Marched Out

 

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A palette of texture and color I worked with.

Sadly, much of March was “another month, another drug.” I’ve now spent nearly nine months ‘testing’ drugs, and still: the original condition continues unabated. The March drug not only does not work, it brought on some full-blown panic attacks, something I hadn’t experienced before. They were scary, quite physical and exhausting. Luckily, now that I know what the hell is happening, I am able to shut them down before they truly begin. I also discovered (by accident) that I was prescribed (and am still taking) a second med for a different condition that was, in fact, a side effect of one of the earlier ineffective drugs. This was never mentioned, and when I brought it up, I became truly cognizant of the term ‘mansplaining.’ I’m fed up, and have left that doctor. I have an appointment in a few days with a new primary care doc, who, though still within the same big-pharm-driven system, is a woman. Meanwhile the arthritis has invaded three new locations. I hate writing about this all almost as much as experiencing it, so hence: no-blog March.

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There were a lot of these lovelies mid-month.

Those oddities aside, there *have* been good things: it *is* spring and things are popping up in the gardens and the daffodils and hyacinths are blooming and the early trees are beginning to bud. I’m watching and waiting and hoping to see my milkweed return. We humans have new phones and can text each other, which is another blessing.

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And I did get into the studio to to finish up work for ZIA Gallery’s spring exhibition: Of Materials, Fiber and Book Arts. And I did go out to the opening reception, which was nicely busy and bustling. I enjoyed seeing a number of old friends, and meeting several new folks. It was all quite lovely and a rarity these days. The show runs from March 19th – April 30.

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And since it’s been announced, now it can be told: my single ‘outside’ project this year will be participating in Hand Papermaking magazine’s newest portfolio, which pairs established (old) artists with emerging (young) artists. Though we haven’t met in person yet, I’m working in collaboration with Katharine Lark DeLamater, who’s been just great. Exciting!

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And of course there is Vivi! Vivi! Vivi! She came through a March of difficult teething like a champ; her milk teeth just didn’t want to let go. For awhile she had double teeth and a cartoon – crocodile grin, till the baby needle teeth were forced out. Often they broke first; I found shards of little teeth everywhere and her frozen chew-rags were spotted with blood. None of the other pups I’ve lived with went through that; usually, it’s simply been a process of noticing a milk tooth gone, and then seeing the bud of the adult tooth emerge. Though she had (cute) cranky moments during the process, usually just before nap time, she remained a sweet pup no matter how much her mouth irritated her, and now she has all her growing adult teeth. She also did great on her last day of puppy school, even though we had missed the two previous sessions. She even did some things she hadn’t practiced, walking up and down ramps, and past toys and open bags of treats, which truly impressed me.

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She is a happy, funny little dog, very bright and inquisitive, and no matter what is happening out in the world or inside my body, she brings joy (and she and the rest of our pack bring comfort, too.) Tomorrow, she’ll be six months old.

Afterglow and on

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A sneeze after the lovely holiday party.

I came home Thursday, a day early.

The second session at Ragdale passed in a good whirly concentration of work. Performance / dance artists Julia Antonick and Jonathan Meyer, with sound artist Joe St. Charles, form a group called Khecari. They held an open evening rehearsal of a durational work that moved between both Friends’ studios. We were free to walk in and out as we chose. I went in with an open mind and was surprised to see that over an hour had passed when I left. It was a wonderful, unusual, intimate experience. It was great to talk with them afterwards, too, trading the perceptions. The readings were conducted the way I like them best; two nights in the Ragdale House, with the readers’ chair, drinks, popcorn, a fire. There was much good work, and I had captioning for all, with two appreciated twists. Doro Boehme shared a laptop that was cued to this page, so not only did I have her words, but her collaborator’s images trickling down the page. Karen Villeda read a powerful piece in her native Spanish, the way she writes, while Eddie worked the projector to show an English translation. This worked for me exactly the way having the printed captions in English does; I can hear the rhythm of the reader’s voice, the projection of emotion and attitude and emphasis, while the text translates the word-sounds I cannot distinguish. I liked that everyone got to experience that, besides being transported by the piece itself.

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Wednesday afternoon, Ragdale’s great new resident liason Eddie Morfin brought some paintings and images relating to his graphic-novel-in-progress out to the Meadow and we had a steady stream of visitors, residents, staff, and a couple friends, for a couple of hours, and some good talk of our own afterward.

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After everyone had left and the daylight made its early winter close into night, I cleared the floor and made one last thing to work with at home. I mixed all the rest of the cleaned milkweed with a saved bucket of water from my last vat of pure milkweed sheets. The vat-water contained all the tiny fine leftover fibers and a still-useful dollop of my dwindling supply of pmp formation aid; I added more. Wet cleaned milkweed is virtually invisible on the black. I slowly poured it out on the privacy-screen-turned-support, trying to see the swirls of longer fibers, glimpse the texture of the finer pulp to make connected patterns. Next day, I just rolled it up still attached to the netting. When it’s removed, I’ll have a combination of banner-ish, wispy, hol-ey, long pieces and tufts of random fiber, both of which are fantastically strong. I really liked working with the poured pulp on this piece:

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The title is ‘Critical Distance.’ In this work, the poured sheets also got some minimal joomchi treatment; I loved what happened, how quickly the milkweed tightened and toughened further. The lovely Jane Fulton Alt kindly came out and shot it for me at a slightly earlier stage. I made some small additions, and it will get some further tweaking. So will this:

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Its title is The Trouble With That Theory, Volume II: Stinkhorn.

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This one needs only a little tiny bit of tweaking on the base. The working title is Fleuron (autumn). I am liking working this way also. It’s white mulberry from my yard.

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There are two more ears, made the same way as the new additions to the Ragdale installation.  It’s quite different than the last several constructions, though outwardly they remain the same. With these, I’ve attempted to build in a deterioration sequence. I’m thinking that the outer covering will eventually begin to peel and then fall away, revealing the strong but delicate-looking inner structure, similar to Fleuron’s but denser, tougher. At least one is headed for our scrubby, single backyard evergreen tree, so that I can observe its aging, take it further next time.

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There are other bits that came home as well, including a lovely pile of small white milkweed sheets. As always, the thinking that went on was just as or more important than the results, and the friends made and new work experienced in progress while yours is also percolating, and being cared for so warmly during the process. Ragdale is the touchstone place, where everything is easy, warm and familiar so that we can traverse vastly different spaces each time we are there. I’m honored to be a part of this short tribute to Alice’s enormous legacy.

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Now all the moving in of stuff has been done, though not the moving it back into place. I’ve had two days of Lupe walks, Paul talks, making food again, and a series of daily & nightly nap laps interspersed with a lot of trips outdoors, a whole lot of high-speed running around, and a great deal of fun playing with, “This toy! No that toy! Oh, this one!” as Vivi begins to find her fit into the pack.

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Now showing…

Out in the world are shows and shows and shows…first, here are some views of my part of Embarrassment of Riches at the NIU Art Museum:

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And some shots of this innovative installation of a single copy of (S)Edition (OK, a bookshroom) installed at Structures and Stories in the Bucks County Community College (Pennsylvania) Artmobile. I usually don’t like my work to be in cases, but of course this show literally moves, on wheels. I kind of love that the case itself is floating above the empty pedestal. It’s difficult to believe that this pristine space is the inside of a trailer.

aaMJC_mobileaaMJC_mobile1The Guenzel Gallery at Peninsula School of Art in Wisconsin hasn’t sent images, but they’ve published a wee slideshow of Unusually Natural on this page. The Braithewaite Gallery at the Southern Utah Museum of Art has not updated its website, but here’s what I am exhibiting in that show; and info about this upcoming exhibition in Minneapolis will soon be available.
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(Bookshrooms are of the proletariat, the 99%; they don’t care about no stinkin’ air conditioners or cords when they gather for their subversive conversations.)

And above is a sneak preview of my installation, which was the first to go up at Words | Matter, which opens tomorrow! It is in a lovely warm shared studio space; the library will take up a number of its many rooms. I loved the idea as soon as I was asked about it; I also truly love (and miss) “neighborhood” spaces. Huge, huge kudos to Eileen Madden (whose excellent printshop is located in the space) for her vision and hard work in bringing this together. Here she is, surrounded by just a small portion of book deliveries.  Aside from viewing works on the walls, you’ll be able to sit in the comfortable space and have any of the over 80 books brought to you, to handle, to read, to interact with: marvelous! I can’t wait.

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Virally

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(S)Edition text pages napping at Ragdale years ago.

This week we humans were both a bit out of sorts, resulting in reduced energy and a couple of actual afternoon naps on my part. It’s probably a low-level virus.

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The first 27 copies coming together; I was so excited about finally being able to see them.

On Thursday, (S)Edition was featured by a visual culture site I have liked for a long time, This Is Colossal. It resulted in some nice (and some bizarre) e-mail, and re-posting at other sites I like, especially the ones who have written their own text, like npr books, make zine and culture designers. It also went round social media I don’t use (tumblr, twitter, instagram, etc.) and was ranked (at 18th when I saw it) on a global viral views site.  So here I am, quietly dealing with a virus, while enjoying a few minutes of being viral, and thinking how much like the spreading of spores internet sharing is. A great big thank you to all!

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(S)Edition’s very first viewer, reading.

Bliss

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Calligraphy is everywhere on the prairie and in the woods.

I’m home; got in Friday during the late afternoon, very tired; unloaded the car yesterday, am not yet unpacked. The final 10 days of the residency were absolute bliss; I pleaded a bit and was temporarily excused from all but the most urgent outside admin till this week. And so I was able to let myself surrender fully into the flow. Not only was I able to I get to that place that seemed so far away during the first bit of the first residency, I went way, way, way beyond it.

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There was a second piece that insisted on being made. The final Saturday morning, I brought food for lunch and dinner out to the studio in the morning and then spent eleven straight hours of what can only be called perfection, quietly bursting through any last shred of trepidation to a complete understanding of all the work, where it is headed, and most importantly, what it means to me and why.

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The overbeaten milkweed was terrible to cast with, at least with the sheet formation method I had to use (it did, however, make lovely sheets; I air-dried several to use, and restraint-dried some in the wee press.) But, oh, the beautiful pale glowing color!  Moon-like. I’m not giving up yet, but further experimentation was best left for the home studio.

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The final week wasn’t without a few physical struggles in the making, but it was still wonderful, purposefully moving forward, happily solving those problems, fully engaged.

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It was a time like the beginning of my work with paper, in this same geographical location in the old Meadow Studio: like music. What the current Meadow Studio gives me, among many other gifts, is the ability to spread out, switch processes, work on several things simultaneously, and to see all the work in relation to itself, the space, the prairie, and: my worldview. I repeat: bliss.

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(Final tally: just under six weeks in residence, not counting time spent at home, seven new works, counting the ear installation. Only two are ‘finished’ – one of those gets a wee bit more tweaking then heads out into the world in ten days – but I know exactly where each piece is going!)

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This Single Species (working title) is by no means finished, and will probably never be seen again this way, but I had to see them together on a wall for myself. They will not be for sale for a long while, if ever; they’re going to be tweaked, then move around.

Prairie dance

pulp / perseverance

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Properly cooked.

This year, the lily stem pulp kicked my butt a bit, though I finally, stubbornly ended up with what I needed today, a few days under a month from the harvest.

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Getting there.

There were three differing factors from last year: (1) Our circumstances (combined with weather) caused me to leave the cut harvested stems soaking for well over a week; they retted a bit before cooking (which usually helps the process). Last year I harvested, cooked and beat within two days. (2) There were some stems from a different type of daylily in this year’s batch. (3) There simply were more lilies this year, and I probably crammed too much into the biggest cooking pot, and underestimated the amount of soda ash needed.  That, I think, was most likely. It probably didn’t help that I also stopped the cook for about 40 minutes in the middle due to a sudden fast little rainstorm, but I gave it an extra hour and let the stems sit in the cooking solution for another several days (that’s also something that usually helps). The fiber simply refused to circulate in the beater.

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Ahh.

So, I did a second cook, this time in two batches and again, the fiber sat in the cooking solution for three days; that’s our life right now. I also hand-cut the still-tough stems down before beating. Success! All the extra re-processing took about 25 minutes off the beating time to get the exact same pulp as last year.

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This lovely accidental 3D piece was made by forgetting to clean out a mesh bag after draining the beater the first time to re-cook. It’s a good illustration of why I kept at it: a tough pulp that connects tiny rough fibers (the ones that didn’t break down in the ‘piece’) that add bulk and a great deal of strength to cast works. It’s great for interior sketetal structures. (Plus, the house is surrounded by clouds of tall bright orange blooms for weeks before harvest).

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During our unpredictable schedule for the next weeks, I’m hoping to use what studio time I have just testing some fibers, making sheets and small castings. There are some important harvests happening in that time frame, too, and today I was offered a second milkweed harvest, plus seeds to start in the yard for next year. Excellent. Hello, autumn.

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Cool, quiet.

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I suspected this might happen, which is why this particular ear stayed home.  But now that I see it in progress (it’s happening very slowly and the whole thing is still quite sturdy), I am intrigued by it; thinking of new interiors, of deliberately encouraging (and loving the connotations of) “ear-splitting”…

Now, after four months of relative chaos, we are in the thick of our situation, which is characterized by making day-to-day life only merely unpredictable. My solution for that – which so far is working – is to only schedule a few days ahead, and to focus on adaptable work. Right now, that consists of a lot of backed-up office and house maintenance (yawn), and some slightly more interesting work on the paper studio itself. But also spending a good bit of time out with the dogs daily, walking Lupe, training and ball throwing sessions for Chance (who loves to retrieve, relentlessly and most enthusiastically) in newly cool, crisp fall temperatures (actually, a wee bit too uncharacteristically cool: it’s like late October, which seems so odd with the trees still green and tomatoes, peppers and herbs still ripening). It’s good, and the quiet afternoon work needs little mental attention and allows for some pondering time.

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I had a quiet but good birthday on the 9th; all the texts and e-mails and FB greetings were lovely, as was that day’s balmy beautiful weather, before the cool came.  I spent most of the day outdoors, made some good short-term decisions, and celebrated those and the new age with a late-night dram or two, and then we confidently dove into what we had to together the next day.

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Out in the world, a nice mention from the hometown from a few shows ago. Another show came back in. One piece returned in a newly-built exo-crate, for which I thank the CVA Denver gallery staff. I’m taking its labeling as a directive.

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Hometown and Back Home

I’ve been home since Tuesday and quickly became thoroughly immersed in what I hurried home for: our shared not-blog-able situation which is just beginning to shift into high gear. It will rumble on, occupying much of our time for the next few months.

MorganCatalog

This really is a really good show, and the catalog is excellent, with brief essays by each artist.

Cleveland was grand, grand, grand: all of it, the class, the Morgan and Morganites, the friends!  Oh, the friends.  But still I have no words, just huge overflowing gratitude to everyone there in my hometown (friends who reside there and friends passing through) for a time that I can carry within as we go on with our extended odd and sometimes difficult tasks here.

I may not find many words for awhile, but I will try to have images and write a bit, captioning those.

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This is where I asked to stay while teaching, on Tom’s second floor.  I love the light, the space, and waking up to the three koi who live in this fountain. Though they are friendly and stick their heads out to be fed when you whistle ‘Garry Owen’ they’re almost impossible to photograph, never still.  But I like their greeting each morning and evening, very much.

MorganTeach2Above photo courtesy of Lauren Sammon; pretty much the entire class on the first day (a few people were out of the frame).

MorganShapes

The classes all seem to need to start the same way, even though I had several people who were repeating. I do lots of demos, talk, answer questions, and from the first day, odd amorphous shapes begin to appear. The magic is in watching these blobby things develop, get added to, and completely transform over the next few days.

(You can see the Morgan’s Facebook album here. Lauren shot photos almost daily; I didn’t have time for much).

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When the kozo and the color come into play, things begin to get quite exciting. Several people made bark lace to be shaped later; some made bark lace to be cast then and there. I try not to be jealous of people whose knees still function properly!

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At the dye table and in the paper studio; by day 3, people were spread out all over the Morgan.  We were lucky to be the only class running during our five days, so we had it all!

Morganclass3I truly enjoyed working with Radha, who came to develop part of her MFA thesis work; she got some viable prototypes and I will be eagerly looking forward to seeing what happens with them, how the whole fits together.

MorganOceanLike the WSW class, most people came to add something to already substantial practices or to develop specific projects; most left with prototypes and / or components for work to be completed later, which pleases me to no end.  This is Ammon’s main project, a bark lace sea and an abaca boat which will ultimately become an animation.  (On the very last day, a whale’s tail appeared, too). There were many, many colorful bark lace pieces, a series of red bark fists, collages that attained dimension, a series of large abaca-dipped mesh geometric shapes to become an installation, components for arrangements by an Ikebana master and oh, so very, very much more: riches.

MorganFlowahsSome people did finish things; on the last day, Susan left early, all spiffed up for an event, carrying a bouquet of big calla lilies made by re-shaping and dyeing air-dried sheets of abaca and flax.

JulieKiMoNoMorganJulieFriend Julie McLaughlin, whose big beautiful kimono was one of (several) personal favorites in the show, was in the studio making more from the big deckle box; Tom was making some work with it as well. I wanted to, too.

MorganKimono2MorganKimono1Ivey, Eastern Paper Studio apprentice extraordinaire, combined one of her kimonos from Julie’s class with bark lace and a subtle use of dyes, in addition to making several other great things.  This was just gorgeous, both with the light on it and showing through it.

MorganMilkweedThriving Morgan milkweed!

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ASmithpstersThen, after class and leaving the Morgan, a lovely, restorative time at the SmithSanctuary, with message rocks, bee talk, poetry, a trip out for so much great ice cream that it became our dinners (“Our portions are…rather large”, said the waitperson after delivering the giant bowls), stretching, congenial quietness, homemade jam: touchstone time.

GahdenHomeHomePeppasHome, to mid-August gardens needing a lot of trimming back, and burgeoning harvests, some of which have already begun.

ChanceHomeAnd this one. He is HUGE, grew so much; the markings on his coat are changing, becoming more defined; his eyes appear to be changing from bright electric blue to a pale greenish-grayish-yellowish hue.  He is shedding a short, dense undercoat, and he was a total drama queen, yelping and yowling whenever I left his sight for a few days.  We’re back to much-needed training.

To WSW and (partway) Back

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Women’s Studio Workshop is growing!

I am sorry to have neglected the blahg-o-sphere but it couldn’t be helped: busy busy busy!  But pretty much all good, and am having a great time seeing old friends and making new ones.

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It’s much more extensive than either of these photos show; there’s lots more going on behind the second house. Hooray!

I worked pretty much up till the moment I left Chicago; drove straight to the Morgan and dropped off the work for Revive and Renew, which (as I saw yesterday) is a Really Good Show and had a lovely dinner with Aimee and Velma, and then a fine evening and early morning with the Smiths at their peaceful sanctuary.

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The human press dance, performed enthusiastically by Teddy and Jean.

Then, the long long drive to a stellar week at Women’s Studio Workshop. I do so love it there at any time for any reason, and it was made even sweeter by a workshop that was sort of a dream class.  Everyone in it was a working artist with a considerable practice, who came to shake things up a bit. And everyone GOT it: that this five-day workshop was much less a place to focus on making Cool Stuff Right Now, but something to be used as a catalyst.  Everyone left with components for works to be completed, test pieces, the knowledge to be able to take things further, and best of all: ideas.  That all made me SO happy (in spite of the coughing cold that two of us developed early on that, for me, is still lingering, and the fact that one person had to leave to deal with a home situation after only one day: I hope you are OK). The collective spirit and tone of the class was happy, friendly with lots of exchange, industrious, and above all, one of discovery. I simply couldn’t have asked for more and I am eager to see what will come of things in the future. Many thanks to you all!

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Here we all are on the last day, minus one who had to leave: Andrea, some weirdo, Teddy, Jim, Jean and Donna.

The non-class time, too, was filled with excellent activities: a delicious dinner with Ann, Tana and Susan (whose class in the front studio filled the walls with colorful innovative prints), a lovely long visit and dinner out with Amelia who drove over from Connecticut, an afternoon of walking and mushroom-foraging with Tana, getting to hang out with the fabulous Chris (who helped locate and install some WSW ear-fungi on Saturday) and Sara, and two interns, Alyssa who was a HUGE help in the workshop and Mary who cooked up some fantastic lunches (and kindly popped some very tasty vegan leftovers into my little fridge).

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Up at the ArtFarm with Chris.

Early Saturday evening, after ears were installed and the car packed (with just what I needed for the night and morning left out), I did something I’ve wanted to do since I first came to WSW in 2009: walked the (expanded, but now restricted) rail trail past the eerie old mine shafts and then: out onto the tall, tall former railroad trestle that spans the little river valley over Rosendale. It’s been restored and is now open to the public.  I don’t really like heights, but have always wanted to get up there.  It’s gorgeous.

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Gorgeous views from the trestle…

Then I got up at 5 am, drove all day and got to the Morgan just as Aimee and Velma’s joint class was wrapping up; I got installed over at Tom’s and had a nice visit with him, Aimee and Velma, and then Velma and I got an all-too-rare treat, a couple of hours just to talk.  She’s headed back to the North Country now (safe travels).

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...but a long way down.

Even more good things happened:  Aimee’s article about the Morgan’s Eastern Paper Studio appeared in the Surface Design Journal, and one of my works was chosen to accompany it with a very lovely layout; the Revive and Renew exhibition opened at the Morgan on Friday, and it is fantastic, with a lovely catalog, and Ann Starr came to review the show but so enjoyed the Morgan that she wrote this, which perfectly captures the place (and I thank her for the shout-out as well). Now I’d better get over to the studio…

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I couldn’t resist this “collaboration” with Tana (even though she didn’t know about it).