Message from the Publisher

Brian Usher Piece Keepers
Debra and I live surrounded by daily reminders of the special relationships and bonds we, as humans, can form with our animal friends. To refer to them as "pets" just never seems to capture the essence of all that is involved in sharing our home, our lives with some pretty special creatures. We are tragically reminded of the special place they hold in our hearts when one of them passes on and leaves a huge hole in the time-line of our lives. Since the past issue, we've said goodbye to George ("The Cat") and our dear Mary, or Miss Tuffington, as Deb so aptly named her for her resilient and courageous spirit. They've gone but will never be forgotten - we've learned so much from them.

So, perhaps moved by this poignant sense of loss, when it came to choosing a cover for this summer issue, we gravitated to the cover painting "Piece Keepers" by David Kindler. We'll cover David's story in an upcoming issue, but for now, we felt his winning painting in the Artists for Conservation 2016 Competition told a story that touched us personally. There is a beauty in all the pieces but it is so easy to miss how it all fits together. Quite simply, we wonder if the puzzle of living alongside all God's creatures can ever be addressed such that we can attain some sense of lasting respect, harmony and sustainability.

"We live during an extraordinary period in history. Most who read this may well see over one-third of Earth's species vanish, along with dozens of human cultural lines and languages. The challenge of climate change, loss of biodiversity, desertification, overpopulation, and deforestation - each on its own - stands to adversely affect us all....Together, these challenges represent symptoms of a global pattern of impact by humans on the web of life that supports us." - Jeff Whiting, H.B.Sc., SAA, AFC; President & Founder Artists For Conservation

History seems to suggest that the need to preserve and sustain our natural heritage often goes unnoticed or is simply ignored as a result of simple self-interest. Life is a balancing act which we, as humans often overlook when focusing on our own needs and sacrificing those of others around us. Too often, only when it is gone, when we experience the loss, do we awaken to the reality and realize there is no going back. In this sense David's painting is a call to action and each of us; individuals and organizations must choose how to respond wisely so that we can continue to learn from the natural world and any grief we experience is without recriminations.

Bella So in the spirit of Mary, who had been a terrific rescue dog, we welcomed a new arrival into our world - not to replace our beloved friend but rather to offer a home to one that we hoped would soon become a friend and add her own special presence to our world. Sometimes it takes another special spirit to fill the void. Bella is a five year old beagle that has recently retired from a championship breeding career and now enlightens the lives of all of us in our special animal kingdom.

Art Criticism versus Story Telling
Having explained our selection of the cover for this issue, I think it's clear that ARABELLA is not a vehicle for offering discussion or evaluation of visual art. In that sense we are not art critics - particularly as the market for that kind of publication is dwindling. While we often say that our focus is on all that is beautiful in the world, we certainly don't intend to offer criticism of any art in the context of past or present aesthetics or theories of beauty. Instead, as many of our readers will attest, our focus is on telling stories that help readers better understand what motivates the creative individuals we highlight in each issue. ARABELLA is a platform for creative individuals and businesses to tell their side of their stories and their works. Our goal is to share stories that open doors to aspiring, achieving and accomplished artists in all mediums and disciplines; to take readers on a journey, sometimes to educate, but often as a special and unique form of entertainment or time for reflection.

Sometimes, as with the cover to this issue, we touch on both the beauty and the moral values that we feel are important - at least to us.

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