What do Cruella deVille and Sylvia White Gallery have in common?

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It’s been 35 years of consulting with artists, 50 articles written and now blogged on ArtAdvice.com, 8 different offices/gallery spaces, hundreds of workshops, thousands of exhibitions and at least a million artists (it seems) and even a brain tumor couldn’t stop me.  For those of you that don’t know,  I was diagnosed in December with having a skull base meningioma, pressing on my brain stem and precariously close to spinal cord….I named my brain tumor Cruella deVille.  She was finally evicted February 26, 2014.   I am just now able to come up for air, and wanted to touch base with all of you that expressed your concern,  shared your prayers, sent notes and cards and flowers…the love is overwhelming.  Now that the surgery is over, I can comfortably re enter my life, but not exactly where I left off.  I am happy to report that the tumor was benign, was successfully and completely removed and my doctors are thrilled with my recovery…. the best possible outcome.   However,  there is nothing like a brain tumor to force you to sit up and take notice of your life,  where you’ve come from, where you are going.  As divine intervention would have it,  the discovery of my brain tumor also coincided with our daughter being pregnant with our first grandchild.  So, although this is to reassure you that I am indeed OK, in fact, better than my old self, I am looking forward to seeing how these experiences will unfold in the next chapter of my life.  This was the last picture taken of me before I went to the hospital, (Photo Credit: Donna Granata)  I love it so much because I see something in myself that I had never seen before… there is a calm relaxation in this portrait, a sense of confidence that everything will be okay, and the pride of accomplishment with a life well lived.  I feel so blessed that I have been able to spend my life helping artists and doing something that feels so congruent to who I am as a person.  Advising artists, telling them “everything your mother should have told you about being an artist,” was the perfect career choice for (as my mother would say) this “bossy” little girl….quick, before they ban that word.    I can’t imagine ever stopping the work I do with artists, consulting and advising, teaching and giving workshops.  Not even a brain tumor can bring that part of me down.


I am also extremely proud of the work I have done with Sylvia White Gallery.  It has been a labor of love and an incredible 6 years of important exhibitions.  I had the pleasure of bringing museum quality art to Ventura County with our exhibitions of Ed Moses, William Wiley, Don Ed Hardy, Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, Viola Frey, Masami Teraoka, Squeak Carnwath, Dale Chihuly, Robert Graham, Chuck Close and so many others. Our juried shows have introduced hundreds of emerging artists to a new audience and nurtured the creativity of so many that long for exposure.  The performance series we hosted, 5x5x5, produced and directed by John M White, gave audiences the opportunity to experience quality Performance Art in every way, shape and form.  Memories were made here that will not soon be forgotten.  My staff and I will continue to do what we do best…helping artists get the exposure they want and their work deserves. 

So what do Cruella deVille and Sylvia White Gallery have in common?  They both allowed me to challenge myself in ways I never thought possible.  They both gave me the confidence that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.  They both gave me the opportunity to appreciate all the friends, artists and support system I have around me. Cruella was surgically removed but will remain an important milestone in my life, and although I will continue to advise and consult with artists,  closing the gallery allows me the opportunity to experience another milestone…becoming a grandmother.   As always, I remain available 24/7 via telephone and email…gotta love technology.  I am enormously grateful to my fabulous staff.  Cameron and Katy and I will be here, as always, to answer questions, schedule consultations and service the artists who have entrusted us with their career. I hope you will all join me on this wondrous adventure we call LIFE to see where the next chapter takes us.



23 Responses to “What do Cruella deVille and Sylvia White Gallery have in common?”

  1. Barbara Brown said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 12:41 pm

    I am relieved that you have beaten Cruella — the battle must have been a very difficult time for you and your family. A recovery like that goes a long way to re-looking at life through a different lens and realigning priorities.

    I respect and understand what must have been a very difficult decision for you, but I am greatly saddened by the closing of the gallery. The Sylvia White Gallery, through your contributions to the exposure, education, and development of art and art connoisseurs in our city, cannot be undervalued. The art that you have shown there is extraordinary. Through your many openings and competitions, I have personally experienced art that has changed my perspective on art itself, the creative process, life and this city. You and the gallery will be sorely missed.

    I wish you the very best.

  2. Scott Greene said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 12:44 pm

    Dear Sylvia,

    I’m not sure you remember our phone conversation a while back, but you were kind enough to take time to visit my website and address my career concerns, and I really appreciated it.

    Anyway, I was very worried (then relieved ) after reading your message about Cruella Seville. I’m so happy to hear it was a life expanding experience, for both you and your family. You’re a very rare and generous person in the art community, which you have made your extended family.

    I’m so happy you are OK!

    Warm Regards,

    Scott Greene

  3. Peter Worsley said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 1:14 pm

    So sorry to hear your news about yourself, and so happy to here that you are recovering.

    You have been a pillar of the local art community. Your Gallery will be missed.

    Best wishes for the future.

    Peter Worsley

  4. Wendi Schneider said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 3:31 pm

    While we have never met, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for sharing this,
    and for all you have done to help artists find their voices and propel their careers.
    I only wish I had discovered you sooner. :)
    Thank you for your passion, your strength and for sharing your wisdom.
    I wish you all the best in your new incarnation.
    I’m sure the next stage will be filled with love, light, awe and great art!
    Kind regards,
    Wendi Schneider

  5. Karin Aggeler said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 5:38 pm

    Dear Sylvia,

    I have just read your letter about Cruella de Ville! What an ordeal you went through and how gloriously you managed to come out
    the other side with an enriched sense of life! You give everybody who reads your letter a great guide and example of how to turn a major
    upset into a new chapter in one’s life!

    You would not remember me, I took part in a workshop you give in SB and followed it up in your Gallery. It has been on my mind to
    schedule an appointment with you, but I always was reluctant , thinking I am not quite ready.
    So, I will check with you at some point about my website.

    My family life is also a busy one, I am also a grandmother, and get scattered, but paint as much as possible.
    At this moment I am represented by Primavera in Ojai and a gallery in Santa Fe.

    I am sorry to read that you are closing your Gallery, but also understand your reasons very well.
    For the next chapter in your life, I wish you good Health and much joy!


    Karin Aggeler

  6. Judy Chan said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 7:51 pm

    Dear Sylvia,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cruella deVille. I’m so happy that Cruella was benign. I just want to thank you for all that you’ve done for me (putting me in an exhibition, getting me into two galleries right after I graduated from CSULB, and giving me professional advice that I passed on to my students and continue to abide by today). I credit your advice for my receiving one of the top NEA artists grants that led to my first museum solo exhibition. You have been a major influence on how I conduct my professional self, including how to give a proper hand-shake, and I want you to know how grateful I am. Thank you again.

    Congratulations on being a grandmother! It’s the most wonderful experience. I’m a grandmother and I absolutely love it.

    Judy Chan

  7. Kerry Adams Hapner said:

    Apr 24, 14 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you, Sylvia, for all that you have done to support cultural life in Ventura and the lives of artists. You’ve been a mentor to so many, including myself. Bright blessings to your family as you experience the birth of your grandchild. I’m confident in your work to come, improving the opportunity landscape for artists and instilling skills for self sustainability.

    With love and appreciation,


  8. William Solomon said:

    Apr 25, 14 at 6:51 am

    Dear Sylvia,
    I am very glad to hear that you are doing very well!
    Health challenges can be formidable and I am glad you have come through it with renewed strength and looking forward to the next chapter.
    I will truly miss your exhibitions and the gallery.
    Thank you so much for the opportunities you have given me.
    William Solomon

  9. Robin Apple said:

    Apr 25, 14 at 8:19 am

    So happy to have found you and connected with you just as you are making this major life transition! I am sorry to hear about the health events of the past several months, but am equally inspired by your capacity to find growth and transformation resulting from a setback. I look forward to seeking more guidance from you on my (hopefully) burgeoning art career :-). Congratulations on becoming a grandmother; and BTW, loved the NYT “Booming” piece about you and your husband that provided some of the background.
    Robin Apple

  10. Wendy Widell Wolff said:

    Apr 25, 14 at 12:56 pm

    God Bless you Sylvia!

    I praise God for this wonderful outcome! I had no idea you were going through such an ordeal!

    We will miss your gallery dearly. You have done an outstanding job on many levels. You have a real appreciation and caring attitude for
    artists. This is commendable beyond words.

    I hope we will meet up one day soon. In the meantime, “heal up good”! Enjoy the grand baby like nothing ever before! And enjoy all the wonderful days of your life.
    And may your family reap tremendous benefits in having just a little bit more of YOU!

    Wendy Widell Wolff

  11. Beth Changstrom said:

    Apr 25, 14 at 1:03 pm

    Good morning Sylvia – your email/blog via The Art of Being an Artist sent me spinning. I am so glad that Cruella and you are permanently separated,leaving you with exciting and positive plans for the future. I am sorry that this heralds the close of Sylvia White Gallery – I had been working twoards and looking forward to the possibility of being part of the Trifecta you wrote about not long ago. I considered it an honor to have been able to show with you, both at last years “Collectors Choice” and your most recent Juried show – last October/November.
    We all go on. I continue to scan magazines and the internet for likely suspects for my work. I’m very excited about the direction it’s taking and would love to keep you posted about my growth as an artist.
    All my best, Beth Changstrom

  12. Brenda Mercado said:

    Apr 25, 14 at 9:25 pm

    I am most proud of you and have loved the time I spent with you
    and time spent at the Gallery.
    Happy healing dear heart.

  13. Helen Harrison said:

    Apr 26, 14 at 6:44 am


    For some reason I read your email today and am very glad that I did. Don’t know when I learned about you first, but at that time I found your articles right on with my thinking and approach to being a sculptor and having a gallery. I’m sure I read religiously for awhile and then got sidetracked in my own doings. I did submit something to the Collector’s show one year, worrying about shipping something large from Key West to CA if I was accepted. All said and done, probably best I wasn’t for only that reason. Anyway, I am writing to tell you how thrilled I am you are well and that I plan to pay attention again and possible seek some advice concerning my work.

    I wish you the best.

    Helen Harrison

    Helen Harrison, Director
    Harrison Gallery
    825 White St.
    Key West, FL 33040


  14. Ashlie Benton said:

    Apr 26, 14 at 9:42 am

    Congratulations on the successful procedure and recovery. And the new family member on the way! I appreciate your dedication and, well love really– You are the water for so many thirsty artists in the desert! This sounds like an exciting time for you and your family…Very happy for you!

  15. Becky Gleason said:

    Apr 27, 14 at 11:05 am

    Hello, I am an artist in North Carolina, and I receive your gallery’s emails. I just read your REMARKABLE email, and I am so moved! I am grateful for your message, for your health, and new-found direction, and for your blessings as a Grandmother! I have enjoyed reading your emails for about 2 years now, and I had no idea you have written so many articles! They have always been on point, filled with real information, and I loved receiving them. Thank you for all you’ve done for creatives everywhere! Wishing you continued blessings!

    Becky Gleason

    Huntersville, NC

  16. Randine Dodson said:

    Apr 28, 14 at 6:58 am

    Hi Sylvia,

    I just read this – it’s always a shock when someone you consider indestructible, has a brain tumor of all things. I do thank God it was benign and I am also very happy for you setting a new course in your life which will be equally exciting and fulfilling.

    You are still the most professional (?) art professional (you know and hang the big guys) to ever see my work in a short portfolio critique after a workshop and your words were validating and honest – I like that about you. Your list, ‘Okay, I Think I’m Ready to be a Professional Artist’ is something I still check and keeps me on track.

    I think I really want to say I’m so glad you’re healthy and hanging around Planet Earth for awhile and oh yes, congratulations on the grandbaby! Life is beautiful.

    Take good care,

    Randine Dodson

  17. Aileen Imperatrice said:

    Apr 28, 14 at 12:02 pm

    I am relieved to hear you are recovering. And although I am saddened to hear of the closure of your public exhibitions, I am grateful for having had the opportunity to exhibit my art there, thanks to your choosing of my work. I had hoped to enter work into the next Summer Juried Show, but even without that opportunity, I do still plan on being in contact soon with you and your staff about your artist services.
    I wish you continued better health and I appreciate what you continue to do for the arts.
    Thank you!
    Aileen Imperatrice

  18. Cristina Armisen said:

    May 01, 14 at 11:14 pm

    Dear Sylvia
    Congratulations on your recovery and killing Cruela de Vil…I also work with my sister and artist Eva Armisen and always follow your comments and advice on the distance. Love your suggestions and writings about the business and life
    Keep up the good work and enjoy life!!
    Cristina Armisen

  19. Cheryl Kline said:

    May 02, 14 at 12:12 am

    Dear Sylvia
    I just read about what happened. Wow, you are an amazing warrior. I look forward to what the future brings for you in this next chapter of your life. You always have helped me when I have been stuck. I tell my art pals that after a consultation with you I feel like I had an artistic mind massage and a veil was lifted to reveal a new path. Maybe you will consider doing a workshop at Kline Academy for our students? Best of luck and thank you for all you have done for artists like me.

  20. Carmen Ambrosio said:

    May 02, 14 at 6:11 am

    I serendipitously discovered your web site last year just as I decided to focus on marketing my work.

    Your experience and wisdom has been invaluable to me and countless other artists.

    Best of luck with your health and the next phase of your life,

  21. Judith S Miller said:

    May 02, 14 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Sylvia,

    Wow! A lot of news to digest. First, I am so happy that the surgery is over and was successful and Cruella is no longer. Also, congratulations on the new family member. I am sorry the gallery is closing, it will be a great loss to Ventura. But, as you say, on to the next chapter. For us, that new chapter may be a return to California and Ventura is on the list of possibilities, although after reading the article you put on Facebook, it doesn’t sound as appealing as it did before. All the best to you and John.

  22. Carolyn Deck said:

    May 05, 14 at 11:06 am

    Dear Sylvia,
    I am one of the artists that has received an enormous abundance of encouragement through your gallery and the artadvice website. I was deeply moved by your email and the successful eviction of Cruella. You don’t know me, we have never met, but I believe strongly in the power of love. And I am sending you all the love that my heart contains so that you may continue to heal and prosper. And what a joy your grandchild must be !!!!!

    Carolyn Deck

  23. Walter Paul Bebirian said:

    May 08, 14 at 12:52 am

    Hi Sylvia –

    ran across this blog looking for how to get people to become addicted to my art –
    which brought up you post:
    If You Are Addicted

    and so I am not sure where to go from here –

    I love you blog post – but I am not sure whether it answered my question since I don’t remember that far back (as my wife about how I can so easily forget things)

    and yet I certainly do not want to simply leave here without at least saying hello

    ask how you are doing – make sure that you have an infinity worth of happiness ahead of you

    and then perhaps ask is there anything at all that we can do together –

    you do seem to be from what I have read and seen in your picture –

    a wonderful person to get to know and perhaps work together with –

    what do you suggest?

    Walter :-)