The Lord is the one life shining forth from every creature.

Mundaka Upanishad

I am writing either late in the night or in the early hours of morning depending on your slant of time and how you define the count of passing days. It is 2 am on what was a Sunday that is moving into a Monday. My daughter and I have spent the past twelve hours working on this website. Trying to double-check posts and pages, adding copy, making sure the articles are spell checked and proofed. She continues her tasks at the small desk to the side of my larger one. I am done with editing and website building for the night. My mind is floating in other realms. I am pondering the wellbeing of a friend.

Kurt Jarvis is asleep in a hospital room across town as I write. His wife, Judy, likely there by his side. He faces heart bypass surgery on Wednesday. He is optimistic and cheerful in his emails to me and others, keeping us all updated via funny poems about the situation. Perhaps it is that anomaly in behavior that keeps Kurt so much in the foreground of my thoughts so late into the night. Kurt, as a person now part of my life, and a friend facing a difficult trauma, seems very present with me in these quiet hours. As if we both share this space about us. As if we are in the same room sharing a cup of coffee. He is near in the far away.

The Start of Knowing

In May of this year, I went to photograph Kurt and his wife, Judy, at his exhibition at Brookgreen Gardens for a local magazine. It was a frazzled, rushed, emotional “not my best self” kind of day. I was running late. Kurt and Judy were on time. They were also extremely patient, kind, and understanding. My frazzled state eased immediately upon seeing their smiles. I quickly relaxed into the warmth and joviality that is Kurt Jarvis. It’s his ability to immediately put those around him at ease with a genuine warmth, energetic joy, and caring personality that impresses me most.

Kurt Jarvis is a talented artist. He is an author, a poet, an illustrator, a sculptor, and the list goes on. He is also simply what one would consider a good human being. His energy, laughter, and concern for others shines in everything he does. His years of service in Christian ministry and missionary work also obvious in his bearing and kindness toward everyone he interacts with.

Becoming Friends & Collaborators

Kurt & Judy Jarvis with Colleen, Brookgreen Gardens Exhibition, May 2020

I was working to complete and publish the first issue of Serenity Cafe Magazine and was mid-way through the troublesome renovation project at the Serenity on Broadway Gallery when I met the Jarvis’s in May. I talked with them about both projects and made arrangements to stay in touch so we could collaborate later in the year.

In the following months, as I struggled with both new companies – major projects with delays, constant complexities, and stress levels I’d never have imagined – Kurt became a constant source of encouragement and inspiration. An angelic cheerleader of sorts. He sent me emails with poems, tidbits of encouragement, news of other artists in the region, and shared locations and travel spots that would make good articles.

Kurt also was active and encouraging on social media, giving me those beloved Likes on Facebook and sharing posts and information there as well. He was actively promoting the dreams of the magazine and gallery, and actively participating in the the cultural growth possibility those projects bring to the Myrtle Beach area. There were days when it truly felt as if God had dropped this amazing angel of a human being into my life just to encourage me to keep moving forward.

Kurt Jarvis poses with Malissa Bell after her purchase of his watercolor painting, Goin To Church, at Serenity on Broadway Gallery. 2021

Last month, as the gallery neared completion, and I was finalizing content for the upcoming issue of Serenity Cafe Magazine, I interviewed Kurt for our feature story in that issue. I know our readers will enjoy his story.

It was also an honor to sign Kurt as one of our Gallery Artists and to display his work at Serenity on Broadway Gallery. And I’m happy to say that, shortly after opening our doors, his watercolor painting, “Goin to Church,” was our first sale!

Growing into Meaning

There is a beauty and joy to collaboration with other artists, just as there is a beauty and joy in collaborative living with other human beings.

I think of Kurt and send prayers, warm wishes for quick healing, and loving vibrations of recovery his way. There is no fear or worry. I know he will come through this and soon be bouncing into the gallery with more artwork or donations for the children’s art programs in his hands. He has a rare and beautiful zest for life that is a joy to watch and be around. That energetic joy leaves traces in the room when he leaves. It is obvious in his children’s books and in his watercolor illustrations. I would even say that the most outstanding element of his work is that it communicates his joy at being alive. It sings with freedom, joy, and play. It is art that makes you smile.

As I think of Kurt, what it means to know him – the strange and surreal ways we all impact those around us – I realize that he epitomizes my dreams for the gallery and magazine spaces. He is the exemplar of what it means to create an open and giving “space” for others, to encourage communication and exploration, to help others find their way into a creative communal space that grows their soul and opens their hearts. This is the ideal for the gallery and magazine spaces.

I am grateful for the friendship and collaboration with Kurt. Proud to present his work at the gallery and in the upcoming issue of Serenity Cafe Magazine. As I send prayers for his healing and recovery, I also want to write this for him, to share his impact on me with others, to express my gratitude. So, Kurt…Thank You and get well soon!