"Art is literacy of the heart" -- Elliot Eisner
Yesterday I participated in Highland Park High School's 2009 Focus on the Arts evening visual arts program. Wow! I was thrilled to see the number of people who attended. It was a crowd. It's so encouraging as an artist to know that a school district not only values art, but sponsors a biennial weeklong program for both students and the public.
One father couldn't contain his pride in his child's participation. She had a table like mine to show her work. He was thrilled that she had come this far with her interests and was especially proud that she would be pursuing a degree in the visual arts. I was stunned. Most parents seem to want their child to pursue a career with a clear economic path. Instead, this dad was proud to see his daughter pursue what her heart told her to pursue. He cares that she is happy and knows that all else will follow.
Our conversation was a timely one for me. It reminded me once again to stay on the path I set out to pursue. I've been worried about paying upcoming medical bills, but the worry does nothing for me. Sitting down to work on a new piece whether a sculpture or a hat is far healthier and much more satisfying.
Tomorrow I will be teaching a workshop on performance art with 25 of these high school students. I can't wait!
Mom's house has been on the market for nearly two months. There's been traffic, but few offers and all have been very low. The house across the street was in trust with a bank for a very elderly neighbor who died in January at 99. The bank foreclosed on the house and dumped it for a price at $150,000 below market value. As a result, every potential buyer seems to think we should sell Mom's place for the same or lower. We can't. We have a mortgage and a line of credit to pay back, plus need to recoup the money we've invested in its upkeep and preparation for market. My brother and I initially listed it for what it was valued at in 1995 and have just dropped it another $32,000. Sigh.
What is worse are the comments left on an automatic feedback list from potential buyers. There is little respect for this house having once been a person's home. The comments are often rude with several being very sarcastic. Are these folks completely clueless? Did their parents forget to teach them graciousness and good manners? It's so disheartening.
Many nights I wake up in a sweat from dreams of home. I miss it. It wasn't the same after Mom died, but it was still home. I knew the sound the floorboards at the top of the steps made which prevented me from sneaking out of the house as a teenager and the way the sunlight would move across my old bedroom. I would love to take ownership myself, but if I did, I would have to put my goals as an artist on hold. It's such a big house that upkeep is larger than my current budget allows. I need to let go emotionally, but it's a struggle. I've only recently been able to send thank you notes for all the charitable donations made in Mom's name.
"What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life." -- Emil Brunner
This week's Friday Fiber Fun theme revolves around the body. Tomorrow morning (Friday) I'm having a CT scan of my lungs and heart. I've recently developed a mild form of asthma, but it doesn't explain my rapid heart rate. Given that I've had cancer twice, the doctors are being their usual cautious selves. I'm grateful to be alive, but rather fed up with feeling like a lab rat or zombie from the Land of the Ill.
Thinking of lab rats, I love this knitter's rendition.
Knit organs seem to be a trend. Check out this heart and this soft and fuzzy brain (a bit like my own prior to my morning coffee).
I recently came across the work of Austrian artist Melli Ink. I love her glass installations and can't wait to see images of her current work in textiles.
But right now, at this very moment, it is the work of Christoph Brach that resonates most with me. His anatomical rendering in balloons (see above image) look as soft and squishy as I currently feel, each breath noticeably expanding and contracting like a worn out balloon.
In honor of tomorrow, the first warm day of the year in Chicago - my perception of watering my garden is changed forever.
"Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more." -- Vincent van Gogh
Sometimes I forget how necessary it is to take a little time off. Nashville this time of year is gorgeous. I strolled through the lovely gardens of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum. I checked out the shops on 12th Ave S. I meandered around the grounds of the Nashville Historical Society. In short, I breathed warm spring air, reveling in all the glorious colors.
Living in Chicago, I forget that there are more to trees than silver maples. In my humble opinion, I'd take a dogwood over a silver maple any day. In fact, I am going to plant one in my front yard this year. Who can resist such delicate beauty?
And look at those purples!
12th Ave S is charming. Small bungalows brightly painted. I think the trash bin says it all. My craving for a pimento cheese sandwich was satisfied at the Frothy Monkey. Nothing says Southern more than a pimento cheese sandwich with Fritos and a Coke. It was the diet of choice when visiting my cousins in Alabama as a young child. This version was slightly more sophisticated with toasted rye bread, lettuce, and tomato washed down with a very frothy cappuccino, but still so yummy.
Time off allows for the brain to reboot. I need to program it into my regular routine.
"A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting." -- William Shakespeare
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting." -- William Shakespeare
Yesterday I visited the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. I don't think anyone could find a combination more suited to me than art and flowers. If you are ever in Nashville, Tennessee, this is a magical place and well worth a visit.
I know I am not alone in my love for combining flowers with art, especially in the field of textiles. One of my first jobs post-college was at the textile company Colefax and Fowler in London, England. I worked in the samples department surrounded by gorgeous chintz fabrics. Ah, heaven.....
As you know, I have a thing these days for knitted and crocheted flowers. There are many great how-to books on the subject. Two of my favorites are Crochet Bouquet by Suzanne Thompson and Nicki Epstein's Knitted Embellishments
I am especially enamored with the artwork of Françoise Dupre. Ruth Scheuing's jaquared woven piece Cybourg in the Garden is equally fascinating.
I leave you with one more photo of inspiration from Cheekwood. Have a great weekend!
"To be truly creative, you have to work beyond what you know. Pushing the envelope is what being an artist is all about." -- John Ferrie
Imagine two whole weeks with no responsibilities other than to putter in the studio. I know. It's difficult to conceive of such a time when one has a job, a child to feed, rooms to clean, gardens to tend, shopping to do, laundry to finish, and shirts to iron. But two blessed weeks is exactly what I have been given.
Ragdale is an artists' retreat located along Lake Michigan in a gorgeous Art and Crafts period building. The foundation provides a room, a studio, food, and time. Yes, that magic word again - time.
I'll be there in late October. I have so many ideas that have yet to leap from brain to paper to form. Oh, the possibilities!
"A garden is a friend you can visit anytime." - Anonymous
It's time to tidy up the garden, cut back the dead wood and get ready to think of the many veggies, herbs and flowers you want to plant. The Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse and Community Garden annual plant sale is just a month away - May 16 an 17. To tantalize your taste buds, check the list of veggies that will be on offer. I wonder how many tomato plants I can fit in my backyard?
I love spring. Don't you? Let's hope that we have seen the last of snowfall for the year (or at least until December).
Here's my weekly roundup of fiber fun. Enjoy!
I need to see this show. What an inspiration! It's a good thing that I already have some beautiful merino roving that I ordered from here. I don't think I can wait another day to begin experimenting.
I would love one of these chairs for lazy days curled up reading.
Gorgeous die cut felt necklaces! Or would you call them collars....?
Felt experiments from across the pond. Juju's nuno felt fashions move past the usual scarves into the sublime.
My first fiber art teacher (if you don't include my family).
I will be teaching needle felting this May at Lillstreet Art Center.
Here come Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail....
Have a great weekend. Happy Easter!
I begin today's collection with the above video. Mesmerizing.
For more knitting as an art medium, take a look at the work of Karen Searle and Mark Newport. Anni Holm's Networking brings people together, while Irene Perez's work invites touching. I love Eric Mercer's crocheted rope fence.
I'm finishing up my first week with Gift of Connection in Nashville.
Have a great weekend!
"One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it. To remain in touch with the past requires a love of memory. To remain in touch with the past requires a constant imaginative effort." -- Gaston Bachelard
A few pics from my Gift of Connection performance work in Nashville:
To see more, click here.