Last week saw the start of preparatory classes for the Taos trip. The first class was, as always, wonder-full!! We spent time pouring over tons of books, both the lovely published kind that showcase the art of keeping an illuminated journal, and, the messier ones that I bring to the table, equally as beautiful in their ability to display both my sketches as well as stuff like to-do lists.
Students did a series of collages as a warm up for what they will do with the covers of their sketchbooks. I was excited to share with them my new book from collage artist Randel Plowman, from whom I learned this quick and dirty, small scale collage exercise.
It was fun to see each other’s work after this exercise. Already, students can see for themselves the distinct visual voices they each bring to the table. This is what art is all about. Another way to document our lives and communicate our truth. (and, just to note here, I was not texting on my phone. I was cueing up the Beatles. A shout out to my trusty right-hand gal, Julie, for some of these snap shots!)
The rest of the class was spent beginning a relationship with our books. This is done with a collage on the cover and perhaps a meaningful quote inside to set the tone and intention for how we approach life with a sketchbook. Especially, a travel experience!! And what better way to write out a quote than with an old Royal typewriter??
With life being what it is, work, kids and their schedules, gardens etc, we don’t often take the time to explore our own city of Cincinnati through the lens of a tourist. When I head to the Over the Rhine area (i.e. OTR) I’m usually headed to a meeting at the Art Academy or to teach. But this weekend, some dear friends came to visit from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and we took a rather gastronomical approach to touring the city. Along with some time at Findlay Market, dinner at the Senate, Jazz at the Blue Wisp, we treated ourselves to a tour of the historic brewery district in OTR. Beer and the making of it are wrapped up in the history of Cincinnati and it was fascinating to walk around and imagine what life must’ve been like when German beer was the center of commerce down in Over the Rhine. Urban archeology is a fascinating thing, and that’s essentially what this tour was all about. We walked through dilapidated buildings and old underground lager tunnels. The weather this weekend was brutally hot, in the 90’s and humid, but we managed to find shady spots along the way where we learned about the history of brewing in Cincinnati. And the lager tunnels, being carved by hand into the steep hillsides, were a huge treat, as they were quite cool!
These are hops, actually growing up a wire alongside a row home so typical to Over the Rhine.
In spite of these buildings being mostly abandoned for many years, they are filled with signs of old times and history.
In the upper floors, the brewing process would start and work it’s way down to eventual storage in the cellars.
We could feel the cool air coming out of the cellars in the hillside, much like a true cave!!
The cellars were filled with all kinds of shafts that let out carbon dioxide back in the day. These places were creepy enough to be a film set!!! But we didn’t want to leave again into the heat!!
After our tour, we were able to enjoy a crafted brew which did hit the spot in the heat of the day. And we continued our tour of Cincinnati later in the evening with live bluegrass music at the Comet. A few of these guys play at a bluegrass jam session on mondays and my son Jack has sat in with his mandolin on occasion. It was great to listen to these fantastic musicians and to continue our visit with friends.
It has been a wonderful weekend. Full of friendship (they brought us some new bits of pottery!), and the gift of down time to enjoy this amazing city we live in. I am grateful for it. Being Memorial Day weekend, we did allow time for remembering those we’ve lost, which is always important. A nice balance between somber memorial and soaking in the gifts we have in front of us this very moment. The gifts of friendship, time, a sense of place and of right work. May these gifts shine in your life as this summer unfolds…..