Progresses

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A visit to ZIA and my part of Anne’s current back room installation.

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Accommodations.

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I like the light.

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Building with the landscape and an eye to the work’s eventual deterioration.

It’s been a full, fine marathon. The summer studios became operational instantly, and I realized that they had already evolved to accommodate the back arthritis I didn’t consciously know about before this year. I have things with wheels so that full buckets don’t have to be carried; instead of attaching a hose, I use a milk-crate stand for draining the beater so full buckets don’t need to be lifted up from the floor. The studio transforms like lightning now from beater room to production to wood shop to reasonably comfortable seated task space. I still keep looking ahead to next year as I work: not only the garden but the studio is in full glory in the summer and I’ve never yet had the opportunity to use it for the whole season.

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These eyes follow me, like living with an owl (I would like to live with an owl). Chance has become a sweet calm studio dog, just wants to be with me, stays out of my way as I do my working-dances, but observes everything. Often, when I bend down to the floor, there is just the lightest touch of his nose sniffing the top of my skull. He apparently approves of what happens in – or exudes from – my head while I’m in studio mode. He will occasionally do a full-body twitch when a machine is turned on, or when big things move as the space (frequently) changes shape, but he reacts no more than that. These things would once have sent him into a fear-frenzy. Now he will even take a good long nap while I am at an extended seated task like casting ear-fungi.

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Whatever I get done today finishes the studio time this session (sigh), tomorrow is packing and shipping two shows and a few last-minute outside errands, Monday to pack everything and square away, Tuesday, load and road.

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Blethering down to the wire

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I’m feeling just a tiny bit overwhelmed as the ZIA show approaches. Ironically, what’s going beautifully is what’s happening in the studio. Even that has its limitations, mostly of space, which curtails how much I can get done in a day. I need to periodically stop and wait for things to dry under my ocean-smoothed / Jasper Beach weights, and there are a finite number of those, and no room to set the work aside to dry while working on something else. Night-time work ends at 10 pm; a tired partner with excellent hearing is attempting to sleep in the next room. Still, happily, I am really liking this series. Yesterday I finished the last of the pieces that were built at Ragdale in the fall, and today will move on to two complicated accompanying works.

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Physical therapy goes well, too, and I have come – in the sense of having a big Monty Python-esque foot drop from the sky onto my head – to understand just what it does. Twice daily, the exercises and stretches counteract the specific, constant pull that the arthritis exerts on my skeleton. If I skip a session, that fact is painfully pointed out. (Right now I’m in the middle of a two-week break from p/t appointments, but have an assigned routine for the interregnum, plus really helpful suggestions for keeping the pressure off my back in the studio, where all the current work needs to be done while I’m standing.)

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For the past week, Chance-pup has been experiencing some regression.  I can’t pinpoint any incident that might have triggered it, but he reverted to a nervous, reactive stage. We continued to work daily, but I haven’t been forcing him to take more than a few steps outside his secure space; we’ve been reviewing, watching the world from the porch, building back confidence. Today, a quiet weekday, we ventured back out for the first time: just a short stroll back and forth, past two to three houses either side of ours, into two neighbors’ driveways. He did well (and got lots of praise) for the most part, but challenged the single car that drove past. Sigh. Once the show is up, I’ll contact the vet for advice. There are also Many Things That Need To Be Done in the gardens, and those have to wait too. We won’t even talk about the state of the house, though I do police the kitchen nightly.

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In the studio, it’s been easy to forget all that as colors dance and my stone circles of weights assemble, break ranks and reconfigure in endless patterns. The garden will forgive me, I think.

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Out in the world, social media told me that I ‘attended’ AWP via the Spoon River Poetry Review. I didn’t realize my work was on the covers of two adjoining issues, but I liked seeing this stand full of them. And (S)Edition continues to spread its spores.

Attempting to Spring

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Unprecedented

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The next show was shipped without a glitch, outstanding admin was finished, and Friday night I had a lovely time attending the reception for ‘Constructed / DeConstructed’ where I ran into a couple of friendly former InterArts folks, met the college president, spoke to a drawing class, and had some fine conversations.

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Detail of ‘I heard you the first time’ by fellow Constructed / DeConstructed artist Shaila Christofferson.

Only a wee bit of prep and one more outside task remains (taxes, on time for once) and then: I have three full months, from late January to late April, with NO admin and, aside from a day retrieving the aforementioned show when it ends, only a single late-April deadline. Unprecedented! My self-appointed work will be to finish the series (and installation) made at Ragdale, make new work, begin an appealing house project, and get Chance ready to conquer his outdoor fears. Even though I deliberately set this up, I can still hardly believe it. Three months! It feels SO great.

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Out in the world, a nice blog mention. Thanks to Green Chair Press and to Velma for telling me.

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Awaiting transformation.

And, I was quite sad to learn that formidable former colleague Nana Shineflug has left us, but I know that she surely must be cocooned in the peace that comes from a life lived well and to the hilt. Here is a nice tribute, and here are some photos of her life and work.

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Nana taught awareness of the body like no other.  Right now, we’re above freezing for a few days, but if and when the deep freeze returns, I am ready to shelter mine with this, and to keep moving.

Hello, 2015.

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Happy 2015, everyone!

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We were cooped up during this, but it was sunny. And very, very cold.  I would not have wanted to be a roofer, though I did have lunch-break hat envy.

We had a quiet, comfortable and yes: happy new year celebration and first two days of the year, with the operative word being: quiet!  Chance made huge strides on the 30th and 31st as our roof was noisily replaced with loud daylong thumps and bangs. He stayed in contact, looking at me when he heard something strange, and repeatedly made the choice to follow a verbal calming cue and get rewarded, instead of spiraling off into fear. He turned a huge, huge behavioral corner with the turning of the year, and when the fireworks (and guns) began at midnight, he again chose to seek my reassurance rather than to challenge the madly exploding world. He is thinking, not reacting. Hooray, pup!

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He wants to be a studio dog!  Past dogs have gotten mightily bored with me while I’m in there, and he might too, but for now I am making him a bed down there, complete with a juicy studio-only bone.

After naming 2014 the year of “productive balance” I was feeling quite cautious while pondering what I’d like to happen in 2015. While I was able to remain reasonably productive, the idea of balance ironically turned into 2014’s major challenge with our lives tilting to and fro. For 2015, three words are insisting on being uttered; they are: Positive, Transformation and Investigation.

Time and space definitely need to be left open for those last two things to occur, so once again, I’ve not applied for anything new, and have simply taken on some nice things that have come my way: six rather good shows and three classes planned (the first two are open for registration and are appearing in the sidebar), one or two residencies and at least one (fun) winter house project.

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The downed ear will spend the winter wedged into this notch.

Investigation may or may not change that tactic next year; regardless, I woke on the first feeling… wonderful, and that hasn’t abated. Now, off to a January with only two relatively easy deadlines and many, many lovely possibilities. Wishing you all a wonderful year of excellent choices!

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This wall may be transformed in spring; I am thinking of cutting off the main trunk of the Virginia creeper, but leaving its skeleton, a winter calligraphy I love.

Hectic, happy holiday season.

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After a couple of days to chill (and an afternoon acknowledging that this is actually the holiday season, plus two annual vet visits), I’ve been working full-tilt on three projects, portions of which I delayed during the residency; it’s all been inching forward and everything will be finally resolved and sent out this weekend.  Plus, I am getting ready for 2015’s first show…

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…unpacking the works from their crates so that they can all be stacked gently in a single load in my car in their bubble wrap, and tweaking a brand-new piece from this year’s Ragdale residency that will also be shown here. All of it will be delivered and installed on Monday. (And I’ve also been in e-mail conference about two new upcoming 2015 shows that appeared in my inbox this week.)

Meanwhile, ZIA Gallery’s annual winter group show has been going great for me, and in the past few weeks, several works have found new homes:

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Another grouping of these Exo Studies were purchased; I think only one or two remain at ZIA now.

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Two Years in Reverse was acquired by Oberlin College’s collection. 

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Up My Sleeve went to a lovely lady I met at Ragdale, a holiday gift to herself!

I saw her heading to the office on my last day there as I walked out to pack up the studio, and she told me she was the collector.

(Up My Sleeve is a favorite of mine so I am impressed by her choice.)

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And just this week, ‘Flow From’ went to new collectors at the gallery. Wonderful!

Our family celebration is Tuesday, Wednesday we’ll shop for a lovely meal I’ll happily cook, and then we’ll gratefully collapse for a quiet warm holiday at home: lots and lots to celebrate!

I wish you all peace, warmth and joy, whatever and however you celebrate, and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Under Milk Weed

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It was a tough but not too tough week; I needed to shift to quickly interruptible upstairs work, with the pleasing result of now being almost all the way through the seasonal shift of the house (which ialso concludes shipping season: only one more smallish crate to arrive in December). And, an article draft was written and delivered only a few days past its deadline, a pleasant anomaly for me. Now, we are essentially locked down for the final week of our six month shared situation. Next Monday, the worst will be over, and though the climb might begin slowly, it’s all uphill from there. Whew! Plus: Ragdale!

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Last week, before I needed to let the milkweed in all its forms languish, I got through one of two big pots full of milkweed pods. Extracting fluff is never, ever going to be my favorite activity, though it is quite a visually rich experience. I hope to get back to it soon, even as I cringe a bit about that second waiting pot o’ pods. Everyone says the seed fluff fiber will be worth it. But I can’t wait to get this over with and get back to the bast: I know that is more than worth it.

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Sometimes they strip beautifully, other times not.  I’ve been trying to keep the clean and not-so-clean fluff separated, to see if it makes any difference.

Clicker training, I am loving, and so is Chance. We’ve got a long way to go before beginning to directly address the fear aggression, but it’s already having a huge effect on his personality. Sunday, I surreptitiously watched through the kitchen window as our neighbor S came to the fence. Chance jumped up but not in a threatening way, thrusting his nose (and closed mouth) towards her: a goofy and perhaps inappropriate greeting, but a greeting. He bounced off the fence, dropped to the ground and milled around with Lupe for a few seconds as S reached down to pet them, then he simply retreated to the porch, and calmly sat and watched while S petted Lupe. All without one single bark or any sort of defensive (or jealous) action on his part, and no commands; it was a series of decisions he made on his own. This was not AT ALL the case before we switched to clicking. Good boy!

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Several consecutive days of heavy rains were too much for the split-ear; it slid off its support.  But it’s otherwise intact, and it’s very funny to handle this big, floppy thing when it’s wet.  I’m letting it dry out, draped to change its shape, and then we’ll see.

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