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John Ross Palmer's

Escapist Mentorship Program

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Escapism (n.) The Art Movement of Artist John Ross Palmer that is devoted to forever destroying the stereotype of the struggling artist.



John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program was founded in 2009 as a casual way for a fun group of local Houston artists to meet, communicate with each other about art and business while learning by example from Artist John Ross Palmer as a group leader.  In 2010, the program was elevated by the business of John Palmer Art by having a juried application process.  Applicants were required to submit images and answer a series of essay questions.  Applications were received from all over the United States of America--and one was received from an artist named Wavinya Ngei--a full-time resident of the country of Kenya.  Three promising artists were selected: Kelley Devine, Ryan Fugate and Edgar Medina.  After their graduation from the program in October of 2010, the business of John Palmer Art sought applications for the 2011 Escapists.  A downloadable application was placed on this website and the experience was promoted via Facebook, Twitter, Constant Contact and the John Palmer Art Blog.  In January of 2011, John Palmer Art proudly announced the 2011 Escapists: Raul Gonzalez, Nubia Gala-Seibert and Zak Vasquez.  The 2011 Escapist Artists, Gala-Seibert, Gonzalez and Vasquez, were the first class in history that were required to submit to a brief in-person interview at the John Palmer Art Gallery & Studio located at 1218 Heights Boulevard.  The Interview Panel consisted of John Ross Palmer F.C.C. Members Dr. Lynn Dickens and Richard Jennings as well as 2010 Escapist Artist Kelley Devine.  In January of 2012, John Palmer Art proudly announced the 2012 Escapists: Leigh Armstrong, Sonya Cuellar, Tra Slaughter, Lauren Jay Wondra Smyth and Anita Varadaraju.  Because Smyth is the first "international" Escapist (residing in London, England), all Finalist interviews were conducted via Skype.  Again, F.C.C. members, former Escapists and premier John Ross Palmer art collectors served on the juries for scoring the written process and interview phase.  Since its inception, being selected as an Escapist Artist in John Ross Palmer's Mentorship Program is entirely free.  There is no cost to apply and there is no fee whatsoever for the hours and hours Palmer pours into giving back to the art world and promoting the talented artists that have been admitted into the program.

            2011 Escapist Artist Interview Panel                                 2012 Escapist Tra Slaughter being Interviewed via Skype

The Process

To become an Escapist Artist, the individual must complete-in-full the Application that is downloadable at the top or bottom of this page.  For all timely-submitted and complete applications, a five-person jury then scores the applications on a point system.  Artist John Ross Palmer is therefore only 20% of the voting power and he retains no personal selection or veto power.  The scores are added up, and as was the case in 2010 and 2011, there was a clear cohort of three talented artists that were accepted to have this life-changing opportunity.  After the formal selection process, the program remains fun and casual.  Laid-back group meetings are regularly scheduled in addition to personal visits by Palmer to the respective Escapist artist studios.  Depending upon the stage of their career, this could mean Palmer visiting an independent artist studio or the space where the artist creates out of their home.  Palmer gives the Escapists light homework and they each write about their goals and intentions in journals that he has created for them.  Each artist is also provided with unique Escapist stationery for the purpose of sending correspondence to collectors and potential art collectors.  John coaches the artists not only on evolving their art technique--but also on how to promote their art, retain exclusivity, have savvy business salesmanship and overall personal and professional confidence.  John Palmer's business and life partner, attorney Ryan Lindsay, is highly involved too--meeting with the Escapists at their discretion to coach them on effective marketing, running a small business, the advantages of sharing your art online and how to improve their website design.  Unlike many other artists that are concerned with the competition, John Ross Palmer sees the inherent benefit of elevating all artists to add power to the profession.

       Personal Coaching Session with 2011 Escapist Zak Vasquez     Escapist Artists Work with Each Other to Grow & Evolve Their Careers

                                         Ryan Lindsay discusses major event planning with the 2010 Escapists

Honors and Accolades

The 2010 Escapists were featured at An Evening of Escapism, the Black-Tie Gala held at the John Palmer Gallery & Studio in October of 2010.  Each Escapist had their own portion of the gallery to display their amazing works.  They were involved in all stages of the planning process to learn how to throw future events on their own terms.  They were responsible for hanging their own works as well as selling their works once the art collectors arrived for the gala.  The incredible artwork of the Escapists was captured in a high-quality Escapism 2010 Catalogue produced by John Palmer Art.  The fun-filled and successful evening was capped off with an Awards Presentation where the 2010 Escapists each received an official Escapist Embosser so they could forever document their art pieces with this distinguished marker.  That same evening, the 2010 Escapists learned that John Palmer Fine Art planned to introduce them on the world stage by featuring their works at Art Chicago 2011.  Clearly, this took this group from being a collection of emerging artists on the Houston, Texas art scene to being a real player at an international art fair.  In January 2012, John Palmer Fine Art displayed works by all of the 2010 and 2011 Escapist Artists at the prestigious Los Angeles Art Show.

           The 2010 Escapists Featured at Art Chicago 2011                      2011 Escapists Featured at the 2012 Los Angeles Art Show

Although the 2011 Escapist Artists are only mid-way through their year of mentorship with Artist John Ross Palmer, they have already received media accolades from both Houston Modern Luxury Magazine and the Houston Press.  They threw their first extremely well-attended Group Exhibition at Caroline Collective in early June 2011.  It is expected that they will also be featured at the John Palmer Fine Art Black-Tie Gala in October of 2011.

                                   Palmer with the 2011 Escapist Artists                                         Palmer with the 2012 Escapist Artists
                                                                                                                                     (Lauren Wondra Smyth not pictured)

The Escapists


Justin E. Garcia   

Karen Hatch         

Taft McWhorter     

Ronnie Queenan  

Belinda Smith      


Kelley Devine       

Ryan Fugate         

Edgar Medina        

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2010 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Raul Gonzalez

Nubia Gala Seibert

Zak Vasquez

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2011 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Leigh Armstrong

Sonya Cuellar

Tra Slaughter

Lauren Jay Wondra Smyth

Anita Varadaraju

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2012 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Tina Duryea

William H. Miller

Joe Mendietta

Lan Norwood

Lee E. Wright

If you would like to view a Photo Album that documents the year of mentorship for the 2013 Escapist Artists, please click here.


Sue Donaldson

Lulu Lin

Joseph Reinholtz 


If you would like to meet the 2009 Escapists, please click here.

If you would like to hear the 2009 Escapists speak about John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program, please click here.

If you would like to meet the 2010 Escapists, please click here.

If you would like to hear the 2010 Escapists speak about John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program, please click here.

If you would like to meet the 2011 Escapists, please click here.

If you would like to hear the 2011 Escapists speak about John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program, please click here.


The Application for the 2015 Escapist Mentorship Program will be posted in Spring 2014!                    

Artists of all career stages that have a vested interest in improving themselves and their business are highly encouraged to apply.

            John Ross Palmer and the 2010 Escapists                                First Group Meeting with the 2011 Escapists

John Plamer Ast


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