Everything Else

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!

This is Not an Avocado

I realized today that I’ve been mistaken about something. I’ve been treating my blog posts as if they were avocados.

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Really. I’ve been so busy, and I have so many things I could have been sharing all along.

Any blogger worth her salt (and maybe a little garlic, lime juice, and cilantro) would have posted each thing as it happened. Would have known when the time was ripe.

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Not me though. Nope.

This is the way I reacted to those perfectly ripe moments…

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I’m blaming it on the season. There’s been a serious “hibernation situation” going on around here. But, the sun is coming out and we are getting ready for this year’s sojourn in New Orleans (Not Yet?) and I’m already gearing up to embark on my second iteration of home/studio arrangement in this house we moved into only 6 months ago. (Not Yet?) — you do see my problem, right? So, while all of that is “ripening” I might as well give you a couple of “Too Lates.”

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(I’ll spare you the Holidaze recap and stick with 2016.)

First off, my exhibition at the BSU Student Union Gallery was a success. I sold some work and all of my books*, and several of the BIG Tarpestries will be on display at this year’s World Village Fest, June 10, 11, & 12th. (Not Yet?)

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(Christine Raymond talking back to the singing bird in my “Sss(mmm)sss…” Tarpestry.)

“Walk, Don’t Walk,” which I made for the traffic box on Edson & Curtis, inspired by the Boise International Market and the refugee community, is now hanging in the TVAA exhibiton “This American Life” at the offices of Boise State Public Radio. It will be up through April 8th.

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After some delays regarding the actual wrapping of the traffic boxes, TradeMark is now approved to put this one up. Any day now, just NOT YET.

I’ve had fun lately making tarpestries for every occasion. Mardi Gras was February 9th this year and I made a “heads in the holes” tarpestry for a party my parents were helping to host.

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Laissez Le Bon Temp Roule!

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And of course yesterday was Valentine’s Day, so here’s a “Tarpentine” for you…

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There’s lots more to show and tell you, but I’m going to let those ideas ripen just a liiiiittle bit longer.

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*Meanwhile, if you are interested in buying one of my Tarpestry books you can let me know by leaving me a message on my Contact Me page, and I’ll get back to you.

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Just Doing That, Not This

When I started this blog I had the idea that I would be able to do frequent, if not daily, posts. Some wordy, some mostly pictures, but all dependably shared. Often.

Shhiiiiiit. There’s just no way.

This year I’m thinking if I can average one post a week I’ll be doing magnificently.

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Worrying about this has peaked my interest in the process of procrastination. So, while I’ve been putting off writing my next post I’ve spent many delightful hours reading about the art of putting things off. On-line.

No irony there.

I’m not talking about putting off paying the Electric bill or going to the dentist. I’m talking about putting off that thing that you have defined as “What I Do.” For me that’s making art. And, doing a blog that’s sort of about making art.

All in all I no longer think of procrastination as being “bad.” Like boredom, it has its up-side. Where boredom can create the space for creativity to emerge, procrastination can allow for the time it takes for an idea to mature or evolve into something better.

The trick is to manage your procrastination. First, you have to maintain your awareness of the big picture — the dates of deadlines, the amount of real time you think it will take to complete your project (always multiply by 4, that way you can be pleasantly surprised if it only takes twice as long), your personal skill-set vs. your need for others’ assistance. Then, you have to learn to stop wasting time worrying about putting the project off until later. Let that mother go!

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If you can do those things, then one of two things will happen. Either, by your own action or inaction, you will get it done. Or, you will move on to something new and never look back. QED.

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I guess I’m starting to think of procrastination as a very useful filter for determining what I will be spending my time “just doing” vs. what will end up on my “Fuck-it List.”

This might help: pay attention to what distracts you. What are you doing instead of that project you are putting off? The things which consistently distract me are generally the things I really want to be doing. And the things I really want to be doing often lead to projects better suited for me, and often to better outcomes for those projects I do finish.

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Whew!! Now that I’ve finished doing this, I can go back to doing that!

New Habit

I’m still getting used to being my own boss. I’ve mostly managed to stay out of my own way, which is important since I’m not fond of being told what to do. I do have certain expectations about how much attention I pay to the whole “making art” thang but I purposely don’t have specific “numbers” associated with my production — no number of pieces by a particular date, or amount of money I need to earn. It’s still numbers that come to mind though when I evaluate how I’m doing. That’s something I want to change. Sometimes old habits can really kick your ass, and new habits take longer than you think to instill.

Since the New Year I’ve been very productive. I’ve not felt pressured so my process has been relaxed, and even though I have put in lots of hours it hasn’t felt like work. It’s been FUN. More than fun, it’s been that satisfying “all is right with my world” feeling at the end of the day. THAT feeling is how I want to “evaluate how I’m doing.” If I can continue to feel that way then I must be a damn fine boss, right? I’ll keep you posted.

So far I’ve finished a big new Pom Pow blanket, “Clown Daddy”…

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Also my second Treefort tarp, formerly known as “Winter Trees’ Dreams of Spring”…

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now has a Second Life as “The Unconscious Arsonist” (details)….

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TVAA has a juried exhibtion, “Menagerie,” coming up and I did a brand new tarp for it titled “Sss(mmm)sss…”….

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It’s big, 10 feet by 3 1/2 feet, so here it is in sections:

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I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about looking at life from new angles — choosing different perspectives from our usual choices in a way that gets us out of our ruts. I don’t think we should waste our time feeling pressured to do things just so we can say we did. I do think we should DO the things we can’t stop thinking about (the life enhancing, won’t hurt anybody including you, things) in spite of the naysayers. And I think sometimes it helps to actively choose your new perspective.

Well, I’ve put making art that only stresses me out on my Fuck-it List, I’m Just Doing the kind of art that I can’t wait to get out of my head and into the world, and I make sure I get at least a couple of hours of play done every day in my studio.

I’m making a choice: instead of letting my old habits kick me in the ass, I’m going to make it my new habit to kick ass.

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Care to join me?

Quite Contrary

Remember attempting “Opposite Day” when you were a kid? I say “attempting” because it was impossible, mostly because it devolved so quickly into doing and saying all the bad things you weren’t allowed, or couldn’t normally bring yourself to say or do, and that would feel so yucky you’d quit by the second recess for sure.

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I mean telling your best friend she’s “ugly” and you “hate” her because “dude! it’s Opposite Day and that means you’re “beautiful” and I “love” you” just sounds hollow, and you start to wonder how you really feel.

When you’re a kid you think it’s as simple as a choice between “ugly” or “beautiful.” When you get older you know it’s impossible to separate the ugly from the beautiful, or the feelings you have for the person you are “judging” from your feelings about that sort of judgement in general, or the utility vs. the futility of any sort of debate regarding beauty, period.

I guess my feelings about “Opposite Day” are pretty clear — I thought it was “ugly” and I “hated” it — which is why it might seem counter-intuitive to those of you who don’t know what a rebel I am, that in spite of being older and firmly mired in the “there is no black or white, only grey, zone,” I am thinking of applying the rules of “Opposite Day” to my own life.

WTF?!

Think about it. This is not a new idea. In fact some of the best rebel thoughts are Mega Opposite Day ideas:

“Pay it Forward”

“Commit Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty”

“Want What You Have, and Give What You Need.”

These are concepts to live by, and they are all the opposite of ideas we got used to taking for granted until some very smartasses turned them on their heads.

I’ve always played a little game with myself where I decide what I think I want — 100% for sure — and then I list alternatives, and sometimes I end up changing my mind and going with one of those alternatives instead.

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Or:

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This is that same game only with higher stakes.

I’ll give you an example. One of the single most difficult things to do as an artist is to price your work. I can hear the “Amen, sisters” from here. And so there are some stirrings in the arts community that there might be some alternatives to the way we get paid for what we do as artists.

Amanda Palmer has a book about this topic, The Art of Asking, which I haven’t read yet, and a TED talk I’ve seen twice that’s pretty interesting.

Another artist doing something different is Andy Mort, a musician who goes by the stage name of Atlum Schema, and who like Amanda Palmer is doing the unthinkable and (WT double F?!!) letting the buyers determine what they will pay. Opposite Day!

As a visual artist making a variety of work in a variety of media, some pieces taking weeks, others just an afternoon, it feels a little different not setting your own price, from a musician selling CD’s, MP3 downloads, or tickets to their concerts. But in fact I think it’s the same. No one is going to offer you five bucks for a piece you’ve obviously spent 6 months producing — and if they do it’s up to you whether or not to take it.

I’ve actually done this a couple of times and the best way to describe how it’s different from the way I usually do it is to say it’s a little like tasting arugula for the first time when you’re used to spinach. In England they call arugula, Rocket. Well letting your patrons determine what to pay you for your work is definitely shooting the moon.

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And here’s the thing — I actually made MORE money when I didn’t tell my patrons what to pay me.

Now I’m a little obsessed with looking for the opposites. What are the alternatives to my “for sures”? How can I turn this idea on its head? Upside down? Inside out?

I’ve even started wearing my Goofy watch again — it tells time counter-clockwise.
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The Opposite Day perspective is simply consciously looking at things from a different angle. Go ahead and give it a whirl. What’s the worst that can happen?

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Here’s mud in your eye!

The “Other” List

Before you read today’s post I want to mention that apparently I was not the only artist to feel the pain of the Boise Weekly Auction results, and in a thoughtful and generous move on BW’s part the decision was made that all artists would receive at minimum $150 for their original cover art. So, if their work had not sold at a final bid of $500 or more (which would have netted them that amount as their 30%) they would still receive the amount paid in previous years.

Thank you Boise Weekly!

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By the way, my offer still stands to my “Treefort Blues” tarp buyer — whoever you are — I would gladly buy back the tarp and give you a framed archival photo of the tarp taken by Jake Soper at Evermore Prints in exchange. You can contact me here at my website!

(Warning: Unrepentant use of one four-letter word in particular ahead.)

Ok, onward and upward….

So here’s the thing. I’m over 50. In fact I’m half way to 60 which frankly blows my mind because parts of me are still in Jr. High, while other parts of me still refuse to admit I even turned 40. I have friends in every decade of life — including one who’s pushing 90 — you go Elaine! But most of them do tend to be in their 50’s like me and at this point in our lives there seems to be a common obsession….

The Bucket List…
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In other words, everybody finally admits that if there’s a middle (which is where we seem to think we all are at the moment) then there must be an end. And if there’s going to be an end then we’d better get busy and DO a whole bunch of stuff so we can say we did it while we’re lying in our death beds and the hospice nurse has that check list (because there must be a check list, right?) and she asks “Paris?” so we can say “Check!”

“Skydiving?”
“Check!”
“Fire Walking?”
“Check!”
“Learn to speak Tagalog?”
“Check!”

Here’s what I put on my Bucket List: call bullshit to all the pressure to create a Bucket List and then have to do those things just so you can cross things off of it.

And then I created a new list:

The “Fuck-it List.”

The best part about the Fuck-it list is you don’t even have to write it down. Of course if you like lists, and you like to write things down just so you can cross them off — which by the way you get to do immediately with this list — then write away!

I know you’re catching on already, but I’m going to tell you how this works anyway, at least the way I’m using it.

First, you are going to want to take a look at that stupid Bucket List that’s been weighing you down and then transfer at least half the listings over to the Fuck-it list.

Learn French?
Fuck-it.
Take up Scuba diving?
Fuck-it.
Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway?
Fuck-it.
Start Pilates?
Fuck-it.

Once that’s done I promise you you will feel 10 years younger and 20 pounds lighter instantly.

After the initial purge it just becomes a matter of self discipline. Any time you start to feel that uncomfortable “oh crap” feeling like: “I SHOULD go, do, learn, buy, eat, this thing before I reach the end of my otherwise pointless life” which you would formerly have put on your Bucket List, you instead put it on your Fuck-it list.

It’s the uncomfortable feeling that’s the decider. This is not a list for things you actually WANT to do. DO those things! But I am done, done, done with keeping up with the Jones’s Bucket List. Fuck their Bucket.

Cuddle a baby tiger?
Fuck-it.
Walk behind a waterfall?
Fuck-it.
Get a henna tattoo. In India?
Fuck-it.
Fill up a KFC bucket with Slurpee at 7-11? (Are you kidding me?)
Fuck-it.

Want what you have. Give what you need. And love your own life as you’re living it. Enough IS enough! (And yes, I need to be reminded of that myself on a regular basis.)

Work harder on becoming more enlightened?
Eh…I’m still marinating on that one.

Hellooooo…….? Anybody Still Out There?

I know, I know! I’ve been just terrible about keeping up with this blog. Inertia is a total bitch! She sneaks up on you and before you realize it, it’s been 2 WEEKS since your…MY…last post. Uuugh.

At least the inertia hasn’t extended to the rest of my life as I’ve actually been quite busy. On the TVAA front, I submitted a piece to the TVAA & Track 13 juried exhibition “Water Works” called “The View from Logan.” I’ll find out if it gets into the show this week.

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I also got the prospectus written, and it’s now posted for Foray IV — our final FORAY, and my last exhibition as the Chair of the TVAA Exhibition Committee. I’ve been the “buck stopper” for all 15 shows we’ve put on so far, 14 of which I curated. It’s been wonderful, a crapton of work, and I’m ready for a break.

Along with Will Spearman and the other Excoms, Carol Elliot Smith, and Jordan Newberry, we laid out the dates and themes for the shows through 2015 and will soon have those posted on the TVAA website. It will be a good year and I plan to create new work for each of the shows. Our themes will be “Menagerie,” “Spring Awakening,” “Collage/Assemblage,” and “Cuisine-Art.”

I’ve also been seeing spots everywhere I look!

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That’s a hot pink Lula as one of the See Spot Walk dogs I painted for this year’s campaign. My designs are showing up everywhere — on posters, rack cards, in the Boise Weekly. Lula’s famous, and she has no idea!

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I also took the time to create a piece on the off chance it might become the cover of this year’s Moxie Java Idaho Ho Ho CD. They said they’d let us know by the 15th of September and I haven’t heard anything (All together now….Grrrrrrrr!) so I guess, no news probably means no cover. But here’s the design anyway. It’s called “Googly Tidings to You and Your Kin.”

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I also (I’m trying to see how many “I also’s” I can get into this post) completed my first Second Life of my Treefort Tarp Picada “Granny Squares.” It’s too big to have just one photo of the whole thing, so here are a couple of detail shots:

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And finally, I also (that makes 5) have begun yet another rearrangement of our house to better accommodate our use of the rooms as studio/working/living/showing/entertaining/escaping spaces. The first room to be transformed is a room that we called the “workroom” but which was really the “dump” — the room where things we planned to deal with later went to die.

We emptied it out completely, vacuumed up about 20 deadly poisonous spiders, then replaced tools and things we actually will use again in an orderly fashion, and today I plan to prime the walls for painting a color other than their current shade of “death warmed over.” I’m so excited!

Oh! And the best part is we’ve discovered that if you put ANYTHING with a “FREE” sign on it out in our driveway it will disappear. Like magic. All this time, and it was our driveway where we should have been putting those things we planned to deal with later! Well, live and learn!

I’ll try to be better about posting from now on. But if things get too crazy I can’t promise I won’t hang a “FREE” sign around my neck and go sit in my driveway.

At least you’ll have an explanation if I disappear again!

Up, Up and Away

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It took a little doing, but we’ve managed to get our ducks in a row, and now Mike and I are actually going to be getting away for a little vacation. Just us and the mini-wolf pack. And a stack of books, a bunch of art supplies, a guitar, a yukulele, our swimsuits, and our fuzzy slippers. (Shhh! The fashion police aren’t invited!)

I’ve been busy crossing off things on my Do-Due! list and have a couple of updates for you — in no particular order…

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I got all the Leftovers prints hung. Most of them are in the stairwell going down to Mike’s studio. I wish the lighting were better. Next house. Tall walls, better lighting — I’m getting my “must have” list together.

We did end up selling our faithful 2001 Subaru Forester, “Wasabi-Ru,” to a terrific family and buying the 2015 Forester in Jasmine Green. Had to wait for it to come in in that color — no substitutions, thank you very much. We LOVE her, and have named her “Roux” in anticipation of adding New Orleans to our mix since we will be driving there when we go next February.

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We have booked our home away from home in New Orleans! We’ll be stayingin a perfect little Pied A Terre Uptown, three blocks off of St. Charles directly behind the Columns Hotel where they filmed the movie “Pretty Baby” a million years ago.

I am very excited because our neighbor on the same property is the artist Rebecca Rebouche. (Some of you will appreciate the strides I am making in the art of understatement.) Among other things, Rebecca designs for Anthropologie….

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Anyhoo…had to stop and catch my breath there for a minute… things are shaping up nicely around here with Monsters! put to bed, and “Water Works” (the next TVAA show coming up at Track 13 in Nampa — juried this time!) posted and open for submissions, and all my personal art commitments under control.

I’m sure I’ll hit the ground running once we get back, but for now it’s all blue skies and happy clouds and colorful balloons…just like these we saw just this morning in Ann Morrison Park.

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And we’re up, up and aaAAWWAAAYYYYY!

Time Flew!

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Oh, Hello!

I guess I’ve been a wee bit distracted with things besides updating my blog these past few, … er, well…several days, but I’m back now, and I apologize!

Don’t I look contrite?

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Yeah. That’s me, suffering at Tour de Fat this weekend.

Mike “Mr. Stripey,” with his bike “The Bee,” sacrificed his Saturday to accompany me.

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We’ve ridden in the bike parade for 5 years now and it’s one of our very favorite things to do in the summer in Boise.

TVAA set up a booth at Tour de Fat two years in a row. We had the public paint tiny paintings of where they liked to ride their bikes in a grid we imposed over a larger painting of a bike we painted in advance. I painted the bike the first year, a red and white cruiser.

That painting hangs in the workshop at the Boise Bicycle Project.

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Terry Burkes painted the bike the second year. It’s a bike made of tree bark. It hangs now in the new studio space in the offices of Boise State Public Radio.

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My favorite painted bike though, is my bike. Which I painted in 2010. It always gets a lot of compliments during the parade. Especially from anyone in a tutu, and the under 10 crowd.

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I’ve got lots more to tell you, but as you know, it is best to “take little bites and chew them well” — so this little bite will have to do for now!

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Ride on!