APERTURE: ELENA THORNTON – Photos by Elena & Jim and AZ Consortium for the Arts

Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
All Rights Reserved

My muse this week is Elena Thornton, Owner of Photos by Elena & Jim and the Founder of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. Fearlessly Deliver is a proud sponsor and champion of the Consortium since 2013.

The Arizona Consortium for the Arts, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, all volunteer, community organization that nurtures an inspirational environment for individuals to self-express through the arts, and to develop their creative abilities. The consortium’s vision is to establish a multicultural, multidisciplinary arts space/center with an open-door policy. The center will provide a home for all activities and foster artistic growth for people of all ages through the participation in the arts. It will be home for many wonderful community organizations and groups, creative and innovative activities, as well projects representing and celebrating our diverse community.

The Consortium currently generates a monthly Newsletter; hosts a Monthly Open Mic Arts, Letters and Culture event in collaboration with the Dog-Eared Pages Used Books; produces Blue Guitar Magazine, the Blue Guitar Jr. Magazine and Unstrung Magazine. Additionally, the Consortium hosts two annual festivals; The Fall Festival of the Arts, and The Blue Guitar Festival.

In the process of building the Consortium, Photo’s by Elena and Jim was created by sheer demand. Since Elena and Jim were very much in demand within the greater Phoenix philanthropy and business community, it made sense to make it official and establish a photography business. On most days and/or nights you can find Elena and Jim out shooting all the best events in the valley. This year they have added video to their offerings.

Elena is always a bright light to all that know her. One of my favorite things about Elena is that she always focuses on the positive and is consistently loving and supportive to absolutely everyone she meets. She is honored to be part of the community and is always very humble in all that she does. Simply said, Elena is one of the kindest and most sincere people I know. Everything about her is genuine and unassuming. She is the personification of a rare kind of goodness that is not found often in this world.

The Consortium of the Arts was the benefactor of the AoFDB I & II.  Illustrated coffee table books and print on demand stores are under development for both series.  10% of profit from all books and POD sales will continue to benefit the Consortium. I look forward to writing many big fearless checks to towards this amazing effort.

I am so blessed to call her a friend.  Professionally she has been unwaveringly supportive, and personally she has been both a life and heart saver!


1. Get Ready to Be Ready

Elena does not race to meet her growth goals, yet at the same time she is very clear about the fact that she is on her path. She allows things to unfold and then she moves forward.  She has spent eleven years developing the Consortium and has learned to take the growth of the organization lightly. She knows that time and the right people are what make great things happen. She says that, “We are getting ready to be ready.” because she knows that good things can happen suddenly when we stay on our path.

2. Ignorance is Bliss

Elena and I have spent many hours in the more than five years that we have been friends laughing and commiserating about the challenges of growing professionally and personally. Being the head of a volunteer organization and an entrepreneur can be challenging. At the same time, there is immeasurable joy when one witnesses volunteers, who happen to also be creatives, creating something wonderful together. When Elena started the Consortium, she was not aware of the sometimes exhausting rollercoaster ride ahead; however, when asked if she would do it again she exclaims, “ABSOLUTLEY!”

3. Don’t Struggle

This is the reminder I can count on getting from Elena 100% of the time. We need not struggle but instead allow life and our dreams to unfold. We rest. We say “NO” when it is appropriate. We realize the limitations of ourselves and others and we let go. We simply do not struggle. Elena and I both share a strong sense of faith. We both believe there is a perfect divine plan when we get out of the way and let life unfold in God’s time not ours. We do our part and then we let God and the universe take care of the rest.

4. Don’t Give Fear a Second Thought

True to her character, when I asked Elena what is her biggest fear; she declared that she does not even give the word another thought. She just simply skips right over the concept and tells me more about the amazing things happening in the arts community.  She expertly jumps, without hesitation, into an inspiring story about children’s dance and film.

5. We Just Do

Elena does not spend any time dragging her feet or getting caught in fear. Just like the work she did to help bring TedX to the Fountain Hills community she continues to move forward. Bottom line, if you are busy doing— there is no time for fear.

Thank you so much Elena for always being a bright shining star in my life, for being there when I need to be reminded of what my point is, for your incredible unwavering friendship and taking the time out to be one of the Fearless 7!


Intrinsically, I knew that when I looked closely at the definition of aperture that it would match Elena perfectly and it does.  In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels very much like the human pupil.  Elena is an opening through which light travels and we all know that eyes are the windows of the soul.

When the aperture is wide open there is more light and the background is out of focus. When the aperture is narrow there is less light and the back ground is also in focus. Elena always makes people feel as if they are the focus and that the background is just there by chance.  When it comes to her work, she focuses on the task at hand. She does not allow background noise to take hold at all in her world. If she ever catches herself paying attention to the noise she immediately refocuses on what is important.

Apertures are measured in f/stops.  Elena has her own kind of f/stop – fear stop.  She stops fear from entering the conversation completely and always focuses on the positive.

In this image Elena is the light entering the lense for all who are privileged to meet her.


AoFDB IV – The Gratitude Series

Carstens Fine Art Gallery

November 15, 2018

6-9 PM

7077 Main St., #5
Scottsdale, AZ 85251


CHARITY:  The Phoenix Art Museum

In this gratitude series, the paintings are gifts to the featured business owners
and the sketches are for sale to the public and online at the 
Fearless Art Works eGallery.  

Both the original work and the sketches will be on view for the opening.

25% of the proceeds from the sketches & 10% of profit
from print, retail & illustrated book sales
will benefit the  Phoenix Art Museum.


Entrepreneurs and inspiring stories of all kinds are FEARLESSLY DELIVER’s muse and focus.  As an artist, a business woman and a visual journalist Michelle Micalizzi paints with a purpose. The FEARLESS ART PROJECTS are collaborative social practice art engagements that connect art + business + community.

THE ART OF FEARLESSLY DOING BUSINESS (AoFDB) is an unprecedented and unique social practice project that celebrates the fearless entrepreneurial spirit by highlighting the stories of unique and fearless business leaders.Ten percent of all retails sales are donated to an art or business related charity every. 

AoFDB IV features seven fearless entrepreneurs that have gone over and beyond their call of duty partnering with me on past four fearless art projects in one form or another.  


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