Dissolve, Resolve, Evolve

My previous post was dated August 11, 2016, almost four months ago. For those of you who know me personally this wasn’t unexpected — you probably knew I was going through a crisis of artwork/blogging paralysis — not knowing what I could say or do, about or with the art I was making using polyvinyl tarp, duck tape, and sharpies. Artwork I had been calling “Tarpestry.” Artwork which I had been vigorously promoting using SEO (Search Engine Optimization, an approach that brings attention to websites). Happily I was getting plenty of attention. I even bought two new domains featuring the word “tarpestry.”

Unhappily, I also attracted attention which completely shut me down — at least in my ability to communicate about my tarp artwork. Turns out there is a commercial venture which produces blankets made of fabric with hippy-dippy designs backed by canvas tarp which are sold at music festivals and, you guessed it, they are called TARPESTRY. Actually they aren’t just called that, they are Trademarked that, and they considered my work a threat.

I’m won’t rehash the ridiculousness of their claims, but I will say that despite the myriad differences between my artwork and their commercial product the law is on their side. Because they own the trademark with the identical portmanteau word I had chosen — they win, and my SEO has rendered me SOL.

So where does that leave me? Well, I can’t call any of the artwork I create using polyvinyl tarp, duck tape, and sharpies “tarpestry” going forward. I can’t use that word in any of my domains, or promote it using SEO. I can still make the artwork, exhibit it, donate it, sell it, create books about it, catalog it on my website — but I have to call it something else.

I’m going to call it “TARPAGE.”

Tarpage — sounds like yardage, or on a bad day, garbage, and it feels appropriate as an umbrella covering the very first “tarps picadas” as well as “tarpestry.”

2016 was a brutal year for many people, and I understand that in comparison, my tarpage story is just a hitch in my git’along, so I’m not telling you this for your sympathy. I’m telling you this by way of explanation — for why you haven’t heard from me, and for why I’m going to change the way I share my “stuff” from now on.

For starters, this will be my last blog post on this website. All I’ve written previously will still be available to go back and read, I’m just not going to write anything new on this site.

My Portfolio pages will continue to be updated — some of which I often get a little chatty on — and I’ll keep my Resume up to date, have my books available, and will still be able to be contacted through my Contact Me page.

Meanwhile, I’m also closing down my (Melissa “Sasi” Chambers) Artists Page on FaceBook, but will continue my personal (Melissa Chambers) page, mostly as a link to my Instagram (sasiwasi).

I have three “resolutions” for 2017 — “Think Very Hard Before Saying Yes,” and “Streamline and Upgrade (anything and everything).” 2016 was a year of u-turns, dead-ends, and many mind-changes for me. I’ve realized I no longer feel the need to always say “yes,” and I’m not sorry about that. I don’t have to “do everything,” and it’s OK not to feel guilty about that.

Keeping up with the social media mouse race, pushing myself with SEO, agreeing to do things I don’t really want to do but have somehow managed to “own” far past the point of being a sincere and willing contributor…. I’m done with all that. And, I know you know what I’m talking about.

So here’s my third Resolution for 2017 — Respect the “No’s” without resentment or shaming, and make sure the “Yes’s” know how grateful I am for their gifts.

Thank you for all your support, and love, and good wishes. And for all of us, may 2017 be truly a Happy New Year!

Summertime Slump

I know I’ve mentioned more than once the difficulty of living your life, and at the same time blogging or Instagraming or Facebooking about it. It’s like you have to be you, and a reporter/photographer who is constantly documenting yourself. It’s a little tricky.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed out on documenting something I’ve done because I’ve been too busy doing whatever it was. Of course it’s summer which means I’ve spent a fair amount of time doing this,…

Sunning with Snug

and this….

Clouds over Hillcrest

Which has felt like a bit of a slump. Between episodes of sunning and cloud watching however, I have managed to get a little work done.

Just today I got to install the tarpestry I made for Owyhee Elementary School. They are the “Jets” (I think because the school is so close to the Boise Airport) and their values are Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Dignity, and Team Work.

Melissa Sasi Chambers and the Owyhee Jets Tarpestry

This tarpestry was the largest I’ve created in my “new” studio, (one of those things I was too busy “doing” to docmument) which I set up as soon as we returned from New Orleans:

Sasi's studio

Sasi's studio view

View of Sasi's studio

It’s really nice not to have to work on the floor anymore. And to have a table big enough to accommodate at least an 8′ X 8′ tarpestry, like the Owyhee Jets’.

Owyhee Jets Tarpestry

As you know, I also managed to complete the last social justice tarpestries for 2015-2016. The one for Idaho Head Start is hanging for the month of August at the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Idaho Head Start tarpestry in BUUF Newsletter

And any day now (she said, eyeing the sun-lit patio), I will begin 9 new social justice tarpestries for 2016-2017. But, the most exciting thing right now, is soon I will have a second book featuring my tarpestries available for purchase. This time with the first 12 social justice tarpestries accompanied by 12 wonderful poems by Dena Duke. It’s called “From You I Recieve, To You I Give” and you’ll be able to buy a copy through this website. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and I need to soak up all the Vitamin D I can before this summer has flown.

Sasi's handful of sun

Latest Social Justice Tarpestries

As you know if you follow me on Instagram (@sasiwasi) and Facebook, I have been working on a series of tarpestries for the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (BUUF) which are given to the Social Justice “plate partners” along with the funds which the church raises for each organization during the month they are featured. I wrote about those tarpestries I completed before we left for New Orleans in a previous post.

There were four remaining to be created once we got back to Boise, and this month’s, “Boise Autism Mom’s,” will be on display at BUUF until the end of July.

BUUF Newsletter info on Boise Autism Moms Tarpestry

I wrote about that tarpestry and my emotional connection to that organization in my last post.

Boise Autism Moms social justice Tarpestry

There will be three more to follow, through October, and then we’ll see what happens after that. The tarpestry for August will be “Head Start of Idaho.”

Head Start of Idaho social justice tarpestrybysasi

In September “Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN)” will be featured.

Suicide Prevention Action Network social justice tarpestrybysasi

And in October, the last in this series will be the “BUUF Pay it Forward Fund.”

BUUF Pay it Forward Fund social justice tarpestrybysasi

You can see all 12 of the social justice tarpestries on my Portfolio page. I am starting to work on another book like the one I produced for my “Tarpestries” exhibition (Tarpestry The Evolution of an Art Form). This book will be extra special because it will open with a forward by Debra Smith about the BUUF Social Justice ministry, and each of the photos of the tarpestries will be accompanied by a poem penned by Dena Duke. It’ll be awesome, I promise.

Boise Autism Moms’ Tarpestry

The latest in my series of tarpestries for the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowhip Social Justice Plate Partners (man is that a mouthful!) will be on view for the fist time at BUUF on July 7th. It’s for the group known as BAM! the Boise Autism Moms!

Boise Autism Moms social justice Tarpestry

This tarpestry in particular felt very personal because I too am an Autism Mom, (Woot woot, Logan!! #aspieson). When Logan was growing up there wasn’t anything like this group available as a support system.

Logan, Mike and a photo bomber at Cheesecake Factory
(That’s Logan, his dad, and a cutie photo bomber at Logan’s 26.5 Merry Unbirthday on June 25th.)

There were other Autism Moms out there though, and we would find each other in our pediatrician’s waiting room, or outside the nursery at church, or in the school hallway outside the resource teachers’ classroom, or waiting in the school office to speak to the Principal about our kid’s behavior. And over the years, through our various experiences with Health & Welfare, Katie Beckett, Social Security, various out patient groups with different psychiatrists, and school counsellors, we would share with each other what we knew, or were learning, about negotiating the system, and dealing with meltdowns, discrimination, bullying, separation anxiety, anger management, sensory overload, medications, and behavioral issues.

Our lives and our conversations were filled with acronyms, the understanding of which separated us from the “Neuro-typical” Moms…ASD, ODD, BD, DD, OCD, TSC, SIB-R, IEP, ISP, ADD, ADHD, SSI…OMG…WTF? I’ve got all those, and more written into the background of the Boise Autism Mom’s tarpestry — even the last two, because sometimes you have nothing left but to laugh. LOL.

Detail of Boise Autism Moms Tarpestry

I think BAM is such a great resource for all the mom’s out there who more than anything need to know they aren’t going it alone. Keep it up! You’re helping your kids, you’re helping each other, and you’re helping yourselves. Everybody wins.

And by the way, I know there are a ton of awesome Dads out there too who need to know they are not alone either. Maybe one of them will start a group. They could call themselves BAD-ASD or Bad-Ass Dads for short! I’m already designing their Tarpestry in my mind!

Logan laughing

It takes a World Village

I’m still making my way on this artistic path I’ve chosen, a path which like so many other paths in our lives, comes without a handbook, or a map. There are signs though. Unfortunately, not the billboard variety. More like “the veil is thin,” and “did that really just happen?!” variety.

Wisdom says when you’re on the right track the wind will be at your back. Moving ahead won’t be a constant struggle. “The flow” will be going the direction you want to go.

Wisdom also says you can’t go it alone. “It takes a village.”

TARPESTRY admirers at World Village Festival 2016

Just to be clear, this artistic “path” I’m forging is not just evolving the new art form “Tarpestry,” it’s also developing new ways to build my career as an artist who makes tarpestries.

TARPESTRY admirer at World Village Festival 2016

The traditional “gallery model” is almost non-existent in Boise right now, but I could, actually I already have (with my “Tarpestries” exhibition at the Student Union Gallery at BSU) figure out a way to hang and show my work. That model usually implies that the work is being shown in order to be sold. I’m not really sure that that is the path I want to be on. Still, I’m figuring it out as I go along.

Houses of the Rising Sun Tarpestry at World Village Festival

This is what I’ve figured out so far: I know the “what” — Tarpestry. I know the “how” — imagining, cutting, taping, doodling. And now I’m forging ahead figuring out the “who” and “where.” Just imagine the “Who” is a chicken, and the “Where” is an egg, and you’ll see why one of them has to come first, but it’s always a debate as to which!

Fish tarpestries at World Village Festival 2016

This month, thanks to one of those serendipitous meetings I’ve been enjoying lately, I had the opportunity to display several of my tarpestries at the World Village Festival in Capitol Park, in Boise. People especially loved the Elephants Tarpestry and used it as a background for many selfies. Myself included:

Dayo Ayodele and Melissa "Sasi" Chambers

That’s me with Dayo Ayodele, the Executive Director of Global Lounge, the organization which puts on the World Village Festival every year.

That event was a great example of “Where,” but because I used tarpestries from my past inventory which weren’t created especially for the “Who” it made me really want to make tarpestries specifically for the World Village Festival next time.

Donna Kovaleski and Melissa "Sasi" Chambers @ World Village Festival 2016

Well thanks to Dayo, and to Donna Kovaleski, the Communications Director, and Dayo’s partner, I hope to be announcing a big collaboration with Global Lounge for the World Village Festival 2017. Fingers crossed!!

I’m on an artistic path, finding my way with each new step I take, and I am so grateful to be “just doing it” with the help of such a generous Village.

Bon Temps Le Boi — My New Perspective

One of the nice things about the time we spend in New Orleans is that I never run out of things to write about. Returning home to Boise feels like maybe I have nothing new to say — but that’s not true. It’s just that I lose my perspective wandering in the forest of familiarity.

Since we returned home this time I’ve been thinking of how I might view my life in Boise through NOLA-tinted glasses. Through the “Bon Temps Le Boi” lense, if you see where I’m going.

In New Orleans we focus on the celebration of food, art, music, and the creativity, originality, and humor with which people consistently express themselves. Last I looked, we have all of those things in ample supply right here in little ol’ Boy-see, Idahome.

Mike Chambers at Tomas Montana's exhibition

So, Mike and I are recommitting to celebrating the art-filled life we have available to us right here. We are starting by getting out as much as possible and participating in what Boise has to offer. Like this week: First Thursday in June…

We began our evening at Gallery 518 where we saw the exhibition ‘everything needn’t always be something’ by Tomas Montano. It is something.

Tomas Montano's Boise Weekly Cover
“Rosabel” by Tomas on the Cover of the Boise Weekly

Melissa and Tomas

Then we dropped by the Art Source gallery to see Ann Sorenson’s work,

Ann Sorenson and Melissa Chambers @ Art Source

including her watercolor “Bridge to Boise”….

"Bridge to Boise" by Ann Sorenson

And while there happened to meet an unexpected, and charming character, Randy B. Fowler.

Randy B Fowler and Melissa Chambers@Art Source

On our way to Freak Alley we ran into Colby —

Colby talking to Melissa Chambers

the guy who started the freak ball rolling when he drew all over this door:

image

I’m glad we live in a city that doesn’t just tolerate, but actually celebrates street art.

Freak Alley wall

Mike Chambers in Freak Alley

There was even some live music on the street, like the folk/pop songs of Fiona Luray and her partner Lettie who were playing out in front of Artisan Optics.

Fiona and Lettie playing on First Thursday

Our last art stop of the evening was Evermore Gallery where we met Samuel Paden the featured artist,

Sam Paden and Melissa Chambers at Evermore Gallery

Sam Paden's exhibition postcard

Melissa Chambers and Lawrence Manning at Evermore Gallery

and ran into several friends, including Lawrence Manning, who told me he and Betty Mallorca are renovating another building in Nampa in addition to their current home and gallery space, Track 13. I guess we’ll get to include Nampa in our new perspective.

All that art walking and talking made us hungry so we headed to Old Chicago for a bite afterwards. It might not have been Oysters Rockafeller or Crawfish Ettoufe, but the Jamaican Jerk chicken wings I had hit the spot nonetheless.

Chicken wings at Old Chicago

Art, music, unique characters, and food. I think Boise’s got it all.

Bon Temps Le Boi!!

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Our second Sojourn in New Orleans has come to an end, and we are heading back to Boise. One of the things I will miss the most, once we’ve returned to our landlocked home in Idaho, is…the fish.

NOLA Aquarium

New Orleans has the wonderful Audubon Aquarium of the Americas on the River Walk, which runs along the Mississippi right next to where the Algiers Ferry docks.

It features a variety of water environments, ocean, gulf, bayou, and river, as well as a rain forest with a waterfall, and parrots, who have lived there since it opened in 1990. We had taken Lina to visit as a toddler, so it was fun to return with her this trip. And see old friends.

Lina and the parrot at the Audubon Aquarium

And of course lots and lots of fish.

Audubon Aquarium tank

Aquarium tank at Audbon Aquarium

Ocean tank at Audubon Aquarium

Lina at the Audubon Aquarium

You really do see fish everywhere in New Orleans.

Like on the sidewalk,

#koifishart
#koifishart

or at the Hong Kong Market, where you not only get to see them, but eat them too.

#Sorrynotsorry

Tilapia at Hong Kong Market

You can buy your fish fresh there, and take it home to make your own Vietnamese Crispy Fish with Cilantro,

Vietnamese Crispy Fish with Cilantro

or you can have your fish as a poboy,

Catfish poboy

or at Mandina’s, as Gulf Fish Meunière.

Mandina's Fish Meunière

Sigh.

I’m really, really going to miss you, fish.

"Fin" the end

Fish fin

Dieting? Read at Your Own Risk!

This, our second New Orleans Sojurn, was a little bit shorter than our first, and in a location slightly less convenient to our favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and other re-filling stations. But, we did NOT starve. Oooh no, far from it. We will be heading home quite fat and happy.

Want to know where, and what, we ate? Well, here’s a pretty comprehensive list with many hot links (Get it? I crack myself up).

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have no idea if that is true or not, but if you want to eat 3 meals and a coffee per day like we do when we are in New Orleans, then you better start eating before lunch time, and that’s important!

We like to start at Surrey’s.

I like the Costa Rican breakfast…
Costa Rican Breakfast at Surrey'S

and Mike likes the Corned Beef Andouille hash…

Corned beef hash at Surrey's

In our neighborhood in Algiers Point we have Tout de suite . I had the “Katrina” Huevos Rancheros, and Mike had the “Poche” with boudin…

"Katrina" at toute de suite

If we happen to be in the French Quarter at breakfast time we like Croissant d’Or where I had a small cafe au lait and the quiche Lorraine…

Quiche at Croissant d'Or

Once you have breakfast out of the way there are literally thousands of choices for lunch, supper, dinner, just appetizers and drinks, just drinks, and/or dessert. Here are just some of the places we ate at, and the meals we ate at them…

At Primitivo I had the Beef Coulette with Pimento-cheese grits…

Beef at Primitivo

Mariza

Cochon Restaurant

Butcher, where I always have the Carolina pulled pork and the Brussels sprouts…

Pulled pork at Butcher

Casamentos, Napoleon House, Central Grocery, Katie’s, and Liuzza’s — all of which I have written about, and hot linked to in past posts, though I can give you a peek at what we ate this time…

Charbroiled oysters…

Char grilled oysters

Red beans, rice and hot sausage; and the Shrimp remoulade salad…

Red beans and Shrimp remoulade at Liuzza's

Muffelatta, and Oyster poboy…

Muffelatta

Italian salad (basically a Muffelatta without the bread)…

Italian salad at Katie's

Red beans and rice, and fried chicken…

image

And more Chargrilled Oysters at Drago’s.

Char grilled oysters at Drago's

Da Wabbit

Cafe Maspero

Canal St. Bistro

In addition to the New Orleans classics, we also had some terrific Mexican food — on both sides of the Mississippi.

On the West Bank we went to El Paso Mexican Grill and had the fajitas…

Fajitas at El Paso on the West Bank

Fajitas at El Paso Mexican Grill

On the East Bank we ate at El Pavo Real, and at Taqueria Corona (a couple of times)…

At El Pavo Real we had Empanadas and Chimichurri sauce…
Empanadas at El Pavo Real

and Hanger steak tacos…
Hanger steak tacos at El Pavo Real

and were happy fat people…
El Pavo Real with the gang

I had a Cheese enchilada on a very rainy day at Taqueria Corona…
Taqueria Corona cheese enchilada

And yummy Gipsy Fajitas at the Santa Fe Restaurant

Gipsy Fajitas and Sangria at Santa Fe Restaurant

Cowbell

Stein’s Deli

the Joint

Hamburgers are always high on our list and Mike did not miss out on having another Kim Chi Burger at the Mint Modern Vietnamese

Kim Chi Burger

while I had the sizzling steak and sunny side up eggs…
Steak and eggs at Modern Mint

and a tiny bite of Mike’s Kim Chi burger…

Melissa eats a Kim chi burger

We added a new favorite burger to our list — the Pimento-cheese Burger, which we had at both High Hat Cafe and at Brown Butter Bistro (two new favorite restaurants)…

Pimento-cheese burger at High Hat

This sojourn had more emphasis on Vietnamese cuisine because there is a huge Vietnamese community in New Orleans with many living on the West Bank. In addition to shopping at the Hong Kong Market, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. We ate at Pho Bang, and Rice Paper Pho

Rice Paper Pho

and had Bahn Mi and Avocado Bubble smoothies at Mr. Bubbles

Mr. Bubbles Bahn mi and avocado bubble smoothie

Thanks to Joy’s influence I also had a few salads here and there.

With a beet, carrot and orange juice at Satsuma in the Bywater…

Satsuma's salad

and after seeing “Hello, My Name is Doris” with Joy, at the St. James Cheese Co. on Prytania…

St. James Cheese shop salad

and at Liberty’s Kitchen at the Whole Foods on Broad…

LIberty salad at Whole Foods on Broad

Make no mistake, there were plenty of opportunities to go seriously off track at a bunch of places specializing in sugar.

District Donuts

Sasi at District Donuts

District Donuts

District Donuts

Not that I was always the one going off track…

Lina and Mike at District Donuts

Pie at High Hat…

Pie at High Hat

Brocato’s

Sweets at Brocato's

Creole Creamery

Mike at Creole Creamery

And let’s not forget any excuse to have Doberge cake…

Doberge cake

No idea what Doberge cake is? Click here to read all about it!

Tomorrow we are getting on the road and heading home to Idaho. Guess I’d better go get something to eat. It’s going to be a long drive!

Sasi at Stein's

House Ghosts

Mike’s exhibition “House Ghosts” opened on May 7th at the Carol Robinson Gallery in New Orleans.

That’s Carol, with Mike at the Opening…

Mike Chambers with Carol Robinson at House Ghosts Opening

We brought most of Mike’s new work for the show with us on our drive down, but we arrived in New Orleans with a few paintings left unfinished. Mike worked on them in the evenings, at his French easel which he set up on the kitchen table.

Mike Chambers painting at the kitchen table

Go ahead, try this at home!

Mike Chambers painting

Carol always hangs a beautiful show, and “House Ghosts” was no exception.

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts at Carol Robinson Gallery

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts

Lina Chambers and House Ghost by her dad, Mike Chambers

There was a great turn out for the opening, and it was wonderful to catch up with friends, both old, and new.

Moseley Sonier family at House Ghosts Opening

Marilyn & Morris Brum with Lina and Melissa Chambers

House Ghosts Opening at Carol Robinson Gallery

The show will be up during the month of May, and you can see all of Mike’s available work on the Carol Robinson Gallery website, as well at at MichaelChambersArt.com .

Michael Chambers with his painting "All the Light "

Good job Mikey! 👍👍❤️🍷🎉