Sunday, March 28, 2010

IlluminArts Festival 2010

The old lady is sore today folks! I am sure even the organ grinder’s monkey gets a bit achy after a demanding dog and pony show. Yesterday was the IlluminArts festival at Timken HS. I signed on to do pastel portraits of willing victims (in order to gain more practice and build my portfolio) in exchange for their getting a matted 8 x 10 print of the finished piece (to be mailed within 3 weeks). My original intent was to demo a standard portrait, which takes a good 25 – 30 minutes minimum to get a decent drawing. Well… the line grew longer, I realized that it was not the demo that people cared about, it was having their child’s picture done by a real artist (that would be me). So out with the demo and in with the public service and genuine desire to used my God given (and that is as true as it gets) talent to give back to people something that is usually unattainable.

I turned on the turbo monkey motor as my original release forms were gone by the first two hours (I had printed 12 to fill the 6 hour time slot). By the time the 6 hours had passed, plus an additional hour to fulfill all those who were still waiting….minus 2 bathroom breaks but no lunch or beverage breaks (boy was I lightheaded by the last one!), 24 people will be getting portraits! Looking at them this morning, each one needs a bit of tweaking as in erasing stray finger prints, adding a bit of contrast here and there and so forth, but all in all, I must say they are not too bad for having only done this media and subject for a mere 7 months. Never picked up a pastel until last October and have not focused on realism in 15 years. Just for the record, my drawing background is classical realism so I can do it when I want too. Still can’t quite use the classical color schemes though, gotta let the muse have her say too.

The experience left me sore and tired and very hungry….needless to say that first glass of wine hit me like a ton of the proverbial bricks, but I left feeling touched by all the kids (and a newborn baby!) that sat in my chair trying their best to hold still. I did not have time to ask their names, just look at their face, find an angle that would work and told them to look at a couple of my canvases that I had brought along for “entertainment” and incentive to sit quietly. All the portraits face to the right because with the crowd on my left, I did not want the kids distracted or mommy to look over my shoulder and comment on what I was doing. These are the first children I have ever done and now I know why it is so darn difficult and a definite niche specialty for portrait artists. As cute as they are, there is little experience on their faces from which to make reference points. No wrinkles, no bags under the eyes, and no overgrown noses and ears, baby fat fills in the planes of future cheekbones, the lips are still small and delicate…..innocent little faces that will now grace somebody’s hallway because of me. That makes me feel good.

I am often asked how I learned to draw or something along those lines. I didn’t. I never “learned”. I was born with it. I firmly believe that everybody has some God given gift at birth that makes you different from everybody else. Some is artistic like music or acting, some is tenacity like detectives and lawyers, some is athletic and so forth. Like all other professions, the skills are honed and nurtured along the way, but ability cannot be taught, it is just “there”, which is why I will gladly use my gift to bless others with what they may not otherwise ever have access to. So a few sore muscles and tired hands plus many hours of documentation, printing, matting and mailing which lie ahead, aren’t really that big a deal because I shared my gift yesterday with others. A big thank you to all you little ones that worked so hard to hold still for 15 minutes…which was how fast that monkey was moving!

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Celebration in Art" at the MassMu is a do.

Often times as artists and those interested in art, we get caught up in the significance and self importance of what we do and why. The occasional kick in the pants is good for all of us now and then. I had one of those blows yesterday by accident or circumstance, take your pick. The show I saw was refreshing, genuine and just plain fun. No gimmicks, no set ups, no trying too hard, no “making a piece for the show”, (guilty as charged just like the rest of you out there…..), this display was a bright spot in an otherwise cold and dismal day. The exhibition is called “Celebration in Art” at the MassMu, works from area students in grades K-12. Before I say more, first of all I have to comment on this shortening of names to appear more “hip with the kids” as the saying goes. MassMu is an excellent example. It works. The shorter version of “Massillon Museum” does make the venue more inviting by image. Where such things don’t work for example is with National Geographic now going by “NatGeo” which sounds more like a Japanese energy drink. The other one is the SciFi channel now spelled as SyFy to be phonetically friendly. Sorry guys, but in my house, we now call it “See Fee”, more appropriate for some celebrity’s little poodle pal.

Okay, on with show. Art by youth, especially K – 12 is near and dear to my heart. My masters degree in Art Ed with a K-12 certification (the one that says I am not qualified to each people over the age of 18 – hence college art classes- because I lack and “F”) gives me good street cred to judge the works on display and the projects used by the classroom teachers to get such results. Walking around the gallery brought back memories of my own lesson plans and the joy that comes from watching children make new discoveries about materials, images and themselves.

My overall impression is that even with limited budgets and supplies, ideas are always free flowing. Let’s get the negative out of the way first. I don’t know who selected works or how, if there were any parameters set or if any schools declined to participate. There is a show going on at our other big museum for high school art students and one recently for elementary students at a smaller venue nearby which puts a lot of pressure on classroom teachers to get stuff done and out. What I found lacking were works in pencil or graphite drawing which could be because they are not very bold and exciting in a setting full of tempera colors. Also, landscapes and still life seem to have gone by the wayside as a source of inspiration. The old standbys of abstractions, principles of composition studies and collage are still alive and well however. Photography is creeping in more and more, much of it not very successful as the concepts are still basic 101 projects. Abstract canvases in my opinion should be left for more advanced students as the results offered are more messy than masterpiece. Without good bones, abstract works fall apart very easily. And my all time biggest complaint and least favorite technique used far too often as a crutch to avoid developing the “eye”, is the process of grid enlargement. Taking a photo of any kind, drawing a grid over it, and then attempting to enlarge or reproduce that image block by block, fails every time I see it done by students. The one time I substituted for an honors art class in a local HS, the students were doing this process even though the still life was directly in front of them. They were not looking at it. They were using photos of it, with grids drawn over it and reproducing the subject. I sat down and drew it by hand with only my eye to direct it, and the poor kids were amazed. It was like a foreign language… mean I am supposed to look at what I draw? Geeze… wonder there is such a dependency to use photographs as the foundation of work upon which professionals are just filling in the blanks so to speak. But that is another essay on another day.

The highlights are gems for sure. Best in Show goes to “Messy Mice”, paintings by Kindergartners from Bowers Elementary. Somebody ought to see if the designs can be licensed for wallpaper. The sophisticated simplicity blew me way. First Prize goes to a Matisse inspired cut paper piece by Amelia in grade 2 at Redeemer Elementary. She shows natural talent and instinct for color and composition. Similar pieces from the same classroom project don’t show nearly the inspiration found in her work. Second place is to Jacob in grade 9 at Summit Academy for his “Fight in the Forest” watercolor. He has a knack for humor and composition. Watercolor is not easy and he did a good job with the media. Honorable mentions to Tayveonce in grade 10 WHS for his portrait collage and Brittney in grade 8 for her “Tree Top” ceramic. I hated ceramics both as a student and as a teacher. Somehow, the school year ended before I made it to that part of my curriculum….hmmmm wonder how that happened year after year…..? To see a well done ceramic work is wonderful. I can appreciate the effort put into it.

The best part of the show however (and for me, the diehard Republican) was a slam dunk accident of installation. The project was to make a parody of “American Gothic”. This student used Hillary Clinton and Barry Obama, I am making an assumption based on the blonde and blue combo of the female figure and the choice of crayons and ears on the other figure. It was cute for sure. But the best part was that right above (the show is hung salon style) is a collage of a clown with a huge green tissue paper bowtie that sits right on Barry’s head. Put 2 and 2 together and you will see that I personally find it a most appropriate use of imagery. The house depicted in the parody is white, so perhaps the image above the parody depicts those who currently live there. And with that, I am off to make myself some tea.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Same Place, Different Faces….

A couple of weeks ago, I was putting a DVD show together of images from our fall/winter camping season. Yes, I am a Boy Scout, at least as much as I can be without all the official equipment to go with the title. With 3 Eagle Scouts in the family, it has been a long journey in the outdoors which began with the idea that if I didn’t want to be left behind, I better pack up and go along the trail too. Of course I am a closet tomboy and outdoor junkie for sure even though I flunked out of both Brownies and Camp Fire Girls long ago. I still know my Indian name however (Nan-chi-o-ta) which translated to “she who sits by the river and draws” plus I still have a long shoe string of red beads (those given for art related activities in girlie world scouting). Good thing I had sons! None of this has to do with my point today however, I just wanted to share with you that I am perfectly happy with a shovel and a tree, minus the bear of course, which is a whole other story.

Viewing the photos to put them in order, I realized that the same campsites are pictured year after year, but the faces in them have changed. Many I don’t even recognize anymore because I am more behind the scenes than leading the meetings. It made me aware of the fact that my service to the program is not dependent on the boys, which is the usual reason for getting involved, but it has become more about the values, the overall picture of giving my time, and about having a purpose for being a part of something. I think anyone who has given of themselves to some cause over the years would find this same realization. Events, locations and activities remain pretty much standard format, but who shows up, who participates and who continues on all change over time. If you are a dedicated volunteer, you just keep showing up, doing the same thing over and over, and truly enjoy it.

The art world is no different or least it hasn’t been until the last few years. Annual competitions are common (19thannual, 27th annual, 75th annual, etc.) which are an open juried type of show (all media, all subject matter), but a change is slowly taking place. Shows are becoming more “theme” oriented or even more “categorical” in the selection and application process. The same faces no longer can participate, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your personal point of view. For example, some venues request only artists with disabilities, some limit entries to specific ethnic groups, some are selected by gender and still more by age, media, subject or size restrictions. Maybe it is because so many artists are competing now and the process to do so is faster and cheaper than ever before so the galleries need to prevent themselves from being overwhelmed with entries. Maybe it is because the target audience attention span is getting shorter and shorter so a point of reference has to be provided (every piece in the show was done by a guy with one leg and four fingers, on a Thursday). Maybe the purpose is to fit in with America’s pseudo calendar (Women’s history month, Black history month, redheads week, Toga Tuesdays). Whatever the purpose may be, I find it just that much more confusing and limiting in my search to find venues which will fit me and my work. When it happens to be middle aged Monday, female Friday or national Menopause Month, let me know so I can send in a few digitals and duke it out with the other dames.

The upside to this new trend is that more shows are occurring overall. More opportunities are out there for young artists, new media artists, non-traditional artists, underrepresented artists and so forth. More groups and organizations are getting involved in hosting exhibitions and including art in or as fundraising situations. Different ideas are being developed to bring artists together (hint hint on an upcoming post).

How I got from the Scouts to the Studios is rather round about (the road type ones drive me nuts which is another topic all together) but if you made it this far, you didn’t fall off the train of thought.

**Come to the IlluminArts Festival this Saturday (3/27/10) at Timken HS to watch my pastel portraits demo.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On My Honor....

On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey all the laws, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. I shall be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. As an American, I will do my best to be clean in my outdoor manners, to be considerate of the outdoors, to be careful with fire, and to be conservation minded. Can anybody really argue with these words?

Yes, I changed it just a bit to leave out the dreaded “S” word. Taken as a generic pledge of personal accountability however, where dare I ask, can a decent, law abiding citizen disagree? Oh but they do.

I say these words each week, right after I say the Pledge of Allegiance, facing a US flag, in uniform, at attention, and with a salute. Just for the record, “one Nation under God” does not have a comma or a pause; it is one phrase that has been morphed over the years to being two parts. Trying to change it back is not easy, but someday I will succeed.

I remember saying the Pledge in school every morning. I remember saying a prayer in school every now and then, not sure why, but we did. We picked up our trash, waved at our neighbors, and played outside until the streetlights came on. As I was driving home today, I decided it was time to relive my past…sort of. The yard was a mess from all the trash that blows out of passing garbage trucks and a dead raccoon has laid on my street side property for over a week. Thinking about my weekly pledge, I decided I needed to do my duty to my country, to help others, and to be clean in my outdoor manners. With a shovel and some rubber gloves, I scooped up that poor decomposing critter and laid it under a fallen tree in my woods. Other animals will be able to use that carcass and I sure as heck was not going to wait any longer on the city to care for it. A dead skunk is further up the road and well into three weeks of deterioration. I may have to walk the mile up there and move it to a nearby field. Even a dead animal deserves some kindness and courtesy.

Next, I picked up a full garbage bag of trash, including a pair of discarded Ralph Lauren pants. Who throws out Ralph Lauren pants? Large branches littered the yard so I became conservation minded and tossed them back into the woods as well. In the process of property line pick up, an employee of the business behind us was returning from their dumpster. She let out a tremendous sneeze. I don’t think she knew I was in the woods, because when I called out “God bless you!” I think she may have wet her pants. (I was just being friendly!) In the interest of being physically strong as well as thrifty, in a few moments, I will walk over to pick up dinner for my son, walk it to the local school, do a few laps around the track, and then walk back.

My point is this, for as much as some groups complain about “my “ group, we still have a pretty darn good set of values, some decent rules to live by, and if others would just follow bits and pieces of it every day as well, this world would be all that much better. One last motto we live by is to leave something or someplace better than you found it. Can’t argue with that one either. So do a good turn every day and in return, good things will come to you, maybe not materially or physically, but your soul will certainly notice. Happy 100th Birthday to the vision of Colonel Powell (later to be a Major General), you left this world better than you found it, and we will continue that legacy for you to the best of our ability, and I pledge that on my honor.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New beginnings for old habits

Spring is a good time to start up those old habits once again. It is a good time to reveal what is long suppressed under winter skies and frozen sunshine. Anybody who lives in the Midwest knows how to “read” a sky. We can tell when a weather front is approaching or if we are nearing the lakes, somehow it just changes color and cloud formations. So too do we recognize that overcasts come in many different shades, and lately they have been a bit lighter. Therefore, the first old habit to resurrect is walking outside. Because of ice and my early stages of Osteoporosis, I don’t walk outside in the winter, but now that I can see the actual road again, it is time to go hunting both inside my head and out!

The roadways are a treasure chest of stuff lurking under the melting drifts. Walking by itself is boring as all get out but also when I happen do my best creative planning. What one finds along the way can lead to some pretty interesting project ideas. In the span of 3 miles, I came upon the following: lots of dead animals in various stages of decomposition, newspapers dating back months, more beer cans than I could count, broken bottles, lost gloves, stray socks, undies (seriously!), a cassette tape yet to be disemboweled, lots of fast food containers, a hubcap, shoes, and one adult entertainment device. I did take pause on the last one to make sure a body was not attached to it just in case. Yet again, I lamented the fact that I did not have my camera with me to shoot the lost clothing items. Over the past 20 years in cities and countries too numerous to count, I have seen discarded or lost socks, gloves, shoes and other clothing items propped, placed or tossed which would have made for an incredible photo documentary of sorts.

Old habit number two is to return to painting. A year ago I went on a self imposed sabbatical to head up an event that became a full time job for my left brain which in turn required extra storage from the right side as well, effectively shutting down any creative endeavors. Since I was brain dead, I took that time to get my re-certification out of the way, learn some new media and get mentally organized for the upcoming summer scout activities. Now that the sun has proven to still exist and I can walk outside again, the time has come to put a canvas back on the easel and return to my girlfriends. It has been an interesting year off. Some people were glad that I quit painting those “stupid” cartoons, others were sorry to see nothing new posted on the other site, and some worried that perhaps I had lost my “mojo” in the metaphor department. None of the above, well….I am sorry if you think they are “stupid” but $ talks, those ladies sell and my fan club loves them, plus I can make fun of lots of people and situations without paying the piper. As my husband is fond of saying….painting is a whole lot cheaper than a therapist!

Old habit number three is to spring clean yet again. I try to fall and winter clean too but it is just not the same. We must be Draconian or we will end up on Hoarders. Word of advice to single people, don’t marry a fellow pack rat. As some famous person said, I love collecting; it is the keeping which drives me crazy. Yeah….I can relate, time to join the army for some salvation and spread a little good will towards others! So fellow artists, saddle up because the sun is shining, (well it was until yesterday…)ice is melting away from the streets as well as from the right side of my cerebrum and time is on our side (especially if we can find that lost hour which sprung away last night).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Does Teflon wrinkle?

Coming up in a week or so, I have to do another “guest appearance” at an art group north of here. These presentations can be fun if the audience is receptive towards what I do image wise. Now and then I will take guest books from past shows and read some of the snarkier comments left by viewers who feel compelled to state their case as to why I am warped. This practice often sparks a good interaction with the attendees as opposed to me being just a trained monkey and rattling of my degrees and a bunch of blah blah blah about who I am and what I do. People like to be entertained so I put on a show.

To do so, one needs a thick skin. Any artist who has sat through critiques in art school will tell you that the first thing one learns is that they need a thick skin to survive in this business. I bring that up because one question I frequently get asked is why do I only (mostly actually) paint figures of my own color and gender? Now would any person think to turn that around and ask it of someone not my color or gender? Probably not and for good reason. The answer I give however is that like writers, one should work with what they know best, so alabaster babes are my subject of choice. I used to be able to say porcelain but even “oil of old lady” can’t perform that miracle anymore. Back to the thick skin issue, I think if I had a choice, I would take Teflon skin instead. Thick skin is just deeper but it still has pores so any crap thrown your way can still get down inside and fester. Like a bad pimple, it can get infected and eventually leave a scar. On the other hand, Teflon would allow for all the knives, daggers, sticks, stones and mud-pies thrown one’s way to just slide off and puddle around the feet where one can merely step above it all.

Teflon got me to thinking about metals and since I was out walking with my new fancy dandy roller shoes guaranteed to give me buns of steel, my thoughts turned to nerves. After all, we have nerves under our skin. So given a choice between buns of steel or nerves of steel, I would choose the latter. The former would allow one to turn tail and retreat in a timely manner (and look good doing it hopefully) but the latter empowers one to stand their ground and deflect slings and arrows of all shapes and sizes. Superman was called the Man of Steel and except for krypton, he did pretty well in the fly above it all department. Moving on in the thought process, steel morphed into a memory from years ago while sitting at an air force base. The table tent had an advertisement about Kevlar, specifically about the availability of Kevlar underwear. (I do not make this stuff up!)

Too bad that Fruit-of –Kaboom bomber was not wearing some when he landed in Detroit. No, I stole that nickname from the Quinn and Rose show on the radio, I think it is hilarious. So how does this all tie in together? Well….by the time I got home, having mentally gone over my upcoming presentation and squeezed a few emotional zits along the way, I just hoped that I would not bomb next week. Probably ought to stock up on some wrinkle cream too.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Product, Purpose, Presentation, Profit: Let’s all P!

Back in the day, I spent a few years in retail visual merchandising which taught me many valuable lessons of how to display products for profit. We had the four P’s drilled into our brains every week by the big bosses whether our product was panty hose or haute couture. My departments varied over the years as I earned promotions, from men’s accessories (the lowest of the low) to the designer fashion floor mannequins and exterior windows (top dog department). The four P’s are Product, Purpose, Presentation and Profit. One feeds into the other: what are we selling, why are we selling it, how will we sell it and will it be successful? These four points of retail would be of asset to galleries which often do not consider their products to be for profit in the truest sense. The “display” aspect of presentation tends to creep into the picture a bit too often. 2 venues currently have products on display that would benefit from a bit of redistribution for the wealth of the products themselves.

Venue A has a display of 4 artists in a commercial space. I ate lunch there yesterday with a group numbering around 300 people of whom 99% would have no interest in “art” beyond “it looks pretty” or “what the hell is that?” I steered the conversation towards the images on the wall because the merchandising was really bothering me. When the location is empty and the work able to be viewed with breathing room, I could see the reasoning behind mixing the 4 artists’ work all together as some played off of each other. But in a room filled with people, the work was lost in a jumble of colors, sizes and framing discrepancy’s that did no justice to anybody’s work. The majority of the time, this exhibition will be seen by large groups at one time, such as this lunch, as the facility in question does not lend itself to drop-ins. Therefore, I pursued the question of how some of these people liked the work, what did they think? The answers varied but suffice to say this crowd could not appreciate abstraction at all. The general consensus would have been that each artist should have all of his or her work hung in one place next to each other so they could see the different pieces and compare them, much like how people buy anything else in this world. Over stimulus of imagery got the best of them, too much to see and too much work to try and weave through the crowd to check out different ones by the same person. Therefore the details were lost…reduced to “I see a pink one” and “he must have done the big yellow one over there, looks like the one over here so no need to go see it”. That is too bad. Basically if he could have seen all 4 or 5 pieces in one spot, this person would have spent the time looking at the details because he liked the one nearby. If the four P’s are applied, Product = abstract paintings, Purpose = decorate an otherwise bland space, expose people to art, Presentation = scattered, not promoting the product as much as filling the spaces allowable, and Profit = hard to say as people tend to comparison shop in a commercial space, then overall my bosses would not have been happy campers. It will take them work to walk back and forth across a room to decide just which piece of one particular artist they may wish to buy. I learned this lesson the hard way with one event that had to be merchandized. I scattered the products for display purposes rather than for profit and the event bombed big time. I was not asked back. Feedback showed that the buyers had to work too hard to find and compare pieces, they had to carry selections all over the place when only interested in one product spending too much time tracking down options, and the products were not promoted, even though the place looked great!

Venue B has just the opposite problem. Too much matching merchandise in too small a space that does not do justice to the product, it is all profit, not presentation. Here lies the delicate balance in the art world. Venue B has created an interesting and interactive exhibition. Up front, the comments are off the charts positive. Listening to the behind the scenes and on the street lowered voices, I heard some other not so happy feedback. 2 points were front and center in the conversations. I should warn people that I may not appear all that social, because most of the time, I am listening intently to what you think I can’t hear, or paying close attention to what you may think is not being noticed. Call it eavesdropping or being nosy, but one can learn a lot about things if they keep their mouth shut. Point one is that the work is not hung to facilitate its purpose of making connections. Humans read horizontally with a beginning and end in mind. We don’t like to double back, let alone go in reverse. We like things to move and flow, not be static. The exhibition is hung as one work, static in presentation, although its purpose is to flow from one to the other. The most common on the street grumbling was that it should be going around the room, a logical start to finish, not up and down, side to side. The point of the product was to connect east to west, but the north /south connecting points tended to interfere with and sometimes diminish the strength of the east/west imagery. Point 2 was from those on the lower tier. Nobody likes to be thought of as second best, but in merchandising, the lower shelves are for the cheaper products. High end goods are hung at eye level, store brands at the bottom. The bronze medal is below the silver stand, the cheaper rooms are down low and so forth. We will look up more than we will look down. A few fellow bottom dwellers were not happy, they felt equal billing was due to all by locating the work all around the room at eye level for each. It would have been just as easy to do a 180 to view the first and the last as opposed to being smushed into a crowd that did not flow. The other wall had an activity on it to which many were drawn (pun intended) but late arrivals could not participate as all was already filled in. Apply the four P’s, Product = paintings and participation, Purpose = comparison and interaction, Presentation = move the participation to the center creating a natural flow of movement around it and allowing for more pieces to be added as others wish to participate, and Profit = it was successful for sure so I am in no way being critical. I just approach all spaces with the eye of a merchandiser and a general public point of view. As artists, we can’t get caught up in our visions to the point of losing the big picture perspective.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Diamonds should be everybody’s best friend.

I saw Carole Channing on TV a few weeks ago and then a drag queen impersonator of her just a few days ago. Her signature song, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” came to mind and I got to thinking about how symbolic those hunks of pressurized carbon can be to some people. Fortunately for my husband, I am not one of those ladies who covet them. Diamonds came to mind again during the recent bout of sunshine on snow, one of the nicer aspects of life in the Midwest, when the piles of chunky rain shimmer and glisten so much that one has to dig out the dusty sunglasses from the bowels of the personal dumpster (known as my car).

Since my mind tends to wander aimlessly down the dendrites in the process known as “creativity” (which is much better than insanity though many consider them one and the same at times), I got to thinking about those four C’s related to the purchase of a diamond. I could only remember three and had to hit the internet to recall the fourth one, which are color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Standing in my daily prayer spot, where I always pause a few moments on my way to find the newspapers each morning, it hit me (not the paper, the idea) that those qualities should apply to all of us and become our best friends in how we live each day.

First and foremost is Clarity. We should ask for the gift of clarity in our evaluation of people, situations, information, and all other areas where decisions are made and opinions formed. To think and see clearly are not easy. It takes strength to find a vision and stick with it. (I had an eye exam the other day and I hate those…A or B? which is better? A or B? A….. B….grrrrr….excuse me, could you point out the chart first, I am blind as the proverbial bat here sweetie.) Sorry, detour on the dendrite there once again. Clarity of mind, clarity of soul, clarity of direction, clarity of goals, I could keep going but let’s be clear about this, the point is to know what is right and what is wrong and believe in your convictions.

Cut, the gift to realize what we should keep, be it people or stuff in our lives, and what we need to get rid of in order to have more clarity. There are lots of roadblocks on the way to cutting things out of our lives. We can’t save everything unless one wants to star on Hoarders and we can’t maintain every friendship to the same level so letting go is a valuable asset to keep.

Color is a bonus. Not color like “art” colors, although having the guts to paint one’s laundry room bubble gum pink is pretty good, but color as in having a rich and varied existence. The gift of guts to try new things, go to unfamiliar places (even if they aren’t open), meet new people, and take chances without fear of failure are all experiences that add color to our lives. For artists, these “colors” are what make our creativity work. Without a source of ideas and inspiration, we would all be like Barnett Newman (Google moment for everybody, a chance to add some color to your life….).

Finally is carat weight. Okay, this one is bit of a stretch, but to have the clarity to know what is valuable and what is not, what should hold weight in our lives and what needs to be tossed. Weight is roughly translatable to value or to importance. What may hold weight today could float away tomorrow. We should ask for the gift of balance so we know what is worth being added to our shoulders and what needs to be left on the side of the road. (or the end of the driveway, or in our case, up by the house because my neighborhood does not acknowledge that we have garbage cans……ruins our image to think we might be a bit trashy.) Oops, another detour. Perhaps I should hop on the axon expressway and try another route through the brain maze. To be literal, a few carrots each day are a good idea too since they help your eyes and qualify as an orange or yellow veggie on the food chart. I eat a lot of carrots and still can’t find the dang big E.

So go out and get yourself a big old diamond today and wear it proudly! (and eat a few carrots).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ahead of my time?

Or is it your time…or “their” time? This morning I had an hour or so between appointments so I wanted to view a new show at a gallery space to which I had never been. It is a local campus gallery only 10 minutes from my house but in 17 years I never managed to go there. Yeah, okay shame on me but the first 10 of those would be baby and toddler years when art was made with macaroni. Middle years, well….I had work and teens and stuff going on which did not allow for free time to stop in at art shows (it was a personal mission of mine to always be home when the kids got off the school bus at 2:30 or so). Now my excuse has been that of an old person in that I did not know where to park, too many dang kids speeding through the parking lots and walking in the roads, no signs pointing to the building and so on. Grumble grumble grumble…… Deciding to finally man up and find the place, locate visitors parking, walk up the cold windy hill and then have to ask the info desk where in this building was the gallery in question….I arrived at 9:45 am. Now remember, this is a college campus in session so classes are going on.

I find the gallery at the bottom of the stairs and locate a door that says “pull” so all seems easy enough. First clue should have been the dark room through a wall of glass. But begin the savvy energy saver that I am (not) I figured it had those new fangled motion sensor lights which turn on and off as a body enters or leaves the room. Students are all over the lounge area studying (I would hope). I pull the door. It does not move. Okay, because I am ornery and don’t always follow directions, I tried to push it too. No dice, the door is locked. That’s weird. Kids are now looking at me in annoyed interest. Maybe it was the cuss word. I peek in the windows and then turn to leave, finally spotting the gallery hours behind me (brilliant place to locate them if you ask me), and it opens at 11am. Really? The campus is in session, the place is packed with people and cars, and the gallery is not available for viewing? The impression I get from that is not a good one. Will I be back? I don’t know. Perhaps, because I am an art person and will make the effort, but if I think like a mom with only an hour or so to spare in my busy morning, or a retail worker who may have some morning time before the mall opens at 10, the answer would be no. I won’t go back. Forget lunch hour, I eat and do errands, forget mid or late afternoon when kids need attention and dinner started….maybe after dinner my husband and I could take a drive over as it is only a few minutes down the road….oh wait, it closes at 5pm.

Back to my morning, using the saved time to get some errands done before the next appointment, I stop by a major grocery chain to pick up some bread for dinner. It is now 10:20am….I can’t find any bread (not loaf stuff, but a sourdough to put soup into). Standing by the counter for a few moments waiting to catch the eye of a girl standing not more than 4 feet from me (which never happens), I wander off to check again in case I overlooked it. Nope, no round loaves, but finally the girl comes out from behind the counter to load the bagel shelf. Walks right past me waiting there. Another clerk comes over to chat with her and I find my chance to jump in with my question, got bread? She tells me no, well yes, but no. It came in this morning but she had not gotten around to baking it yet. Try back this afternoon. I will, I have to, but at another store sister (no, I did not say that out loud). Maybe only donuts and bagels are made in the morning which is the great bakery mystery.

I am a morning person and the world just does not seem to care about us. Clothing stores open at 10am (heck I am done and back home by 10), many cultural type places open at 11, lots of galleries open at noon, I guess I am just ahead of my time and well before yours. Wal-Mart is great; they are open all night which means I can be there at 8am and get lots done. On the flip side, you won’t catch me at any of those “early bird or early riser” specials around the holidays; too many grumpy monkeys and over-caffeinated crazies. But back to the campus gallery issue, if the building is open, then open the gallery space too. It has security cameras, put a studying student at the door to watch for wayward viewers who might wander in with coffee, or at least turn the lights on so I can look in the windows even if the door is locked. Making the gallery inaccessible only adds to the elitist aspect of art as a “special” situation to be allowed only at certain times. It is a campus, not a museum. Akron U leaves its gallery open whenever the building is open. All other campus venues where I have shown do the same thing. The spaces are inviting and accessible. This local venue needs to cut the attitude and open its doors at 8 or 9 am when classes are in session.