Thursday, March 26, 2009

What A Day This Would Be

NASCAR is my # 1 passion!

Anonymous, a high school classmate

One of the interesting things about working on a 50th High School reunion is getting to know old classmates again. Some who I loved are not so enticing anymore. Some who I thought were a bit nerdy are now v-e-e-ry interesting. Some seem to be content to just sit on the sidelines. Some have schedules which fill a day book and not just with doctors' appointments! I'm not even going to think where I fit.

When I got this statement in the bio of a former middle school librarian, I was amazed. Just a simple "NASCAR is my #! passion!" Positive and powerful. I wondered if other classmates could speak with such conviction about their passions. Few, I think.

As I looked for a photo to illustrate the quote, I rediscovered the one of VanGull on his perch which looks a little like the beginnings of a painting. There is just something about his expression -- I am who I am. Positive and powerful.

I thought about the combination of the librarian's Passion and the bird's Attitude. What if we all came for the Reunion with a little of each? What a Reunion. What if we all came to the studio with a little of each? What a day this would be.

My reunion blog post is here

Photo: VanGull on his perch.
BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, March 23, 2009

Confirmation of Me

Not many things bring tears to my eyes, but they brimmed over as I listened to the genteel Southern drawl of my friend, Starkey. He was the last to read at the Author's Club annual night at the museum.

Each year, paintings in the Morris Museum of Art become the subject of a poem, a short story, an essay, a little play. With a couple of exceptions, the presentations were based on Edith Caywood's exhibition of narrative interiors. Caywood's paintings -- with floral patterns overwhelming the space and the figures -- have been compared to the story-telling of the best Southern writers, so it was a proper fit. Three readings were based on the same painting which was a delight. The interpretations were poignant, humorous, and clever. It was an entertaining evening.

But it was when Starkey Flythe stood to read that the audience waited. He began to speak his own words about art and us and our relationship to art; or aaht, as he would say.

He talked about the closing of Lascaux and the damage from visitors to the cave paintings -- our presence destroying the very things we revere. He said that it was suggested that one breathe as little as possible during the fifteen allotted minutes in the Arena Chapel; that it is easy to do because the Giotto paintings are breathtaking.

And then he began to talk about Art. The words continued as polished and regular as pearls strung on a chord. Each one perfectly chosen and perfectly spoken. Each one confirming art and life. Somehow, each one a confirmation of me.

Photos: Mamma's azaleas two days ago.

BushStrokes (c) AAB


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Color of the Week: Green

St. Patrick's Day not withstanding, this has been a week of green. The winter blooms have ended and Spring is coming!

This week, I braided the last of the snow-drops, cut away the battered liriope and watched the fig tree get fuzzy.

We wore our green, stood on the street and watched the Parade. We sowed broccoli seeds and watched the green nubbins appear.

We are checking catalogs and planning the garden. We are beginning to talk about the Easter Bunny and colored eggs.

For now, we 'll settle for Green on this day after the Equinox.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fond Memories

I am sometimes reminded of the great opportunities which have come to me across the years. Things I knew at the time were pretty cool, but which usually involved a lot of detail and a lot of work and, at the end, I just moved to the next project.

This week, the reminder was the unexpected death of Will Fahnoe. Will was a good artist and he contributed much to the arts community in our area. And he was my friend.

Twenty years ago, when I moved back "home," Will was one of the first artists I met after I was asked to serve as the Director (volunteer) of the Mayor's Program to Spotlight Local Artists. I visited his studio to select some work to hang in the Mayor's office. I was impressed by the variety of work which he produced in such a tiny space.

Over the next five years, I met and exhibited the work of almost one hundred artists -- from high schoolers to eighty year olds -- who had been recognized in some way outside of our town for their art and most, like Will, I did not know. But, Will was one of the ones whose path began to cross mine and who I could count on for support whenever I needed a group of artists.

When I began to look for participants in Artists Row on Broad Street, he was among the first I called. I knew he had outgrown his small bedroom studio and that one of the five storefronts in the City-sponsored project would be perfect for him. He had a good following of patrons and students, so he could afford the expenses of the rent-free building. He hung some track lights, set up a model stand for Tuesday and Thursday figure drawing classes and hung some paintings -- and some curtains. We had selected buildings which shared a wall, so Will became my neighbor.

For almost ten years, I was involved in the Sister City program -- another opportunity for me. I made my first international trip alone with 19 wooden crates as my personal baggage and experienced Japan for the first time. On my third trip there, I made all the arrangements for six artists and their paintings to go as well. Will was one of the six -- the only male.

As we approached the Atlanta Airport, I realized that I did not have my passport! I asked Will to take responsibility until I could arrive two days later. He handled the chore with good grace, but seemed relieved to give me back the reins. Each of us had a host family and partnered several days with Kansai artists for touring and art discussions. Will's considerable expertise and charm made my job easier.

When we returned, the seven of us planned a show of our Japanese paintings. Will created a delicate drawing for the invitation and painted a large image high on the studio wall -- the contrast of a small pen & ink drawing and a building sized mural being typical of his daily output. His good cheer and jovial laugh rang out during the evening of the opening reception.

Because of Will's death, I have been thinking of other special times in my life. When I returned from a trip to France and was no longer his Artist's Row neighbor, he opened his studio/gallery to me for my show. When I was a guest instructor in France for a group of Canadians, he was again one of six artists who traveled with me. He often greeted me with an insult and a hug -- and that big smile -- whether it had been three days or three months since our last greeting.

Our community gathered in celebration of Will Fahnoe last night. We will miss his drawing skills, his spirited living, his brusque ways, and his gentleness. I will miss his participation in my life and will cherish these fond memories.

My photo of Will Fahnoe on train in Japan. Coincidentally, the train car was #1016; the same as his studio street address at the time.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nita's In My Skirt!

Every so often, I pick up the freebie magazine/ newspapers around town, mostly to catch up on who has the latest creative ideas or what others are doing with their leisure time. Sometimes just to have something to peruse while I am waiting.

Skirt! magazine is my favorite of the monthlies. Not just another entertainment weekly rag, it is geared for women and presents its stuff in clever themes -- This month's issue focuses on Perfect Timing. Its regional coverage is disguised by some local ads and features. The ads are well designed. The copy is smart, sharp and timely -- "Aargh! did I just say that?!" But turns out to be in line with my time.

I wrote last week about the influence of two women and their groups - one in Florida and one in Georgia. Then I read in Nita Leland's blog about her plein air group in Ohio which has been together since 1975. Nita is a very special person who teaches and judges watercolor and collage across the country, yet she finds time to paint in her studio, keep up with her old friends, love a couple of wonderful grandchildren, teach a group of local painters, answer questions of friends and strangers on several email painting lists AND write books and articles. She seems to have Perfect Timing.
So, I was surprised when I picked up this month's issue. I turned to Skirt! publisher, Nikki Hardin's, Browse column about the best books and music! To quote Skirt!, "Synchronicity runs on Universal Time." There I found a little spread on "The New Creative Artist."

Perfect Timing.

Nita's in my Skirt!

Photos: Cover of Skirt! magazine
Browse column featuring Nita Leland's newest book, "The New Creative Artist."

A quote from Skirt!: "­Nita Leland believes that creativity can be learned, and her book is designed to show you how. You don’t have to be a visual artist to have fun with the activities (110+) and give your creative muscles a workout. "
Cover of the book features a painting by Cheryl D. McClure who was one of the six in my French Residency.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quote of the Day - Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."

I pulled a paragraph from another blog because it spoke to me. Not expecting to use it here, I only noted that it had been quoted by Nelson Mandela and was from writings by Marianne Williamson. (apologies to the blogger.)

This is only part of a paragraph which has great and wonderful thoughts, but I cannot get past this one yet. My inability to reach for 'beyond' is sometimes my nemesis -- perhaps, indeed, my deepest fear.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Pomegranate Award

If I gave out awards -- well, who says I can't? -- I'd give one in honor of the Pomegranate. It's a strange and wonderful fruit which is sometimes difficult to grasp; it should be opened carefully without cutting. The inside is filled with irregular sections of juicy little red seeds which are separated by thin white membranes. Each section's shape is formed by its relationship to the ones next to it. I used the pomegranate as the symbol for a gallery I owned once up a time; I still think it worked! And that's not even getting into the whole Persephone myth and goddess of spring and creativity . . .

To me, artists and their creativity are like this: holding fast to their own seeds of creativity while touching and influencing the shapes of others. And usually in places and ways which are sometimes difficult for others to grasp.

So I think today, I'll just do it. I'll give out The Pomegranate Award. Two of them. To two women and the groups they influence.

I often mention Martha Marshall in my ramblings. She fills her daily blog with links to interesting websites, shares notes on her creative processes, and generously acknowledges other creative folks.

Martha was one of the founding members of BRAVA which was organized
in 2001 as a way to come together for sharing as artists -- inspirations, business, encouragement, exhibition opportunities, ideas and . . . lunch!
They've even held day long sessions to discuss individual and group goals! They say they are "a group of women artists in Florida's Tampa Bay* area, dedicated to the stirring up of the status quo!" Indeed, these women have raised their own levels of excellence in productivity, imagination and creative energies which has resulted in work which is unique to each and exciting for their patrons.

In getting to know Martha, I have learned much about real creativity.

More than twenty-five years ago, I met Nancy Schultz. Soon after, she asked a few women to join her each week to paint outside. "Gasp! this is hot-as-heck Augusta, GA " and this was way before Plein Air Painting was cool. But, a few began to join her in downtown spots and the group "Women on Paper"** began.

The numbers have changed over the years;
some of the faces have come and gone and come again. They have encouraged each other through painter's block, critiqued new work and encouraged new directions. They have donated awards money to watercolor societies and paintings for fund raisers. They have quietly painted the town and made a name for themselves.

Nancy's gentle, yet no-nonsense manner
has guided them through the seasons and through group exhibitions from local venues to the Governor's Mansion. Last month, this group of accomplished painters celebrated with a 20th Anniversary Show. The gallery was filled with family, friends and patrons.

It was a show of work of Women on Paper, but it was a tribute to Nancy.

Loosely organized, faithfully supported art groups are rare. So, to Martha who I met because of the Internet and to Nancy who I met at a local art event and their women, I offer The Pomegranate Award.

*Brandon/Valrico area of Florida, near Tampa -- hence the name "Brava." Founding members include Martha Marshall, Candace Knapp, Margaret Conte, Kim Radatz, Lyla Haggard and Lisa Landsman.
**Women on Paper includes Nancy Schultz, Caroline Swanson, Karen Banker, Lauren Kerbelis, Ingrid Hofer, Lillie Morris, Gail Smith and Frances Wells.

Pomegranates in Burt's Bowl
M. Marshall (l) planning a Day of Art with Friends
N. Schultz (c) and Two - Women on Paper

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Is March 10th!

The bitter cold of the last weeks in February have been chased away. The grass is growing in the warming sun and I have been torn between working on indoor projects and the need for clearing winter debris in the yard.

My bright orange string trimmer and I took a break to enjoy the afternoon with Lucy and Belle. Later I played with the Animoto application which Martha has used so beautifully with her abstract paintings. I had done one or two on my iPhone, so technically, this is not my first. Now, if I can just figure out how to embed it here.

It is hard to believe this is March 10th!

Monday, March 09, 2009

I Miss You

My Dear Blog,

How could I have been away so long? It doesn't seem possible that so many days have gone by without a note from me to you. I must confess: I have been unfaithful. There is another blog in my life which as focused my attention on the 50th Reunion of my High School Class. It lives at 59Musketeers and I visit it often to leave little notes. The affair will be over on May 2; I promise.

You, dear Blog, have a special spot in my heart. As I look back on those weeks when I don't complete the thoughts and entrust them to your care, I do have the notes. Yet somehow, it's not the same. Maybe I can find a way to make it up, to fill in the blanks, to share some photos of special days. I'll try.

You, dear Friend,
--hold my comings and my goings in ways which aren't shared with others.
--accept words and images which reflect my ideas and inspirations even when they are a little strange.
--allow me the simple reporting on the observations of my days.

I miss you.

photo: Cover of 1959 Yearbook
Academy of Richmond County, est. 1784

BushStrokes (c) AAB