Search Me

There’s not much to write about during this interim between holidays; I’m struggling with some heath issues and trying to motivate myself to slog through a monumental pile of writing.  So, I think it’s time for a year-end wrap-up of Blahg search-engine terms. (I missed a lot of good ones before I realized that WordPress doesn’t keep them all, but instead does a summary; then I started saving them).

  • Jays eaten us
  • burnt mound
  • mist to matter
  • pictures of talking feathers
  • toools for handmade bokks
  • shopwindow forest
  • Common caterpillars to Lockport
  • My other paradise
  • Life elfride America shoes
  • Melissa Jay Wyoming
  • Shooti Chicago
  • Ball ofmoss intrees
  • Nice Bathroom
  • Gutpunched
  • alien feet over
  • removed college Horrible
  • Meridien jc
  • shaping feathers
  • i fog on 80 pa
  • aliens on weed
  • met art melisa a present melissa
  • 1990 found dic scale model b
  • Chicago yard weed
  • tree balls kill
  • grows in little balls
  • Melissa ignition
  • Medieval remains
  • the been kapoor
  • amish kapor
  • Mary J Blagh
  • another country
  • change Melissa Jay
  • pitchers of all kinds of round incubater

There were 63 searches for ‘art blahg’ and ‘the art blahg’, a lot of searches for specific subjects I’ve written about, and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of searches for me, including all these:

Melissa Jay Craig, Melissa blahg, melissa blagh, melissa craig studio,  melissa jay craig artist, Melissa Jay craig Book Art, Melissa Jay Craig sculpture, Melissa Craig fungus, melissa craig blog, melissa jay craig blahg, “melissa jay craig” blog, melissa jay craig bog,  melissa jay, photograph of Melissa Jay Craig, melissa j craig blahg, “Melissa Jay Craig”, melissa craig blahg, melissa jay craig blog, Melissa Jay Craig blahg, Melissa Jay Craig Blagh, the book art of Melissa, book art melissa jay cra, manifest: o melissa jay craig, melissa jc blahg, Melissa jay craig sculptor, craigblahg, blahg melissa. Melissa Jay Craig’s, Melissa respite, Melisa craig blog, Melissa Vespine, melissa jay craig book university washin

This seems a tad odd.  I can’t help but wonder who’s doing these searches and why…but I doubt that I’ll ever be enlightened. I guess I’ll go shape some talking feathers in my nice bathroom, or turn some mist to matter in my round incubator (or at least dream up a way to get my alien feet over to another country, perhaps to my other paradise).

Nollaig Cridheil

Happy Christmas, if you celebrate it (and a fine day regardless, if you don’t). It’s not one of my favorite holidays, partially because of its position as a predictable annual minefield in my turbulent past, as well as for my extreme disgust at its insane marketing and consumerism.  But, it does cause people to gather, and that is good. I am grateful that we will have, as always, a warm, laid-back December 25 with Paul’s family tomorrow. (And I am truly fond of the little white lights I always put up in the house for the season. I leave them up to turn on again from January 31 thru February 2).

Years ago, when I lived alone in Pilsen, I used to go down Halsted street to a funky, unheated, shack-like tire-patching shop every year on December 24, and buy the most forlorn-looking of the little deformed, mutilated trees they always had for sale for a dollar; rejects, probably, from some fancy holiday lot.  The warped little tree always gave me the same lovely sharp crisp smell as any of its beautifully-shaped sacrificial conifer sisters, and did so with quite a bit of personality. I miss that. Even more, I miss two dear old friends who used to come in this season to stay for a week or so. Ah well: perhaps it’s time to develop some new traditions, along with everything else that’s currently in flux.

Last night, I had The Nightmare Before Christmas (though the dream itself had nothing to do with any holidays, and I wasn’t myself as I am in this life in it).  I was up quite late and decided to sleep in the guest room so as not to disturb Paul.  Nevertheless, at about four-thirty, I woke him from two rooms away, yelling at the top of my lungs in simultaneous rage and fear.  When he woke me, my heart was pounding at an alarming rate. In the dream, whoever I was was mortally threatened, and somehow being held powerless, completely paralyzed.  All I could use was my voice. I did. I am surprised I didn’t also wake the neighbors.  I haven’t done something like that in years and years and years.

I have no idea what caused it, but after a residually odd-feeling early morning, I spent today enjoyably in the studio, pulling sheets for gifts, and I’m counting on having a much more peaceful night tonight. I think perhaps the last of the best whisky is in order, to ensure that.

I wish you and yours peace, warmth, laughter and zero stress!

Solstice

Happy Solstice!

So far, winter has seemed to signal a long time between blahgs; partially that’s due to my involvement in more un-blog-able situations.  At one point during the past week, I was thinking further about the new-life goals, and decided that one excellent thing to shoot for would be to regain a life in which no subject was restricted except by my own choice. It’s coming closer, at least.  But, right now, I’m experiencing some things that are utterly new to me. They’ve required soul-searching.  It’s not easy, but it is good, very good: solid. I am becoming stronger.

A lot of writing went on, with much more on my plate for the next few weeks, and some organizing, resolving two more of the most disastrous rooms in the house. But, I’ve spent the past few days working in both of my studios, making a small, intricate piece that’s simultaneously a retracing of steps and a furthering. I tucked the sketches I’d made last week away, to save for another time, and went back to the book form. I made one conscious decision before beginning: to use up all of certain batches of fiber left from other recent explorations, and then I let it flow.  It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had the freedom to just let some work happen intuitively, without hinging expectations onto it, without worrying about the time spent as too fleeting: it was wonderful.  I used dyed kozo and daylily, both pulped and unpulped, and added some recycled abaca in with the pulped fibers; I even did some pulp-painting-ish patterning stuff with some of the daylily. Then, after the paper air-dried, I moved upstairs to the bindery, sewing onto double cords, coming up with a center-bead endband-like component. While I worked, I was thinking of midpoints, of solstice, of a glass half-full, pouring endlessly but never depleting… and unashamedly reveling in all the textures simply for what they are: succulent.

Speaking of textures: Velma has joined the blogosphere!  It’s lovely to be able to see what she’s working with, working on, and what she’s working from.  It’s also lovely to be living in this time of blogs and facebook and such: I’ve never met Velma in person, but met her through the blog, which she came to from another friend’s blog…and we’ve been corresponding off and on for awhile now, finding many surprising things in common.

Closeup of the kozo ‘endpapers‘.

Tomorrow, out and about; Tuesday, some sort of mandatory workshop at the unemployment office and some shopping; Wednesday and Thursday, back in the studios, wrapping up some holiday gifts (and then literally wrapping them up).

That 3am window is a tad more elaborate this year…

Incubator

Well, I slowed down and became a whole lot quieter than I wanted; since early Friday, I’ve been down with what seems to have become an annual sinus–and-respiratory something-or-other illness. (Not surprisingly, last week’s activities included two long roundtrip journeys in the petri dish that is the el / subway.) I missed a planned round of openings and a performance I’d really wanted to see. Today, my head’s a little clearer, but I still predict the need for one or two extended naps, an advancement from the nearly constant sleeping of the past two days.  The only things I’ve been able to accomplish were to watch three movies, begin making a list for January’s round of applications, make some sketches for the studio time that will begin just as soon as I can stay awake for a full day, and to do some tests with the new slide scanner:

<-old

new->

Unfortunately, it’s not a top of the line piece of equipment by any means, but the images, though not perfect, are a vast improvement over the ones I’d scanned with cantankerous and awful old lab gadgets a couple of years ago.  I’ll be able to add better images to my web site upgrade, and also will be able to get rid of huge, huge quantities of slides over the winter.

It also does a credible job scanning old scratched-up photos like this one I found in my home-office cleanup not too long ago.  I’m 35 in this photo, working at some task, as I habitually did, on the floor.  There’s a big, big box of photos in ‘the warehouse’ that I deliberately haven’t looked at for at least fifteen years; maybe I’ll scan those, too, though they could trigger nostalgia about having much less body mass and much, much more flexibility. I think it’s time for that nap.

Hot & Cold & Warmth

One of the advantages of being a free agent is that you can, pretty much, declare a snow day when you need one, if it falls on a day when your schedule is flexible.  Though we didn’t get a lot of snow, winter has decidedly arrived. The thermometer reads one degree Fahrenheit out there, without the wind chill factor, and Paul and I are happily choosing to stay home today, thank you very much.

It’s been a very full week, roller-coaster-ish, with extremes in highs and lows.  Friday was lunch with friends, a hilarious attempt at a conference call, which quickly had to become an IM chat, and helping to set up and take down a meeting/ memorial/ party that was simultaneously fun and sad. It was held in a large space generously provided by an utterly fascinating place, the Chicago School of Violin-Making. (I was salivating over some of the tools, and completely intrigued by the processes, which were explained to us, an audience of bookbinders. There were so very many parallels.  And the wood room was heavenly.  Thank you, Becky!)

Then, it was home to finish prep for Saturday’s all-day class at Evanston Print & Paper, up early to pack said prep up, and then a very, very enjoyable class.  It’s been a long time since I taught bookmaking in a community context; there were some aspects I had forgotten, not the least of which is how pleasing it is. There was a misprint of the class’s running time (which I assumed was an hour added on for lunch, but wasn’t) and then the class ran slightly over the already-expanded time, due to another factor I’d forgotten about community courses. So, it was a VERY full day, but then Paul immediately took me out to dinner when I arrived home; I didn’t even get out of the car except to change to the passenger seat.

Sunday, up early, and rather ridiculous plans to make it to four parties and two events, going on all day and into the evening.  The rollercoaster began a descent that day, however, and left me without the energy to persevere; I had to miss three of the six.  I deliberately quit at a high point, the always warm, welcoming and lovely Ragdale holiday party (preceded with a stabilizing solitary walk on the prairie) and didn’t go on to the after-party (which decision also had a lot to do with very, very over-tired ears).

Monday, a lot of soul-searching, a flurry of e-mails, a personally difficult (but necessary) decision followed by the writing of an impassioned appeal, and extensive prep for a completely separate long meeting on Tuesday, at which I took a plunge, and garnered strength.  Home to much much more e-mail, generating feelings of frustration and sadness, though later alleviated somewhat by  the relief of having my appeal seriously considered.  Yesterday, more writing, more e-mail, then driving through the falling snow to a long late lunch with a friend. That helped immensely, even though it brought even more absurdity to light.  This morning, after fantastic dreams about a gathering of a huge, strong, dedicated community, I woke smiling to a light-filled day. Now, I’m looking forward to some quiet, to enjoying today’s crisp sunlight, and to focusing on finally choosing which things to apply for for myself in January, and planning for an upcoming stretch of uninterrupted studio time.

Ragdale’s Lillith, weathered, wounded, still standing tall.

Expect the Unexpected

More shows and more classes have come in over the past few days; 2010 is quickly filling up without my having applied for any residencies yet (or for hardly anything that’s come up!) I have also been inundated with requests for reference letters, the need for the research I’ve been doing has suddenly escalated, and snowflakes have appeared in Chicago today but there is as yet no word on the beater (I want to have it safely home before winter roads become troublesome). The long 2010 quiet time I had anticipated is rapidly disappearing. I’m not complaining at all (truly!); it’s absolutely wonderful to be in demand, but I must acknowledge that I am beginning to feel a bit pressured and am also finding it difficult to keep track of all the different elements.

They’re back across the street, and they brought the real snow with them.

The shows are great, the classes are great, the reference letters are less so, since I no longer have a salary that ostensibly covers my time writing them (I had to put together a re-usable response e-mail, explaining to the many teaching-job seekers why it’s essential to have references with academic affiliation, which I no longer possess). The research is necessary but copious, as is the time I will soon spend on a few applications. With the exception of the classes, possible sales from the shows, a possible return at a much later date on the research time, and of course the benefits of the possible residencies, none of these things have any guarantee, they’re all speculative…and they are not time spent on my artwork, nor on my various personal-environment improvement projects.

Apparently, I will still absolutely need residencies for their escape from everyday life, sanctity and focus, rather than as the occasional slight change I imagined they would become, post-academe. My next residency deadlines are in January, but I am running out of open 2010 time slots to apply for!

The ‘warehouse’, where my artwork lives when it’s not being shown…I wanted to clear this out in the spring and move to a smaller space.  Will I have time?

Hugely interesting, even amazing, this new adventure.  What amazes me the most is that I am feeling any pressure whatsoever, because (with the exception of the varied teaching gigs, and this particular bout of extended research) I did every single bit of this, for years and years, in addition to working hard at a full-time job!  How did I ever survive?!

Some last-minute shout-outs:

Terez Iacovino, Linday Gleason and Kristen DeGree (above – I love this shot), who began their six-month internships at WSW while I was in residence are now preparing to leave (snif).  But: the show of the work they’ve done during that time, Livin’ On A Brayer, is up at Women’s Studio Workshop till December 10.

Loni Diep’s gorgeous and creepy (I can never ask for more) huge kimonos, with their traditional decorative patterns composed of plastic surgery components (like silicone, fake eyelashes and hair). are still up at the Noyes Center in Evanston, part of a marvelously curated show, Somatic.  Kudos to Loni, the rest of the artists, and Chie Curley and Barbara Goldsmith, curators.  This is a must-see!

And, Aimee Lee is back at Diaspora Vibe gallery in Miami, giving artists’ talks at her solo show, Native Intelligence, for Art Basel.

There are way, way, waaaaay too many holiday shows and sales going on in Chicago than I have time to mention, but many, many, many artists and friends are out there strutting their stuff.  If you’re in town, get on out and see everything you can!  I’m so booked I won’t even begin to make it to half of them, but this is the weekend (and week) for it all. Go. Buy. Enjoy.