Seeking Sanctuary

This is a very big elephant. She is about the size and shape of the one that likes to sit hanging out on my chest much of the time in the form of a quietly anxious feeling that doesn’t like to let up. There’s often not a set reason for this feeling and learning to name it and own it have really helped me to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. So today, this is where I am. Things around the house are still in shambles but moving forward a little bit every day. I am beginning to really look forward to having our space back to some semblance of normal. I realize how much my home and work space operate as a sanctuary for me and that through the bulk of this renovation, that has not been the case. Here is a surround view of my studio which, for now, holds much of our future kitchen, living room and dining room…. oh yeah, and my studio, of course!

This evening there is an art show opening at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. It is a collection of work by the artists who teach community education courses there and I am honored to have a couple of pieces of my work in the show. Tomorrow I get to spend the entire day at Northern Kentucky University making art at a workshop run by Randel Plowman. I have been collecting old magazines and other stuff for collage as well as picking stuff up on walks. It should prove to be a good time and a good escape from my chaotic home and anxious mind set.

Life is Full

I had cause to celebrate yesterday as I was able to pick up my new flute from Dave and Marlene at Celtic Lands Irish Flutes.  It is gorgeous and has a lovely sound already, even though I have not adjusted to playing it yet.  Every flute is slightly different and so a flute player has to adjust to the instrument over time.  I am really, really thrilled to have it!

Dave’s flutes all come with a case but I wanted something a little more funky than a gun case, plus I need something to carry my whistles as well.  So my son Jack and I scoured some antiquey stores and found a cute vintage Samsonite suit case into which I built foam and supports to keep the instruments safe and sound when traveling.

Every month on the Full Moon, some of my artist friends and I get together to celebrate this monthly natural occurrence as well as our intuitive, feminine way of making art.  Yesterday was the Full Moon so last night Lisa, who just landed a position teaching ceramics, came over with some clay and taught me how to make lovely spherical rattles that, when I looked at them, reminded me of the moon that brought us together.  Here’s Lisa’s nearly complete…

And here are mine and Maddie’s in process…

small town positives

There are a number of things that make living in Cincinnati a bum deal at times.  Smog alerts in the summer.  Humidity.  There is not an ocean anywhere nearby… or good mountains either.  Even so, I find myself counting my blessings more often than not about living in this town.  The cost of living is fairly reasonable for one thing, which is nice.  But more importantly, Cincinnati is where many of my family and friends are.  In fact, it is not a rare occurrence to be driving down the road and see my brother in the rear view mirror.  Or perhaps run into a cousin or a friend at the grocery.  This is what I love about living here.

Although Cincinnati is considered a decent sized metropolitan area, I find myself seeing people I know everywhere I go.  Yesterday, stuck in traffic on I-75, I look out my window to see someone in a truck waving frantically to get my attention.  Much to my delight, it was my friend and whistle buddy, Joe, finally home from Ohio State for the summer.  We chatted for a minute and I snapped his picture with my phone.  What I love about living here is the people that make Cincinnati such a great “small town”.  Welcome home Joe!  When can we have a tune or two?

Baby Pictures

Last fall I borrowed my friend Cindy’s wooden flute to try my hand at playing it; a rather large jump in the learning curve for me in music.  Since then, I have had a few lessons and even signed up to take a summer course with my teacher from the Riley School, John Skelton.  Cindy’s flute was made by Dave Copley and Marlene Boegli at Celtic Lands Irish Flutes and I have enjoyed playing it immensely.  But there comes a time when one either has to fish or cut bait, as the saying goes, and I decided a few months ago that I was ready to commit to buying my very own flute from Dave and Marlene who fortunately live right here in Cincinnati and are part of the Riley School of Irish Music community.

Today I went over to Dave’s workshop to see the flute as it was being built and to take a few “baby pictures”, as he calls them.  I am very excited.  The plan is to build the flute with mounts already in place so I can add keys later on as I become more proficient at playing.  Above is a picture of the head joint, freshly drilled.  Below are pictures of a finished flute with keys already mounted on it and after that, the pieces of my flute, in the same layout, ready to have its shaping begin.

I am feeling a bit spoiled, having this instrument built just for me, but I am trying to get over that guilty notion and just enjoy it.  I hope to have years of learning and playing on this thing; I might as well have a good one.  My Grandpa Kelley used to say “ya pay a penny more and go first class”.  This was his way of saying that sometimes, quality things are worth the investment.

Meanwhile, the seemingly endless renovation project here at Chez Bogard continues.  After much discussion, research and visits from flooring specialists from all genres, we have decided to put in a polished concrete floor with areas of radiant heat to keep our toes warm in the colder months.  I have never been a fan of carpet from a housekeeping and allergy perspective and it didn’t look like wood, bamboo, or cork would hold up to the dogs and our rough-house lifestyle.  I like tile but I don’t want any more lines in this space so visually driven by lines in the first place.  This really left us with with only one option and we are taking the plunge.  Today Tony is taking conference calls outside to avoid the noise of the grinding and I have stuffed towels and blankets around the door to keep the dust out of the studio.

Slowly but surely, the forward progression continues.  We have left the dated, termite-eaten, fuse-blowing space behind and are starting to see the beauty of the light at the end of the tunnel.  Kudos to our contractor Jerry Westerkamp who built the gorgeous soffit in our new space.  Yep, slowly, but surely….

Road Trip Season (episode 1)

This past Saturday was the Detroit Feis, an Irish Dance competition where my daughter Maddie competed in a number of different dances. She won first place in her Reel which gave everyone cause to celebrate. Her best buddy and fellow dancer Camille also won her Reel (they are in different age/ skill level categories), and her Treble Reel and placed 4th in her Treble Jig. These girls never stop dancing, especially with all the music that surrounds them, so it’s nice to see them reap the benefits of all their hard work.

While in Detroit we were fortunate to have a place to stay at my friend Dave’s house. Dave is a potter who lives and works in Ferndale, Michigan. He has his studio set up in his basement and the kids spent much of their free time making clay pots.

When we travel to another city to attend an Irish Dance competition, part of the fun is hanging out afterwards with the musicians who were hired to play for the dancers as well as those who live in that city. Having just attended the Fleadh held in Detroit this year, it was great to meet up with some of those Detroit musicians once again and have few tunes. I played only a little bit on Saturday night at the Feis Musician’s hotel.

Sunday’s tunes were to be had at Conor O’Neil’s pub in Ann Arbor Michigan and I have to admit, I am a chicken. My whistle stayed hidden in my bag during this session which was filled with amazing musicians and great Irish Music. Sometimes there’s value in simply listening.

Not all weekend was spent at Irish cultural events. We had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with my friend Jeni’s brother who has a pool and two amazing golden retriever dogs. Bailey, the younger of the two, likes to swim but she doesn’t do it like any other dog I have ever met. She stays vertical, like a person, and keeps her back paws on the floor of the pool. It is hilarious. She could probably win some money on America’s Funniest Home Videos or something.

Allie is Bailey’s older sister. She doesn’t swim a whole lot but rather lies in the shade like a big ol’ carpet dog. I sat and drew a picture…

Before the session on Sunday at O’Neil’s, we walked around Ann Arbor and looked at all the cool shops there. One phenomenon I was excited to check out was that of the Urban Fairies, reputed to be found in Ann Arbor. Sure enough, we found them. Little tiny doors behind which lay another world. I left a button and a New Zealand coin as my offering to the Fairies at Peaceable Kingdom gift shop, glad to participate in this sweet Ann Arbor tradition.

Ci(r)cadian Rhythms

Here in the studio, I am listening to the sound of the millions of cicadas singing. In my experience, people either love or hate these little buggers; there seems to be no middle ground. I am in the love ’em camp, as are my dogs who continue to gobble them up like popcorn. There are not as many around as there were a few years ago but I am still hoping to pick up their cast off wings when their time is done. They are beautiful and who doesn’t love free art supplies laying around on the ground? Cicadas come every 17 years usually and there are two batches in our area, about 4 years apart. They are never around for long and I am enjoying their presence.

Last night I had a phone date with Chris, my brilliant web designer and great friend, so he could walk me through how to add images to my website. Since he built the website and knows how it is organized, he was able to show me how to cut and paste the code and add new stuff. What little HTML code reading and writing I had in school came in handy and soon I was off and running. Every gallery image I have stashed away since last fall needs to be added to the website so I have my work cut out for me, but I have to admit that I kind of enjoy it. I didn’t get to bed last night until almost 3 in the morning!… which leads me to this entry’s title.

What I love most about summer besides the travel and the soft warm weather, is the chance to settle back into my own circadian rhythm. I have friends who are up at the crack of dawn to seize each day. They don’t even need alarm clocks! For these people, the normal 8-5 work-a-day schedule to which most people in our society adhere works quite well. And I guess it works for us too as we adjust to what the school and work weeks need from us. But during the summer a strange thing happens. We begin to sleep late and over the course of a few days, we are staying up later as well.

I find I am most productive in the middle of the night. It is a time of day when time doesn’t matter and I can get lost in working. The trouble is, most of the time, I need to get to sleep at a fairly normal hour, to simply keep up with our “normal” life during the school year. Last night while working on the website additions, I had the first real night-owl experience of the summer when I glanced at the clock and it said 2:35 am. I am content to be back into this anything-goes mode and plan to milk it for all its worth… until “normal” catches up with me again.

In good company


The past couple of days I have been delighted to experience some of the recent work by a couple of close friends and fellow artists. Friday night I visited Aisle Gallery, an interesting space in the same building as The Carl Solway Gallery (Aisle does not have a website, but Solway’s is worth a peek). On display was recent collaborative installation and video work by my good pal Lisa Siders and Artist Denise Burge. This Feeling of Nature is a show that features two videos plus sculptural and found objects that tie together the videos through the long space. Lisa and Denise have worked together before as part of the Dozens Project and I love seeing what videos they come up with. They are always familiar in a way, yet other-worldly at the same time. There is definite magic in their work and in the worlds portrayed by the videos.

In this particular installation, a line of lit-up white on white objects ran the length of the room between the two videos. The objects were from the homes, studios and collections of both artists and were a feast for the eyes. More of their work can be viewed later in the summer in Michigan at DeVos Art Museum in Marquette.   As usual, when these two get together, something great is bound to be created! Congratulations to both on a job well done.


Last night my sister Darcy and I went to a concert at Canal Street Tavern in Dayton, Ohio. We were tired and dusty after a fun day of picnicking and softball at our little brother’s graduation party (Congratulations Little Dew!!!!) but we tidied ourselves up and went because our girlfriend Kim Taylor was playing with her new-ish band. As usual, it was worth the effort. Kim’s music has been an inspiration to me for years and her more recent material is as earthy and real as ever. Kim is never one to rest on her laurels and so is rather prolific in her songwriting. I never tire of hearing new work, or hanging out over a whiskey before the show!



Today the fam and I drove out to Batesville, Indiana to visit Pete and Marlene who operate The Stone Studio. We plan to get our new soapstone kitchen countertops from them and so we wanted to have a look in person at what soapstone has to offer. It is a beautiful substance that becomes more so with age and patina, a quality I really like.

I find that much of my creative efforts these days are being poured into the domestic end of my life versus the “Real Work” side of things. I struggle with what this means. Are the creative work and decisions I make to contribute to a “beautiful” home of less value than a “beautiful” piece of art work that might find it’s way into a gallery? Are 2 hours spent in the garden worth less than 2 hours at the wax table? These are questions that often plague my mind when I allow them space. But I am leaning toward the idea that any movement toward a creative act, whether it be to arrange a bowl of flowers or print a stack of handmade cards to sell, is a worthwhile move. In some small way, both things are artful and make the world a better place.

Meanwhile, my dogs don’t allow me to get too wrapped up in philosophical thinking. They have been busy lately supplementing their doggie diets with cicadas who are back in our area (though not nearly in the same numbers as a few years ago). Yet another talented friend of mine, Jeff Smith, took this picture of one of the little buggers when they were here last time. Frankly, I can’t see the culinary appeal.