Friday, August 28, 2009

Dark Clouds with Silver Linings

A few weeks ago, Alyson Stanfield of ArtBizBlog wrote about artists, the economy and "pop-up" galleries. Since reading her post, I have had two opportunities to mention both my experience with storefront or alternative space and Alyson's Blog with her resources for the business of art. Link to Alyson's thoughts about using temporary exhibit space.

The first conversation was in a chance meeting with a newly graduated art and design student. I was pleased to discover that she is interested in promoting other artists and eventually having a gallery, but I was sorry she felt she needed to put that on hold while she earned "real money." Reality says she is probably right. I suggested starting in non-traditional bricks and mortar ways.

The second conversation was in a phone call from an old friend which was full of questions about planning a gallery in today's economy. Words about finding quality work from loyal artists, unique promotion and ethics filled the minutes. As I made the suggestion to find Alyson's Blog as a starting point, her keyboard clicked and she suddenly said, "It's every thing I need!"

I could tell them both many stories about my involvement with "free" or alternative space over the last 40 years:

* a store window mini-exhibit of traditional crafts during a downtown festival;

* a derelict building which offered "no heat, no lights, and no rent" in an effort to clear the building of vagrants (the building was saved, renovated and now houses the art department of a state university;)

* a couple of 10-20 day special exhibits in "For Rent" or "For Sale" properties which needed exposure;

* studio/gallery/teaching space in both old and new buildings with too many vacancies which needed to be occupied (in lieu of rent: regular classes, openings, meetings which 'promoted' the building!)

In most cases, liability, heat and lights were provided by the owner. . . .

My favorite has been a downtown project which involved a permanent transition for six previously unrentable spaces. It was possible with the cooperation of the artists, the City, Federal facade grants, and the property owners. Artists got free rent for one year in exchange for making, showing and/or teaching art, promoting downtown and bringing feet to the street. Shops, restaurants and bars followed the artists and, although there is no more free rent, fifteen years later it is still working.

Art is powerful stuff.

The presence of Art in a studio or gallery, however temporary, has been a win-win for the artists and the properties.
The presence of people who are drawn to Art has made a difference in my communities in really unexpected ways.

Empty storefronts with Art;
ark clouds with silver linings.

BushStrokes (c) AAB
Cloud photos from my iPhone

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Color of the Week: Yellow Happy Chair

Two year old Belle seems to need time out more than most, but she could never quite figure out what she was supposed to do in the chair and how long was long enough. "When can I get down?" became a repetitive whine.
"Do I Have to Sit Here?"

Finally, her Mamma remembered being sent to her room to look under the bed for a better face -- one with a smile would do -- and said, "Until you get a happy face."
"Is This a Good Smile?"

No more punishing time outs! Attitude adjustments are so much easier in the Yellow Happy Chair.
"I'm Happy now!"

I think I need a Yellow Happy Chair.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

iPhone Photos - Belle in Yellow Chair:
"Do I Have to Sit Here?"
"Is This a Good Smile?"
"I'm Happy now!"


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hours for Watching - Spiders

Spiders building webs and unbuilding webs"
When we go to the little summer house, we know we will be as close to nature as if we were living in a tent -- well actually, we do call it a "tent." We are not surprised to find a bird's nest in the book case or a squirrel peeping through the gable vent or even a spider web hanging in a doorway.

It has its charm. It has the Hours for Watching.

A year or so ago, a spider dropped down each day from the ceiling fan to a flowering plant in the center of the dining table. We watched her gentle movements every day for almost a week as we ate or read or played games around the big table. And then one day, visitors came and one of them said, "Oh, you have a spider!" and she quickly swept it away. We were dismayed. We did not see our spider again.

This year in June, another spider found the table. During the night, she built a large web from the lights to chairs to table. Although no one bothered her, somehow she knew when it was time and, each day, she drew in the web leaving none behind.

We found other spiders and other webs and marveled at their habits -- "How did it sail across that space?" -- and their patterns -- "Look at this design!" -- and their colors -- "What is that big black and yellow one writing?"

Watching spiders has been a family activity for many years and night-time spider hunts have quelled the arachnophobia of many a little cousin. Searching for those little reflecting green eyes with a flash-light placed just above the eyebrows makes it hard to remember to be scared. And finding a spider at the end of the flashlight's beam is too just exciting.

In July, Nature Friend magazine published my younger daughter's article "What Lives in Your Yard? How to Hunt for Spiders." I think it's appropriate that her very first published piece is about a tradition for the children (and adults) in our family. I'm proud of her work and delighted that we have had summers with hours for watching - spiders.

BushStrokes (c) AAB
iPhone photos BIG spiders


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quote of the Week: Letting the Other Half Out!

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."

E.L. Doctorow

I spotted this quote while checking on something not related to house renovation nor grandchildren and immediately paired writing with painting -- two of my favorite creative pursuits.

Doctorow suggests that schizophrenia is acceptable, but could it also be that it is a little necessary? I often think I do my best work when "I" am "out of control;" when that "other" self speaks. I sometimes look back at paragraphs or paintings and wonder who strung the words or brushed the paint.

A good thing. Letting the other half out!

BushStrokes (c) AAB
iPhone photo:
Two Halves

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hours for Watching

Time to Watch.
Not watching Time.

Spiders building webs and unbuilding webs.
Children climbing, running, swimming.
Little girls snoozing in my bed.
Cats sleeping.
Birds warning of cats not sleeping.

Hammocks with no sketching.
Swings with no writing.
Porches with no painting.

Shadows lengthening.
Raindrops clinging in last light.
Sunsets spreading across the sky.

My days. The minutes filled with Hours for Watching.

BushStrokes (c) AAB
iPhone photo: ShadowPlay

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Color of the Week: "Birthday"

When 18 month-old Lucy and her Mamma came to my house to live for a while, Belle had not arrived. Now Belle has turned two and Lucy has just become a sparkling four year old and they have moved just five miles away (close enough for regular visits, but in another state!)

We celebrated last week with The Cake which Lucy "visited" each week as she and I grocery shopped together. It was a lovely party with four generations (as usual) of family and friends. Susan and I surprised everyone with {{ fanfare }} The Cake. Lucy loved it and all the girls called out the names of the princesses which paraded across the castle turrets.

Lucy's favorite color is pink, and there was lots of it, but for this birthday, she wanted the blue-green-lavender sea colors of Arial the Mermaid and was delighted with this present.

Lucy was excited and made sure her hat was on just right.

She let Belle wear the tiara -- even if it was backwards.

She quietly opened the birthday cards and looked at the pictures.

She could not believe the presents! "Just what I wanted!"

She blew out the candles. She already knew it was delicious, especially the purple frosting! For a four-year-old, it was a perfect party!

When I tried to select a photo or two for the Color of the Week, I was surprised at the number of impressions which came from just a couple of hours; at how many faces of Lucy there were. As I try to get back in the studio in this quiet house, I must remember that no matter what the subject for painting or writing, there might be another thought . . . another point of view . . . another process . . . another surface . . . another way to see "Birthday."

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Problem with Naked Ladies

Back in March, there were promises for the spring and summer. Daffodils trumpeted warmer days. Wide straps of lily foliage announced where summer bulbs might bloom. Wisps of fragrance led the nose on treasure hunts. Trees began to wake with a slow fuzziness and nubbins hinted of leaves to come.

I carefully marked my calendar with anticipated dates; those regular irregular events which occur until September's Labor Day. Family weekends, art days, alumni activities, and concerts in the park, along with enough vacation weeks and days in the country to make things interesting. Just enough. Gonna be a good summer, I thought.

So in July, when I thought I knew what to expect, I was surprised at the sudden appearance of pink buds at the end of long skinny stems near the edge of the Green. I couldn't remember what should be there. Yet, there they were; right in the middle of summer -- the elegant pink lilies, their wide green foliage discarded days ago. The Naked Ladies.

"But, I have made plans! I have work to do! I have people to see, grandchildren to enjoy, paintings to create . . ." I thought. No matter. I checked the blooms in morning sunlight, in the slanting sunset and under cloudy skies. Like other things which pop up on summer days, they demanded my attention . . . .


Scheduled adventures were interrupted by stops in the Emergency Room. . . .

House projects resulted in a few injuries. . . .

The sunsets took longer or were more glorious or had more color than usual. . . .

NOT ONE could be ignored.

And that is the Problem with Naked Ladies.

BushStrokes (c) AAB


To Fill the Empty Days

Since late March, I have neglected this diary -- even after promising, Dear Blog, to stop ignoring you. I have to agree with my friends Robin and Karen that these pages register the thoughts in my days in unexpected ways. They remind me of who I am. Sometimes, they remind others of who they are. And so . . . I shall begin again to fill the empty days.

BushStrokes (c) AAB