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Lifestyle
Longview artist's work featured in new publication
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Longview artist Sharon Grimes will be featured along with some of her paintings in a new publication scheduled to be released in the fall.

“There was an international call for artists and I applied for it,” Grimes said. “I submitted images to the publication and they chose which images they thought would be best.”

“Art Folio,” a publication by Day III Productions, provides a platform for artists to gain additional exposure.

“Art Folio” publisher Doug King said he got the idea for the publication a few years ago.

“I wanted to create a high-quality coffee table book that would give artists additional exposure,” King said. “I wanted to create a platform for artists who really do have great talent to receive the attention, notoriety and exposure that I personally feel they deserve.”

The first edition of “Art Folio” features more than 100 artists and their work.

“We will ship out hundreds of copies to art galleries around the nation,” King said. “It will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble later this year. COVID really messed things up.”

Grimes’ work has been exhibited locally and in other states.

Her paintings have been in group exhibitions at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, P’s Gallery in Longview, the R.W. Norton Gallery Group Show in Shreveport, Tyler Museum of Art and at the Kilgore Art Festival. She also has had shows at the Red Dot in Miami and a solo show at the Arcadia Art Show in Tyler.

“I have a painting in a group show at Laguna Beach,” she said. “I had a painting that was supposed to be in a group show in New York but that turned into a nightmare because of COVID.”

A self-taught contemporary abstract artist, Grimes said it’s difficult to choose a favorite among her work.

“Whatever I’m working on at the time is my favorite,” she said. “It’s so exciting every time, but I can’t really look back and say which one is my favorite.”

However, she does remember her first painting.

“My first painting was a cat,” she said. “That was about 25 years ago and I still have it.”

Grimes said one of her latest endeavors is working with a gallery in France.

“I’m very excited about working with Day2Day Gallery,” Grimes said. “It’s an online gallery and they’re trying to find a storefront and hope to be open next year.”

Grimes said she sold her first international piece with Day2Day Gallery.

“It was a painting called, ‘The Land of My Imagination II,’ ” she said. “That gallery is trying to put together a show in Barcelona for a few of their artists, so that’s the next plan.”


Lifestyle
Longview artist group hides creations for others to seek with clues
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Ready, set, go!

Some local artists are stashing art around Longview in hopes that someone will dash out and find it.

ETX Stash and Dash is the brainchild of artist Tiffany Penny, who came up with the idea in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I couldn’t get my mind off what was happening in the world, so I turned to crafts,” Penny said. “Pretty soon my entire house was filled with terrariums.”

Penny said her husband walked in one day and asked what she was going to do with her new creations.

“He said, ‘you need somewhere to put them,’ and I said you’re right.”

From that conversation, Penny came up with the idea to hide some of her art.

“We did something similar when I was in Austin, so I decided to hide one and see if anyone wanted to grab it,” she said. “And from there it just grew.”

Penny started the group a month ago.

“What you do is create something. It can be anything — a candle, a painting. I’ve been doing terrariums,” she said. “You make it and then you go out to wherever you want – a park – and you just find a little place to stash it, take a picture and give your crowd some clues.”

Artist Austin Albert joined the group while living in San Antonio.

“This is my hometown area and one of my friends in the group invited me to join,” Albert said. “I was feeling the same as Tiffany – this whole COVID thing has everybody in a slump and it just seemed like a beautiful way to get people together, strangers who don’t even know each other. And what they’re doing is sharing their creations and crafts and in a creative way.”

Because of how fast the group was growing, Penny said she needed help and asked Albert to be an administrator.

“The group kind of grew overnight. I shared it with everybody on my friend’s list and then all of a sudden there was like 300 members,” she said. “And Austin started sharing and we just kept building and building and now we’ve got a Stash & Dash in Massachusetts doing really well.”

A quick look at the ETX Stash and Dash Facebook page now shows over 1,500 members.

Penny said there also is a group starting up in Boston and they are working on getting one in Dallas.

“We have one in Texarkana, Waxahachie and Bossier City,” she said.

Albert said the Massachusetts group, managed by one of his friends, hit 1,700 members in less than two weeks.

“He was a jiujitsu coach and he couldn’t teach (because of COVID-19) so he started trying to paint and he had never painted before,” Albert said.

Artist Lakey Hinson said one of the benefits of the group is it gets people involved who might not have ever heard about Longview’s art community.

“Since I’m out creating on the street, I tell people about ETX Stash & Dash and so many of them are not in the circle to hear about things happening in the art world,” Hinson said. “With all of us going out on our different ways and being in public, it allows us to get more people involved in Longview art than might have never gotten involved or known that there was anything to be involved in.”

As for the rules, Penny said the rules in Massachusetts are little more set in stone than the rules in East Texas.

“We just want people to have fun and they get to them very quickly,” she said. “I put a necklace out a week ago and within seven minutes someone had it.”

Albert believes the clues are sometimes too obvious.

“I’m about to do some of my stashes since I’m back in the East Texas area and I’m going to show them how to stash,” Albert said. “I’m going to show them how to leave some clues because I think some of the higher quality items need a higher difficulty of finding.”

Hinson said he tries to make his stashes a little more difficult.

“What I’ve done to make some of my stashes a little more difficult and promote community involvement is I picked up a ton of trash in this one area. I don’t have a car so I didn’t have anywhere to take the trash so I put a hint on there,” Hinson said. “And whoever would come pick up this litter could come get art prints from me. In less than an hour, someone had already picked up the trash and was contacting me to get the print.”

Albert said anyone can participate in ETX Stash and Dash.

“They don’t have to be a member of the group. Somebody can just stumble upon whatever it is that’s hidden,” he said. “Someone can just be walking along the path at a park and come across the art. An attached note explains the connection to ETX Stash and Dash.”

Penny said the group is considering exchanging art with the Massachusetts group.

“Right now we’re talking about possibly doing a mass exchange with Massachusetts and they can send 15-20 pieces of their art to be stashed in East Texas and we would do the same with them,” she said. “That would start to create a community nationwide.”

The main goal of ETX Stash and Dash, Penny said, is to make people smile.

“It’s really cool to see a child, especially, find something that you’ve hidden,” she said. “It’s a really beautiful thing.”


Lifestyle
A woman is infertile, so her mother is carrying her baby for her
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Breanna Lockwood paced anxiously in the hallway at the doctor’s office, waiting for her name to be called for the first ultrasound appointment of the pregnancy.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous,” Lockwood recalled.

She had faced disappointment in that room many times before, with her husband Aaron Lockwood clutching her trembling hand.

But today, there was someone else with a growing baby bump on the examination table: Lockwood’s 51-year-old mother, carrying her daughter’s baby.

After Lockwood, 29, battled infertility for several years, Julie Loving, her mother, insisted on carrying her baby for her.

Loving is Lockwood’s gestational surrogate, meaning an embryo made from Lockwood’s egg and her husband’s sperm was implanted into Loving’s uterus in February. She is now five months pregnant.

For Loving, the decision to carry her daughter’s child was obvious, she said.

“Breanna had wanted to be a mom since she was little,” Loving said. “When you see your child struggling with infertility, you do whatever you can to help.”

In the past four years, Lockwood has endured 476 injections, eight IVF embryo transfers, seven surgeries, two miscarriages — including one with twins — and an ectopic pregnancy. It eventually became clear that she would probably never carry her own child.

Lockwood and her husband, who live in Chicago, were high school sweethearts and married in 2016. They planned to wait a year before starting a family, but when Lockwood’s grandfather became terminally ill, they started trying for a baby in the hopes that he could meet his great-grandchild.

But the couple learned that getting pregnant would not be easy for them. After months of unsuccessful attempts, they visited Brian Kaplan, a doctor who is a fertility specialist at Fertility Centers of Illinois.

“We went through multiple IVF cycles, and she got pregnant a few times, but miscarried every time,” Kaplan said.

From early on, Loving began considering the possibility of being a surrogate for her daughter and son-in-law.

“After the first miscarriage, I mentioned to my husband that if she continued to struggle with fertility, I would be her surrogate,” said Loving, adding that she hadn’t brought up the idea with her daughter.

That changed when Lockwood miscarried a set of twins at the end of her first trimester.

In December 2018, Lockwood brought her mother along for what she thought would be a routine ultrasound appointment. At 11 weeks pregnant with twins, she thought all was well.

During that appointment, though, they were given the painful news that neither baby had a heartbeat.

“That was traumatizing for both of us,” Lockwood said.

Her mother agreed: “That was a devastating day for me.”

Lockwood was recommended to undergo a dilation and curettage, or D&C, a surgical procedure performed after a miscarriage to remove the fetuses. She was warned of the slim chance that her uterus would be damaged.

“I was among the small percentage of women who are left with permanent infertility,” Lockwood said.

Given the damage to her uterus, Kaplan confirmed that there was a very slim chance she would be able to get pregnant, stay pregnant or have a full-term baby.

That was Lockwood’s breaking point.

“My mental health was terrible,” she said. “I couldn’t get out of bed and was really struggling with that fact that I might never have my own child, and definitely would never carry my own child. It was a grieving process for almost a year.”

Aaron Lockwood, 28, suffered, too. “Going through the hard years of infertility and appointments was grueling,” he said.

Then, Kaplan recommended surrogacy, since the couple already went through the process of harvesting and freezing several embryos.

But the Lockwoods learned that the process comes with a hefty price tag, running as high as $200,000 to cover the surrogate’s medical expenses, IVF clinic fees and legal and surrogacy agency fees.

Since the cost was too much for them, the alternative surrogacy option was to ask a family member or friend to carry the baby — which, Lockwood knew, was no small or simple request.

“I don’t have any sisters or friends who would be a good candidate for a surrogate,” Lockwood said. “That’s when my mom started saying — ‘well, what about me?’ “

Loving, who is an athlete and has completed two Boston marathons, felt she was still fit enough to carry a baby. At first, Lockwood wasn’t in favor of the idea, but after speaking with Kaplan, they decided to run some tests.

“Normally, surrogates are under 45 years old,” Kaplan said. “But I look at each case individually. You can have a woman who is 35 and very unhealthy, and a woman who is 55 and very healthy.”

After a slew of tests, screening procedures and consultations with several specialists — including a high-risk obstetrician, a gynecologist, an internist and a psychologist — Loving was cleared to become her daughter’s surrogate. The whole family, including Lockwood’s father, was supportive.

In his 29 years as a fertility specialist, Kaplan said he has never heard of a mother carrying a child for her daughter. There are roughly 2,500 to 5,000 babies born through surrogacy every year worldwide, and Kaplan estimates that mothers carry for their daughters in less than 1% of these cases.

Since announcing Loving’s pregnancy on her social media blog, Lockwood, who works as a dental hygienist, said she’s received mostly positive support, but some negative reactions. Her story spread widely online, and was picked up by local media.

“People comment that they think it’s weird but it’s not biologically my mother’s child,” Lockwood said. “It’s not any different than a surrogate carrying someone else’s baby, and I actually prefer that it’s my own mom because I feel more connected.”

Kaplan agreed. “I think it’s easy to judge, but when it’s you who is suffering from infertility and will never carry your own children, you do what you need to do. The fact that her mother was uniquely healthy made it a case worth doing.”

In fact, for Kaplan, it has been a learning experience.

“After 29 years working as a doctor, these two women educated me about the human spirit, determination and family dynamic,” Kaplan said. “I appreciate that.”

It has also brought mother and daughter closer, they both said.

“My mom has been my best friend for as long as I can remember,” said Lockwood, who is living with her parents as she and her husband look for a new house. “She’s always been there, so I’m not surprised she’s here now doing this crazy thing for me.”

Halfway through the pregnancy, Loving said she’s feeling great. “I definitely have more good days than bad days,” she said. “I have a great support system of family and friends, so it’s been really good.”

The Lockwoods and the Lovings are counting down to November, when they expect to welcome a baby girl.

“Besides my own body, I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather have carrying my baby than my mom,” Lockwood said.


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