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A life forged by fire and friends


In April 2014, Margo was featured in The Beacon. The story covers Margo’s struggles and triumphs, and her achievements in using personal tragedy as a catalyst for improvement, both in her own life and the lives of others. Click the image to read the full article.

Washington Post Review


Turning tragedy into triumph in life and business

Margo’s story was recently published in a local paper.  Read it here.

A freak accident during a beachside dinner party on Labor Day in 1967 sent Margo Arnold crashing into the lowest point of her life. More than four decades later, she still bears the scars that once represented rock bottom, but now they are a memento of her climb to the top.

Reliving a terrifying night, Arnold said she was at a restaurant in Ocean City, N.J., when her dress went up in flames after it caught fire from a tabletop chafing dish. Bystanders used a throw rug to beat out the flames, she said, but not before she suffered burns to most of her upper body. Requiring nearly five years of plastic surgery procedures, Arnold said the incident left her permanently scared both physically and emotionally.

In the midst of dealing with her tragedy, Arnold found a silver lining that led to a new purpose in life. Now, the bold 70-year-old lives for breaking records, which is a lifestyle that carries over into many aspects of her busy life – especially her work.

While many people her age may be planning their retirement, Arnold is fully immersed in her position at Sir Speedy Printing and Graphics, which Arnold calls the largest fast-printing company in the world.

“I always say I got the best job of my life at the age of 64, working for Sir Speedy,” Arnold said.

Having joined the company about seven years ago, Arnold has already earned the rank as the fourth-highest-producing salesperson out of five hundred worldwide employees. Never missing a chance to achieve more, Arnold has no intention of getting comfortable in her position as the fourth-highest salesperson.

“Now, I want to be third — actually, first,” she said.

Arnold credits her success to decades of experience in the sales industry, which dates back her childhood in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., where her father ran a brokerage firm and her mother owned a dress store.

While developing a keen sense of the ins and outs of the sales world, Arnold’s real passion was in art. Despite a strong knack for the sales business and generations of family experience in the sales industry, Arnold decided to pursue her dream of being a successful artist.

“I wasn’t really, really good at [art]; what I was really, really good at was sales because it’s in my blood,” Arnold said. “But it doesn’t give me the pleasure that art does.”

After getting two bachelor’s degrees, one in art history and one in commercial art, which she said is now called graphic design, Arnold quickly realized that making it big in the art world would require more than just an upper-level education. Luckily she had the ability to jump right back into the sales industry while she pursued her passion.

In 1965, Arnold was 25 years old when she landed her first outside sales job ¬– which is a form of the industry where company employees travel to their customers to do business rather than working in a fixed location, according to the Outside Sales Support Network, which offers tools and resources to sales agents.

However, everything came to a halt just two years later when the accident occurred. Trying to cope with the changes in her life, Arnold struggled to get back on her feet and ended up seeking guidance from a life coach. Seeking therapy was the outlet that helped her recover from the accident, and for that, she said she will meet with a therapist for the rest of her life.

“I’ll always be in therapy because there’s always a new mountain to climb,” Arnold said.

However, she said this part of her life is the reason for the purpose-driven lifestyle that thrives within her to date.

“I’m actually grateful for the fire because it brought me to my knees, forced me to ask for help and forced me to re-evaluate everything about my life,” Arnold said. “I wouldn’t be the bold person I am today if it weren’t for the fire. I wouldn’t have the life I have, which is one beyond my wildest dreams.”

Arnold eventually married and moved to Washington, D.C., in the 1990s. Uncertain of what to do for a job, Arnold decided to take a course called the Self Expression and Leadership Program, which would end up sparking one of her greatest achievements.

During a class assignment, Arnold was required to create something that highlights her passion in life, which she immediately decided was an experimental non-profit support group for artists worldwide.

Dubbed the International Artist Support Group, the non-profit launched between 1992 and 1993, immediately catching attention from artists around the world. Arnold said her class assignment quickly transformed into a full-fledged non-profit, which eventually began hosting art exhibits in locations including Russia, France and Australia.

Running the non-profit for more than a decade, Arnold stepped down from her position in 2006, just two years after she was hired at Sir Speedy.

In December 2010, Arnold embarked on her next mission when she launched the Washington Color School Project to support research on the history and artistic achievement of the Washington Color School, which was an art movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

With very little information published about the Washington Color School, Arnold said her project group is in the midst of writing a book and developing a research center to chronicle the history of the school.The project group has already established a website for the school, which can be visited at www.washingtoncolorschool.com.

Despite her dedication to Sir Speedy, Arnold said she hasn’t given up hope of one day carrying her artwork to a larger market. Her creative pieces can be purchased on her personal website at www.margoarnold.com.

IASG New Delhi Catalogue

My first encounter with IASG was at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Canal Square, Washington D.C. where I had gone to drop my painting for the Summer 1996 Show. Here I met a very dedicated organizer whom I came to know later as Margo, the founder of IASG.

Having found a new home in the United States of America, a big question was haunting me – that is, whether my art and myself as a person will be accepted in America. New horizons, new dimensions, new atmosphere, and a well-kept huge gallery, new techniques, new mediums… these things raised my anxiety. I felt I was in another world. But my contact with the IASG made everything easy for me. Here you can communicate even with the doyens of so comfortably, with a sense of belonging.

“What can you do for us in India?” Margo asked me with the confidence of a leader. “A memorable show in India” was my reply… and here it is.

This exhibition is in fact a collective effort of the artist friends and members of the Board at the International Art Support Group, Washington D.C., and here in India. Margo Arnold, Tom Moriarty, Daniel Shay and me were always in touch through mail, E Mail and telephone. All of us were busy contacting artists, inviting them to participate and collecting their works. Execution of the display, framing of the works and bringing out its brochure were done here in India. I’m grateful to the friends like Rameshwar Broota, Harbhajan Singh, Javed Faridi and G. Jayan who stood by me in any eventuality.

The jury at New Delhi was thrilled to see the work, “The Passage”, by the American artist, Milagress Ponce De Leon, and unanimously decided to take it on the cover of this booklet. My best compliments to Mr Ponce De Leon. The cover is being very well received by our artist friends here.

I am also grateful to Mr William V. Parker, Cultural Counsellor of the American Center in New Delhi, who readily agreed to grace the opening function of this exhibition.

Lastly I wish to thank my family, especially my son Mukul, who lives in Washington D.C. and coordinated the whole show.

…and my apology to other friends who have helped in their own way but could not find mention here. In fact the world lies on their shoulders.

-Sushil Kalra