Brooklyn artist Christine Dehlinger said she didn’t make “fine art” for more than 20 years because the “energy wasn’t there and the time wasn’t right.”
But in 2009, she had a spontaneous spiritual awakening which, she said, changed her life.
Dehlinger said a part of that experience seemed to be a call to make art again. She was compelled to get out her paints, which were all dried up and the caps stuck on the tubes, so she purchased paints that brought her back to her love of spreading textures and colors on canvases.
That eventually led her to open OngaArt (5015 Netherwood Road) in February.
She was never too removed from making art, though. Dehlinger spent several decades working in graphic design, which evolved beyond that to marketing and business communication.
Dehlinger said OngaArt is a place where people can come just to chat or have a cup of tea together, with no pressure to buy her art.
Not long after she had moved and settled into the studio and held an open house in February, the COVID-19 pandemic changed her course, as she said people aren’t shopping and gathering much right now.
She doesn’t have regular open hours right now, but said she is happy to make an appointment.
Delinger will have a “re-open” house when it is safe to do so, and making the studio a gathering space is still her vision. She’ll also expand to include workshops.
“I had intended to host monthly workshops to introduce folks to some of the cool but simple art-making that can be done by anyone including those who say “but I’m not creative,” she said. “It was also my intention to host an event where kids could come and draw or paint on my parking lot.”
Though, Dehlinger doesn’t believe anyone has to be trained in art to be an artist.
“I have never subscribed to the concept that one must be trained in art in order to make art,” she said. “For me, making art is simply an expression of heart and soul. One can and must “train” in techniques and media, but the expression is what is important, no matter how well-versed one is in any particular medium.”
Dehlinger’s spiritual awakening that led to her getting back into making fine art is still an undercurrent in her work. She belongs to the Energism Art Movement. She said this group is “devoted to spreading positive metaphysical energy through [their] creations, thereby helping humanity reach higher levels of spiritual consciousness.”
Dehlinger said Energism artists believe there is an underlying positive spiritual energy that joins all things and that by helping viewers connect with this energy, Energism artists hope to help to raise the consciousness of all humanity.
She said she has been an artist since childhood, for as long as she can remember being able to hold a crayon or brush to paper.
Dehlinger works with many mediums including pastels, watercolors, alcohol inks and melted wax.
She sells shirts with well-known spiritual symbols including the Om symbol, a blooming lotus flower, Chinese endless knot, the infinity symbol and Celtic triple spiral in a variety of colors and patterns. She also sells her art as pillows, mugs, note cards and sympathy cards.
She said during the pandemic, she has been having fun with cold wax and oil paints and alcohol inks used to create tile trivets and hand-dyed cotton face masks.
“My favorite medium is whatever I’m playing with right now,” she said. “That said, if I have a vision or concept, one medium will likely express it better than another so I will choose that. Each medium has its own traits and its own way of acting. I am simply attracted to art that has an intense presence with vibrant color.