Origin Story

Share this content...

Esperanza’s Origin Story

I grew up in a small town in the foothills of Northern California, not far from Yosemite. The story goes that I’ve been painting since they were able to keep me from putting the brush in my mouth. My first art show was in a local bank when I was 5. (Those paintings were primitive at best.) As a child, most weekends were spent traveling the west coast powwow circuit with my father, who was an artist by trade. (It’s basically camping and operating a storefront at the same time, but there’s also fried bread, lots of drumming and dancing.) This gave me the rare opportunity be nurtured by some wonderfully kind Native elders and a perspective on Native American culture that few people get to experience.

As a teenager I became interested in performing arts and spent many years involved in all aspects of live theatre. At 18 I married a theater tech. After years of experiencing unexplained pain, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in my early twenties. Its a nerve pain disorder that still limits my activity and stamina. My marriage dissolved after 12 years, but not before having the two sweetest, most talented children one could ever wish for. Following the divorce my son and daughter moved with me to Costa Rica, a grand adventure that lasted nearly eight years. In addition to many incredible experiences, we became fluent in Central American Spanish, which comes in quite handy.

In 2010 we returned to our hometown, where I finished my degree in visual arts. For a time I worked as the director of the arts academy at our local arts council. I had the opportunity to reconnect with another legend from my childhood, BZ Smith. She’s an award-winning storyteller who was also my childhood librarian. I became a founding member of The Mother Lode Storytelling Guild and BZ became my mentor as a professional storyteller.

My children are grown now and two years ago, I had the opportunity to relocate to the bay area where I do live performances and storytelling. Then a family member noticed some of my artwork and commissioned me to create a large painting for her new home. With that, my life has come full circle. I’d forgotten the incredible satisfaction that comes from picking up a brush, dipping it into the paints and letting inspiration take over.

In the spring of 2020, I started the podcast Unpacking Life’s Crazy. The very first episode is a Pride Month interview with my delightful youngest daughter about being transgender. There have been 15 episodes since March. Tom Bomb, a guest on the Psychedelic Comedy episode of my podcast, inspired me to sculpt an amanita muscaria mushroom for my holiday tree. This lead to me sculpting mushrooms for friends and family and then to offer them on my Etsy shop. They sold like crazy through the holidays. By the beginning of 2021 my mushroom sculptures had evolved into a species of cheeky little mushroom people. Who knew I’d love sculpting so much.

Like my artwork, I’m a constant work in progress. Today my passion is making mushroom men and maidens. Tomorrow…