Friday, December 24, 2010

art under the tree

When I was at the Arts Downtown and All Around festival a couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a guy (named Bud) who came by my booth. He and his family were checking out my work and he stopped in front of the "Zen" collage. He said, "This would be perfect...if only it said 'Zhen' instead." I was confused, so he explained to me that a good friend of his has a dog named Zhen: "This would be a perfect Christmas gift for her...if only you could change it." They all left the booth after looking around for a while, but a few minutes later, he came back. "Do you ever do custom pieces?" he asked. I said, "Well, I haven't yet, but I don't see why I couldn't." He told me a little bit about his friend; I told him that it wouldn't be the same piece at all but that I could do my best to find images and materials that would give it the same feel. I took his information and agreed to get in touch with him before too long. Not only was this to be a Christmas gift, but it was getting sent to Colorado, so a trip to the post office and shipping time would need to be factored in (not to mention actually making the piece) so it could make it on time.

A few days later, I was talking to my good friend Jen about this. "I'm a little nervous," I said, "I've never done a custom piece before." She quickly contradicted me and said, "Yes you have! Don't you remember that fiddlehead painting you did for me?" "Oh, yeah," I said, "and I did that Strength collage for Julia, too!" I was starting to feel better about things, but these were pieces made for people who I know and love (and who know and love me back), rather than for a total stranger. Jen reassured me and I decided to just do what came naturally and not to overthink things...just make it the way I would any other collage.

I had to go on a Scrabble tile hunt because I was a letter short (the "H" was the one I didn't have, interestingly enough) but that was successful, and then I got to work. The piece came together fairly quickly and I put the finishing touches on it a couple of days after I started it. I contacted Bud to let him know I was going out of town (this was right before my trip to New York City) but that I would be around early the following week. We agreed to meet, and thankfully he loved the piece (entitled "Zhen", of course).

So, here I sit on Christmas Eve, knowing that one of my collages is wrapped and under someone's Christmas tree, waiting to be opened (and hopefully enjoyed) tomorrow morning. That's a pretty cool feeling. Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Last weekend, my friend Heather and I went to New York City. We had a blast! We stayed with my very dear friend Julia at her new place in Brooklyn. We arrived on Friday night and went out for a late dinner followed by drinks. We didn't get in until 4 am. None of us realized how late it was! Businesses were still open and people were still out and about, so it felt normal. The energy level in New York City is palpable and it is impossible not to get swept up in it. We got a late start the next day (obviously!) and after a delicious breakfast, Heather and I headed out to do touristy activities while Julia tended to previous obligations.

We went to Strawberry Fields in Central Park to see the Imagine memorial to John Lennon. I have seen countless photos of this spot, and none of them come close to conveying the power that I felt standing there. Our trip fell just after the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death and there was a large crowd of people there paying tribute: some left flowers, some left handwritten notes, some left lit candles. I found myself getting choked up, and I was surprised by the wave of emotion that overcame me. We stayed for a little while before walking over to the Dakota, and then we headed into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is one of my favorite places ever, and it was fun to be there with someone who had never been there before. We went to the Egyptian wing, the European paintings and sculpture section, the Modern Art area, and the Asian wing (where I had never been before). The next day, we went to the Statue of Liberty and the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island (another place I had never been before). As we stood there looking at pieces of walls with writing and drawings on them made by immigrants waiting to pass through, it struck me how strong and how universal the urge has always been in human beings to make their mark. Whether it has been through hieroglyphics, pottery, paintings, sculpture, jewelry, music, or simply graffiti, people have always felt the need to express themselves. I felt grateful to be witness to so many types of self-expression in one weekend by tons of people who I will never meet or know otherwise. Later that day, we headed into Greenwich Village for some shopping and some of the best pizza I have ever had (Two Boots on Bleecker Street), and as we sat there eating our slices, I found something else to be grateful for!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

long overdue update!

I haven't blogged in quite a while...hmm...seems I've written that before! Hopefully it will be a while before I write that phrase again. Anyway, things have been busy, and that's the reason for my lack of recent blog entries. Last weekend was the Arts Downtown and All Around Festival (sponsored by Five Rivers Arts Alliance), and it was a really great experience for me. I met a lot of cool people (shoppers and artists alike), I sold a painting and a collage, and I had a bunch of people take my business card and sign up for my email list.

Lee Cheever had her booth across from mine and she was an enormous help to me. As I wrote in my last entry, Lee outlined specific directions for me to build my own display (and found another display that I could borrow). I am happy to say I was able to finish building the display and it ended up working perfectly, although I did have a minor setback. When Lee came to pick up my display the day before the show (she has a truck, I don't), things started coming apart: screws broke through wood, staples started popping off, and I started freaking out. Lee was calm and assured me it would be easy to fix. I brought my tools to the set-up period before the show (which was noon on Friday; the show opened at 5pm) and hoped I could get everything done in time. It turns out I only needed my hammer and my staple gun, because Lee fixed the broken parts for me beforehand! All I needed to do was put in a few more staples and hammer the loose ones in. Whew!

I got to Fort Andross early on Saturday morning, and I'm glad I did. The place was packed, thanks to the Winter Farmers' Market going on next door. There was live bluegrass music and the mood was fun and festive. My friend Heather hung out with me for a little while (she is my art show MVP!), and I saw some other familiar faces as well. That evening, my husband Terry came by with his brothers Jerry and Patrick (who were visiting from Colorado and Rhode Island, respectively) and it was great to see them. It meant a lot to me that they could stop by and see my work in person (since Jerry and Patrick live out of state, they have only seen my work online). Also, Peggy from the Brunswick Art Collaborative came by with her husband Mark and two friends, which I really appreciated. It's so nice to have the support of friends and family!

I am really happy that I had the opportunity to participate in this event, and I look forward to next year's Arts Downtown and All Around. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, who helped out, and who made the weekend a fun and exciting experience!