Seven days later…

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We have a delayed opening at work until noon because of the winter storm we had over the weekend, and since the cats would not let me sleep late, and Sandy has gone to work and there is a working computer free in my house, I figured I’d do a blog post.

One of my priorities this week is to get my info to the ATA for the exhibition catalog. This has me shaking in my shoes for some reason, but it won’t be that hard. It is the head shot that is bugging me. I’m not feeling very confident about my looks these days, and I don’t have time this week to get a make-over. So I’ll put on some make-up one day in the next few days, try to do something with my hair, and have a friend take a photograph of me. I have no problem whatsoever with taking a selfie or publishing photos of me making a funny face, but a straight-up head shot with no background – ouch, I have to be an adult.

I already have an artist statement that is more of a poem. I’ll have to decide how much to tweak it or to rewrite it. The biography won’t be hard because I don’t have a huge artist resume to pull from, and all I ever write about these days is myself anyway!

Have I mentioned that I love my coffee poured over a couple of spoonfuls of Equal Exchange dark hot cocoa mix? Oh my God. Serious yumminess with caffeine.

I spent Friday through Sunday holed up here in the house cooking and weaving. Today it is supposed to get warm enough to melt the snow and ice so I hope that I will get back to my new studio around the corner. I am hesitant (okay, I am a weenie) about walking on icy sidewalks due to the tumbles I’ve taken over the years. The back injury I got playing in the snow when I was in my early 20s caused me problems for many years. It was nice to enjoy cooking again.

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Slow progress on “Cathedral,” but I have to take a lot of breaks. I could not weave tapestry full-time! Susanne visited yesterday and finished weaving the little tapestry she began last year. Hanging out with friends who are also working on something creative is THE BEST. I could live in an artists’ commune, I really could. That’s one of the reasons I am excited about the new studio. Just having other artists around lends an energy to the air. Even for an introvert like me, as long as there is not constant yakking going on.

I finished “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet,” which I took a long time to read, but it was rich. David Mitchell has been my latest writer to go ga-ga over. One of the characters in “The Bone Clocks” is in Thousand Autumns, so I had to read it. Now I’ve picked up “A Visit from the Goon Squad” again. I wasn’t impressed at all with the first couple of chapters and didn’t think I’d finish it, but it got better as it moved to other characters’ stories.

Also, I’m working on the friend problem I had last week. Opened the communication up. I don’t know what will happen, but at least we are being honest with each other, and that’s for the best. I’d rather be direct and face a problem rather than letting it fester.

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Roller Coaster Week

O'Neill, 98 Percent Water

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin

This past week was some wild ride. After a weekend of pleasant social occasions, including some of the best roasted oysters ever, I braced myself for the first day of classes at work on Monday, constantly reminding myself that I pressed the reset button so that the past was past and I’d do what I could do to detox the tension at work. I even took to wearing a “Hiss Less Purr More” button. The work atmosphere, as far as I could tell, felt much better, which was helpful since I had a ton of things to do that required a lot of attention.

Of course, there was the shocker about David Bowie, which seems to have affected every member of my generation. It seemed like for the past few months every time I turned on the radio I heard “Under Pressure.” Now I have listened to a lot of Bowie that I skipped after the 80s, and I am trying very hard to get “Space Oddity” and “Starman” out of my head.

On Monday night, just before I shut down my computer to go to my class, I received an email from the ATA Biennial committee chairs. I clicked on it to see my rejection, which I 100% expected and I was sure would be kind and encouraging. However, what I saw was absolutely shocking: “Congratulations!”

That’s right, my “98% Water” tapestry was juried into the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial 11. Well, you can imagine that it was very hard to listen to anything in my class after that.

O'Neill, 98 Percent Water, Detail

It will travel to three museums with the exhibition in South Bend, Indiana, Topeka, Kansas, and San Jose, California in 2016 and 2017. This was the first time I have entered my work in a juried competition, and the first time I have entered any show other than a local show. After I sent in the application, I wondered what on earth was I thinking and I was embarrassed that I was trying to run with the big dogs.

It was one of 36 tapestries chosen from 221 entrees from all over the world. Several other acceptances came from my regional tapestry guild, Tapestry Weavers South.

Then I got home from class, picked up the phone to call Pam with the good news, and found a message from my sister that my grand-nephew’s 35 year old father had a massive stroke. This is a major deal because my grand-nephew is like a grandson to me and his life is already very difficult, and my sister and brother-in-law already have a great deal on their plate with a seriously ill parent and their own health issues. I won’t go any more into that except that after two surgeries and a very touch and go situation, this young man is conscious and has a better prognosis. Hopefully he will fully recover, but I request that you hold this family in the light.

On Tuesday, I picked up the keys to my new studio space at the Church of the Covenant and began moving my stuff in that night. This is making me deliriously happy.

On Wednesday, the news about Alan Rickman broke my heart. I don’t have many celebrity crushes, but Alan Rickman was at the top, just above Colin Firth and Aidan Quinn. I didn’t see DieHard, and only the first Harry Potter movie. I guess I understand why all the headlines say Snape or Gruber, but I loved Sense and Sensibility, Galaxy Quest, Love Actually, Dogma, and several other of his lesser known movies. He made a great villain, but he was also a great comedian and a great romantic. Maybe I’ll watch the other Harry Potter movies now. And I definitely plan to see Truly, Madly, Deeply after seeing the clips online.

Then boom, I went to a good friend’s Facebook page to send them a message along with a few other friends proposing to get together for beginning of the semester drinks and found that I had been unfriended. This has rocked my world a bit more than I expected. It was not an accident. I’ve struggled with whether to ask why. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I want to know. I’m not sure that I can take talking about it without crying. Hopefully later when the hurt subsides a little I will reach out and see what can be mended, if anything. But I don’t take this loss, or any loss of a friend lightly. I am grateful that I have many friends now. At one time I could count the number of good friends I had on one hand, and having so many people rooting for me and genuinely liking me will help me through it.

I decided to drop the library studies class. Since I registered for the class, the studio happened and the Biennial acceptance happened, and my laptop broke. I want to spend my spare time doing art. I need to spend my spare time doing art. In fact, I’d rather spend my spare time working and doing art as my main thing, but you know, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon!

Sandy has been amazing lately. Our relationship continues to get better. We have booked a trip in May that will take us by train from Minneapolis to Glacier National Park and west to Seattle, then south to Portland, where we will meet up with Pam and I’ll see another friend at Pam’s cabin at a tapestry retreat. Then we will spend another week exploring Oregon in a rental car. This is something wonderful to have on the horizon.

Susan and Susanne spent the afternoon with me yesterday in Slow Turn Studio, playing with paint and yarn and glue and paper. Today I’ll take another carload of stuff over and they plan to join me again. I’ll post photos soon. Then it’s back to work on Tuesday.

I wish you all peace on this celebration of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Please read this article by my friend Mark Sandlin, and be sure to watch the video embedded in the article. It will brighten your day. Namaste.

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New studio space and a walk

My shadow and its shadow friend

There is a good possibility that I will be renting a small studio space around the corner at the Church of the Covenant, which hosts quite a few artists in their large building! I’m very excited about the idea of being able to have a cat-free space to work and play. I’ll post photos if it happens. Elizabeth went with me to check out some rooms and prices for rental for guild events. It’s all her fault if it happens. Blame her, not me. Then we went to Boba House for lunch, where I snapped this nice shadow:

Wall at Boba House

Work is fine so far. Hitting the RESET button has been helpful. My friend Anne walked with me through the Special Collections and Archives part of the library and introduced me to a few people. My class begins Monday night.

Sandy and I took a walk at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park here in Greensboro on Sunday. It has a lot of trails, paved and unpaved, and adjoins a city park with a small lake. I love the texture and color at the bottom of this monument to Peter Francisco, a Revolutionary War hero.

Peter Francisco monument at Guilford Battleground NMP

Peter Francisco monument at Guilford Courthouse NMP

Trail at Guilford Courthouse NMP

Winter is here at last.

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2016 and the reset button

I’m not doing the resolution thing today because I make resolutions all year long. But one day before Christmas, my co-workers and I were discussing the toxic atmosphere that has formed in our workplace, with people making huge problems out of little ones and being disrespectful and rude and making assumptions that aren’t true and then talking about those assumptions with other people who don’t know what the truth is and anger at the whole situation…ah jeez. I need to stop thinking about this. Back to my point, a friend and co-worker of mine suggested that as a group we need to hit the reset button.

So that’s my theme for the year. RESET. I recall the best piece of advice I ever got in therapy, which was nearly worth the price of the session: Concentrate on what you can control, and let what you can’t control go. I can’t force others to hit the reset button, but I don’t have to participate in the drama. I’m hitting my reset button and moving forward with a clean slate. The next few months at work are my busiest of the year, and I ain’t got time for that shit.

Here’s what I look forward to in the coming year.

On January 11, classes begin and I am exploring the idea of getting a Masters in Library and Information Studies degree by taking the first core class through a non-degree program UNCG offers called Visions. I have registered for an online seminar in virtual communities during the second summer session. After taking these two classes I’ll make a decision whether to apply for the MLIS. The pluses are that it will cost me next to nothing because UNCG pays for three courses per year as part of my employee benefits. I won’t have to take the GRE because I already have a graduate degree. All classes are offered online or in the evenings, so I won’t have to worry about taking classes during work hours like I did with my studio art degree. The biggest plus, however, is that I have considered this for a long time because I am genuinely interested in the subject. The con is that the job market is saturated, and I’m not interested in working in K-12 schools. However, I’ll be close enough to retirement by the time I finish that maybe I’ll be able to get a part-time job OR maybe I’ll get lucky and find the career of my dreams in special collections and rare books. You can’t achieve the dream unless you try. So I don’t see that I have anything to lose.

In mid-February Susanne and I are going to take a three day bookbinding workshop with one of my favorite artists, Dan Essig. This will be the fourth class I’ve taken with Dan and Susanne’s first. Pocosin Arts is on the North Carolina coast on the Scuppernong River near the Albemarle Sound and Susanne has friends that are going to put us up for free. By mid-February I’m sure that I will appreciate a creative break from work.

We haven’t settled the dates and exact plans yet, but Sandy and I are taking a long vacation in May to explore the Pacific Northwest. Mostly Oregon, but Sandy is talking about a few other ideas. We have reserved Pam’s cabin for her May tapestry retreat so that hopefully I’ll get to see some of the Divines again, and I want Sandy to experience the specialness of the place on the cliff overlooking the Pacific. We’ll rent a car and drive down the coast and see Crater Lake National Park and drive back up and spend a day or two in Portland, OR NOT. Who knows. We might fly to Chicago and then take Amtrak to Portland. The only parts I know for sure is that we have a credit with Southwest Airlines to spend before June 1 and we are staying at Pam’s cabin for one weekend.

After May, other than the online class, who knows. Convergence is in Milwaukee in early August, and I’ve considered going even though I wasn’t able to get into the tapestry workshop I wanted. I’m going to submit a small format tapestry to the ATA unjuried show there, but I don’t have to be there – they will send me a catalog of the show.

There is a Tapestry Weavers South tapestry retreat on a Georgia sea island in October. I planned to go when the date was set in September, but then they moved the date to a time that is busy for me at work. This was a real disappointment because I was very excited about it and I hoped to have Pam fly out here and drive to the retreat with her. Oh well, that is ten months away. Who knows what might happen before then.

Okay, back to weaving Cathedral!

RESET

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Goodbye to 2015

2015 was a very full year. Although I feel like I didn’t blog that much, I realize that I did write about the big events, and as usual, found that there were more of those than I realized. We traveled a LOT.

hammock view

From January to March, I wrestled with my new-to-me Shannock tapestry loom until I finally got a warp on it, although I would struggle with it and rewarp it several times. I began weaving a tapestry based on a photograph I took in 2006 while lying in a hammock under one of my very favorite trees, a large bald cypress at Lake Waccamaw that I played under when I was a baby. This tree carries a lot of memories and meaning for me. When the sun shone through its large Spanish moss laden canopy and reflected off the lake that day, I knew that it was going to be the subject of a special artwork for me one day. I reworked the photo repeatedly in Photoshop, cut it up and pieced it back together in different ways, and thought about interpreting it in fabric collage or in acrylics or oils. It was taped to my closet door for years as I considered it.

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Finally I began weaving it, deciding to interpret it through the blending of different colors of wool singles. It felt good, it felt right. The warp tension is god-awful, but I finally had to begin weaving or go crazy. I’ve made adjustments along the way and I think that it will be fine in the end. I know what not to do next time. Part of the problem was that I enjoyed weaving on my front porch in nice weather, and carrying the loom back and forth made the tension problems worse. Now I have it set up in my studio, which is what half of the front room became this year. The cats don’t bother it because I booby-trapped it with things that fell down and made a clatter in the beginning, but they will steal my yarn if I am not careful.

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April brought an unexpected and amazing opportunity to study with Archie Brennan and Susan Maffei at Pam’s cabin near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The City Museum, St. Louis, MO

In May Sandy and I took that trip to Cahokia Mounds and St. Louis that we canceled last year when Mama was sick. We had loads of fun exploring St. Louis, including the zoo and the City Museum. There are not enough photos in the world to represent the City Museum. Funhouse and art. Ten story indoor slide. Cave tunnels. Ferris wheel and more slides on the rooftop.

Cannon Beach June 2015
Sand blowing near Cannon Beach
(Above: click for video and sound)
FOBA 2015

Then, because this was the trip we planned and paid for first, Susanne Martin and I went back to Oregon in June for ten days to study with Pam Patrie at her cabin, explore the area, and attend Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon where the three of us took a great map and bookmaking workshop with Jill Berry. It was one of the most enjoyable workshops I’ve ever had, and I made some new friends on both trips. I was able to explore a little more this time, since Susanne and I rented a car. We went to Ecola State Park, Lewis and Clark National Park in Astoria, and drove down Hwy 101 to Manzanita.

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In between all this traveling, I was trying my best not to think about the gargantuan task in Marietta of cleaning out my mother’s home. At the time it seemed that we would be lucky if we ever sold it and so had all the time in the world, and my sister and her husband had just bought a house at Lake Waccamaw, so she was retired and was close to Marietta and took on the bulk of the work, driving down there to make repairs and improvements and take loads to the charity store and the dumpster each time. Then we got an offer on the house. An extremely low offer, but as is. Our friends from down there advised us to take it, and we did. But I still had a lot of traveling scheduled, including a weeklong class at Arrowmont that they were kind enough to issue me a gift certificate from 2014 when my mother died when I was there.

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The class was Site Specific Weaving, and it was a hot muggy week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and I chose that Monday to fall apart. However, later I did get it together enough, despite a lot of pain, to get some good work done. My installation was simple, but considering I came up with it and did it in about 24 hours, I was pleased. I started a tapestry, “Migraine Day,” that I hope will become a part of something bigger in 2016. I also came home with TMJ and neck and shoulder problems that I am still not quite done with, but I’m much much much better than I was.

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Rocky Mountain National Park September 2015
Utah 2015

In September, we went to Colorado for a week to celebrate my cousin’s birthday and do some more exploring. We went ziplining (or rather, my husband, my cousin, and my 87 year old aunt did, I wimped out), drove through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way to Dinosaur National Monument, then came back to visit the Denver Art Museum with my aunt, where we were able to see the new textile gallery with an impressive tapestry exhibition.

Then I had to concentrate on getting the house ready for closing with my sister. The whole family and my good friend JQ helped pack boxes, load trucks with furniture, make runs to the dumpster, and clean. In the end we left a lot behind, simply because no one had any more room and the new owner told us that she didn’t mind. I don’t even want to know what she got rid of and replaced. It broke my heart, even though I absolutely know that it was the right decision on a practical level. The sale was, and still is, incredibly screwed up. Hopefully it will all be over soon. I’m starting to heal just by being able to put it behind me.

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Sandy and I went to Asheville for a weekend in October where I made books with Karen Hardy and some very fine bookbinders at Asheville Bookworks, in a workshop exploring the binding techniques of Hedi Kyle. We found a cheap place to stay through AirBNB, which I hope will make it easier for us to make more trips to that area.

Miss Lucy, produce inspector

We said a sad goodbye to Miss Lucy just before Christmas. She was twelve years old. I’ll never chop broccoli again without expecting her to come around the corner asking for a handout.

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Throughout much of this, I was able to spend precious time with my sister Lisa, who is enjoying retirement at Lake Waccamaw in a lovely small house in easy walking (or swimming) distance from the bald cypress tree at my cousin’s house in the photo at the beginning of this 2015 wrap-up. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this year without my sister. I love her so much.

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It was a much better and busier year that I had realized. No wonder I was so exhausted! Tomorrow, I look ahead.

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