and so forth

An utterly spectacular strobe-flashing all-night lightning storm brought a five-hour power outage and delayed my knowledge of the horrific events in Norway; belatedly, my heart went out.

In my own wee microcosm, nothing blahg-worthy. I’ve been busy: garden projects are finished, till fall. Meetings happened, more but not enough data recovery happened, more medical stuff happened with no conclusions yet, and a great huge pile of admin made its way out the door.  A weeklong heat wave happened, and now we’ve entered a period of multiple storms and multiple lengthy power failures. We were lucky in the above-mentioned storm and didn’t flood, though friends and neighbors did. We only had some seepage into my paper studio. Power hasn’t been reliable enough to (over) beat some prepared fiber, but soon.

Pleasant personal things also happened and are happening: visits, a gathering, another unexpected check in the mail and a spot of sheer indulgence: being treated to a closed-captioned, air-conditioned movie (a real one in a theater) in the middle of a hundred-degree day. A dear old friend arrived last night for a five-day visit. Though the weather was fine, power mysteriously went out again promptly upon his arrival, so we had a fine candle-and flashlight-lit back porch party together. The power went back on just before it rained again, after midnight. It’s a mild, productive time under the radar, and I’m grateful for that.

Here is a wee nice review/article from last week.  And so it goes.

and so on

It’s great to have someone look at your work and say, “I’ve never seen anything like it!” That happened a number of times at the Lubeznik.  It’s not so great to have a specialist look at your x-rays and say much the same thing. For one thing, it spawns more appointments with more doctors with only minimal attempts at treatment until their opinions coincide, and even then, treatment apparently also has to follow a set progression dictated not by the medical profession, but the insurance company.  Ridiculous.  All I know at this point is that I have an unusual manifestation of a common aging-people’s condition in my knees, and it’s slowing me down.

So is the data loss. I’ve been working hard, have re-built my calendar, and re-established connections with upcoming shows, jobs and other projects outside those realms, rebuilding folders, re-writing, and admin admin admin. And searching and re-searching the recovered photos…I haven’t even begun to start reorganizing those nor rebuilding slideshows.  I need another visit to the Mac store to resolve iWeb issues left over from the crash; can’t update my website till that happens. Somewhere in there I also did an e-mail interview (with some good questions) in connection with the Lubeznik show.

Keeping me from frustration are the gardens. Though the knees do slow me down, since I’ve been home from Penland, I’ve done a massive re-working of them, working (very slowly and creakily) whenever schedule and weather permitted.  The end of it all is finally in sight.  With Paul’s help, I built five new beds (with two small ones still to come), thinned out tons of perennials and either transferred them to the new beds or given them away, and relocated a lot of plants into more hospitable environments. It’s very satisfying. Also, the gardens will now be better able to take care of themselves much better in the future. I’m setting it up so I can still have growing things around to satisfy my soul without stressing my body. Two to three more days of working this summer will ensure great pleasure next year and well beyond. By the end of the week or definitely next, the admin and the gardens will be out there working on their own, and I will, at long last, be in the studio. I’m itchin’ for that.


Roller Coaster Ride

What a week! Both fantastic and horrid and I am in need of serious recuperation.

Monday, after writing the last blog, I got almost finished on a proposal that was due to be postmarked on Thursday, only leaving a wee bit of work for that day. Very good, I thought.

Tuesday, the paper mail came early, and included the results of all the x-rays: unwelcome news. Many more tests (and lots of research) will ensue, but it’s a condition that has affected my knees ‘significantly’ (that much, I already knew; they simply don’t work) and wrists and ankles as well, but less so.

I had (and have had) little time to reflect on that; I loaded up the car and headed for Michigan City for the two-day install, and had a fantastic time.  The folks at the Lubeznik are absolutely wonderful, and I loved working in the two galleries; they just seemed to be made for my work. On the first day, I installed 69 copies of (S)Edition in their very own ‘shroom room, the perfectly-shaped Robert Saxton gallery, which appropriately was the building’s former library. It has a long bank of windows facing Lake Michigan and the west, and I loved the natural light so much, I didn’t want any artificial lights.  Fortunately, the lighting system had dimmers, so I compromised on very low electric light.  As the sun prepares to set, its soft golden light filters through the moving trees. The whole space becomes hushed, contemplative, forest-like. I love it.

I also had a blast visiting old friend and mentor Suzanne and her husband Rick, artists both, at their lovely home; we went to dinner and took a sweet cool barefoot sunset-into- twilight walk on the beach, where I was completely enchanted by a wee tiny Chicago skyline on the horizon.

Wednesday, up early and off to install this complete (so far) body of work in the Brincka / Cross gallery, a fantastic space of odd angles with a big domed circular skylight at its center. Even if it had been a plain white box, I would have been honored to be exhibiting here because I knew Bill Brincka when I was a grad student, and had met his partner Basil Cross during a long-ago visit to their  handbuilt house and the sublime sculptural gardens they built together as a total environment.  It’s now becoming a public park as they desired. (I have a Brincka hosta, one of the many plant species he propagated, in my own garden). As it is, though, the space reflects their spirit, their sense of totality in environment.  I hope my work contributes to that…I think it does.

Friend Jean Bevier was working in the gorgeous, huge Hindeman gallery downstairs, building a hilarious piece in honor of the region for the fabulous Text Messages show. (Completed, below; detail at bottom of post. It’s made entirely of glossy-enamel-dipped cherry bombs. Fireworks are legal in Indiana and not in Illinois, so as soon as you leave Chicago for vacation on the lake, you run a gamut of huge explosive outlets.). I got to have great fun periodically visiting her, and some of my favourite of earlier pieces of hers are in the show as well.  Check out the one at the link!

Still, I finished in time to document extensively and get back into Chicago before rush hour came on in too much earnest, only suffering through a few freeway parking lot situations. I downloaded all my photos of the show, deleted them from the camera and edited them, and then opened the proposal I had almost finished on Monday. Suddenly, my computer froze.  I couldn’t restart it so I shut it down…and that was that; it never reopened.

Thursday, I tried one more time to boot up the computer. Nope.  Off to the Mac store with dead computer, external hard drive, and OS disks.  Dead hard drive. Stupidly, I hadn’t backed up since January. Three hundred dollars and five hours later, I had a new hard drive and battery, but I lost all this years’ data, and, due to a major glitch in restoring iPhoto…ALL my teaching slideshows!  We did – after hours of anxiety on my part – manage to recover the photo library through January, so I’ll be able to rebuild them (mostly). I kept the dead hard drive, and will try a data recovery service if I can afford it.  If not, I’m facing a at least a week of recovering files by e-mail, rebuilding my calendar, my slide shows, and more visits to the Mac store to resolve other problems, all added to re-doing the admin I had done before moving on to the admin I had scheduled to finish. Needless to say, the proposal didn’t happen. Sheesh. I’ve discovered another perk of blogging anyways…at least I have some record here, and some of the photos of work made at Penland, though not full-sized. If you’re like me, you won’t listen, but: back up; back up now.

An embroidered by Karin Vance Chickadel in Text Messages. I’ve always loved this work, and it was good to see it again.

Thursday night, we were just north of an enormous, baseball-sized hailstorm that severely damaged one of Chicago’s treasures, one of my absolute favorite places in the city, the Garfield Park Conservatory: read about it, view a video, and if you can, please contribute.

Friday morning, follow-up calls to medical doctors with Paul interpreting. He had made plans months ago,  before knowing I had a show opening, so he took off for those.  I planned to arrive at the Lubeznik early to re-shoot all the photos I’d lost, and left even earlier as a precaution, because it was the beginning of the fourth of July weekend…but not early enough.  It took over three and a half hours to travel 49 miles, and I arrived half an hour late to a hugely crowded opening in full swing. In spite of my traffic-stupefied state at the beginning, it was a three hour blast!  Great fun, new folks, delightfully unexpected old friends, happy, tired staff and artists and a few interviewers, too. Then back on the freeway and, thankfully, home with only minimal traffic. So, I’ll have to go back out to properly document, but that will be a pleasure; so is beginning today’s total relaxation by throwing all these words, and some of the photos I was able to take, at you. Happy fireworks weekend, fellow US of A folks. I’ll be spending part of it comforting a terrified Lupe dog.