Attempting to Spring

aasnowcactus

Just checking in. I’m a little too busy. The current work is all tedious admin, so making a blog in small chunks is a nice break between stages. The deluge of paperwork is not due to the fact that I took on a 10th show with an attendant artist’s talk. It’s a local book-related group show, with a great independent place I want to continue to support, and it’s at a not-too-crowded time this fall, so I could not resist.

aaspring151

Yesterday.

Though right now we’re sadly in the midst of a fat snowfall, we had one utterly glorious day in the low 70s last week: the first Windows Open day of the year, sweet breezes eradicating winter funk. It also melted all of the late-winter crusty grey snow, so at least today’s is a single layer. Even more important than the calendar or weather, the garden is confirming that spring is here, the hardy sprouting early plants making me smile.

aanow

Today only one is still visible.

It was absolutely great to see Aimee when she was in residence at my alma mater (and also to finally see one of her excellent lectures) and to have a long dinner with her and Shawn afterwards; we closed the restaurant.

Aimee2

Sadly, the walking that day nearly killed my back the next day, but physical therapy finally began a day later. For the next couple of months, I’m there twice a week, and doing changing sets of exercises and stretches twice a day, every day, at home. I got too eager and a (mere) mile and a half roundtrip to the grocery did me in yet again last week, so walking is still curtailed. But muscles are definitely being re-activated and re-educated and I’ve just reached a familiar but still strange stage of cracking and popping all over my skeleton as things loosen up, begin to shift.

Chance’s reaction to the home p/t is nice; all but two of the exercises occur on the floor.  After the first session of alternating exercise with “no,” he does some initial gentle snuffling, maybe a face lick or two, and then lies down quietly, often doing a stretch himself. Animals understand stretching; they are superb at it. Lupe will always look into my eyes and stretch a bit whenever I do; when I stay with my good Smith friends, their cat Mandy will lie down near me and purr loudly in approval of my stretches. Right now, all of us stretching while seeds germinate, plants and sap rise, feels a bit like connecting with the moving of the planet towards the new season. And, the first three of my variety of indoor-sewn seeds have begun to sprout: milkweed! Take that, post-equinox snow.

aadoglings

Out in the world, all three summer classes are now open for registration, and the next two shows are imminent, all linked in the sidebar, and here’s a nice blog at Secreto de Papel that wasn’t solely about (S)Edition.

aanowsno

Trusting, reading (and melting)

aaabetween

Dividing line between spring and winter.

In addition to seeing Aimee at her Wednesday lecture, I’m truly looking forward to finally beginning physical therapy on Friday (the 13th, ha) for a problem that all but immobilized me eight weeks ago. I’m so grateful for having found such a wonderful massage therapy clinic nearby, or I would be even further behind than I am now. (I’m also pissed off because such effective care is not covered by our ‘health insurance’, but that’s another story.)

I’ve benefitted greatly from body work during much of my later adult life, but it had been seven years since I had had a massage of any kind. I still remember my very first session, a gift from a friend. For someone whose history contained physical abuse, it was a daunting, vulnerable moment. The therapist was great, though. At one point, she asked me to relax my legs. I didn’t know what she meant. She tried to show me how, by having me actively resist pressure on my arm, and then feel the difference when I let go. But I could not do it with my legs. She said, “This tells me you do not trust people. You are always ready to run.” That was spot-on, and rather profound for me.   A later therapist would say, “Let me drive!” Sometimes individual muscles would fight back, seemingly on their own. But I also had some incredible – not only physical – experiences during sessions over the years. But those, too, are another story. My point is that you have to collaborate with the therapist by giving your trust, surrendering to those skilled, knowledgeable hands. When you do, you can heal much more than you realize; it’s not just the muscles and knots that are being released, it’s what they hold.

aapuddle

It’s not too huge a leap, in my opinion, to suggest that that type of trust might be employed when encountering artwork. A good dose of open-minded curiosity helps, too: where might this work take me if I let go and simply engage with it? I was truly, truly pleased to read this excellent review of Manifest, O by Heather Doyle-Maier, who did just that (and I am very grateful to Alicia Bailey at Abecedarian for inviting her to do so.)

Manifest, O has been out in the world for nearly ten years now; early on, I tried a few times to get funding to edition a version of it. The feedback from the juries was always a variation of the fact that it failed to ‘explain’ deafness. (On whose terms?) People suggested adding a colophon which included instructions on how to read. I couldn’t do that, so it’s remained a unique work. Reading this review, by someone who was willing to wholeheartedly experience the work and articulate her engagement, feels wonderful: not simply a vindication, but a confirmation of my faith in the reader / viewer. In nice a bit of serendipity, I read a post today by critic Jerry Saltz, who is calling for a moratorium limiting museum wall labels to three inches or less. He writes, “Long labels like these are a triumph of pedagogy over the object, a breaking of faith with art and its audiences.”  Amen.

aagreysnogo

Plus: The sn*w is melting! The sn*w is melting! And Chance walked the entire block with me today for the very first time, and ignored two bicyclists. I’m so ready to trust myself to spring.

aaagreen

Something green in the newly-revealed garden!

March-ing onward

Apologies for the 3 week disappearance, though I can’t imagine that anyone, anywhere waits with bated breath for these posts. I just needed a dose of hibernation and radio silence. Nothing untoward happened except for something midway between a mild bout of flu and a bad cold last week.  Nothing particularly great happened either, except a lovely, highly effective, out-of-pocket visit to a fantastic massage therapist who really, really helped the hip and back problems, and released a few other knots I didn’t even know I had. Slow progress was made on many different types of rather dull work, I now have nine shows scheduled for 2015, and out in the world a nice person I don’t know curated a page of my work on a social media platform I don’t participate in (thank you.)

aaChance1

The only thing I seem to want to write about from the past three weeks is pup training. Since February 16, Chance and I have been Out On The Sidewalk (!) several times on short walks, with varying degrees of success, but no trauma and only a wee bit of drama. (The first thing that frightened him was ideal: a snowman. I was able to coax him over to sniff; it’s made from something he loves.) We’re taking it slowly, and have gotten up to about ⅔ of the block before SUVs or people or dogs go by and the big scary world starts to rattle him. Some days we just watch the world from the porch, only technically outdoors, where he gets big rewards for ignoring troubling things on cue. On too-cold or crap weather days we work on leash finesse indoors, and other things. We conquered one huge fear using the paper studio: Hose Horror. Last summer, the mere presence of the hose made him hysterical. I had to shut him indoors to water the garden. Now he lies down, intently but quietly watching while I spray water into buckets in front of him: papermaker’s pup etiquette. Chance loves his daily school session as long as we change it up, which keeps it good for me, too. On days when one of us feels impatient or cranky or has the flu, we do a review. Sometimes, like yesterday, Chance chooses the lesson. He repeatedly shied away from the harness, which is unusual. Instead he sat quietly, maintaining eye contact, asking “Please, can we do anything else?” I got out his travel crate and he instantly snapped to attention, tail wagging. He was delighted to show me how calm he could be lying inside while I zipped parts closed, moved it and myself around. He repeatedly entered and exited on cue, then voluntarily stayed inside for long periods while I wrote this. There were helicopters going by overhead and I think he welcomed an extra-safe enclosure, his collapsible cave. Works for me, and he was quite proud of himself, too.

AnneshowI’m about to enter a studio marathon phase and to start seeds for the spring garden, and tomorrow and all through the weekend, Chicago will actually have temperatures above freezing, hooray! All in good time to close out the end-of-winter-hibernation with a ritual hair-shearing. I’m looking forward to Anne Hughes’ Saturday opening at ZIA with Matthew Schofield, and especially Aimee’s excellent return to Chicago (and my alma mater) next week!  I’m really happy for Shawn Sheehy, whose trade version of the amazing Welcome to the Neighborwood is now available. Check out the video!

SAIC lecture