Away-from Homestretch



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.


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.


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.


A joomchi palimpsest…




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.


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.


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



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!


…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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.



Watershed Week


Today’s photos are some of the ‘farm’ portions of my little Chicago yard gardens; here, tomatoes, hot little peppers, chives and marigolds to protect them all, and a primrose whose color echoes the (millions!) of little tomato blooms and makes me smile.

Finally, after two months of uncertainty, on Thursday we learned much more about what is in store for us regarding our home situation; we now have a solid plan A, B and C, all of which follow the same preliminary schedule.  One of the things we had been uncertain about was whether or not I’d be able to travel to teach the two summer classes. Fortunately, I can and will, and am really looking forward to that once again.


The back-porch, two-steps-outside-the-kitchen herbs: rosemary, stevia (which I didn’t like as a sweetener until Sandy Bernat gave me a fresh leaf to taste last year: delicious) with more basil just seeded after eating the spring rocket / aragula that grew in that pot, cilantro turning into coriander and some basil, and Greek oregano, tarragon and lemon thyme, with more basil, dill and summer savory seedlings just getting ready to be transferred).

So, now I’m out of limbo and facing a pretty packed schedule for the next three weeks, but: joy! Much of it involves the studio, after today’s (lengthy) other tasks (there will be more of those, but they’ll be interspersed with studio, accomplished during drying times).  I am off to make that happen.


Some herbs do better in the ground: smoky fennel, nigella (there’s tons more in several other locations), a new golden sage, and the lavender that was compromised by the polar vortex winter, but coming back, mixed with a few marigolds and cleome.

Out in the world: Mary Ellen Long has published a few photos from our show at Abecedarian Gallery: thanks!


The mint patch with a stray dill (and a kozo experi-mint, weathering). On the other side of this tree and in other locations, lots of lemon balm, aka Melissa.


It’s a watershed time for the gardens as well; except for a few transplants, the planting and seeding is done and it’s definitely time for the trimming back of the mulberry I’ll harvest and the dogwood in front; yesterday the City of Chicago beat me to it, chopping a big chunk of this maple away from the power lines.  (Look at that clematis-loaded trellis!)


There are other types of shedding going on: Lupe’s dropping her massive winter inner coat and Chance loves to chase the flying fur! The buckets in the background are full of soaking iris stems, harvested courtesy of my neighbors, ready for the cook…

Paper Work


Susan Porteous

On Friday, I was feeling a bit bereft about not being in Denver, but that’s how things panned out. Fortunately, there was social media. Here are some photos taken by J. Diane Martonis, one of the artists  in Paper Work at the Center for Visual Arts, Metropolitan State U.  I like her eye! When I asked for permission to post them, she said sure, and “…lots of people clustered around your work at all times. It was a great turnout!” Thanks!


Mia Pearlman


Detail of Liz Miller’s fantastic cut-paper installation, created on site.


J. Diane Martonis: shadows!


Jennifer Ghormley


Anne Hallam, who teaches at MSU.


and me, and me:


I love this installation of Re:Morse – and the lighting!

Truly home, and balancing.


I’ve been in the studio for the past few days. I said, In The Studios – both of ‘em!


2014 wasn’t planned to be this way at all, but till now, every time I tried to get back to my work, something else happened.  It has been almost as long a hiatus as semesters had gotten to be during my final few years at the edu-corp. That’s just wrong.


But it’s over: now I’ve made paper (some with a new quickie deckle box cobbled together from scrap crate-building stuff) and have spent long blissful hours casting, dyeing, shaping, sewing. Tuesday, I wrapped up this piece slowly (glue, sew, wait to dry, glue, sew, wait to dry), and then literally, to be FedEx-ed out in the morning.


Dogbane things…

The first book piece of this year. It’s been so good in the studio, I had to post these photos, hoping you can feel the peace and flow…ultimately, what I live for, the rest temporarily fading to background noise that doesn’t interfere with the music of making.


Alas, the next wee while is full of non-studio tasks. But not for long: lots of early July studio time planned. Lots! By choice, the next show will be almost all new work on my part, exciting for me.


Oh, the milkweed…


I’m really looking forward to to seeing images from both Denver shows opening tomorrow, and I admit I am a little wistful that I can’t be there. At Abecedarian, Alicia Bailey has written a lovely intro to the show, and is exhibiting the largest grouping of the diaristic books I’ve been making since 2009 that have ever been shown together, along with (S)Edition, Manifest, O and an earlier work, Blood: Simple. I’d love to see Mary Ellen Long’s work with it, and the many friends, former colleagues, or just plain People Whose Work I Like in the Reading Room. Then, just across the street at CVA, are three larger, ‘non-book’ installations, one that has never before been installed by someone else, with a highly interesting group of artists I’ve not shown with before now.


But home it is: and there’s great comfort in knowing that every step I’ll take this week will lead me back to the studios: truly home.



(And on the other side of the country, some sweet fruits of the seeds spread by traveling, teaching…)