The past few weeks defy description really. I am busy beyond comparison, for a combination of reasons that span a spectrum unthinkable in what some might describe as a normal life. I suppose I don’t lead a normal life really.
Since this blog is important to me and I want to at least give a hint to what I have been up to/ going through/ working on, I’ll post a few photos here, with probably less of the commentary any readers may have come to expect (do I even have any readers? outside of my family? I don’t know.)
So here goes…
Shepard Fairey was in town for a few weeks to open his retrospective at the Contemporary Arts Center here in Cincinnati. He pretty much rocks. I’d love to have the time and energy to write intelligently about his work, but that will have to wait for another post. Better yet, google him. Read about what he does and how he does it (there is much out there about him, more well written than I could ever hope to be), and I’m sure you’ll be hooked. He’s been wheat pasting a good bit of his work around town which has created quite a buzz. Some lovely diversions:
Fairey’s arrival in town has everyone abuzz, especially the young folks. I know this because I am currently working on a project with an amazing bunch of high school/ college age artists who adore Fairey’s work and are deeply inspired by his use of repeating patterns and politically charged imagery. Our project, slated to be installed at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Downtown Cincinnati, is going well. I am working through the ArtWorks organization and we are under the gun so to speak to get this thing ready and up by mid-April. This relief mural will be 25 feet wide and 13 feet tall and will be a permanent installation at the convention center. Needless to say, it’s huge and a lot of work. Here are some photos of the work in progress:
ok, so in the left side of the design, just below the column, there is a small area of bricks….. here they are:
Here’s the column, with historically high flood years marked:
Below is the beginnings of a painting of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s head. I am painting this. (!) Normally I am not a painter. It is not my usual choice as an artistic language, but I am learning. Tina and I are using some of the techniques used by painter Maxfield Parrish who utilized glazing and layering to create his amazing colorscapes. I am learning loads and am so thankful for this new skill. It’s a bit like water coloring and my use of watercolors shows. Even though the design is Tina’s, we can already tell which painting is mine. I find this fascinating. Like handwriting…..
Lots of mixed media on this project. Below are city scape images and some contrasted images of the kids working with us on the project. They will go into the “bubbles” in the design. Success is in the details as they say….
One of the reasons Tina asked me to be the teaching artist on this project is my “textural sensibility”. I like to work with textures and things that look like they grew there. There is plenty of opportunity to create this and have it work in our favor on this project. This piece has some “barnacle” like growths on it. We are working with a ton of river themed material and the stuff that grows under a river boat might look a little like this…. at least the way we imagine it!
Here’s Tina, painting in the first blue value layers on abolitionist John Isom Gaines.
Below is Jennie Porter’s portrait also just getting started by Tina. The blues will provide a lovely valued backdrop for all of the face paintings we plan to put into this design. Again, I am learning loads about layering and color. (can I just say here that Tina is genius personified?)
Here is a photo that may give you some sense of scale. It’s overwhelming how big this thing is…. but then again, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…..
That old elephant quote is a good one to keep on hand for life sometimes.
Art is not the only Big, Challenging, Overwhelming thing in my sphere lately. Anyone who has read this blog or knows me in any small way really, knows that I am in the midst of some hard stuff lately. This time last year we lost one of our own to a brutal tragedy. 13 year old Esme Kenney – friend, daughter, girlfriend and so much more, was killed while out on a jog, on a pretty day, March 7, 2009. It was the first time she had ever gone beyond the end of her driveway on her own. This past year has been one of the sort of grief that changes people in unexpected ways. None of us could have, in a million years, ever imagined ourselves as part of this story, and yet, here we are. In other posts I have chronicled some of what is happening to create a lasting artistic legacy to Esme, and I will continue to do so as we get Esme’s Sculpture built.
This week we marked the one year anniversary of Esme’s passing. She is missed by so many and it’s hard to even wrap words around that sentiment. Sadly, along with the anniversary, we have had to endure the trial of Esme’s killer. One day after the first anniversary of Esme’s death, her mom, my dear friend Lisa, testified in court as to what happened the day she found her only child to be missing.
As a navy wife, years ago, I had the honor and privilege to witness some good friends give birth to their children. Witnessing a mother giving birth is a wondrous and difficult thing. There is really nothing you can do as a friend, coach or “cheerleader”. It is a dance between mother and child. One can only merely witness. Surely you dads out there know how this is. Watching Lisa testify on monday reminded me quite a bit of this birthing process. I could only sit in the gallery of the court room and watch a mom do her thing. The only way she knew how. None of us could do it for her. We could only merely witness, as Lisa did the most difficult thing a Mother is ever called upon to do. She stood up and told her truth, Esme’s truth, as she knew it, on the day that she was killed. She was strong and vulnerable… and so powerful, as all good mothers are. I was in awe.
A week before the anniversary and just before the trial, a group of us headed down to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky to prepare for the days and weeks ahead. To fill our proverbial cups with that which feeds us. Some quiet, some time in nature, some togetherness with close friends. We created as close a circle of positive energy, song, love, art, music and sisterhood as we could. Just outside of the circle that we created as friends, was that of our families and network of more friends who made it possible for us to go away for a couple of days to be together at this difficult time. In the midst of the pressure filled time that I have chronicled above, I am fortunate to be working with a project manager with such flexibility that I was able to get away for this weekend. Same goes for my ever supportive spouse.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think the same goes for all of us. It just simply takes a village. Period. Below are some images from our time in the gorge…..
Lots of ice, with a hit of spring in the air….
even Buddha has boogers when it’s cold.
One afternoon I felt like a cat with the sun streaming in….
There were some wildly colored mushrooms in the woods. These are looking pretty deadly!
We concentrated on beauty all weekend. I have learned that fresh flowers are a necessity.
Sometimes this is what life feels like. but if we are all feeling the squeeze together, perhaps there are moments when it’s not so bad.