Caitlin Morton used to dread Valentine's Day.
That was before she met Sudiebelle Hare, a Kansas City artist who regularly paints colorful circles on canvas at events and music festivals and, until recently, sold her artwork on First Fridays from a regular spot on the sidewalk across from Grinder’s in the Crossroads.
Now, Morton is among the women who'll will meet at a friend's house on Feb. 13 to celebrate the Valentine’s Day-alternative increasingly celebrated as Galentine's Day.
"It’s about us coming together, supporting each other loving on each other, and having a good time," says Hare.
Hare says anyone can participate in this annual ritual just by rounding up a group of friends and having a party.
The idea was popularized by the television show Parks and Recreation. In an episode that aired in 2010, Leslie Knope, a fictionalized Parks and Recreation Department employee and enthusiastic do-gooder, gathered her girlfriends for a Galentine’s Day brunch.
“What’s Galentine’s Day, you say?" Knope says in the episode. "Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and we just come and we kick it breakfast style. It's like Lilith Fair, minus the angst.”
The episode struck a chord with viewers and now the holiday has gone mainstream. Hallmark even created a line of Galentine’s Day cards for sale in stores.
“Its really nice because whether or not you’re in a relationship, you know you have something to look forward to on this holiday that can sometimes be horrible,” Morton says with a laugh. “And it makes it one of my favorite holidays which it never was before. That’s for sure.”
A writer originally from Virginia who now lives in Overland Park, Kan., Morton met Hare after she moved to the area four years ago. Last week, Morton stopped by watch Hare work on her cards in her living room.
Hare is originally from Wisconsin, so the two had something in common.
“Neither of us are from here and a lot of people in Kansas City are from Kansas City so we kind of bonded over that,” Morton says.
Hare says she looks forward to seeing her friends throughout the year, but Galentine's Day is special. To celebrate, she paints her own personalized cards, one for each of her female friends.
“Some of my friends are new mothers, some of my friends are single, some are in committed, long-term relationships,” says Hare. “Regardless, it’s just us girls coming together, celebrating community and friendship.”
Hare’s specialty is painting hand-drawn circles in the Japanese tradition called ensō. She says creating these symbols of enlightenment has become a part of her spiritual practice. For the Galentine's Day cards she creates, she paints a small heart inside of each circle.
"Before I do the card, I do a little singing bowl which is the sound of healing and I then paint the circle on each card," Hare says. "So it makes it very special for each individual friend."
Jordan Schreppel met Hare two years ago at a music festival where the two were selling artwork. Schreppel makes small sculptures from natural and found objects. Though she lives a couple hours away in Pittsburg, Kan., Schreppel says the two are close friends.
"Because it’s such a long drive I try to go up and visit her at least once a month but we talk on the phone once or twice a day," says Schreppel. "We try to get together and have little paint parties."
Schreppel missed last year's festivities, but says she plans to attend this year. She's bringing along a special gift — a copper wire rose for each friend.
Morton says in past years, she hasn't prepared gifts for the big event. One friend makes special mocktails, another bakes pies. But Morton says this year might be different.
“Last year I didn’t bring anything I just showed up and was like thanks for the presents,” says Morton. “This year, I have the idea to write little poems for people. Maybe I can do that, because it is nice to think of your friends while you are creating.”
Julie Denesha is a freelance photographer and reporter for KCUR. Follow her on Twitter @juliedenesha.