#Ron Wendt – Zen Glass Art


Artist’s Statement 2015

I am a retired Professor of Communication who now faces the daily challenges of numerous permanent disabilities, including chronic pain. I employ a Zen Buddhist (meditative) lifestyle and mind-frame to understand and show empathy and compassion for all creatures who suffer from pain, anguish, misery and torment. I feed my passionate creativity by building stained-glass-on-glass mosaics, many of which suggest such Zen themes as: solitude, courage, bliss, humility, innocence and compassion.

I consider myself to be, first and foremost, a colorist — I strive to showcase vibrant colors, in various bold combinations. From my perspective, stained glass provides the best medium for exploring the the full color spectrum. I sincerely hope that my Zen Glass Art causes people to think differently and/or more deeply about what art means to them. My ultimate goal as an artist is to better understand and communicate my true self and to explore the ineffable aspects of emotion, inspiration, and higher consciousness.





glass broken  .  .  .

i forget



Below is a picture from my cell phone, as capable as it may be, pales in comparison to what you will experience from the following   link: http://r-wendt.wix.com/zenglassart                                                                                       See what I mean!




Karen (2)     My name is Karen and I am an artist who has struggled with depression and ADD all my life. I was not diagnosed until I was an adult, so I spent most of my childhood wondering what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I like everyone else? Doing art was my escape and way to deal with it. I could lose myself in the art and forget about my troubles, for a while anyway.

I like to share my art and skills with others and I volunteer at a day club for people with mental illness. I help them to use arts and crafts as a way to bring some joy into their lives and as a kind of meditative therapy.

I am inspired by nature and I enjoy capturing the beauty of it. I love color and I use it along with tones, shades, highlights, and shadows to bring subjects forward and make objects appear three dimensional and life like. I also have been experimenting with abstracts and like to use bright, happy colors. My goal as an artist is to create works that bring pleasure to peoples’ lives. I paint in oils and acrylics on canvas and I also do murals. I enjoy working with textiles, beads, and mosaics as well as photography. I also do commissions.

Karen has been working in many different medium. She has a keen eye for detail and her paintings prove that. She has won awards and works with others to share her passion and expertise. She makes jewelry, woodblock prints, photographs and Giclee prints of her original paintings; both to be framed and as all occasion cards. Below you will see some examples; a print of her painting of orchids that won an award at Orchid Quest 2015; a woodblock print, necklaces and one of her photographs of water lilies.  She is willing to work with clients to accommodate their needs.




My name is Whitney; my premature birth was traumatic and resulted in a stroke. As I was growing up other issues became apparent and I was diagnosed with a Non Verbal Learning Disorder. During this time I was also diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder with some obsessive compulsive tendencies. Mostly I tried to keep to myself and avoid crowds. Not easy when you grow up in a large family, my father used a power wheelchair and my siblings had different diagnoses, we were a foster family so there were kids coming and going for the first ten years of my life. My parents are advocates for people with disabilities so we had lots of interesting adventures growing up; like going to D.C. for conferences with a heavy dose of sightseeing and some marches and protests thrown in for good measure. These were not always to my liking but my parents hoped that the exposure would be good for me. I believe I am more tolerant of people’s differences because of all the travel.

About this time I started to take my own photographs on a “101 Dalmatians” camera that used 110 film. Photography has been extremely important to me; it has been a way of putting distance between myself and the world I observe. While working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design I explored the world of Adobe Creative Suite and now use Photoshop and InDesign to manipulate my photographs to express many different moods and insights. Someone once asked where I got all my models; it’s just me, allowing others a glimpse into a part of myself that I could not otherwise share. The changes I make to my photographs are done in careful layers; I want to experiment with options that alter the world I see, careful not to destroy what lies beneath.


Whitney has been a challenge and a joy since the first day we met her. In 1989, if you were born to a woman who used drugs you might have been labeled a “jittery” baby. In those days they were careful not to accuse addicted moms for fear they would not seek follow-up care for themselves or the baby. Now they take a more enlightened approach and treat such babies as addicts (because they are) and ease them off the drugs with the aid of methadone or similar treatments.

Whitney came into the world addicted to barbiturates and probably many other substances and was forced to quit cold turkey. The jitters, sweats, and inconsolability, among other manifestations of the trauma were very real and very painful. Neuroscience has proven that trauma suffered by a baby before the acquisition of language leaves permanent scars (PTSD), and will have lasting consequences.

The upside of the stroke and all the rest of it, if I may put a positive spin on it, is that Whitney has an exceptionally creative eye. She sees things in new ways, the beauty in a blossom past it’s prime and the ability to morph it into a butterfly; details of common objects that we have failed to notice. I, like most people can take pretty good pictures, Whitney, unlike most people has the ability to turn the commonplace into an art form.

One of our artists: Katlyn



My name is Katie Pityer. Growing up I have learned to deal with Bipolar Disorder,  a Borderline Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Insomnia and an Eating Disorder. I have learned that Coping Skills need to be a very big part of my life and my recovery. The greatest and most important coping skill, the one that I rely on the most is Art. Whether it’s painting; creating clay; ornaments, figurines and jewelry; making all occasion cards; sun catchers; coloring inspirational coloring books or origami, they have all helped me to understand myself better and keep me on the road to recovery.

Art is the one thing I can immerse myself into and nothing else in the world seems to matter. It gets me through bad days, anxiety and panic attacks and many other unpleasant situations. When I am painting, I want to make it fun and inspirational; whimsy is a big part of everything I do. My clay work is inspired by my favorite things, like animals, items and words. I also like to use the holidays to inspire new and different designs. The cards I create are mostly inspired by the holidays and the people that are close to me. I make them so that each individual can personalize them and add their own special touch.

Art has definitely played a large role in my recovery. It lets me be creative, as well as gives me a way to express myself through my imagination. In fact, I can’t imagine my life without art. Much of my creations are currently available at Indigo Wings Gallery and Gifts at 4601 Monona Drive, Suite 102 and I try to get to the studio there at least one day a week to work.


Ornaments made by Katlyn Pityer


This is the first in a series to introduce our artists. There are many more interesting individuals for you to get to know a little better.

#Indigo Wings, a little background . . .



Twenty or so years ago as I watched my children and others struggle with a variety of obstacles, some created by society and others that were heaped upon them by the circumstances of their birth, I dreamed of a way to promote their exceptional qualities without making them seem like “the handicapped”. I continue to be shocked when I hear those two words, still too often used in the 21st century. People have disabilities and abilities, there isn’t always balance; some days are a lot rougher than others; but the abilities are always there; and yes, some people do need more help finding and nurturing them; and that’s okay. That is why I went all in to start a nonprofit Studio and Gallery to nurture those abilities and showcase their talents.

Indigo Wings continues to pursue the goal of building a community of artists who have space in our studio to work and then sell their creations in our Gallery and through other outlets that we continue to pursue on their behalf. Our artists are talented individuals who happen to have disabilities. As a nonprofit we depend upon the commission from the sale of these creations (no government subsidies here) and the generosity of donors to continue to provide space and to showcase this talent. We also encourage artists to gather with their peers who share their common interests, learn from each other and share life experiences.

We have been busy since our soft opening in late August. New Artists have joined our Studio; we have been involved in a number of exposure events including, IgniteMadison for Social Good, check it out at http://ignitemadison.org/; Mad City Bazaar @ Top of State, a very windy exposure event, cut short by weather; MadisonNonprofitDay Conference ,because of which  we have been invited to sell at American Family Insurance Nonprofit Vendor Holiday Sale on 11/17; and we are exhibiting our artists work at the new offices of Employment Resources Inc.  located on International Lane in Madison, on their beautiful Gallery Walls.

The time has come for a Grand Opening Celebration. We appreciate all the support and generosity of everyone who helped make this dream a reality.  Please share this invitation with anyone you think would be interested grandopeninginvitation.

Please RSVP to indigowingsinc@gmail.com.

Check out our website; www.indigowingsinc.com and Like us on Facebook (Indigo Wings Inc).

There will be more information on the Artists and upcoming classes in future posts, so stay tuned.

#Dancing in the Rain


We all have a personal definition of success; power?, money?, love?, peace?, it doesn’t matter what it looks like as long as it makes you happy. Suffice it to say my personal goals are of a more manageable proportion. In fact, I’m not so sure that most of the great things that have happened in my life ever were “goals”.

“Stuff” happened in my life that was not so much ‘planned’, more along the lines of fallen into. Becoming a cheerleader in highschool happened because a friend needed someone to try out with; getting elected Vice President of my residence hall in college happened because a friend needed a running mate, who knew they would split the ticket; living overseas happened without my help, travel in southeast asia the same; finding the love of my life happened when I opened a door not expecting to find love; and children happened because we decided to give Foster Parenting a “try”. None of these had been goals of mine, I guess I have just been incredibly lucky.

Perhaps the only goal that I have ever had was to start Indigo Wings Incorporated, www.indigowingsinc.com, a Gallery and Studio where people with disabilities can come together, create and sell beautiful works of art. I’m not sure when the idea began to form, except that it was during the time when our Foster kids needed services that were not available to them.

When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol stays in the amniotic fluid for roughly seven days, that means, if you have a drink once a week, your fetus is swimming in booze or drugs or whatever you consume, all the time! The results can vary greatly, the baby can have relatively minor complications or severe cognitive impairments.  Brains develop early in pregnancy, so you can imagine how many children are affected by the drinking their parents did without knowing they were pickling their baby’s brain. Sometimes it’s expressed as being really bad at math, or anxiety, or mental health issues as they struggle through puberty and continue to haunt them in adulthood.

Six of our foster children were available for adoption, again six kids was never a goal, yet we adopted them all. We really had no choice, by the time a decision was made that they could not return to the people who had given them life, we couldn’t say no.

All of their birth mothers were “poly-drug-users”, each was affected differently so we continued to support them in any way we could think of. We traveled with them, went on so many camping adventures, they tried soccer, gymnastics, dance, scouts, and hobbies. Creativity was the one unifying factor, expressed in different ways so that it was more supportive than competitive. We had a huge play room, most of the basement, plenty of dress up clothes and puppets, as well as entire cities made out of large cardboard cartons, an indoor slide and more. Yes, there was plenty of dancing in the rain.

My life has been far less about planning than living. There have been so many beautiful memories and adventures. Luckily I have had an incredible cast of family and friends without whom none of this would have happened.

Our children are now adults and most of them are sharing Indigo Wings with me. They love me enough to try to make my dream come true and for that I am truly grateful.

Turning 60 and Indigo Wings


When I turned 60 I was in denial, I suspect not unlike most people. I was happy to say that I didn’t feel any different, after all it’s just a number. You know what happened next, stuff started to hit the fan as though this milestone really was serious. We’ve all been there, thinking that enough bad stuff had happened to fill the bucket, how could there be more? Most of us know there is always the potential for more. Like Gilda Radner said . . . “It’s always something”.

It took a couple of years before I realized that I had better figure out what I wanted to be when I ever grew up. For many years there had been this fantasy of starting a nonprofit. One where people with all sorts of disabilities could come together to create beautiful things and build community. Sometimes I even dared to speak of it to others and was encouraged by the response. Doing the research was not difficult, figuring out what I needed in terms of paperwork, what to file; where and in what order. There was no shortage of things to do, the distractions of family, friends, work, and the years flew by. We were busy as Foster Parents and Adoptive Parents feeling secure in the statements from professionals that our kids would “grow out” of the troubling mixed bag of issues they struggled with. I took classes on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and babies born to mothers addicted to other drugs and believed their words of encouragement. I raised six of those ‘science experiments’, followed the rules about caring for and raising them, exposing them to travel, camping, soccer, gymnastics, dance, lots of people with different kinds of disabilities, and about caring for others. They are, for the most part, truly wonderful adults with vastly different personalities (so much for nurture over nature) who have ingrained in them a basic concept of fairness. They are caring and socially responsible adults. What more could I ask for? I’m their mother . . . the moon. What I would settle for is more financial and vocational stability and fewer bad days. The issues they struggled with as children still haunt them today. The experts were wrong, when you pickle a babies brain in a brew of alcohol and drugs, there will be lasting consequences, they don’t just grow out of it!

So . . . after the third funeral in as many months I decided I had better get moving before the fantasy died with me. I dug out my research and started to file paperwork with the state and then the feds. March 1, 2015 was the birthday of Indigo Wings Incorporated, a 501(c)(3) organization that has a Studio where people can work, take classes, find mentors and make friends. There is also a Gallery and Gift Shop where individuals with disabilities can sell their creations.

The dream/fantasy has taken on some very real structure and I am equal parts scared and excited. We are finding new artists and of course, some of the talent comes from my own adult children. It’s not that anyone should be scared of turning 60, on the contrary, use these milestones and stop settling for dreaming and start doing.