Festivities

 

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Saturday, I zipped up to Ragdale just as the annual holiday party began, and snagged the last on-site parking space.  I didn’t have time to visit the original ear installation; since the party was overlapped by the opening at ZIA, I only had about 40 minutes.  On the drive up, I had resigned myself to foregoing a tarot reading this year, but as soon as she saw me, poet & reader Josie hauled me in to her reading room (and it was a good one).  Quick chats with many friends, then back in the car to ZIA.

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I arrived a wee bit late and missed one friend (who left a lovely note), but the first 30 minutes or so that I was in attendance were relatively quiet, with time for a few snaps (though I didn’t shoot the whole show by any means, and will return to document it).  I loved Anne Hughes’ installation!  The entire space looked wonderful, and I was particularly taken by her installation of Re:Morse, including the way it was lit, highlighting the translucency of the pieces.

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(I talked about that with another artist, how allowing someone else to interpret your work is a risk, but one that can teach you new things, give you fresh eyes. I would probably have gone vertical in this space, but this looks so good!) Only one work sold (well, as I was repeatedly told: so far), but it was a good one.  The rest of the evening was spent talking talking talking; a lively and interesting crowd passed through, and it was a great time. I liked meeting Jonathan Ricci, who is very funny, and several of the big group of friends and family who came in from New Jersey to support him.

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ZIA has also featured a nice interview with good questions by Shannon Gallagher (which took place last summer) on their blog.

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Sunday, I cooked our big old holiday dinner and we had our unique brand of 3-person celebration; Monday evening, after long talks, more celebration, leftovers and goodbyes, the Bro left for home. Yesterday, I finally got my hearing aids repaired and serviced; they’d been jury-rigged with duct tape since my visit to the Smiths ten days before. (Whew.)

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Tomorrow, the final show of the year opens at Aqua Art Miami; I’ll be at home, but Anne is there working hard. If you’re attending the monster Miami gathering of art fairs, please stop in to ZIA’s space!

Why Try?

Why try to blog?  Too much to doooo…I’m just trying to keep this thing going for awhile, till I can evolve it later this year, I hope. My time here is halfway done, which seems incredible.  I’m just now feeling like I mostly know the ropes.  After a week of rain and cold, it’s now turned lovely, wildflowers and blossoming trees, which always happens after Edible Books.

The crew. Front: Josiah.  Middle, L to R: Pat, Barbara, Heather, Kelly, Amanda, Jenna.  Back: me, Linnie.

Our Edible Books event rocked!  The class was totally enthusiastic, worked hard, made gorgeous and/or hilarious books, and so did a surprising number of other people.  It was so nice to once again be able to shout the official proclamation (though I did not, as once was traditional, stand on a chair), “Eat Book!”

I kept this one.  Not only was it a contribution from someone I respect, it just underscores how I am looking at things in general these days. “Edible with patience (+ a little water).”

I’m trying to make the web page for the event: still waiting for photos.  Maybe today, during my laundry hours?  One can but hope; watch this space for the link. I advertised it as The First Annual All Penland Edible Books Festival, which made some purists cringe (sigh), but for me projects into the future. I did add the clarifying ‘(we hope)’. And I do sincerely hope Edible Books becomes a tradition here.  Internationally, it was the Twelfth Annual Festival.  Of course, I raised a glass (actually a few) to Judith Hoffberg.

Edible was followed last night by the Poly Prom.  In the afternoon, I ran out to two local thrift stores and found an appropriately disgusting jacket for $3 at the second, unintentionally but happily replenished my stock of evening-reading paperbacks at the first.  I didn’t stay at the prom long, maybe 20 minutes; it was the worst possible deaf-person scenario, which I knew would be the case: loud music, shifting light from the original Wonka movie being screened as a backdrop, lots of talking, shouting, shrieking, laughing – it looked like a blast!  That was fine with me.  I started reading one of the paperbacks and got some sleep, but I don’t think anyone else did.  Noisy campus?  No problem for deaf people. Things all work out. I’ll try to remember that as I address my formidable to-do list today.

Helter Swelter

Some samples in a hot studio window…

On Saturday, when I wrote the last blog, the outdoor thermometer read 45 degrees when I woke up; during the day, it climbed into the 90s.  For the past three days, temperatures have been between 98 and 100 degrees, and it’s humid and sticky with it.  That’s making the second workshop, which began yesterday, a bit tougher.  It’s cooler in the paper studio; there is an immediate , intense difference when you walk in or out.  But the five women in the last workshop were able to spread out, to work outdoors as well as inside (especially when pounding kozo). For six women making sculpture plus the paper for the sculpture plus treating the paper and mixing the dyes indoors in the same space, it’s a tad cramped.  Still, everyone has been working hard and there are some mighty promising test pieces drying in the studio tonight, which I forgot to shoot after doing my slide talk (mercifully, held upstairs in the air-conditioned silkscreen studio and not in the Rosendale arts center).  In addition to the heat, having the noise from two other classes added into the mix is difficult for my ears, and I’m a bit crankier, bristlier. In spite of it all, it’s looking like a good class, and I think (hope!) it will go well for everyone.  We are supposed to get rain tomorrow and then it will cool a bit for the final two days. Whew!

I shot this two-inch long bug in the light of a wee LED flashlight held in my mouth.

Last night, I gave up being stoic and turned on the window air conditioning unit in my apartment, mostly to dehumidify it.  That was an immediate relief, and the pace on the things I’m working on in the evenings (for other obligations) picked up immediately, or at least accelerated from a stupefied crawl to slow but steady. I was able to wrap up and ship out two things this morning.  But, I am still behind, and I’ll be working hard in and out of class till I leave for Maine, and probably will need to keep working in the evenings during the first PBI session. I am cursing myself a bit for all the overbooking, fully aware that  I have no one else to blame…

Thanks to Heather Bella for pointing me to the site this came from; it cracks me up (though I wish I had been credited for having my artwork chopped into the shape of New York State.  However,  if you steal the image from the site, I am in the file name).  And: this show opened last Friday at Abecedarian in Denver, and Marking Time opened yesterday in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I’ve also heard that there was mention of Listening in the Cleveland newspaper, with photo, in an “advertorial” – but as yet, no one has reviewed it. A bit disappointing, except one must take into account that none of the regular small Cleveland publications are running art reviews any more.  Sigh. And now: more cold water, bed, and (still) dreaming of a vacation somewhere, a real one. Somewhere balmy, with cool breezes.

Rosendale sidewalk; last year, there was a chalk monster in the very same place.

Last year, when I was spending much more time alone in the woods here, I did not see a single deer.  This year, I have had three beautiful does leap out of the woods in front of my car so far. I’ve been grateful for my agile Subaru…it’s startling!

…and quirks.

I’m not having the best of times right now; not terrible but not great either.  I’ll be on the road in one week, moving around for six weeks, and I’m way behind on what I need and want to have accomplished before I get in the car.  A large part of this is due to a lingering, very nasty cough left over from whatever hit me when returning from Cleveland that continues to deplete my energy.

But I am so pleased to say that Jeff Chiplis seems to be recovering like the champion he is.  I’ve been following along on Walking Thin Ice; Smith is covering everything thoroughly, and providing all the links to all the information; thank you, Smith.  I’m also checking Jeff’s CaringBridge site daily. It’s the second time I’ve experienced one of these.  They are absolutely great (Smith’s blog has the link).  And I really liked this from Smith: Jeff’s backstory written from a totally Cleveland viewpoint by cartoonist Derf (scroll down to ‘gunning down artists’ – though ‘RIP quicksand Jesus’ is pretty good too. I might have to start following this; have always liked his comics).  I was hoping to time my initial trip east to be able to stop and visit Jeff in the hospital, but if I can’t lose the cough, I won’t; I might be a very bad risk for him for infection at the moment.

This bit sums up how things are for me personally right now: I went out with friends on Tuesday night and had one too many excellent drinks, but got home decorously and safely in the wee hours; remembered to park on the other side of the street for street-cleaning, remembered to finish some little chores for the morning, went to bed, woke fine and refreshed, did the morning’s nitpicky work, then headed downtown for a long important meeting, remembering to collect and bring along all sorts of minutiae.  Got to the office, opened up my hearing aid case, and: It. Was. EMPTY!  So I spent three hours with my hands cupped behind my ears, reading lips, asking for multiple repeats, resorting to written notes when I just couldn’t get it, and feeling utterly stupid.  By the end, I was exhausted as if I’d been digging ditches with my fingernails for days.  Home and the hearing aids were on the passenger seat of my car, carefully wrapped in a bandana after leaving the bar. Sigh.

The reception for Listening (and Premiering Print Portfolios) is tonight; wish I could be there, even coughing and deaf.

Good Vibrations

This was Chicago’s vernal equinox:

On Friday it was 65 degrees, and all the crocuses were in full bloom; they have little bright yellow centers.  Sensibly, they snapped shut during the two-day snowy weekend, and haven’t fully opened again since, even though the snow was all melted by yesterday and the past two days have been sunny but cool.

I beat a short load of bleached abaca, which again went perfectly, and now have the correct shade of pulp. The past few days have been a lot of errands and writing and visitors and visiting and a few more studio improvements and finally getting the web site to work in Internet Explorer, and I’m hoping to begin production on the last bits of (S)Edition tomorrow.

Many years ago, moments after I got my first hearing aid (a very basic, outdated, donated and refurbished one from the Chicago Hearing Society), I went right to the original book and paper facility on Wabash where I worked.  It was near the CHS’s old offices, I was familiar (I thought) with its sounds, and I freely admit that I was utterly freaked. I was totally assaulted by incomprehensible noise, and since my hearing loss is in both ears and I could only afford one cheap hearing aid, my balance was shot to hell, too.  Pamela Paulsrud was working in the paper studio, and having been trained as a nurse, she graciously walked around with me for a good part of the afternoon, patiently answering each time I jumped and shouted, “Yaaah!!! What’s that, what am I hearing?!?!  Where is it coming from?!”  She doesn’t remember doing this, but I never forgot it, ever.

Some of my recent visits and visiting have been with Pam, whose current work with cymatics, begun last summer, is completely intriguing me.  I can’t hear this interview, but many of you can, and you can see the sound vibrations in action.

Yesterday, I got to see this happen in person; trust me, the video is just a slight taste.  Not only are the patterns made by the vibrations fascinating, the way the grains of sand move when shifting is captivating.  Sometimes they bounce at different rates like bursting popcorn or drops of water on a hot skillet, sometimes they lazily shift, or collide and pile up to make sharp textured lines, and they don’t all move at once.

As exciting as it is for a deafened person to see sound (and for a deafened artist / papermaker to see someone capturing sound in paper!), our conversations have been even more fascinating; we’re free enough with each other to venture pretty far out there.  And it’s fun, too, to try and describe exactly how touching a piano to feel the vibrations while someone plays fills in the musical information that’s missing from my ears, or how the sound from hearing aids differs from ‘real’ sound.  I think we might be filling in some gaps for each other, and pushing each other further, and that’s truly a good vibration.

Prairie, Mist, Captioning

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The papermaking marathon is finished!  I only have 20-40 increasingly tiny sheets to make tomorrow (exact number will be determined by how long the rest of the pulp lasts). I’ve spent the last three days (and evenings) working working working on the porch, watching the prairie.  I see a lot of birds, so very many different kinds, but can’t stop to photograph or identify them with the interesting Stokes Field Guide To Birds (Eastern Region) that lives in the studio.  However, perusing the Guide has inspired me to provide Prairie Captioning, as a public service.  This should be seasonally correct:

“cow cow cow cow cow” “kek kek” “cuk cuk cuk” “pumper-lunk” “kok-kok-kok” “uh-uh-uh-oo-oo-oo-ooah” “frahnk” “rok-rok” “wha-wah-wah” “aarh” “rick-rack” “skow”  “raah” “quok” “scaup” “hunk, hunk, hunk” “ahonk” “hink” “oo-eek” “rhaeb, rhaeb” “quegegege” “tsee” “took-a” “gak” “sigeeee” “tseeeaarr”  “klooeeek” “chwirk” “klee klee klee” “skwagok” “kia-kia” “toilick” “koilee” “bob-white”  “chit chit chit, chit, chit – chit – chit” “kit kidit kidit kidit kidit” “kikikikeeer” “puweee, puweee” “kill-deah” “weet weet weet” “peetaweet peetaweet” “pulip. pulip” “peeent” “k’t’coo”  “oorook’tookoo” “ooahoo oo oo oo” “cucucu, cucucucu”  “kukukukakaka kalp kalp kalp” “pity pit pit” “whip poorwill” “chitter-chitter-chitter” “kweeer” “teek” “wickiwicki – wicki” “kekekekeke” “woika – woikawoika” “peeahwee peeoh” “pizza”  “fitzbew” “wit” “chibeck” “feebee” “wheep” “prreet” “kitterkitterkitter” “kt’zee kt’zee” “zeer” “chak chak” “chick – adooweeoo – chick”  “tweeoo, toowee, turway” “eeyay, oolee, eeyup” “nyaah” “tjjjj” “jaay, jaay” “toolool” “caaaw” “ca” “tsee-titi” “zeet” “cher cher” “cheedeep” “brrrt” “tchrrt tchrrt” “churr” “nyew” “werwerwerwer” “ip” “ank ank” “chek” “zeeeee” “cheer cheerful charmer” “turwee” “bupbup eeohlay, bupbup aholee” “bweebeebeeb” “cheeryup cheerily”  “teeek” “tuk tuk tuk” “tseeep” “meeow”  “kwut” “chjjj” “chewk” “smack” “blue-winged” “zee bee bee” “chip” “sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet” “zray zray zray zree”  “wee-see wee-see wee-see” “zweet” “tink” “teacher teacher teacher” “chink” “chuck” “chur-ree, chur-ree, chur-ree” “witchity, witchity, witchity” “your money, your money, your money” “tchat, tchat” “wee-ta, weeta, wee-tee-yo” “chack” “zureet zeeyeer zeeroo” “chip-burr” “whoit whoit whoit, cheer cheer cheer” “tsee tsee tew tew teer teer” “spit” “dick dick dickzizzel” “zzzt” “drink your teeee” “chewink” “chweee” “tsit tsit tsit zeee zaaay” “tsetselik” “tchurrp” “pink” “okaleee” “ch’ch’ch’chee chee chee” “seeoo seeyeer” “dzeert” “grideleeek” “chaaack” “chaaah” “blublucomseee” “ch’ch’ch’ch” “sweeyeet” “beerbeer” “perichoree” “chirrup chireep chirrup” “chilup” “tchump”

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Tonight there was a mist almost like the Mist Of The Full Moon; the prairie exhaled early while there was still light to shoot with.  Now, imagine being in the middle of it, having it lit by bright moonlight.  Ahhh.

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Presumably, after this point, I would hear: “hoohoohoo hoohoo hoo” “hoo – cooks – foryou”  “haw haw ha ha ha” “hoohoohoohoohoo” “hooooooooooooooo”.

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Also Unearthly Earth (under all that somewhere)

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ManhattanTanks

This, too, is New York.

I had an excellent time meeting David Reina yesterday, and going over every feature of the beater with him.  He said that very few bronze ones were ever made, and that a sculptor fabricated the tubs.  Likewise, I had a fine time meeting Shannon at Carriage House; they are both warm, funny and wonderful folks.

The two businesses are now on Kent Avenue , and I was kind of sorry to not have seen David’s old shop on Guernsey, because I’d heard it was festooned with strange old toys and other things (not that  this one wasn’t still fascinating, because of the equipment being built.  I took no photos, sorry – I was working too hard to hear in the shop noise).

When I added my info to David’s client book, I knew (or knew of) every single person I saw on the previous pages.  Likewise, in conversations with Shannon, we already had a rich community.  The papermaking world is a small one; and bits of my story had preceded me, which was both comforting and odd.

Equally odd was being back in that part of Brooklyn, however briefly.  They’re not at all far from where my family lived in Greenpoint (they’re just a bit over the line into Williamsburg). I haven’t been there since I was in my very early twenties.  I wasn’t there for two minutes before I got into an angry shouting match with a cop, while I was banging on the shop door (Shannon was at lunch, and David, back in the shop, didn’t hear me; beaters were running, music on).  I had my car’s flashers on and I was obviously making a delivery, but the bastard gave me a ticket and a whole lot o’ attitude anyways. I instinctively, immediately returned the latter.

Something about that roused some bad, vague, creepy memory-emotions, and I didn’t want to stick around, once I was finished. My theme became, as it did decades ago: Escape From New York. Getting out of Brooklyn was intense. Yeah, I remembered the street names, but not where they went.  Fortunately, Abby had lent me her portable GPS.  I’d have been dead without it, probably still driving in circles in the (admittedly interesting, vaguely remembered) Hassidic neighborhood I got stuck in…though it refused to take me back to the Taconic and my relatively pleasant drive into town, and sent me through freakin’ Paramus instead. Traffic was every frustrating thing you might imagine.  There were no fewer than six ‘disabled vehicles’ blocking lanes and jamming things up on the various freeways and bridges (including a bashed white stretch limo festooned with pink chiffon on the Kosciuszko). I had to keep the windows closed to hear the GPS (which I only heard enough of to tell me to look at it).  Bleah.  It was a ten-hour round trip to go like 90 miles in each direction. Bleah!

But my beater is now in the excellent care of its creator.

Manhattan

Revue Review

I’ve tended to think that since I am so very old, and have been to so very many exhibitions over the years, containing every possible permutation of performance and visual work, that there can be no more firsts; I’ve seen it all.  But, at the reception for Rock, Paper, Scissors on Saturday, shortly after Michael Montenegro’s nuanced marionette performance, I was approached by a short, slim, grey-bearded, tweed-clad man who introduced himself as a professor of something-I-did-not-hear. He talked about a study he was participating in on “ecstatic rituals” involving Amanita Muscaria and other mushrooms. Then, in a sudden switch, he said, “May I have your permission to spontaneously compose and deliver a song about your work?”

I said, “Um…of course” and he did, keeping time with his foot, bellowing out a bluesy riff about my installation and Pam Paulsrud’s beautiful Braille poem made of tiny pebbles affixed to the wall.  I wish I’d have been able to decipher all his lyrics (or that I had heard his name) but the sound in the space was impossible for me. I did catch the rhythm, and registered the delightful fact that he was utterly un-self-conscious. Throughout the reception, he moved through the gallery and performed a few times, literally singing out his response to the art. It was fun, and definitely a new, different way to participate in the work. So: now I know there’s always another first.  Thanks, professor whoever-you-are.

For its Gallery Guide intro page, the Chicago Reader has chosen an image of a work by Zina Castanuela, a current Book & Paper grad working in sculptural paper, and one of mine.  Not bad, two paper art images out of five representing what’s currently on view in town, I say.

Next Blahg: Toronto.

Luggage, Politicians and an Alien

Day Seven Of The Missing Bag:

Calls to Virgin Atlantic’s U.S. baggage claim department in 6 days: 14 

Promised Delivery Dates: 3

Delivery date promises not kept: 3

Promises to return phone calls after looking up my bag’s status: 11

Phone calls actually returned: 1

E-Mails to Virgin Atlantic: 4

Unanswered e-mails to Virgin Atlantic: 4

Bags returned: 0

A very nice friend in Scotland read the Blahg and offered to call Virgin Atlantic for me from the UK. I decided instead to ask Paul to call from here.  Even though I knew it was inevitable that he’d get hot with these people, at least I’d have a chance to discover if I’ve been missing anything critical during all my calls. And, I’d have a respite from folks who have no idea how to interact with a deafened person, even when clearly told how to help.  (Believe me, I would NOT be calling if there were any other possible method of contact, but no one answers Virgin’s e-mail.  On their web site, they do list some kind of Deaf access, but only if you are inside the UK.)

At first they refused to give Paul any information because he was not me, even though he had all the info, claim numbers, etc. (so I imagine it would have gone worse for my friend in Scotland). He spent several minutes explaining that I had asked him to call because I can’t hear.

Then we went through several tedious minutes of this: Virgin Atlantic lady asks Paul a question.  He repeats it to me, and hands me the phone.  I answer, and then hand the phone back to him.  Each time he got the phone back, the woman would already be talking a mile a minute, and it took several more minutes simply to convince her to wait for a half-second while I handed him the phone.  Finally, she concluded that I had, indeed, asked Paul to call.

They talked for a long time.  At one point, I walked into the kitchen and caught this: “So, you are telling me that, in seven days, not one person in your company has been able to contact any other person from your own office in the third largest city in the United States?”  Pause.  “Well, could you tell me this: as a citizen of the world, wouldn’t you say that is a crappy way to do business?”  (Sure enough, a short while later, they got into it, and one of them hung up on the other).

I laughed, but right then I knew: hearing or not hearing doesn’t matter.  They have no idea where the bag is, and I doubt that they have ever had any idea where it is. I’ll keep calling and e-mailing, but after this, unless something spectacularly strange occurs, I’ll quit writing about it. I‘ll let you know if the bag comes back.

I sincerely hope it does, at some point.  I’m saddest about a couple of gifts from folks in Lewis, and about things I’d been bringing for folks here.  (And of course, the whisky).

The thing that makes me the angriest is this: if Virgin Atlantic had admitted to being part of the Deathrow baggage chaos in the first place, yes, I’d still have been upset. But I’d also have accepted my lot much earlier in the week, and gone about replacing the items I need for my next trip much less stressfully than it will now be, at the last minute.  Instead, I wasted my time waiting for “assured” deliveries that were pure fiction. Obviously, the people I’ve been talking to are low level, taking orders from higher up; some of the incomprehensible noise, Paul tells me, is due to the fact that they are responding to questions by reading a script. I can only conclude that they were simply told to tell wronged customers anything, including fictitious delivery dates, to appease us momentarily.

The Bag Episode is a microcosmic example of so many things I’ve gone through recently, and the root of things we’re all constantly going through, globally.

Why, why, why do corporations and politicians (both governmental and academic), at the first sign of a problem, immediately turn to The Lie? 

Do they actually believe that what they’re trying to gloss over will never be revealed, that lies will not eventually be seen? 

Why is the honest admission of a mistake seen as revealing a weakness, as something to hide? 

Why is the “solution” inevitably something that makes a bad situation worse?  

These are things I have never and will never understand.  Which just goes to show you, I probably am an alien, and an old, still hopelessly naive one at that.