Saturday, April 13, 2019

Showing up in the Rain

 I woke up this morning to the torrential sound of pouring rain and Facebook reminding me of a dozen local markets, fairs and events in the area. All outside of course.  I must confess my first reaction was relief I wasn't vending at any one them and I prepared to do nothing more than putter around my house all day.
 But I rallied, dragged my husband away from finishing the taxes, loaded the car up with umbrellas and slickers and headed to Norfolk to the spring Crafted Munchie Market at the O'Connor Brewing Co.   Happily O'Connor's is vast so there was room for artists and makers both indoors and out.   We were so glad we went. It was a great turn-out even with the soggy weather.  We bought some beautiful goodies and met some really talented folks. I was glad we got off our duffs and went out and supported local creatives.  You work so hard to get ready for a show and it can be very demoralizing if you have a lousy turnout.
 I found out I like Sour Oatmeal Tripel draft (trust me it tasted better than that sounded). The bad news was the food trucks couldn't run their generators in the deluge.  Good news when we snuck around the corner to The Public House to grab a late lunch they were serving, you guessed it O'Connor on tap.  Live, Love, Local!  I highly recommend the fried green tomatoes and the mushroom sandwich.
 The other good news? Finished the taxes.  Paid a lot more than last year but hey, they are DONE thanks to my in house CFO.

Friday, April 12, 2019

When Your Project Matches Your View

 I am in the beginning stages of pinning up this upcycled dress today and then I went for my walk.
 Apparently Mother Nature approves of my color combinations!
 The base of this dress is a classically shaped Isaac Mizrahi princess seamed frock.  It has some microscopic snags on it so I can't sell it as-is.  But structurally it is sound, it's beautifully made and fully lined so I felt compelled to play with it.
 These photos are a little washed out- no sunshine once I went back to work this afternoon. I will try some more in the morning light tomorrow.
I had a choppy last couple of days, doctor's appointments, repair guys in and out, no concentration to paint. Playing in fabric piles is a happy diversion. Certainly more fun than cleaning house, that's for sure.

Being Seen.

One of the lovely ladies that I met at the Gloucester Arts on Main gallery was kind enough to text me this newspaper photo of me and curator Jennifer Morningstar celebrating my Best in Show award last week.

When I was talking to my sister about this event she said "Are you going to hang your certificate with your other awards?" and I laughingly reminded her this would be my very first art recognition.  She was as surprised that I had never received an art award as I was to receive this one!

This led to a conversation about perceived success vs. true success. What you look like from the outside vs. how you see yourself. Do you feel invisible or seen? What does success mean to you?

I have always had a very workman like attitude toward art making.  Maybe because I started in craft doing shows and commissions, maybe because I had in my head that if I was going to be a working creative I had to WORK, not play at it. Maybe because I worked in straight commission sales for 20 years in the past so I understood that effort = outcome. The bad news about this is that I really didn't allow myself time to "play" and discover new things unless I have a challenge or a goal or a show or a commission to act as a catalyst. So success meant making things I was proud of and being seen as a resource to people decorating their homes.

The good news for me is that I have been blessed enough to make things that people enjoy having in their homes enough to pay for them so I can buy more supplies and make MORE things that bring me joy and satisfaction and help me grow in my creative practice.  Although I have exhibited in some fine galleries in the past I never really kept track of what I submitted or achieved, only what I sold. I recognize that probably sounds crass and not terribly art-y.  Owning my own retail business kept everything very black and white.  Did you pay your bills or not? Success meant running a successful business and being seen as a nimble entrepreneur.

Shifting from brick and mortar to a fairly virtual existence has brought this even more into high relief for me.  Home repairs, a kid in college, medical bills, it all has to be paid for.  But not having the responsibility of the retail business has given me the freedom to expand my art practice and push myself to do more of what is in my head instead of what I think the client standing in front of me wants. Not having the security blanket of my shop has forced me to step out and do uncomfortable things. Success meant challenging myself to try new things and simply be seen in a new market. 

Lots of phone calls, lots of walking in cold to places, lots of entering events and show have equaled lots of "no, thank you's" and "We shall sees". More than a little stinging to the ego that.    But I have been around the block enough to remember that I am not everyone's cup of tea. And that I need to practice what I preach and find the people that see something in my practice.  They are out there.  And in a cosmic coincidence, apparently one happened to jury the last show I entered. 

So, this tired, 57 year old, self employed, do what you got to do to get it done, woman just won her first blue ribbon.   And the artist in her feels seen.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Forget the mistake, learn the lesson. What a new friend can teach you.

 When I moved to coastal Virginia I starting exploring to learn more about the area.  Some people might use the Concentric Circle method or the Just Make a Left method to learn their way around.  I used the Use Instagram To Stalk Cool People & Then Try to Meet Them in Real Life method.  Recognizing it sounds vaguely creepy, this latter method has been instrumental in meeting some genuinely awesome individuals.
 I met Anna through her salon/gift shop/coffee house/gathering place in Port Warwick.  Anna was kind enough to host me and another artist for a tremendous Artist Dinner, fired up First Fridays worthy of my former Stifel & Capra days, and was a real gatherer - of friends, people, events and connections. But she was not making things any more (she is a talented metalsmith and jeweler) and felt her life wasn't in balance so made the brave decision to listen to herself and give up her business to concentrate on own creativity instead of just facilitating others.
 This shocked pretty much everyone around her, but the outpouring of support and love is palpable. Everyone wants nothing but success and great things for her. I agree.

I see in Anna what I jokingly call a support group of women who just LOVE to start things, see the potential in everyone and everything but don't necessarily take care of our own to- do lists when it comes to ourselves. Watching this clever, witty, talented person pivot with grace and enthusiasm gives me hope that I can do the same.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Carytown: old friends and new haunts

 Literally lying about contemplating my day.  Had the wonderful fortune of taking a low key Girl Play Day with an old friend in Richmond.  She is starting a new job tomorrow (HALLELUJAH!) and we celebrated by getting our toes done, having a lovely lunch and then wandering Carytown.
It was warm enough to sit outside The Daily and watch the world go by.
The Fig & Pig pizza was pretty darn tasty!
 If you are not familiar with Carytown it is a wonderful neighborhood in Richmond that is 99% independent businesses with a jolly selection of vintage clothing shops (swoon!) and some really styling home decor and lifestyle shops.  I felt so at home today chatting with engaged shopkeepers who went out of their way to make us feel welcome and determined how they could be of assistance.
We had a good stroll, a good 6000 steps worth by my count, and wandered past a coffee shop.  While my friend grabbed herself a coffee I checked my email and HUZZAH Plaza Art was having an in store sale. 10 large canvasses and a dozen tubes of paint later, I hit the road.
Carytown Collective reminded my a LOT of my old brick and mortar in Falls Church. 
Really interesting range of artists and artisans and the owner was wonderful.
I was happy to be there for my friend to celebrate, comforted by the fact that I could be. In a delightful coincidence we have 4 sets of friends that have relocated to Richmond from DC.  75 minutes away from our coastal home is totally doable for a day trip and it is like a little piece of our old home came (almost) with us.
Glass Boat was a stunningly curated fashion and home goods shop.
I didn't shop early enough to get this in my size but I covet it!
 My favorite thing about old friends is there is a lot less explaining to do. Back stories on relationships, histories that have evolved over time, if you are having a bad day (or a good one!) old friends "get it" and need less clarification or detail on the actually reason why.  With social media today it is easier to stay in touch at one level.
Sexy salon set-up at Ruth & Ollie. I was enthralled by their chair selection!
 But nothing can beat the layered shorthand of years of conversation.  I felt very blessed by my day.
Also feel blessed that I found a local replacement for Alice-who-has-cut-my-hair-for-thirty-years.
Thanks for the trim Hayley! (This was dried by driving home with the windows open - she's good!)

Monday, April 8, 2019

Different parts of the brain. Or is it?

 As I have been sewing since I was ten (thanks to mom!) my upcycling work doesn't take a heck of a lot of conscious thought.
 Hunting and gathering skills, yes.  a sense of proportion and form, yes. But analytical thinking? Not so much. Happily, it is play in the process.  (I just realized in posting these photos I have made three changes while pinning.)
 And meditative in the hand stitching process.  I am still more cognizant to my brushwork when I am painting- painfully aware of when a stroke goes where I don't want it to go so fabric is a solace. A mental break and something that refreshes so I can go back to the challenge that is art making to me.
 I know there is a HUGE war about the different between "art" and "craft". I find it somewhat ludicrous.  I see art in a fine seam and exquisite craftsmanship in an oil painting.  Both feed my soul. One is no better than the other.
It's like saying an engineer is more important that a plumbing. Hmmm, wait a minute.  We DO say that.  No disrespect to our engineers, but I can't imagine living without a plumber. Or a cute skirt.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sea Change Revisited

"Constance" part of the Sea Change series

sea change
/ˈsē ˌCHānj/
  1. a profound or notable transformation.

Individuals can only make decisions for themselves but when they gather together to affect change - profound things can happen. A sea change can occur. Over the last year and a half I have been painting a collection of resolute women are examples of the traits needed to affect change. Buried within the contemporary mixed media portraits are scraps of ephemera that harken back to a time when women didn't have a voice in public.  It's important to absorb the past to illuminate the future.

After a solo show last year of resolute women of all shapes, sizes and colors I am expanding my Sea Change series to include more faces of valiant humans that want to change the world for the better.

I believe the next generation sees the world in an entirely different way than I did when I was in my teens and twenties. Talking to my kids and their friends I am thoroughly encouraged by their fierceness, intelligence and despair of their cynicism and stoicism. I do believe that they will be part of a sea change that will make the world an entirely different place when they are in their mid-life.

As a encouragement seemingly from above, this weekend one of my series paintings "Constance" took the blue ribbon at the 2nd annual juried show at Gloucester Arts at Arts on Main in Gloucester, Virginia. This honor came with a cash prize and a solo show at the gallery in 2020.  I am thrilled with the concept that these voices, these faces, these ideals that inspire me will be able to be shared with you in this wonderful space. 

The best part of the evening was speaking to curator Jennifer Morningstar and listening to her thought process on how she picked the award winners for the evening. Listening to someone tell you how and why what you made with your own two hands moves them was very special. I will never forget it. 

If you would like to follow the progress of the work please visit my art website here. There you will find social media links, photos galleries and an online shop for originals, prints and cards.