"The eye has to travel."
The eye has to travel, away from technology.
Away from phones and keyboards and roads and rush.
To find a century-old claim where someone else's technology still litters the land.
Where someone else probably lost their nerve.
More than once.
Where someone else had their tenacity tested.
Their wits frayed.
Their foolishness exposed.
The eye has to travel in order to understand the rush of a frenzied search.
To know the echo of a pick on a mountain,
the breaking apart and boring into,
the flying shards and gasping certainty
(recognizing that the certainty of some is far more certain than the certainty of others,
and weighs more, too)
so that when you make that descent,
that return to your life, your pace, your much more realistic personal goals,
you will remember to retain the fever.
Because it is this fever, this tenacity, this wit, this foolishness, this nerve,
this ring of metal against stone,
this willingness to bear the weight
this ... certainty
that will ultimately drive the work.
Culross Mine, Prince William Sound, Alaska, May 2015.
Detail images from the solo show "Reliquary," June 5-30, 2015, Bunnell Street Arts Center, Homer, Alaska.
Art photography: Brian Adams
PS. The rusty dock bollards used in the first piece shown in this post did NOT come from this mine, they were found on a beach in 2014; we didn't disturb any of the old equipment ... ok, we sat in some of it. The slimy sack of rocks, however, was taken on this day and is sitting in my garage because those rocks are clearly "full of silver. And gold. And probably rubies and diamonds. And sapphires, too. And they're probably worth about a hundred dollars! And Mom! I can make you a necklace!"
So, if this was mildly interesting and you still have a full cup of tea, you might want to read some other Traveling Eye posts. They have their very own category over there on the side bar because hey, my eye travels and yours should, too.
Let's be clear though:
wandering eye -- no,
traveling eye-- yes.
I'm just saying.
This is the final group of boogie-woogiers. If you missed group 1 and group 2, I think it's worth following the links back to see how other artists are getting out "what's in them."
Many thanks to all who participated in this inspiring journey of stories and images -- both to those who shared and to the rest of who followed in a long, snaking boogie-woogie line. The call out is officially over, the curtain has closed on this series. There may be an encore in the future of this blog, however, so check back if you think you hear some heels clicking on the stage.
One night I was layin' down,
And yes, here's the last of what came out:
The flight of fancy.
"... the use of Sheers here make it a fragile and one time thing. I am not sure I could ever sell in in fear it will start to deconstruct. It is also a bit of a journey of a typical quilter starting with the "maze" of straight line quilting, from which we need to free ourselves. Then learn some prideful fancy free motion quilting. Then decide to cover all that with some stretched out renditions of flying geese. There is a second color on the underneath that does not even show unless there is a bit of a breeze. Somehow all of these stages just HAD to be done."
The heavy journey.
" ... I have always in the past been able to use sewing as a distraction, but it had not been going that way lately. I know by getting this chaos out of the way, that I can move forward, but this will certainly be a progressive piece until the end is reached [...] my boogie-woogie is a journey that will be long, but will also be a time for healing."
"... When I finished my first naturally dyed square, a door opened through which I glimpsed tablesetting as ceremonial placemaking. The tablecloth itself was the first one that took on its own life as I made it, moving from a simple design based on my backyard clematis to a textile echoing with barely ascertainable associations ... like sinking Venetian palazzos or Sleeping Beauty's castle. Unseen elements like those that made our dinner parties so varied and engaging became apparent in the cloth and I realized that those elements, like roots, permeate everything. The weather, the season, the occasion, the ancestors, the taboos, the craft traditions, the aesthetic judgements, the interpersonal connections, the life and the love ... all weaving together to underscore and enhance ordinary daily existence, including dinner. My boogie woogie is making table settings that elicit life when we gather to share food, seeking nurturance on many levels..."
The love affair.
" ... The first (collage landscape was) inspired by my missing my granchildren who lived in California and I lived in Tennessee at the time. Looking out the window on my plane ride back home, I thought of distance, miles, and a cloth slowly formed in my mind, a landcape of the heart. It took me a long time to stitch and an ever longer time to get over my angst at the back side of my cloth that looks like a thread road map that is falling off the cliff but this first big, dyed and stitched cloth of note has sparked a continuing love affair with dye, cloth, needle and thread."
The final powerful beat.
"... when I first heard Roderick singing 'A Life of Crime' with his band Sourpuss back in 1976 I wanted to illustrate it. 35 years later I got 'round to it [...] we will launch the limited edition of 100 hand coloured copies in September of 2016 at Artsite Gallery here in Sydney with an exhibition of the original drawings, accoutrements & a gathering of musicians from the past 40 years, it will be a party!"
Oh all you Boogie-woogiers, you rock. Thank you for taking the time to contact me and share your work. I'm inspired and blessed by your creativity and words. Someday we'll go shake up that rickety stage again.
The original post is here: Boogie-woogie. Get down.
This is the second installment of the boogie-woogie artist call out -- many thanks to all the artists who contacted me with their meaningful work. If you missed group 1 of the boogie-woogiers, I highly recommend you check out those pieces, too. I've included portions of accompanying stories here, but know that most of these inspiring journeys have been long and multi-faceted.
They are therefore revered in this space.
One night I was layin' down,
And here's what came out:
"I made a prayer shawl for a dear friend. It took a year. It turned on my artistic inspiration brain [...] We both lost our sons and met through grief. In deciding to make something for her to wrap in when she needs a hug, she became my muse. I had no idea I could stitch love [...] it turned out to be a gift to me."
"I saw magpies nesting in a tree bursting with flowers. I had to do it right down to the poem and the 3-d nest and eggs! I had never done anything like it before and haven't since either ... this quilt demanded to get done and it opened the door to further art quilts. One of those, a reverse applique of my daughter's dog - actually went to Groton New York and hung in the Main Street Art Gallery there among oil paintings and watercolors in a juried show!"
"On our first day in the ceramics workshop we all moulded apples, about the nearest thing to a plain ball of clay you can think of, just to get the feel of it. At the end of the session I was the only one to ask for my attempt to be fired. The following week I held in my hand, still warm from the kiln, the wonkiest apple with the chunkiest leaves ever seen, with a huge grin on my face."
The magical and storied.
"Last year I had a Grand Incubation of LARGE white grubs in my compost. I was both repelled and fascinated believing that there was some very important reason why their beetle mothers had chosen this small acre. The combination of some tacky eyelet ... and the almost rotted through walnut dyed linen is uncomfortable, but perfectly portrayed this mystery of the Earth Realm."
One final group of boogie-woogiers will follow soon.
The original post (with a brazen 1970's leotard-and-neck-kercheif-boogie-woogie moment of my very own) is here: Boogie-woogie.
Many thanks to the people who responded to my boogie-woogie post by sending stories and images of the "the things they had in them that just had to come out."
Some of the stories behind the work were incredibly personal and heart wrenching, like the woman who created a prayer shawl for another who had also lost her son. Some felt like stepping off a cliff into the unknown, like the woman who raised her hand and committed to working in Zimbabwe even though she'd never been to Africa in her life. Others felt like the necessary diversion from the everyday grind in an effort to regain some sense of self, like the woman who took up ceramics after decades of engineering.
The thing they have in common is deep narrative. And while I can't fit all the text in these posts, I've shared what resonated with me personally; I'm deeply grateful for the work sent my way. I think you'll find it inspiring as well. (Please note that this is just the first group and two more posts will follow soon).
* * *
One night I was layin' down,
So here's what came out:
"... it's the boogie-woogie that had to get out that propelled the evolution of my quilt making ... my art is social political commentary and it's all about how I process the world we live in, specifically the US [...] My original idea was to finish the quilt so my husband and I could watch the election returns under it ..."
Penny Mateer (for an interview with Penny, see Cathleen Bailey's post).
"I made the piece while at University doing my Art degree. It took many hours of work and teachers complained they were sick of seeing it. But still I persisted and in the end they gave me a High Distinction for the semester, the only time they did that [...] this was the first time I really exhibited and felt like a 'real' artist."
" ... here is my boogie-woogie moment. This small quilt insisted to be made even though I don't do "art" quilts."
"A Word From Our Sponsors," created and performed by Zareen at the Belly Laughs show (May 2009) in Rockville, MD.
Remember, watch for two more boogie-woogie groups to come.
If you didn't get a chance to send me your own boogie-woogie, I may do something like this again, but for now, the Boogie-woogie dance card is full. Phew, I need to kick off these killer heels and visit the punch bowl. I think my leotard is shot, too.
So many thanks to those who participated and here's a link to that original post: Boogie-woogie.
"As parents, we develop an instinctual sense of what to do when our children get sick. Our instincts are part childhood memories of what brought us comfort, a bit of science, a large dose of compassion, and some parental adrenaline."
I've had a boy at home with a low-grade fever for four days, feeling lousy enough to tell me in great detail how much his skin hurts, but well enough to insist he needs to eat small portions of "I don't know, Mom, something soft/cold/smooth/and with milk...or maybe crunchy ... no, not crunchy, never mind " every hour.
My daughter was home for two of these days with a soul fever.
But hang on, what is that?
(when children feel) upset, overwhelmed, at odds with the world. And most of all, at odds with their truest selves [...] Whether the source of the malady was internal or external, it's now raging within, occupying the child's attention and affecting their behavior. Affecting, also, the emotional climate of the home." (Payne, Simplicity Parenting)
And I, as well, have had a combination of the two: the physical and the soul. I've certainly passed on this nasty cough to my son. I've possibly passed on my soul fever to my daughter, although she doesn't know the reasons behind mine. She doesn't know that I am watching the slow, messy spiral of someone I love. She doesn't know that to anticipate another's rock bottom is to travel partway there yourself, but she absorbs my adult energy anyway.
So I have to do something to fix this.
I read Simplicity Parenting when the kids were younger, studied it twice in book groups and heard Kim John Payne speak twice. His work is brilliant, but I'd not thought about it for a while until today. How do I help these children? How do I help myself?
1. Quiet things down.
If you find yourself -- or someone you love -- with a soul fever, I recommend starting with Kim John Payne's four simple tonics. Remarkably, the cure for a soul fever is the same as the cure for a physical one. And none of it is very easy.
-Do not work. Do. Not. Work. This is hard. Okay, just commit to one day off, despite the fact that you have a solo show in one month. And the photographer is coming in 2 weeks. Don't throw up.
-No NPR. This is hard.
-No television, no movies, only some show tunes allowed (pretty easy, except when you've heard "It's A Hard Knock Life" 3 times, then it's hard).
-Weigh the merits of dispensing Ibuprofen vs. letting the fever do its job. Commit to the latter.
-Ask yourself if the cough you've had for 3 weeks is finally going away or if it's just morphed into a sinus infection and ... is that a cold sore? Crap, you're kidding me.
-Stay home from school.
-Power read 2 1/2 Roald Dahl books, but stop when "The Witches" is a little too scary and you're worried you might have nightmares. Then blast through "The Phantom Tollbooth" in about 4 hours.
-Pajamas and bed-head optional, but highly encouraged.
-Read the "BFG" a second time, but skip ahead to the exciting parts.
-Stay home from school.
-Commune with animals.
-Talk a lot about your feelings. Like, a lot -- like, for example, how you like animals better than people. And how you wish you were an animal. Maybe a unicorn. Yes, probably a unicorn. Or a tiger.
2. Bring the afflicted close.
-Make many small wool felt animals. Assume all design details will be dictated by someone else. Allow several hours.
-Paint 26 tiny toadstools and only slightly freak out when your girl wants to organize them all while they're still wet.
-Think about work. Think about what it would be like to work alone. Like, in New York or London or maybe Paris. Think about being 24 and ... oh, and RICH! ... working in Paris. With a wardrobe that doesn't include stretchy pants covered in cat hair. Yes, think about that.
-Rinse out the Vitamix.
-Master the analog clock.
-Announce the time frequently throughout the day. Because now you CAN.
-Cry for no reason.
-Cry for every reason.
-Master the dictionary. Okay. You totally knew how to do that already. Duh.
-Throw up smoothie.
-Lie on the bathroom floor.
3. Let the fever run its course.
-Attend "The Puppet Show that Lasts for One Hour."
-Listen to the description of the Many Feelings. Try to ignore Whiney Voice often accompanied by Baby Talk.
-Break up ... rather ... "facilitate kindness between" bickering children.
-Entertain the fleeting thought: "Maybe they'll both take a nap so I can wedge in an hour of un-interrupted work!" hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
-Okay, now wipe your eyes because that's some funny shit.
-Perform "The Puppet Show that Lasts for One Hour" with 3 intermissions. Do NOT let your brother watch. Scream, in fact, when he tries.
-Announce the time ... again. Get frustrated and start crying because crap if "5 minutes after 20" totally doesn't sound right and now you've forgotten how to tell time and it's probably because you're stupid. Except we don't say stupid.
-Except smoothies are stupid.
-Draw yourself a bath upstairs but return quickly because bathing by one's self is boring and besides, is that a puppet show I hear my sister performing?
4. Allow for a slow strong return.
-Complain about "The Witches" and explain that you would like the book removed from your Cozy Couch Area because the cover artwork makes you have a tummy ache. Really, you're feeling fine, it's just "The Witches" that makes you feel sick now. Blame your mother for this because she gave you the book and she should have known how sensitive you are to these things.
-Announce the time using the big hand and the little hand for Papa when he comes home.
-Announce that you will maybe perform "The Puppet Show that Lasts for One Hour" tomorrow at school. Because you will go there instead of staying home.
-Ignore dinner, no one wants it anyway, including you.
-Go for a long bike ride as soon as your husband walks in the door, airplane-weary, but still able to brush children's teeth and read (more!) and oversee pajamas (fresh!) and break up bickering (new techniques!).
-Pedal and pedal and pedal.
-Ignore the phlegm you keep coughing up and listen to Hilary Frank's voice in your earbud and know you aren't alone.
-You aren't alone as a mother. You aren't alone worrying about another mother's descent, the messy spiraling one, the rock bottom you're anticipating -- there, you've said it even though you told yourself you wouldn't here -- the root of your soul fever.
-Know this time with your own children will never come again and think about it in the most beautiful, most kind way possible. Shift your bitter thoughts through images and words, then present them to the world so you are left with a sweetness behind these days.
-Know it's okay to make this slight alteration in reality.
-Then wonder if your children would like Paris. Wonder if you even would.
Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.