Her dad was especially prudent after the Great Depression, but Judi Cain bought ink with her 35 cents of lunch money after elementary school.
With glass bottles of ink in her hands, Cain, a 76-year-old Gainesville artist, said her excitement exceeded her hunger. She hoarded turquoise, purple, red and yellow ink in her wood desk.
In similar spirit, Cain abandoned her art teaching job and packed everything she owned into a green and white Volkswagen van when she was 28. She traveled across the eastern U.S. in the flowered van riding on earnings from her $5 portraits.
Cain’s defiance of societal norms allowed her to leave behind strict rules set in her mind towards her art. Rather than criticizing her pieces with her “ego mind,” as she called it, she learned to let paint and her creativity flow.
Cain, four other women artists and three women DJs displayed art and played music at the fifth annual Goddess Visions Artwalk Exhibition. The opening reception was Aug. 28 and the show ended on Sept. 25. For the sixth year, Visionary FAM, a team of muralists who curate and hold events, hosted the show at SwampCity Gallery Lounge.
Jesus Martinez, co-owner of Visionary FAM and graffiti artist, aims to show outsider and psychedelic art that isn’t mainstream. Along with being a family-friendly environment, the space is shared by alternative thinkers and artists, he said.
Due to city mandates resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Martinez said the venue began selling food in order to stay open to guests. He's also had to decrease shows from weekly to monthly due to the pandemic.
Intentionally so, Martinez chose women artists and DJs for the Goddess Visions Artwalk Exhibition. He said in the DJ world, women are less recognized.
“The opportunities for women to play are not as frequent as men,” he said, “That's something that I'm always looking to kind of cultivate here in Gainesville and just to make them feel comfortable.”
Cain is flattered to be among goddesses, who she said form powerful energy together.
“We live in a masculine-empowered society,” Cain said. “It's time that the women get their own show.”
However, she said all-men exhibitions are more normalized, and she doesn’t want special treatment or to be seen as weaker.
Each of the artists, she said, all create energy paintings, ones where they pour their energy into the works without judgment.
For Cain, not creating is like building a dam in a river leading to stagnant water.
“Our energy, when we don't create things, gets kind of stuck in our gut,” she said. “I kind of feel this energy flowing through me, from my gut, into my solar plexus, into the canvas and into the paint.”
When Cain paints, she tries to hold a 5-year-old’s perspective: fresh and unaware of rules. First, she squeezes out a tube of paint onto a canvas and then doodles. She aims to drown out doubt and simply paint.
Like light peeking through trees and forming shapes, she said she allows forms to appear.
Ultimately, Cain said, nature is her main inspiration.
“If you look at the geometric patterns that are formed in nature it's the ultimate designer,” she said. “No tree is just green with brown, like we did when we were little. Every single leaf has a billion shades of color in it.”
At the Goddess Visions show, recurring themes of nature, peace and love were present.
Martinez said he tries to incorporate these values into his work and shows.
“The things that I produce, I do it from that place of peace, love and unity,” he said.
As a previous attendee, Brianna Reichard, a 22-year-old Gainesville artist, said the Artwalk uplifted her. Now, for the first time, she displayed her art and painted live.
“Art makes people happy and I want people to feel happy when they look at my stuff,” she said.
Destiny Gross, a 23-year-old Gainesville resident and Artwalk attendee, said the event is one of the last frontiers in Gainesville.
“It’s actually Gainesville in personality,” she said. “It gives other people a good idea of what the town should be as well.”
Among locals, she said art is how they identify each other.
“It's kind of like a synopsis of everything that we've been through growing up here, which is very much togetherness,” Gross said.
Visionary FAM hosts events every last Friday monthly at the venue. The next show will be on Oct. 30.