Quietly, bit by bit

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Last week: before.

We’re slowly moving through Things That Need To Be Done, and I am beginning to achieve a wee bit of balance, thanks to my garden / supply store.

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After; Chance of the fox-tail exploring the newly-cleared stones.

The back and one of the side gardens are now trimmed and/ or staked back, giving the dogs more room to run, letting us humans go through the gates without fighting off rowdy foliage.  I trimmed all the mulberry in the yard once again, staked it where that was needed, cut down all the renegade French hollyhocks before they went completely to seed (gathering much of the seed that had already matured, first) but they will still show up in the cracks between the paving stones again next year; they are insistent that way and they really like it there. I halfheartedly tried stripping the stalks, but they were too green yet, and there is another large stand of the same hybrid hollyhocks within the garden if there is time later in the season to steam and strip some. Their stems are not as large nor as straight as what we call ‘alleyhocks’. (Those make lovely paper).

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Not Alleyhocks.  I have a grandma kind of garden, but it’s exactly the kind of grandma garden I’ve wanted since I was a wee kid…

I did harvest all the tall orange daylily stalks from the front and side yard and the ones I’d planted in the alley, plus the stalks from a favorite darker red, still tall, daylily. When I left, they were all blooming profusely, and I thought I would miss the window for getting the most benefit from them, but I lucked out.  The stalks make rather ugly, rough, fibrous sheets of paper but yield a great strong pulp to use for the internal structures of castings, especially those meant to be installed outdoors.  It’s win-win: nice, dense (and easy plant-to-paper) foliage, a lovely long month or more of blooms, and then a just a few quick hours of work to harvest, cut, cook, beat and freeze the drained stem pulp to have on hand when I am building again.

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Daily dog training, an appointment with a highly recommended trainer (who has trained service dogs! Fingers crossed for his evaluation and affordability), and web site updates, admin for the next show, and a residency / grant I’ve been nominated for are things getting done incrementally, as well: the late-summer rhythm of home is re-establishing itself, and that’s fine and good. So is eating my own tomatoes and fresh herbs every day, and (surprise!) having time and the inclination to blog a bit today.  Next week, we receive the schedule imposed by our situation for the next few months,  adjust our rhythm to encompass that and whatever it brings with it.

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The extra-tall bucket, before covering it with a mesh bag.  Today is perfect weather for the cook.

Hometown and Back Home

I’ve been home since Tuesday and quickly became thoroughly immersed in what I hurried home for: our shared not-blog-able situation which is just beginning to shift into high gear. It will rumble on, occupying much of our time for the next few months.

MorganCatalog

This really is a really good show, and the catalog is excellent, with brief essays by each artist.

Cleveland was grand, grand, grand: all of it, the class, the Morgan and Morganites, the friends!  Oh, the friends.  But still I have no words, just huge overflowing gratitude to everyone there in my hometown (friends who reside there and friends passing through) for a time that I can carry within as we go on with our extended odd and sometimes difficult tasks here.

I may not find many words for awhile, but I will try to have images and write a bit, captioning those.

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This is where I asked to stay while teaching, on Tom’s second floor.  I love the light, the space, and waking up to the three koi who live in this fountain. Though they are friendly and stick their heads out to be fed when you whistle ‘Garry Owen’ they’re almost impossible to photograph, never still.  But I like their greeting each morning and evening, very much.

MorganTeach2Above photo courtesy of Lauren Sammon; pretty much the entire class on the first day (a few people were out of the frame).

MorganShapes

The classes all seem to need to start the same way, even though I had several people who were repeating. I do lots of demos, talk, answer questions, and from the first day, odd amorphous shapes begin to appear. The magic is in watching these blobby things develop, get added to, and completely transform over the next few days.

(You can see the Morgan’s Facebook album here. Lauren shot photos almost daily; I didn’t have time for much).

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When the kozo and the color come into play, things begin to get quite exciting. Several people made bark lace to be shaped later; some made bark lace to be cast then and there. I try not to be jealous of people whose knees still function properly!

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At the dye table and in the paper studio; by day 3, people were spread out all over the Morgan.  We were lucky to be the only class running during our five days, so we had it all!

Morganclass3I truly enjoyed working with Radha, who came to develop part of her MFA thesis work; she got some viable prototypes and I will be eagerly looking forward to seeing what happens with them, how the whole fits together.

MorganOceanLike the WSW class, most people came to add something to already substantial practices or to develop specific projects; most left with prototypes and / or components for work to be completed later, which pleases me to no end.  This is Ammon’s main project, a bark lace sea and an abaca boat which will ultimately become an animation.  (On the very last day, a whale’s tail appeared, too). There were many, many colorful bark lace pieces, a series of red bark fists, collages that attained dimension, a series of large abaca-dipped mesh geometric shapes to become an installation, components for arrangements by an Ikebana master and oh, so very, very much more: riches.

MorganFlowahsSome people did finish things; on the last day, Susan left early, all spiffed up for an event, carrying a bouquet of big calla lilies made by re-shaping and dyeing air-dried sheets of abaca and flax.

JulieKiMoNoMorganJulieFriend Julie McLaughlin, whose big beautiful kimono was one of (several) personal favorites in the show, was in the studio making more from the big deckle box; Tom was making some work with it as well. I wanted to, too.

MorganKimono2MorganKimono1Ivey, Eastern Paper Studio apprentice extraordinaire, combined one of her kimonos from Julie’s class with bark lace and a subtle use of dyes, in addition to making several other great things.  This was just gorgeous, both with the light on it and showing through it.

MorganMilkweedThriving Morgan milkweed!

Smithrox

ASmithpstersThen, after class and leaving the Morgan, a lovely, restorative time at the SmithSanctuary, with message rocks, bee talk, poetry, a trip out for so much great ice cream that it became our dinners (“Our portions are…rather large”, said the waitperson after delivering the giant bowls), stretching, congenial quietness, homemade jam: touchstone time.

GahdenHomeHomePeppasHome, to mid-August gardens needing a lot of trimming back, and burgeoning harvests, some of which have already begun.

ChanceHomeAnd this one. He is HUGE, grew so much; the markings on his coat are changing, becoming more defined; his eyes appear to be changing from bright electric blue to a pale greenish-grayish-yellowish hue.  He is shedding a short, dense undercoat, and he was a total drama queen, yelping and yowling whenever I left his sight for a few days.  We’re back to much-needed training.

To WSW and (partway) Back

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Women’s Studio Workshop is growing!

I am sorry to have neglected the blahg-o-sphere but it couldn’t be helped: busy busy busy!  But pretty much all good, and am having a great time seeing old friends and making new ones.

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It’s much more extensive than either of these photos show; there’s lots more going on behind the second house. Hooray!

I worked pretty much up till the moment I left Chicago; drove straight to the Morgan and dropped off the work for Revive and Renew, which (as I saw yesterday) is a Really Good Show and had a lovely dinner with Aimee and Velma, and then a fine evening and early morning with the Smiths at their peaceful sanctuary.

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The human press dance, performed enthusiastically by Teddy and Jean.

Then, the long long drive to a stellar week at Women’s Studio Workshop. I do so love it there at any time for any reason, and it was made even sweeter by a workshop that was sort of a dream class.  Everyone in it was a working artist with a considerable practice, who came to shake things up a bit. And everyone GOT it: that this five-day workshop was much less a place to focus on making Cool Stuff Right Now, but something to be used as a catalyst.  Everyone left with components for works to be completed, test pieces, the knowledge to be able to take things further, and best of all: ideas.  That all made me SO happy (in spite of the coughing cold that two of us developed early on that, for me, is still lingering, and the fact that one person had to leave to deal with a home situation after only one day: I hope you are OK). The collective spirit and tone of the class was happy, friendly with lots of exchange, industrious, and above all, one of discovery. I simply couldn’t have asked for more and I am eager to see what will come of things in the future. Many thanks to you all!

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Here we all are on the last day, minus one who had to leave: Andrea, some weirdo, Teddy, Jim, Jean and Donna.

The non-class time, too, was filled with excellent activities: a delicious dinner with Ann, Tana and Susan (whose class in the front studio filled the walls with colorful innovative prints), a lovely long visit and dinner out with Amelia who drove over from Connecticut, an afternoon of walking and mushroom-foraging with Tana, getting to hang out with the fabulous Chris (who helped locate and install some WSW ear-fungi on Saturday) and Sara, and two interns, Alyssa who was a HUGE help in the workshop and Mary who cooked up some fantastic lunches (and kindly popped some very tasty vegan leftovers into my little fridge).

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Up at the ArtFarm with Chris.

Early Saturday evening, after ears were installed and the car packed (with just what I needed for the night and morning left out), I did something I’ve wanted to do since I first came to WSW in 2009: walked the (expanded, but now restricted) rail trail past the eerie old mine shafts and then: out onto the tall, tall former railroad trestle that spans the little river valley over Rosendale. It’s been restored and is now open to the public.  I don’t really like heights, but have always wanted to get up there.  It’s gorgeous.

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Gorgeous views from the trestle…

Then I got up at 5 am, drove all day and got to the Morgan just as Aimee and Velma’s joint class was wrapping up; I got installed over at Tom’s and had a nice visit with him, Aimee and Velma, and then Velma and I got an all-too-rare treat, a couple of hours just to talk.  She’s headed back to the North Country now (safe travels).

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...but a long way down.

Even more good things happened:  Aimee’s article about the Morgan’s Eastern Paper Studio appeared in the Surface Design Journal, and one of my works was chosen to accompany it with a very lovely layout; the Revive and Renew exhibition opened at the Morgan on Friday, and it is fantastic, with a lovely catalog, and Ann Starr came to review the show but so enjoyed the Morgan that she wrote this, which perfectly captures the place (and I thank her for the shout-out as well). Now I’d better get over to the studio…

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I couldn’t resist this “collaboration” with Tana (even though she didn’t know about it).

Away-from Homestretch

 

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Joomchi shadow! Intriguing…

I’m wrapping up an explosion in the studios, a number of new things being worked on at once. Sweet studio hours have been woven in with pup training, sleep / eating schedules very different from mine, still way too much admin, medical visits, laundry, all the essential ephemera of life. It will all come together tomorrow and Tuesday (when cleanup will also – definitely – need  to happen), Wednesday is reserved for a big fat pile of tedious postponed admin, Thursday for packing and Friday: the road.

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I’m really looking forward to the workshops, and absolutely eagerly to the many friends I’ll be so very glad to see…and of course, this show, which will open while I’m in Rosendale. At the same time, I am having small wistful twinges about leaving. My presence at home is a boon to our current situation, the wee gardens are at peak (we’ve just begun to eat the burgeoning tomatoes that taste like the sun), and Chance is at a point in his schooling where he’s slowly beginning to realize that walking at heel is his job, and that the world will not end if he ignores squirrels while doing so. I’m truly becoming a confirmed homebody (well, and home studios-body: that’s essential). I know for certain, though, that I’ll come back replenished, renewed and refreshed.

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These lovely purple French hollyhocks aren’t supposed to be here; they’re growing in the wee spaces between stone pavers, outside the garden.  I decided to let them.  They’re gorgeous and very very tough and hardy: Chance crashes into them multiple times daily, retrieving his ball, so they protect the actual garden.

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A joomchi palimpsest…

Tightrope

 

CVA_ReMorse

Today’s photos are courtesy of the Center for Visual Arts, Metropolitan State University Denver. I purely love this installation of Re:Morse; it’s the first time a venue has chosen a vertical strategy, though I always suggest it.  And also, the dramatic lighting.

In our ongoing at-home situation we are trying – and mostly succeeding – to keep stress at bay. But, every once in a while there is a bit of blind-siding. We’ll be told one thing, and assured that it is gospel. We’ll make decisions based on that assurance, only to have it completely change a little further down the road, when it would be incredibly difficult to make alterations to the decisions we’ve made. It’s…frustrating, and can get to me. I need to remind myself that I survived a few years of remarkably similar disruption and sabotage at a job, and that what is happening now is at least not deliberate, and the people involved are not malicious in intent. I’ll have to make that a mantra, I think.

CVA_LISTEN

This is the first time LISTEN has been installed by someone else; interesting to see…

In any case, that lovely balance I enjoyed is gone now. Still, things move forward slowly. They have to. Less than two weeks remains at home before the teaching trip, with, of course, tons to get done.

CVA_FandD

The backing on Force and Duration cracked during shipping (eek) but fortunately not enough to prevent its being installed.

Last week, as you can see in the new header, I took some time to install one of the ear-fungi at home; over the last two days, I watched as it survived some copious rains and pretty good wind.  It’s giving me useful info already. More pictures here.

Midweek Equilibrium

 

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A bit of that lovely ‘fat’ mulberry bark harvested last fall, to sculpt with…

Working away on the next show and loving it, loving the techniques and materials I’m using, loving being in the studio and knowing that it is My Primary Job to be in the studio right now. And still: that balance. Delicious!

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…and I even got a good bit of this year’s crop trimmed, though my neighbor inadvertently cut down all the growth from one tree; I’d forgotten to tell him I wanted it.  Fortunately, it was a small one.

In between, during drying times or times I’ve simply needed to sit for a bit, I amazed myself by working on…web site updates. I am either re-developing some efficiency, or have been thoroughly re-trained to sit quietly and type, cut & paste by all the digital paperwork of the past few months. In any case, besides messing about with the home page, I now have the Project Journal for The Monitors up-to-date and published, and only three MakerCentric updates to go before the entire site is completely current. Shocking! However, finishing the journal made me want to make more ear-fungi too (I have plans for them), so we’ll see.

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The new ‘no dogs’ cooking station (Chance does actually respect fences as boundaries, ever since knocking this former kitchen gate down and scaring himself mightily. He doesn’t even challenge the flimsy green plastic ones around the garden. This one is anchored more sturdily than it looks.

Out in the world, I am SO excited about this! HUGE congrats to the Eastern Paper Studio, and huge props to Aimee and the Morgan and David and the funders for pushing this through.  I so hope I get to use it this summer in Aimee’s class: fingers crossed!

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A fantastic tail, still being written.

Last but not least: hooray for Chance, who went through his first fourth of July quite calmly (whew).  Now, if I could only elicit that stoicism from him in the presence of squirrels…

Quiet fireworks

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This is how it was in the studio all this week, beginning with some storms that scrubbed the air clean and soft, and made the light in my upstairs studio equally so.  This week, I did – finally – experience the Productive Balance that I have wanted for the year, and it was blissful.

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It wasn’t a 100% balance, which is never to be expected, but it was mighty fine (the imbalance centered around the kitchen sink). But there was daily dog training. Chance is now mature enough to patiently (if a little dejectedly) lie outside the studio or office to watch, while paperwork caught up to the new plan in our lives between studio sessions, the switch nicely dictated by drying times. And there was time for shared meals, the occasional evening pack walk, daily maintenance of all kinds.

Yet, I was able to get lost in the studio, in the work, in the music of color, the dance of the dyes into the paper. I made a series of five of these pieces at Ragdale last fall, and they have been hanging where I could see and think about them daily.

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Now the piece is done and documented and the digital paperwork is totally caught up and celebrating with tonight’s fireworks awaits.  There’s a little Italian community nearby that does an impressive display I can see easily from my front porch. Tomorrow, a day for the garden while fiber cooks for two and half more weeks that I hope will go much like this.

Fittingly, just as I finished the piece, something else generated at Ragdale arrived by actual mail. I am loving the (colorful) cover of the Spoon River Poetry Review, and am looking forward to reading, particularly with the breadth of focus on the poetics of emplacement that is one of the publication’s hallmarks. Editor Kristin Hotelling Zona chose the image after an excellent conversation about just that in the Meadow studio last year.

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For now, it’s quite interesting for me to experience this work transformed in format. The scale of the image is very close to the actual size of the piece, which I just handled a lot while packing to ship. The cool smooth texture is not what my fingers expect…which I am enjoying.