the very first time six months after his passing. And now, nearly four years after starting this blog, I’m working on my first SOLO exhibition: Dear Suburbia, named after this blog, and the project of living life right where I am–right now, all the time to the fullest–that my biological father encouraged me to create and pursue.


Four years ago I was hiding out in suburbia, covering all of my light, wondering how to survive. Then I started writing letters of love to this strange land. Now my light is on fire for all the world to see. I’m so blessed and lucky to share it with you. Huge love and gratitude to my miraculous group of family and friends and friends who are my family. I couldn’t do any of this without you. You make my light shine brighter every single day. I love you. I wish you a multitude of light and blessings now and always.

Stay happy.


Gratitude for an Art Filled Life

I’m blessed to be surrounded by incredible artists and gorgeous art. This past year has been filled with nonstop art and constant love, and I’m truly grateful. Creating art continues to teach me that, with a solid set of supplies, imagination, community, collaboration, love, persistence, patience, and dedication, magic can be made. We have the power to co-create our lives and our world.

Every day I’m meeting talented local artists. Opportunities to experience and create art are overflowing everywhere–including right here in suburbia. I’m grateful to be making and showing more art than ever before. Coming up just this week my work will be included in two exhibitions.

Thursday, December 11, from 6-8 pm join me for the opening reception of 5 x 5 x (5), an all media exhibition featuring small works, at Target Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia. I love little pieces of art that leave an impression far beyond their size. The exhibition features the work of over 30 artists from the U.S. and abroad.

Bunnyman by Jessica Kallista

On Saturday, December 13, from 8 pm-midnight, join me for a night of art and music at Epicure Café in Fairfax, VA for the opening reception of Divine. Curated by The Bunnyman Bridge Collective, Divine brings together 11 local artists, from across the DMV, working in a variety of media from stencil art, calligraphy, poetry, painting, drawing, mixed media, textiles, and more. Spend an evening with artists Jason Davis, Abner De Jesus, Michael Fischerkeller, John Grunwell, Matin Haji, Toni Hitchcock, Hks181, Joseph Nicolia, Javier Padilla, Mojgan Yaghmaei and me. Music for the opening reception will include the ever so transcendent and intoxicating jazz sounds of Dreamsville. You’ll want to be a part of this art and music filled event!

Heartmind by Jessica Kallista

Before you know it the new year will be here, and with it even more art. In January 2015 I will be opening a new alternative art space in Fairfax, VA called Olly Olly. Stay tuned for more news about exhibitions, open studios, and art events–all right here in suburbia.

Olly Olly

Total love and gratitude to all of the artists and art lovers who fill my life with art, love, and magic. So many awesome people. Thank you!

Learning to Let Go

This week marks the one year anniversary of my very first Free Art Friday drop. Letting go of that first piece was an anxiety filled experience. I honestly did not believe I would ever put another piece of free art out into the world. The entire process stirred up so many questions and debates within myself (and a bit of debate outside of myself as well). Would this helpless little piece of art be safe? Would it find a happy art loving home? Am I crazy to keep giving away art? Who owns art? What is ownership? How are artists connected to the communities in which they live and work? Can the surprise of finding a piece of free art on a sidewalk or a park bench disrupt the isolation experienced by many people living in suburbia? Soon enough, however, the second piece was out there in the world, and then the third. I kept making the pieces. I remained determined and dedicated to placing these pieces out in the world for anyone to find. Through the year my world changed in ways that I never could have imagined. With more than 50 art drops over the past year, I am grateful for all of the love and art, for the amazing friends I’ve met along the way, and for the incredible opportunity to learn about chance, interconnectivity, love, and surrender.

To celebrate my one year Free Art Friday anniversary, today in Fairfax I’ll be placing three of my little lovelies out in the world for anyone to find. Keep a look out! Happy Free Art Finding!


Free Art Friday One Year Anniversary Drop


And I also have to say, I have immense love and gratitude for all of the awesome Free Art Finders. Here are a few of them. Please post photos if you find a Free Art Friday piece. Here’s to another year of Free Art Friday NoVA! xoxo


Awesome Free Art Finders Awesome Free Art Finders


Free Art Friday As Performance and Street Art

As part of the worldwide phenomenon that is Free Art Friday, I’ve placed at least one piece of free art in Northern Virginia for anyone to find and keep nearly every Friday since August 2013. Think of it as street art that anyone can take home. Imagine it as a way of building and engaging community. I view this project as a way to disrupt the isolation of  living in Suburbia by creating situations of chance and surprise, and instigating dialogue about ownership, creativity, commodity fetishism, community, and connectivity. The transitory, ephemeral, and unpredictable elements of my Free Art Friday experience have come to feel very much akin to aspects of performance art. Through these eight months or so, the process of creating art specifically designed for Free Art Friday, scouting out locations, leaving my art out in the world, taking photographs of my free art in a variety of locations, posting the photographs to social media, and engaging with the audience have evolved into an ongoing, elaborate, documented, and joy-filled performance. The audience is key. Finders, admirers, and even critics of this project have helped to form and influence its evolution in ways I had never imagined. I’ll be leaving another piece somewhere in the world today. You can view past Free Art Friday pieces and look for clues to find pieces yourself by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Happy Finding!

Here’s a look back at a few of my Free Art Friday drops from the past eight months:

Making Sense in an Art Mess

Even with my new studio space I’ve still been experimenting, creating, working, and pretty much making a huge art mess in my home “studio” space…AKA the dining room. Thanks to a tip from a fellow collage artist, I’m working with a new process lately that involves heat sealing my collage elements together on mostly wood substrates. I’m also experimenting with large format pieces. A friend was kind enough to find a couple doors for this new phase of my collage work. One of the doors became an incredible table for my studio. I have so much gratitude for all of the amazing and generous artist friends in my life.  I’m also very grateful to share with you a few work in progress images of how the other door is coming along. This door is 24″ x 80″ which is truly a departure from my usual work. Moving back and forth from the tiny 4″ x 4″ creations that I’ve been putting out into the world each week for Free Art Friday NoVA and this large door collage has been an inspiring challenge. I’m happy to be able to have such a range of projects on which to work every day. And as you can see, the studio is quite a mess. It makes sense to me and allows me a certain level of nonstop freedom as I create. What about you? Do you need a mess around you to get your creative juices flowing? Or is a tidy studio space more inspiring to you?