busy bad blogger loves autumn (and a ps)

Bit of a whirlwind here, with no end in sight (have I ever written that before?). Last week I spent a few days on varied writing projects and plans for an upcoming installation; Saturday, built a few kozo book covers in the studio while a friend came to beat flax.

I will tell you that any occupation that takes one to northern Wisconsin during the last week of September is a Very Good Thing. Sunday morning, a quick bit of packing and a few stops in town, then on the road for a beautiful drive to Bailey’s Harbor, a lovely dinner and evening of conversation once again with Gloria, then up early Monday and over to the Guenzel gallery to de-install and pack (and carefully count and label the crates of) 62 bookshrooms, and coffee and a nice chat with Kay, the gallery director.  I was done by 10:30 and the weather was utterly glorious, so I took the rest of the day for myself. I wandered the just-turning-color woods and the sunny shore of the Green Bay side of the peninsula, and then I sort of slowly meandered down Door County all afternoon, stopping here and there to walk other trails and beaches, and also to hit a couple of recommended orchards and farm stands to (truly) load up on apples (just-picked Honeycrisps and Spartans), pears, a few jars of home-grown, home-made jams, and one eee-normous pumpkin (for all of $3). A not-crowded evening drive down eastern Wisconsin, a dinner stop in Sheboygan for the worst sandwich I’ve ever partially consumed in my life, and a non-Illinois-toll route home.

Tuesday, more writing, cleaned and hand-beat a half-pound of the Iowa kozo, quickly made a small sugeta  to fit Saturday’s book covers, and had a fine few hours making sheets till the pulp was gone.  I’ve been using bark a lot again lately, but it’s been awhile since I’ve made kozo sheets, and I’d almost forgotten how immensely satisfying it is. I laid them all out to air-dry, then headed out for a regular intermittent gathering of old friends, with our favourite barkeep on the planet; safely home in the wee hours.

This morning, some good interview questions were in my inbox; I thought about them while I textured and shaped some of the sheets and built and photographed one book, then packed it up and overnighted it to the Morgan for this weekend’s benefit, just under the wire. I truly wish I could be there.  An interesting, exciting invitation came in for the spring, and then I was out again for the evening.  Tomorrow (which is now today) and Friday and, hey, the next several weeks: equally busy.  Good full times = bad skim-reportage blogs, but I am loving fall 2010 so far.

I’m crazy about the subtly toned greenish color of this Japanese / Iowa kozo. I cleaned as much of the dark bark off as I could, without disturbing the green layer; it looks way more yellowish and tan here, even against the kozo amate background. No dyes in these books!

PS: I’m not sure if the first link will work if you are not on Facebook, but the ‘upcoming installation’ referred to above is a part of House, Dreaming…more than 30 artists have been invited to transform the beautiful old Ragdale House, which is closed, dreaming, while it awaits its restoration.

Again Awesome Austin

Austin was once again fabulous.  I got in late Thursday evening and had a great time visiting with Judy Taylor, Gallery Shoal Creek’s warm, wonderful and utterly gracious owner and director.  She told me that preparator Duane Sanford wouldn’t let her help install the 35* copies of (S)Edition.  The only instructions I’d sent pertaining to the installation as a whole were, “Don’t make them look like art!  Install randomly, as if they are growing in the space.  Have fun!” (Afterwards, he told Judy, “…Random is difficult!”)

Duane did a fantastic job. The books were installed on four walls, two on each side of the gallery’s entry room. It’s fronted by windows and is much larger than a foyer, with a wide entryway.  Because of the reflective quality of the windows, I couldn’t get a single shot of the entire installation, but it was most effective to experience; you were surrounded by sprouting books. I liked the rhythm, and seeing the books on the gallery’s grey/ olive/ tan walls – the depth and tonality of this color is also frustratingly elusive in photos.

I did do just a tiny bit of tweaking early Friday, tilting some of the books so that their covers were more visible. I documented, then had a lovely lunch upstairs with equally lovely Laura Harrison, who works with Judy.  More prep, Judy and I left to change clothes, and then: a massively packed reception. I had a great time reconnecting with Leonard Lehrer and meeting his lovely, funny spouse, Marilyn, and finally meeting Karen Kunc in person, as well as the other artists; seeing folks I’d met in 2008 again, and meeting many, many new people.  Best of all for me: our niece Jackie has just moved to Austin to begin working on her doctorate. She came to the opening too; it was her first ever.  I got to hang out with her in the back while resting my ears (which I usually do alone) between frequent schmooze forays into the huge, noisy crowd.  Excellent…the show got a thoughtful review, too.

Afterwards, a dinner party for 18 at Judy’s beautiful, comfortable home: two dinner tables elegantly prepared by designer Bonni Taylor, Judy’s niece (who once  did a floral re-interpretation of ‘Force and Duration’ for one of the gallery’s shows melding art and design). Delicious food, lovely wine, a fine flow of conversation and a lot of laughter as well: the word for the evening would be sumptuous. I happily collapsed at about 2 am, entirely satiated.

On Saturday, Jackie and I spent the entire day having a total blast. With a list of recommendations, we set out to explore a bit of Odd Austin.  This is not at all difficult to do in a city where you see the slogan, “Keep Austin Weird!” everywhere…do you wonder why I like it so much? We wandered all over South Congress (aka SoCo), with its huge assortment of weird and wonderful shops and congregations of food vans and airstream trailers in the vacant lots; then we went back towards the gallery and had a BBQ dinner at Ruby’s (mmmm), visited Toy Joy and Book People (where we ran into Judy), then took in the not-odd but lovely botanical gardens, and finished up with some fine gelato at Teo’s (my fave: salted caramel). So much fun…and so much more fun to be able to do this all with Jackie!

Sunday, Judy and I left for the airport early enough to thoroughly peruse an exhibition of Romare Bearden’s prints, which not only focused on the works themselves, but on his extensive experimentation within the various techniques, and he pretty much used them all: silkscreen, collagraph, lithography, etching, and offset.  Plates were hung along with the prints.  It was a fascinating show that I’d had to miss when it was here at the Cultural Center earlier this year, and it was great to see it with Judy, not only because I also met the curator and museum director who, of course, know her.

Just to top it all off, below was one of my last sights on the way to the plane. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be an artcar, but Austin does have an annual artcar parade.  Love the bumper, and I do love Austin. Many, many thanks to Judy, Jackie, Laura and everyone who made my visit so great.

* I was supposed to send 36.  I was sure I had but when I had two left over, I began to worry that somehow I had actually made 100, and not 99, and that I’d miscounted at the Morgan. Nope.  That was the only time I had counted correctly!  Right now there are 62 instead of 63 in Door County, 35 in Austin, one at North Branch projects, and one here at home (sigh).

Yes We Did

Last week, Paul and I quietly got married, then I flew to Texas (and had a completely different type of fabulous time, which I’ll write about soon), and now I’m back in Chicago for a few days.

We very intentionally did not make a big deal of the ceremony; it was just for us. In our eyes, commitment has nothing to do with institutional acknowledgement, and personally I deplore the fact that because we are a heterosexual couple, we now have advantages others are denied. But we had a fine, fun, relaxed and private day: exactly what we wanted.

Where we spent part of our day.

Tangential Convergences

Still in an odd state here (not necessarily Illinois, though it is odd), with no concrete artwork done, though lots of planning, sketching, brainstorming and plotting continues to take place.  It’s amazing to me that it’s been just over a month already since the big changes suddenly began at home; they still seem incredibly fresh, awkwardly new, and so they continue to claim an enormous amount of our attention.

Monday I took a small plunge in a (temporary) new direction; tomorrow, we take a much larger permanent plunge; though its direction won’t change, the surrounding circumstances will.  (Yes, I’m being cryptic). And then, on Thursday, I fly to Texas for this, which will plunge me back into the world and hopefully prepare me to return to the artwork that’s been suspended while dealing with all these  tangential but important things.

Letterpress cuts from friend Elisabeth’s Sign of the Owl Press; I visited last Sunday.

Birthday convergences continue on as well: also oddly but very happily, in the past few days, three old friends I thought I had perhaps lost suddenly popped back into my life; a fine extended reunion is happening very soon with one of them.

And today, I got this big, heavy box.  Its delivery  would have been a complete surprise, except for a frantic and hysterically funny e-mail two days ago, with the header, “Warning!  Please Read!  Personal Note, Not Some Spam Fwd Thingy!”  The warning was, “When you get it, please open it right away and open it OUTSIDE!”  The box contained a motherlode of black walnut hulls, and some of this years’ crop inside still-green husks were found to contain little chartreuse-colored worms –  after my surprise package had been sent.  Yep, I did get  some wormy ones, but there was still a huge bag of viable hulls, enough to make several lovely big lots of dye.  I’ve left the others out in an open plastic crate in the back yard, for Chicago’s squirrels and weather to process for me over the winter.  Thanks, Jo!

Last but not least:  This new space is opening this weekend in Chicago; though it’s not listed on the site, it’s featuring an informal, ongoing show of sketchbooks and preparatory drawings which I contributed to (and hope to see when I return).

Nine Nine Ten, Nine Ten Ten

I had a fine, relatively leisurely-paced birthday yesterday, with lots o’ love coming from and going back out to folks in real-time, facebook, e-mail, text messages and paper mail.  It felt good, nothing but good. Though we’re still in pesky mercury retrograde and unexpected events had me late to lunch with friend and fellow nine-niner Jamie and her son Bean, and my camera battery died after the second photo, those things didn’t mar the day.

Since I was originally supposed to be at Ragdale, we three went there for a long lovely prairie walk (with a giggly stop at the swinging bridge; you should always have a 4 ½ half year old along to traverse one of those) and tons o’ goodwill; it was just lovely to see everyone and it left me feeling warm, happy and fulfilled.  I also delivered some work for an upcoming show, and chose and sketched and measured an installation space (and an alternate) for a site-specific piece coming up soon, did an hour or two of exploring on my own, and spent a fine evening with Paul, making plans.

For some reason, today was just a nothing day, maybe because the weather has changed and is so much cooler.  I relaxed, which was good, but couldn’t really get moving on anything, so I gave in to complacent non-accomplishment.  It’s more than OK to do that occasionally, but so very unusual in my world. Tomorrow, back to it.

Where was I?

I’m just not very blog or even internet-inclined at the moment.  This is a good thing in many ways, but not for this century, which I haven’t really succumbed to anyways, because I do not Twitter nor follow tweets.  All I’m capable of are these occasional blog honks and a quick toot or two on Facebook.

We’re still adjusting to our recent changes in major and minor ways. We will be for a good while to come. In the professional realm, I’m struggling with decisions to be made very soon between three directly conflicting opportunities that all appeared at once.

Earlier in the week, when I thought everything had finally calmed down, I took some time to make a couple of small studio improvements I’d been meaning to get to, like sealing an old drawing bench that is now a small couching table.  Then, Wednesday morning, a six-foot wide shelf in my office (which, I admit, was overloaded, mostly with heavy books) suddenly ripped out of the wall and came crashing down on me, my desk, computer, printer and scanner. Nothing was damaged, save for a smashed coffee cup (fortunately it and the coffee were flung to the floor), a scratch on the cover of the scanner, and some oddly placed bruises on me.  Oh, and gaping holes in the walls, where the major metal anchors had secured the shelf brackets for several years. The worst was that flying books knocked things off walls and strewed stacks of carefully sorted papers across the room. So, there was nothing for it; on Friday I began a temporary rehab to last through the fall and winter, and I did it up right, turned the whole room out. Today was the fun part: rearranging and hanging artwork. All that’s left is dusting the summer’s accumulation off the way-too-many books.

I took breaks for visits from friends during it all, and also managed to cook some Iowa kozo.  So, tomorrow, when everyone in the US who has a job heads back to it, I’ll head into kozoland…after the morning’s other errands.