Fabulously Industrious

Visual musical notation: some of the first day’s works hung to dry…

I’m back in Chicago now, doing a great deal of thinking about how absolutely fortunate I’ve been with my classes all summer.  It’s been SO rich!  The two-day workshop at the Morgan, which I had thought might be something of an anticlimax because of its short time span, was definitely no exception.  I had a fantastic time, and was amazed at what -and how much! – everyone accomplished in those two short days.

The dye table was a popular second-day spot.

There are beaucoup images of the workshop, all over the internet.  The Morgan’s are here, participant Erin’s are here, and participant Elizabeth has posted 7 pages of images here! This is a good thing, because, although I’m embellishing this post with some of my own shots, I was a bit busy and didn’t have time to take many.

Mike, Julie, and Tom’s (eventual) topper.

My old friend Joanne came by on Friday to help with prep on one of those kinds of days when the universe decided to mess around, which included having me setting off a truly obnoxious security alarm.  I really, really, really enjoyed the company of my 4th floor flatmates, Julie (who honored me by taking the class) and her husband Mike. Intern Abbey was a great help, as (as always!) was absolutley everyone at the Morgan: great help, great fun, and easygoing while being hardworking, industrious, and tremendously hospitable – Cleveland to the core!  The lovely Susan Kelly even packed me a little (biodegradable) sack of snacks and bottled water for the road, and Tom Balbo was, well: Tom…he is the heart of the Morgan, and the Morgan is unique.  All of you coming for the conference in October: you are in for a multitude of treats. See you then!

Abbey and The Colors…

I get to go back in just about two weeks for my summer treat: Aimee’s class. I am so happy about that.

Industrious Pulp Application meets Industrial Landscape

In the meantime there is unpacking, a show to see, artwork to finish (hooray), deferred taxes, two interviews (one to be completed, another begun), web site and MakerCentric updates, yard sale organizing and last but definitely not least, some serious reflecting about teaching to be done, along with not-too-bad gartden weeding (those last two are likely to happen at the same time). Right now, it’s predicted to reach 101 degrees out there today, and whatever I am allergic to in the Chicago high summer is out in full force, so itchy eyes, sneezing and benadryl hazes put it all on the back burner till I readjust. But rest assured, I am also basking in an extended glow.  Thank you, Arrowmont, Women’s Studio Workshop, and the Morgan!

Thus ends my 2012 summer teaching tour…


This excellent book is by Amanda Thatch, Penland Core student: I absolutely loved how she took the long / link stitch structure and ran with it. (More to come).

It is also where I am, in the midst of all that flat land in Dayton, Ohio…I’ll be driving through the flattest of all in a day or two on the rest of my way home.  Below is where I am not, anymore (sigh). I will miss Penland; and I will return, definitely, if they’ll have me.

This is part of what I drove through yesterday, portions of Tennessee that were flooded to make recreation lands.  An overlook shortly before the Cumberland Gap tunnel and the bland interstate highways…

I am now visiting the Bro, who wore clown makeup when I painted his portrait about 30 years ago; I didn’t wear any for my wee self-portrait (painted with my left hand) shortly afterward.  Yes, my hair looked like that; yes, Bro was wearing one of those shirts with the three-inch collars.  We have much to catch up on for the next few days. There’s SO, so much left to write about Penland, and Delaware as well, but that will happen after I get home and settled.  Or as settled as I get.  See you then.

Day after Deaf Day

I had a rather rough week.  It’s gone, and there’s no reason to dwell on it. But even though the worst was over by Friday, I was still utterly exhausted on Saturday night, when I hit a huge low, became acutely homesick.

Mary had offered me her house for the weekend while she was visiting her family, but I couldn’t take her up on it; I had to be here. So I sat in the studio Saturday, using up wet sheets left over from the week’s demos on little objects, available for advice.  I skipped dinner, went into town and splurged on a recent novel and some takeout…but then, hit that low when I returned.

Fortunately, I got some sleep and it’s helped. Today it’s lovely and sunny and warm, in the 80s. It is the Easter holiday and there was a massive egg-hunt. During the week I made two rather silly eggs to contribute to it (as well as two martini glasses for one of Friday’s two events, the only one I attended), but the very last thing I want is a crowd right now. I’m skipping everything today: the hunt, the brunch, wireless access in the studio, and the studio itself. I may skip dinner and wait to publish this till tomorrow as well. I found some window screens and am airing out the winter-musty house where I stay, while reading my novel on the porch in the balmy air, eating my own food, doing laundry during my actual laundry hours for once, drying my jeans in the sun and being deaf and peaceful, relaxed and content. Later, I’ll go for a walk.

Two weeks from today I’ll be in southern Ohio, visiting a dear friend, and then, home: to Paul, to Lupe, to my garden (I found some seeds in anticipation: flax!) and to my studio, where I’ll be able to return to my own work. Spring Concentration at Penland is not like a residency, at least not for instructors, but it’s utterly beautiful here in the mountains; the wisteria has begun to bloom up here, and the lilacs and dogwood and tulips are in full glory, irises are just peeking out enough to see a tip of color, and the green has crawled slowly up almost to the peaks. I’m sorry I’ll be leaving before the rhododendron show, but I’ll be very glad to be home, too.

Marvelously Meteoric at the Morgan

Lauren Sammon made this great image of (S)Edition in its entirety, from her own fabulous shots of the show. I love it.

The tip of the iceberg: approaching the Morgan on 47th street.

This entire summer is a whirlwind, moving so fast that I’ve only been able to lightly skim its varied surfaces here on the Blahg.  And so it is with my three (not four) days at the Morgan, a place that I’m more and more impressed with each time I visit.  It’s the people: Tom Balbo, its executive director, first of all, and Susan Kelley and Lauren Sammon and everyone else there as well. Like Women’s Studio Workshop, it has incredible, positive energy, and manages to feel like home at the same time.

I love this photo of Aimee sitting in her newly-built traditional-style Korean vat:

I got in late on the 29th (after a grueling thirteen-hour ordeal in Chicago the day before) and wrote the last blog; the next morning I woke and began overbeating fiber in Tom’s studio, just behind the kitchen.  Tom came to fetch me and we began another load in the sturdy red cast-iron powerhouse of a main studio beater at the Morgan. Aimee was there (ray hoo!) and almost immediately my old friend Jo stopped by to see the show and we both got to see and handle Aimee’s hanji in all its manifestations, a revelation after seeing the photos over the last two years; amazing material, incredible variety!  John was making watermarked Morgan sheets in the paper studio, and when I took Jo over to observe, he generously had her make a few sheets, something she’d never done before. I think she’s hooked; she was late to work! During it all,  I took care of my class prep, and then Aimee and I went out to a big Vietnamese dinner and catch-up fest; so lovely.  I drove her back to her hosts in Shaker Heights, and then got back to Tom’s studio around midnight.

Saturday, up early and over to the Morgan an hour before class; two participants (who had driven in from Michigan) were already waiting when I got there.  I put the first pound of kozo on to cook, and then met the diverse group of 12 people in the class: a person who had never made paper or any kind of artwork before, established artists, papermakers, teachers, professors, medical doctors, book conservators, art students…a broad, eclectic but highly enthusiastic mix!  Lots of demos the first day, a papermaking session, and then only a couple of hours for experiments, but a surprising range of them occurred.  While class was going on, Aimee and Morgan folks were working on the hanji studio, Morgan board members and representatives of Cleveland and Cincinnati arts organizations and other folks came through: bustling!  And the class flowed on, intently active amid all the other activity.

Some of the first day’s experiments drying.

Six vats and draining stations for twelve folks: very nice! Makes a lot o’ paper, fast. (Shot Saturday after everyone went home).

I had an errand to run on the west side after class, so I took an hour to be deaf, and drove two routes through town, experiencing the strange layering of time I always do in Cleveland; without really trying, I passed nine places I had lived. When I returned, the amazing Tom had all of Pamela Paulsrud‘s portion of the Listening show down and packed!  So we ate dinner from the Morgan lunch fridge, and I began packing my portion of the show, with Tom helping; then he drove Aimee back to Shaker while I stayed packing, and he came back to help and to get me back to the studio, as there was some problem with the security system.

A great surprise: friend, Guild of Bookworkers officer, conservator and book artist Chris was in the class!  She’s also taught at the Morgan.  It was a blast to see her and catch up, and I liked the kozo mask…it’s to become part of a book project.

Sunday: up and in and some class folks were already there again, making paper!  We looked at the previous day’s experiments, I did the last demos (dyes), then hung around to answer questions and help as folks went to town, using the entire final day to do whatever they wished to with the materials.  Everyone was utterly busy! And that left me with some time to shoot photos. Even though it was Sunday, still there was an amazing amount of other activity going on around us.  About two hours after lunch, the questions had dwindled off, so I told folks to come to the gallery and ask them when they had them, which they did, while I began taking down the rest of the show.  At 3:30 we wrapped up and cleaned up in another whirlwind, the class left and everyone at the Morgan pitched in and zoom!  The show was packed and loaded into the big van, the materials were sorted and mine were packed and loaded into my car, Susan and I figured out how to work a wee sheet-metal brake for the hanji project, and Aimee and I had fun brainstorming a different solution by drawing all over the protective paper on one of the big class tables, just like our old times.

Then in yet another layering of time, Aimee and I went to visit Cindy Barber and then the three of us went out to a fun (if odd, food-wise) dinner with a bottle of Australian Shiraz, then I dropped Aimee off in Shaker where we said goodbye (snif). I drove a different memory-laden route back to Tom’s studio, and packed up the suitcase I had there.  Monday, up and out and I followed Tom and the van across Ohio and Indiana, he followed me through Chicago, we unloaded my work and he followed me up to Pamela’s house in the northern suburbs where we unloaded her work and had home-made, home-grown rhubarb pie and then said goodbye for now; Tom went to pick up some type cases to take back to the Morgan the next day and I went home to a very happy dog and large man.

I took some kozo shots in the thriving Morgan garden: first harvest will be in late fall!  It’s beautiful at every stage, and bugs love it: my ankles are covered in bites.

Regrets: I did not have time to do all I wanted: I did not get to visit Jeff, see the Smiths or DCB, and I so, so wish I could have stayed for Aimee’s hanji class.

Today, little else but unloading the class stuff, a delicious nap and this long but still only sketchy blog. I’m home for a whole week, to get ready for this:

…PLUS this.  And while there was no review of Listening, someone sent me this blog, and there was a blog at Publisher’s Weekly (of all places!), and then Crain’s Cleveland Business picked up on that one (final item) – too late for people to go see the show! The whirlwind continues, and though it is a tad chaotic, I have to say: if this is the New Life, I am liking it even with its uncertainties.

another planet

When I was young, I was quite taken by a book titled From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  I guess it later became a movie.  It was about two kids who ran away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I am feeling a very strong connection to that book tonight. I drove all afternoon and evening back to Cleveland, and then Tom opened up the drive-in ramp to his building, gave me the security codes, and showed me around “my” floor.  I’m staying here for the next four days. It’s big enough to fit in six of my old Pilsen studios (later Vespine Gallery) and it is crammed full of excellent, odd, curious stuff…I think I counted four full-sized dining tables and I didn’t bother to try counting couches, lounges, divans…this is a tiny tiny tiny taste (and I’m not even showing you the paper studio). Yes, that green and red thing above is an etching press, not in use, surrounded just in that corner by nipping presses, lying presses, hand-carved printing blocks, giant wheels and gears, vintage machines whose use i can only guess at, masks…and more, a whole lot more…there are four floors like this!

Kathe Kollwitz!!!

1 Subaru, 3 days, 8 states

I am momentarily back in Chicago; during the long trip I alleviated road ennui with my camera.  But I took no photos of the places I spent the nights nor the friends I stayed with; the immediacy and pleasantness of their company, conversation and the comfort  they offered prevailed; even benign media intrusion simply seemed out of place.  Tana, Ann (and Zoe), Steve and Kathy (and Mandikat), and Tom: thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, final PBI day:

Listening to Katie MacGregor during the show & tell.  Some of the work from my class is on the table in the foreground (the auction is on the two long tables).  Some people from my class did not show their work; they went to see some of Maine (and humpback whales!) instead.  Who could blame them?

Since I have no money, I ducked out of the auction after awhile myself, and went to a different beach.  There I wandered, breathed that incomparable sea air, played with the Atlantic one last time, and watched fog glide into Machias Bay a few miles away, while where I was stayed sunny.  Then I went back for the banquet…

…and got my lobstah.  Sooo delicious! And then the music and noise started, and I slipped away again.

The last hurrah: the dorm hallway at 2 am.

Thursday, July 22:

Well, where else would I stop for breakfast, except a major downeast tourist institution?  The wild blueberry scones were lovely.  I wanted to buy a pie, but was afraid of my road appetite.  I bought home-made wild blueberry truffles for Tana and Ann and the Smiths, but they melted.  I put them in the freezer when I got home, and Paul and I are now eating strange misshapen puddles – and they are still delectable.

Frenchman’s Bay in Acadia.

Huge, swift-currented tidal river, that boasts a waterfall that changes direction with the tides, further away than I could drive to. Especially because I wanted to stop at the LL Bean outlet I had spotted on the way to Machias.  I now have a very cool summer rain jacket coated in teflon – half-price.

Where I sat for nearly 40 minutes on Rte 1, waiting till the oncoming traffic had to sit and wait for us.

Pretty much the rest of Maine, interstate view.  What I wanted to shoot for you and couldn’t: BEWARE!  Moose Crossing signs; huge – huge! – nests built on top of major power poles, and the impressive dark angry clouds all stacked up on the coast to the east.

Interesting New Hampshire marketing strategy: tax-free liquor and lottery tickets combined with an interstate rest-stop.  I guess if people are buying to drink on the road, they’ll be in Massachusetts or Maine before the alcohol takes effect. Canny.

Massachusetts traffic seemed to uphold that premise.  Sorry, Mass – you are beautiful, but you have some of THE most annoying traffic I’ve EVER encountered – not just near Boston, but across the entire… freakin’… state.  I lost two hours sitting in stopped traffic (sigh). To say nothing of people barreling down the shoulder in Porsches, jabbering away on cell phones.

Ahhhhhh, the serenity of driving New York’s Taconic Parkway after all that, stopping for the hazy early evening view of the Hudson Valley and beyond to Catskills.  12 hours on the road…

Friday, July 23:

A good long early-morning, slightly drizzly walk in the woods with Tana and Zoe to get the kinks out, too-short talks with Meghan and Chris, and then off again. It was raining hard before I got to Ellenville.  Near Loch Sheldrake (possibly my favourite Catskill place-name) I missed a turn.  The GPS took me on a 7-mile loop back to rte 52.  It was fascinating…a town where all the signs were in Hebrew, old wooden camps next to fancy gated communities, and a huge, ostentatious, self-proclaimed ashram, with collonades, fountains, and an enclosed walkway bridge over the road. (I always though ashrams were spare, meditative environments? This looked like a Vegas resort.) But it was raining too hard to shoot anything, and then, on route 17, the Catskills put on a spectacular Smoky Mountain -type show:

OK, OK, I pulled over:

One of these (above or below) is mid-New York, and one is a brief dip into western Pennsylvania, I can’t remember which…

Entering my favourite part of western New York.  But then:

WHAM! A massive, violent storm tore through.  I had to put on the flashers and pull over, couldn’t see a thing except that before the white-out of solid water, the trees were bent double in the wind.  (There is another car in front of me with its flashers on here – and you can’t even see it!) As I sat there, the car was buffeted back and forth, rocked wildly, while I tried to remember if they have tornadoes in western New York.  It lasted all of 10 minutes, and then just as suddenly, stopped completely – and I was sitting right across from the Seneca casino:

When I see it, it  means I only have about 2 1/2 hours to go to Cleveland.

On I-90 in eastern Pennsylvania.  Lake Erie is on my right, and its winds are blowing a solid curved line o’ bad weather into New York.

“Cleveland, city of light, city of magic”.  It was 93 degrees and sweltering.  But later that night, the same kind of storm blew through, followed by a gentler one, and cleared the air for a lovely night’s sleep. 10 hours on the road…

Saturday, July 24:

Up for a lovely breakfast of home-made tabbouleh, fresh berries and cherries, and Rosendale apple cider doughnuts with cowboy coffee and always-great conversation with the Smiths, a stop at the Morgan on Aimee’s one day off to talk over the upcoming class with Tom, a little adjustment to Listen, which was having a few a more issues than I’d like in the massive humidity Cleveland’s been experiencing. But I was quite pleased with how the 99 copies of (S)Edition have weathered it all.  And then, the final leg:

Ohio, up until the Lake Erie islands or so.

Just about all of western Ohio and the entire state of Indiana look like this, with some crop variation, a few cities, and the nice broad Maumee river near Toledo, Ohio – until you get to the stinky industrialization of Gary, Indiana, belching flames and fumes into the sky, which means I’m almost home.

Well, come on – baby don’tcha wanna go?

Back to that same old place,

Sweet Home Chicago.  Which always welcomes me with heinous traffic. 7.5 hours on the road (might have been 6.5, but Chicago had a point to make).

Sunday, July 25:

Nothing. No-thing. Paul is grilling us dinner tonight, and all is right in Lupe’s world: the pack is home. For three whole days…


I’m back in Chicago now, as of late this afternoon. I was so immersed in images, in the flow of images throughout space, that I did not feel wordy enough to blog or even post to Facebook; but I had a mighty fine time.  I stayed with old poet/ artist/ publisher friends Smith and Lady K in their airy aerie, the third floor of a big old brick Victorian on the edge of Tremont. It was comfortable, easy and fun, and thankfully as odd as ever, too – and therefore the perfect antidote to the hard but lovely work in the gallery. (Smith even put up images of the show faster than me!)  And, once again, I slowed down and stayed an extra afternoon and night; good for me. I thank you both hugely.

John and Bruce with the Premiering Print Portfolio show.

I want to thank Pam for doing the show with me, and for patiently and supportively answering hectic text messges while she was up in the woods with her family, and I also absolutely thank the great crew at the Morgan: Tom, Bruce, John, Spencer, Susan, Lauren and everyone else. Each time I go back there and experience more of the place I am more and more impressed in multifaceted ways.  It’s bustling along, and it has the same excellent feel to it as Women’s Studio Workshop, or of my time working with Marilyn Sward at the original Center. Just like at WSW, everyone gets together for a shared lunch each day, things click and work – a lot of work – gets done and yet it’s relaxed, friendly, always incredibly interesting and funny at the same time.  I loved having my work there for a number of other reasons, too, and these admirable aims are one of them:

Last (for tonight) but decidedly not least, I loved working within and interacting with that space.  It’s a fine example of Cleveland’s post-post-industrial gritty elegance, and that is forever my ‘hood, it’s bred in the bone; the Morgan and all its excellent goals and practices are its unique future, and they’ve let me be a part of that.  Between the Smiths and the Morgan, I did a lot of thinking about my Cleveland origins and how my past plays into my own future as well, but that’s Another Blog.

The kozo garden has doubled!  Plants that were up to my waist last year are now over my head – and there are dye plants, herbs and strawberries, too.

Oh! And here is the show.  See what I mean?

This wee hearty kozo plant is now in my back yard.

Good days; goodnight.

I’m blahg-ing in the paper studio at Women’s Studio Workshop and really should be getting over to the Atwood House to get to bed; Brooklyn and the beater tomorrow! Depending on how long that takes, I will either attempt to drive straight to Ohio, or come back to spend another night here.  The danger in that, of course, is that I will not want to leave.

I’ve been on the road for much of two days.  Got in the car at noon Friday, struggled with snarls of Chicago traffic to leave, then drove in lovely sunny weather past the vast flat white fields of Indiana and the Ohio Firelands, some gleaming unending snowy planes , others marked with the linear calligraphy of winter stalks.  Stopped in Cleveland for a couple of hours to visit with Smithfriends, then drove on into the night a few more hours to a midnight motel at the western end of I-86, near Lake Chautauqua.  Today I made my way across NY state. It was just beautiful, but skirting the lower Catskills on route 17 was…glorious.  There is no other word.  Sun, the bluest of cerulean skies and cool sharp cobalt shadows on the snow; dancing flashing bright highlights on the even deeper blue rivers and creeks. The mountains themselves looked like draped towering weavings, like sharp salt and pepper tweed, or something woven from multi-fibered shifu; tall narrow trunks the warp, their shadows the weft. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Then WSW, a long comical walk in slippery wet snow, like walking on loose sand, that stretched my legs back out nicely nonetheless; warm enough to wear just a sweater.  Dinner and fine conversation with Ann and Tana in High Falls, more talks and fun with Kristen and residents, and now: hit publish, get out the flashlight, walk up the road a bit, and sleep.