I love spending half an hour in the studio after all the visitors have left. Recalling shared conversations or intertwining harmonies in songs fuels inspiration. Open houses are for me both exhilarating and exhausting. I enjoy sharing stories about making my work with curious visitors. Selling pieces is always a thrill. Comparing notes and spending time with fellow artists is lovely. It's quiet now, and we'll welcome visitors again tomorrow from noon to 5 p.m. You might even catch a song or two between studios. Come see work by me and thejadedog.com in studio 311.
Many times I've said that I'd like to have the superpower of being in several places at once. With our kids' activities and all the arts events, political meetings and community activities I'm interested in, having the ability to attend several at the same time seems pretty awesome.
While I haven't developed the ability to physically be in several places at once, my artwork is simultaneously representing me this way. Please join me (where my body will actually be!) at the Hot Shops open house this weekend. I'm in Studio #311, where bead jeweler and sculptor Darcy Horn will also have work available. We'll have the door wide open from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. I'll slip down to John Miller's studio on the second floor Saturday evening to play some music, and we'd love to have you join us there, too!
Thirty paintings are displayed at the Shelterbelt Theatre. The prairie-inspired pieces complement the theatre's current production of "Catherland," a Nebraska ghost musical. I was delighted to be at the opening night performance, and the music and acting is very strong. Please go see it. All sales of my artwork there will help support the theatre, which specializes in producing new plays.
Attending the "Flat Places: Deep Identities" symposium hosted by the Center for Great Plains Studies allowed me to learn from ecologists, geologists, writers, poets, photographers, film-makers, theologists and cartographers of all kinds. My mind is still swimming with the conversations and ideas that emerged. It's so good to get out of the studio periodically to learn about what other people are working on. I'll be able to more deeply consider some of the emerging possibilities as I drive between home and Milwaukee to pick up art from the Walker's Point Center for the Arts exhibit of Midwest Artist Studios project members.
During two Saturday mornings in January, four Girl Scouts visited my studio and worked together to make two large paintings on paper. The paintings are now framed and ready to deliver tomorrow for this weekend's ArtVenture auction, a fundraising event for the Great Plains Girls Scouts.
I showed the girls how to mix oil paints with cold wax medium and ways to build layers and create textures and patterns. They made small pieces for themselves and collaborated to make the two large paintings. They were quiet at first, but once they began painting, they relaxed and chatted. With two 11th graders and two 6th graders, I wondered how the age differences would play out. They chose to work in pairs with an older girl working with a younger girl on each painting.
Working with the girls allows me to learn, too. I ask and answer questions, offer possibilities and watch as they come to their own decisions and creations. Their hands are the only ones involved in making these paintings. I see my role as introducing materials, tools and ideas and then giving them the space to explore. From choosing the color palette to titling the work, it all comes from the girls.
These two pieces are matted and framed and ready to display. I hope a buyer will be see the imagination and joy that made these pieces come alive. Join us Saturday to celebrate girls leadership, creativity and energy!
Realizing it's been some time since I wrote here, I'm getting back to it. Here are some of the books I've been reading as I consider visits to natural and restored prairies this summer. Research has always been a foundation for all my creative endeavors, and sometimes it's easy to remain immersed in that part of the work, following a thread of interest through history and numerous writers and other interpreters.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I am reading PrairyErth for the first time. I bought the book for my stepfather shortly after it was released and intended to read it myself. I didn't. Now it's more than 25 years later, and I am reveling in this deep map and looking forward to where it might lead me when I emerge from between its covers. Next up will likely be Deep Map Country: Literary Cartography of the Great Plains, as I want to read most of it before I hear author Susan Naramore Maher speak at the symposium "Flat Places: Deep Identities" at the end of the month.
The wheat stalks shown in the image above came from the last crop my stepdad planted in 2010. They are held in a textured ceramic vase my daughter made in middle school. The silk scarf of autumn colors and turquoise highlights is a new favorite, a recent gift from my mom, who also gave me Wander: The Kansas Flint Hills in Words and Images. It's comforting to me to have these tangible reminders of family connections, even as I wander.