Tag Archives: over the rhine

Back To Center

“To Paint is to Love Again.”  ~Henry Miller

We are home from Maine, landlocked once again to Ohio.

Ohio is not without its beauty to be sure.  There have been errands to run, adjustments to be made, momentous birthdays to acknowledge and celebrate.

Suddenly I realize it has been a coon’s age since I had my paints out mixing and dancing their way around the palette.  I must dive back in.

August breezes, when they blow, are humid and hot.  I figure this weather is a strange combination of the dooming of climate-change and good old-fashioned late August in the mid-west.  How are we to know?

Storms do break up the monotony of late summer.  They make for dramatic skies and monumental cloud forms.

From the West, always, the clouds gather.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of age that clouds and birdsong catch my attention now more than ever.   I seek to paint them in between the expectations of a busy, modern life.

This past weekend there were tunes, on tunes, on tunes.  Again I remember – this makes for intense happiness in my heart – I recommit.  The painting and the music are inextricably linked.  I may not be very good at either, comparatively speaking.  But each makes my small heart sing.  And surely this is a measure of something in the world.

Something. –  in the epoch of our own humanity.  We are but a blip in the matrix of the Universe as we know it, and yet we seek these bits of joy and meaning like spiritual breadcrumbs of a sort.

There are more tunes slated for this evening when a few of us gather to choose the autumnal soundtrack for the Riley School of Irish Music.  Tomorrow is a road trip to settle one of the smalls (newly returned from western adventures) into his next adventure in grad school.  It is good to have him near at hand once again.

Travel beckons again soon.  I find myself already getting organized for a weekend trip to Sheboygan in September and a longer journey back to Ireland in October.  Some day if I truly settle in one place, it will be a strange day indeed.  I embrace this traveling side of myself and am grateful for those loved ones who keep the dogs fed and the home fires burning when I am away.  It does not escape me that I am truly fortunate.

When I travel, I travel lightly.  I do not plan to take the oils to Ireland this go round as I’ll be on the go more often than not.  But I have ordered a new sketchbook and I have extra watercolorey books to pack as well.

The goldening, autumnal season will see me diving back into a world of words each morning once again to find my way through the dark of winter.  There is nothing quite like pouring a cup of coffee, lighting a candle and putting pen to paper.  This might keep me sane in the dark months to come.  But so will hitting the road, discovering and re-discovering new places and new tunes.

What plans do you have this late-summer/early-autumn to feed your soul?  How do you survive winters in general?  What have you drawn or painted lately?  As always, I’d love to know.

 

spin

When it rains it pours, so the old saying goes, and it’s been pouring here.  I am in the midst of what I knew would be a busy, active time and I am just riding the waves as they come.  Last weekend was the Esme Kenney Memorial Benefit Concert.  It was, for lack of a more descriptive or colorful word, amazing.  Musicians Kim Taylor, Over-the-Rhine, Ric Hordinski, The Hiders, Jay Bolotin, and a few Riley School of Irish Music folks combined their talents to create an evening of fundraising, community, memorial and love, the likes of which I have never seen.  Artists from all genres donated items and gift certificates to outfit a spectacular silent auction.  Our committee, working so hard to make this incredible installation a reality, is now helping artist Jessie Henson get all of the pieces in place to get glass blown and steel fabricated to get the work built.  It’s a wild ride and it is giving all of us grieving for Esme a place to put our energies.  Something positive to hang onto and work for in the midst of the upcoming 1 year anniversary and impending criminal trial.  The night was full of magic and tears and special moments.  Jack not only played with Jeni and Simone from Riley School, but was invited by Kim to play a song with her.  I cried.

Meanwhile, the project I am proud to be a part of down at ArtWorks is now underway.  Below is a 3-d model that tina built to indicate all of the various pieces that will be incorporated into this huge relief mural (22 feet wide, 13 feet tall – ginormous!)  We have been handed what seems to be a dream team of teenagers who are our apprentice artists.  They are brilliant and are already working together to put their talents to work on Tina’s design.  Tina and I are working together to formulate further development of the overall design and to get the kids prepared for their in-process presentation to the folks at the Convention Center next week.  I think they will do a great job.

There are parts of this design that will involve painted portraits of historical figures from Cincinnati, while other parts will be made up of mixed media techniques to create more textural areas of interest.  Below are some “bricks” that will comprise a wall area in one part.

This is a rendering of Jennie Davis Porter, known for spearheading educational opportunities for african american children in the 1800’s.  As we explore Cincinnati’s history through this project, I’ll keep you posted and introduce you to our team of artists.  Busy as we will likely be, it’s already proving to be a tremendous amount of fun!

The ArtWorks project is not my only iron in the fire.  I am also continuing my work in the world of keeping a sketchbook.  Tonight is what we hope will be the final home-based pilot workshop for Drawing Down the Vision. We have polished our process enough to take it live to companies who are looking to inject some creativity into their work place.  Workshop participants will arrive to find their supplies wrapped up in cool little pods that I built.  They’ll get some fun pens, a small sketchbook to start collecting ideas in a new way, along with the “Atlas” which will guide them through the various exercises we have developed.  Adam and I are looking forward to a fun evening of drawing and looking at communication and productivity from a different perspective.

Next week I will be the visiting artist at UC’s Clermont campus in their Art Department.  I’ll be lecturing and then providing a workshop for a group of students in a drawing class.  This is such a tremendous opportunity and I am really looking forward to sharing my approach to the documentation of life and work via the sketchbook.  In a few weeks, I am back to where I essentially began to go public with all of this sketchy-ness in the first place, the Art Academy of Cincinnati.  Bookmaker Cody Calhoun and I will be co-teaching the “Make a Book/ Fill a Book” course which essentially combines my class with hers.  This will be new to both of us and we are really excited to get started!  The class is apparently full with a wait list so our students appear to be as excited as we are.

All of this is really extroverted and it’s good exercise for someone who generally likes to keep things fairly quiet.  But shy as I am, I do love people.  And I am currently working with some amazing people and getting the chance to present to lots of others who are interested in what I do.  It’s humbling and fabulous.  And I am grateful for it.

I’ll keep you posted in the weeks to come.

coming up for air

My friend Doug reminded me the other day that I had not posted any fleadh results on my blog as I had promised before heading to Detroit for the big weekend of Irish Music. It was indeed a weekend filled with music and very little sleep. It was a chance to catch up with friends from other cities whom we only get to see at such events. Someone was quoted as saying “would we even get together for such a weekend if we didn’t have a poor excuse such as a competition?” After it is all said and done, most of us here in Cincinnati agree that it is not about the results of the competition. We have a very closely knit community of Irish musicians here in our area, but we don’t have the numbers that some of the bigger cities have. That said, the Riley School kids ceili band was awarded 2nd place in that competition. Lots of Riley kids also placed in the many solo competitions available to them (Jack got 2nd in Mandolin!). It was a successful weekend on many fronts. Unfortunately, the one thing that went wrong is my forgetting to bring a camera! But if you click the link above, you can get the general feel for the weekend from those wonderful photos. Oh, and by the way, the over 18 “adult” ceili band (i.e. “The Little Ceili Band that Could”) didn’t win a prize. But we got up there and played fairly well, despite our nerves.

Once we got home and settled from the Fleadh weekend, the wild end-of-the-school-year pace set in and I have been trying simply to just keep up! There have been lots of concerts and recitals, and celebrations for the older kids moving onto their next adventures. Jack, my 7th grader, was just fitted this week for a pair of glasses. Maddie is slowly putting together her new Irish Dance ensemble since she just acquired her first solo dress. Tonight we worked on a crown which will mach the dress. I think we had success…

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In spite of what seems like an endless spring puppetry schedule, I have managed to make a little art here and there. There is an area of Downtown Cincinnati called Over-The-Rhine which is filled with the most amazing architecture and a varied assortment of residents and businesses. My kids go to school in this neighborhood and so as a family, we spend quite a lot of time there. As many inner city areas do, OTR faces some challenges in dealing with crime and poverty, but a core group of dedicated individuals are working toward making OTR the best it can be. One recent project is the GreenBird House project. These wonderful “green” bird houses were distributed to local artists who then in turn put their own mark on them. The newly decorated bird houses then go up for auction, proceeds going to the Over-The-Rhine Community Housing project. Below is my bird house. Perhaps it’s the presence of all the shiny Irish Dance stuff laying around, or the fact that it’s spring, but I stepped out of my usual aesthetic to make something just this side of ridiculous. I had a lot of laughs working on it!

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Just a few more days of puppetry and being chained to a school schedule. I need a dose of artistic meandering and allowing time to flow as it should. More time to sketch and blog and notice the little stuff.