What do Cruella deVille and Sylvia White Gallery have in common?

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It’s been 35 years of consulting with artists, 50 articles written and now blogged on ArtAdvice.com, 8 different offices/gallery spaces, hundreds of workshops, thousands of exhibitions and at least a million artists (it seems) and even a brain tumor couldn’t stop me.  For those of you that don’t know,  I was diagnosed in December with having a skull base meningioma, pressing on my brain stem and precariously close to spinal cord….I named my brain tumor Cruella deVille.  She was finally evicted February 26, 2014.   I am just now able to come up for air, and wanted to touch base with all of you that expressed your concern,  shared your prayers, sent notes and cards and flowers…the love is overwhelming.  Now that the surgery is over, I can comfortably re enter my life, but not exactly where I left off.  I am happy to report that the tumor was benign, was successfully and completely removed and my doctors are thrilled with my recovery…. the best possible outcome.   However,  there is nothing like a brain tumor to force you to sit up and take notice of your life,  where you’ve come from, where you are going.  As divine intervention would have it,  the discovery of my brain tumor also coincided with our daughter being pregnant with our first grandchild.  So, although this is to reassure you that I am indeed OK, in fact, better than my old self, I am looking forward to seeing how these experiences will unfold in the next chapter of my life.  This was the last picture taken of me before I went to the hospital, (Photo Credit: Donna Granata)  I love it so much because I see something in myself that I had never seen before… there is a calm relaxation in this portrait, a sense of confidence that everything will be okay, and the pride of accomplishment with a life well lived.  I feel so blessed that I have been able to spend my life helping artists and doing something that feels so congruent to who I am as a person.  Advising artists, telling them “everything your mother should have told you about being an artist,” was the perfect career choice for (as my mother would say) this “bossy” little girl….quick, before they ban that word.    I can’t imagine ever stopping the work I do with artists, consulting and advising, teaching and giving workshops.  Not even a brain tumor can bring that part of me down.


I am also extremely proud of the work I have done with Sylvia White Gallery.  It has been a labor of love and an incredible 6 years of important exhibitions.  I had the pleasure of bringing museum quality art to Ventura County with our exhibitions of Ed Moses, William Wiley, Don Ed Hardy, Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, Viola Frey, Masami Teraoka, Squeak Carnwath, Dale Chihuly, Robert Graham, Chuck Close and so many others. Our juried shows have introduced hundreds of emerging artists to a new audience and nurtured the creativity of so many that long for exposure.  The performance series we hosted, 5x5x5, produced and directed by John M White, gave audiences the opportunity to experience quality Performance Art in every way, shape and form.  Memories were made here that will not soon be forgotten.  My staff and I will continue to do what we do best…helping artists get the exposure they want and their work deserves. 

So what do Cruella deVille and Sylvia White Gallery have in common?  They both allowed me to challenge myself in ways I never thought possible.  They both gave me the confidence that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.  They both gave me the opportunity to appreciate all the friends, artists and support system I have around me. Cruella was surgically removed but will remain an important milestone in my life, and although I will continue to advise and consult with artists,  closing the gallery allows me the opportunity to experience another milestone…becoming a grandmother.   As always, I remain available 24/7 via telephone and email…gotta love technology.  I am enormously grateful to my fabulous staff.  Cameron and Katy and I will be here, as always, to answer questions, schedule consultations and service the artists who have entrusted us with their career. I hope you will all join me on this wondrous adventure we call LIFE to see where the next chapter takes us.



8 Responses to “What do Cruella deVille and Sylvia White Gallery have in common?”

  1. Barbara Brown said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 12:41 pm

    I am relieved that you have beaten Cruella — the battle must have been a very difficult time for you and your family. A recovery like that goes a long way to re-looking at life through a different lens and realigning priorities.

    I respect and understand what must have been a very difficult decision for you, but I am greatly saddened by the closing of the gallery. The Sylvia White Gallery, through your contributions to the exposure, education, and development of art and art connoisseurs in our city, cannot be undervalued. The art that you have shown there is extraordinary. Through your many openings and competitions, I have personally experienced art that has changed my perspective on art itself, the creative process, life and this city. You and the gallery will be sorely missed.

    I wish you the very best.

  2. Scott Greene said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 12:44 pm

    Dear Sylvia,

    I’m not sure you remember our phone conversation a while back, but you were kind enough to take time to visit my website and address my career concerns, and I really appreciated it.

    Anyway, I was very worried (then relieved ) after reading your message about Cruella Seville. I’m so happy to hear it was a life expanding experience, for both you and your family. You’re a very rare and generous person in the art community, which you have made your extended family.

    I’m so happy you are OK!

    Warm Regards,

    Scott Greene

  3. Peter Worsley said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 1:14 pm

    So sorry to hear your news about yourself, and so happy to here that you are recovering.

    You have been a pillar of the local art community. Your Gallery will be missed.

    Best wishes for the future.

    Peter Worsley

  4. Wendi Schneider said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 3:31 pm

    While we have never met, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for sharing this,
    and for all you have done to help artists find their voices and propel their careers.
    I only wish I had discovered you sooner. 🙂
    Thank you for your passion, your strength and for sharing your wisdom.
    I wish you all the best in your new incarnation.
    I’m sure the next stage will be filled with love, light, awe and great art!
    Kind regards,
    Wendi Schneider

  5. Karin Aggeler said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 5:38 pm

    Dear Sylvia,

    I have just read your letter about Cruella de Ville! What an ordeal you went through and how gloriously you managed to come out
    the other side with an enriched sense of life! You give everybody who reads your letter a great guide and example of how to turn a major
    upset into a new chapter in one’s life!

    You would not remember me, I took part in a workshop you give in SB and followed it up in your Gallery. It has been on my mind to
    schedule an appointment with you, but I always was reluctant , thinking I am not quite ready.
    So, I will check with you at some point about my website.

    My family life is also a busy one, I am also a grandmother, and get scattered, but paint as much as possible.
    At this moment I am represented by Primavera in Ojai and a gallery in Santa Fe.

    I am sorry to read that you are closing your Gallery, but also understand your reasons very well.
    For the next chapter in your life, I wish you good Health and much joy!


    Karin Aggeler

  6. Judy Chan said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 7:51 pm

    Dear Sylvia,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cruella deVille. I’m so happy that Cruella was benign. I just want to thank you for all that you’ve done for me (putting me in an exhibition, getting me into two galleries right after I graduated from CSULB, and giving me professional advice that I passed on to my students and continue to abide by today). I credit your advice for my receiving one of the top NEA artists grants that led to my first museum solo exhibition. You have been a major influence on how I conduct my professional self, including how to give a proper hand-shake, and I want you to know how grateful I am. Thank you again.

    Congratulations on being a grandmother! It’s the most wonderful experience. I’m a grandmother and I absolutely love it.

    Judy Chan

  7. Kerry Adams Hapner said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you, Sylvia, for all that you have done to support cultural life in Ventura and the lives of artists. You’ve been a mentor to so many, including myself. Bright blessings to your family as you experience the birth of your grandchild. I’m confident in your work to come, improving the opportunity landscape for artists and instilling skills for self sustainability.

    With love and appreciation,


  8. William Solomon said:

    Apr 25, 14 at 6:51 am

    Dear Sylvia,
    I am very glad to hear that you are doing very well!
    Health challenges can be formidable and I am glad you have come through it with renewed strength and looking forward to the next chapter.
    I will truly miss your exhibitions and the gallery.
    Thank you so much for the opportunities you have given me.
    William Solomon