Mike

Feeling Right

We’re still settling in to our Pied a Terre in beautiful Uptown New Orleans, but with each passing day we get closer to feeling like we’re “just home.” Mike’s had one day of working remotely and I’ve started to figure out my domestic routine — cooking, laundry, dog walking — all a bit different here.

I’m also making sure I fit in a little art now and then as I’m able.

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Because Mike’s been sick since our arrival we haven’t gone out as much as we will once he’s all better, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t eaten in proper NOLA style. I’ve made us red beans and rice with hot sausage twice already. Mmm hmmm.

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We did go out for lunch today though — at one of our favorite places — Casamento’s on Magazine and Napoleon.

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We were both in the mood for “ersters.”

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The Carol Robinson Gallery, where Mike has shown his work since 1988, is just up the street from Casamento’s. We stopped in to give Carol a hug and make plans to get together soon. It’s time to pick a date for Mike’s next show, and I’m hoping she’ll have some idea of where my Tarps might fit in here in New Orleans.

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Carol is having her gallery’s 35th Anniversary exhibition, and Mike’s work is hung here and there, and tucked into nooks and crannies around the gallery…

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There’s always something to celebrate in this town, and for us now it’s how right it feels to settle back into the NOLA way of life and how welcoming the city is of our doing just that.

Why, they even decorated just for us….

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Mmm hmmm! Yeah, you right!

In Like a Lamb

I’m taking real liberties with that title because I’m not referring to either March or the weather. See today as I write it is January 4th — a day I have been very careful to spend quietly, just like a little lamb, so as to avoid any possible conflicts with those near and dear to me brought on by the “thorny full moon” which is currently under siege from Pluto and Uranus. Seriously.

You would too if your silverware did this whenever you ate out…

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Or the street lights all did this when you drove by…

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I think that full moon might exert a little pull where I’m concerned. Anyway, so far so good.

Even more good news is that this is supposed to be a gangbusters (“gangbusters”…don’t you ever wonder if these words really mean what you think they do?) month for my work life, and since my work life is really making art, this should be a gangbusters month for… making art. And to that I say it’s about time!

I’ve spent most of my time lately setting things up so that I can make art, and have a place to show it. I’ve even helped a tiny bit to influence the city I live in to appreciate the fact there are a bunch of us here worth getting to know.

But now it’s time for me to just Make Art. To materialize the inventory I’m carrying around in my head. To move from the “To-Due List” to “Just Doing It”, and I am really, really ready.

What makes this year different from last year is that I am entirely on my own as far as incentive goes. Last year I had both the Treefort Public Art project, and See Spot Walk, plus four shows to curate for TVAA.

This year we are going to New Orleans for two months and that will briefly restrict the size of the work I can do, but besides that I am unencumbered by responsibility to anyone or any organization. I am my own boss. Soy Chingona!

As part of his New Year’s Resolutions Mike is reading a blog called Art Biz Blog written by an Artist Marketing Coach named Alyson Stanfield. I read a few of her posts as well and one sentence in one excellent post in particular (Your Job is In the Studio) caught my eye. She said: “If you don’t make art, you have nothing to market.”

She couldn’t be more correct. How do you like the gif Mike made for me when I pointed out how cunningly “make” and “art” are nestled into “market”…

The word "market" transforms into "make art." This animated GIF is designed by Melissa "Sasi" Chambers and Michael Chambers

Cool right?! What a guy, and he’s handsome too!

Anyway this got me thinking that this year will be a different sort of approach for me because I will be making art first and then marketing it. Last year the market came to me and I made the work it asked me to make. I am liking the freedom to do what I want. We will see if the market wants what I do.

Which I guess means I’ll find out if “gangbusters” actually means “blowed up good.”

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Nah.

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!

Leave Home

I just finished reading a wonderful little book called STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon. It’s not actually my book. I stole it from my mother.

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Thing #7 is “Geography is no longer our master.”

In all honesty, geography has never been my master. I have moved 35 times since I was born, 17 times as an adult. I’ve lived in 3 countries besides the US and visited 10 others. I’m not sure how many States I’ve been to, but it’s pretty close to all 50.

That’s probably why the advice on page 93 is something I already do. A lot.

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In fact Mike and I just got back from visiting our daughter Lina in Chicago. We felt right at home.

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Growing up all over the world the way I did, and Mike did too, teaches you that your home is inside of you and goes wherever you go. The outside changes a little or a lot, but the inside stays the same.

Still, I crave that change of scenery and the freshening up of my inspiration which always follows.

Lina lives in the Chicago neighborhood of Edgewater, and we spent a lot of time in its next door neighborhood of Andersonville — which has a very cool looking, but out of commission, water tower as it’s mascot:

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Mostly we spent our time poking around in groovy little shops like the Woolly Mammoth, which was a lot like Paxton Gate in Portland, but with more veritas than verisimilitude — if you know what I mean.

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We rode the El. We rode the bus. We went to Logan Square. Lincoln Park. Wicker Park. We saw the amazing Bubble Academy where Lina works and met some of her sweet, talented friends. We did a little shopping, a lot of looking, and a ton of eating.

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If you’re in the neighborhood(s) I can definitely recommend: The Kitchen Sink, Kopi, Lady Gregory’s, Ombra, Big Jones, Hop Leaf, Feast, Ja’Grill, and Glazed’n’Infused.

Here I am with Lina at Ja’Grill, right before we hit Glazed’n’Infused. Ya mon, bring on da bacon maple bar!

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So, now we are home again and I am no longer glazed, but I am infused with the fresh perspective that leaving home provides. Which means my life is a little jangly right now. I’m noticing what is not working. I’m reminded there are many paths and just because I’ve been on this one for a while doesn’t mean I can’t take a different one and see where it leads.

I expect to be making some big changes in the next year and I’m excited about the possibilities. Stay tuned. It’s all good!

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HeARTy Birthday Michael Chambers!

On July 17, 1961 Michael Dean Chambers II was born in Vicenza, Italy. A simple lad, he thought he might one day become a world champion marble player, or perhaps enjoy the easy life of a garbage man riding on the back of the truck, his eye peeled for treasures hidden in the um, peels, and coffee grounds and such.

But the Fates had a different plan in mind…

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And I am that lucky wife.

Happy, er, HeARTy Birthday Mikey! I love you!!!

Hokey Pokey!

I guess I’ve been spending so much time making sure Mike’s routine was back to normal that I managed to let my own routine stall out. Not that I have a set schedule really, it’s more of a state of mind. But, I did manage to blow off the entire 2nd half of June. Oops.

Well, Mike’s routine is back to normal now — he even rode his bike to work this morning — which means it’s time for me to get off my…sofa, and get to work.

You’d have thought the past couple of weeks prime time for reading, but sadly I didn’t even have the bandwidth for that — hence my lack of “4 Favorites for June.” I did read one interesting book, My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., after seeing her amazing TED talk by the same name.

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Jill was a 37 year old neuroanatomist when she had a massive stroke in her left brain which left her as essentially an infant in an adult’s body. The book details the 8 year journey of her recovery and is a very clear description of the right and left hemispheres of the brain and their very different functions and personalities.

Being 72% right brained myself (BuzzFeed tells me so) I was not surprised to learn that my dominant hemisphere is spontaneous and imaginative and perceives each of us as equal members of the human family, all related and necessary to the whole.

Our left brains are where we define ourselves as separate and individual, and where we store our attachments to everything in our lives, both good and bad.

I was surprised to learn that as Jill recovered she chose not to recover certain “attachments” of her left brain. She let go of resentments and anger from her “previous life” which she no longer had any reason to hold on to as they had happened to the other Jill in her other life.

The take away from the book is we can consciously practice “stepping to the right” in our thinking and behavior and unlearn attachments to anger and resentment which are meaningless in the big picture.

Hey! Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

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You put your right brain in,
You take your left brain out,
You put your right brain in,
and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey
and you turn your thoughts around.

That’s what it’s all about!!

Turns Out I Married Superman!

My apologies for my absence this week. I have a really good excuse though…turns out I married Superman!

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Yep. That’s Mike in his Cookie Monster pjs in the St. Al’s ICU. Looks pretty good for a guy who had A STROKE just 42 hours before I took this picture doesn’t he? I told you…Superman!

Now that you know this story has a happy ending (and you know how I feel about happy endings!) you probably want to know what happened. And, because Mike’s really NOT into reliving the experience, but he is fine with you knowing all about it, I’m going to tell you as much as I’m able from my perspective — with apologies to our nearest and dearest who have already read what I’m going to share with you now:

We had been working in the yard, putting up some reed fencing along the last portion of chain link fence beside the garage — it was hot and he kept greying out but he didn’t want to stop (of course). After that was done he mowed the lawn including portions of our “meadow” which had gotten too long and started to yellow. When he finished he was bending over to pick up a clump of grass and felt (and heard inside his head) a “pop” like when you pop your knuckle. That pop was his carotid artery dissecting spontaneously (you can google “carotid artery dissection”). He put the lawn mower away and came inside to take a shower, but he was seeing a weird visual affect over his right eye like a dandelion puff or sometimes a mesh-like waffle pattern. He was acting sort of strangely so I kept asking him what he needed and he was getting less and less coherent. He took his shower and had a sandwich and got out his computer and then things happened really fast. First he couldn’t get his left hand to type his password. Then he couldn’t feel his left foot. By now I’m saying “do you need to go to the hospital? Are you having a heart attack? Can you walk?….We ARE going to the hospital!” and somehow I got him into the car — his whole left side was going numb but he was mentally slowing down and sort of observing himself (he told me later) while I was going into hyperdrive. I got him to St. Al’s in 7 minutes.

Once we were at St. Al’s and two men got him out of the car and into the emergency room the ER doc told me he was having a stroke. About 10 people were working on him at once, and after they shaved his chest and wired him up and shot him full of something and whisked him off for a CT scan and I’d been advised of all the probable next steps — major clot busting drugs, possible surgery, etc. — they wheeled him back in — and he was back to his old self. The paralysis in his left side was gone, the slurred speech was gone. It was like nothing had happened.

At this point everybody started shaking their heads and saying things like “fluke” and “lucky” and “never seen this before” and “you’ll be very interesting to the doctors on their rounds” and nobody actually said “miracle,” but that’s what I’m thinking.

Mike spent 48 hours in ICU, then they moved him to the medical ward on the third day and he was released because he’s willing to administer his own blood thinner injections until he can rely on the Coumadin alone to keep his blood at the proper thickness that will not form clots. Besides taking the meds he is not allowed to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs. for the next 3 months. Everything, except for Lula, weighs more than 5 lbs.

He’s going to rest through the weekend and then play it by ear next week, but probably not ride his bike in until the week after. He’s mostly tired now, and a little paranoid — when your body does something spontaneously like split an artery and the doctors can find no reason why it happened you wonder when the next bizarre thing is going to happen.

As I write this it is “the weekend” and Mike is feeling better and better. His energy is coming back and with it the desire to lift heavy things and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Not going to happen.

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Lucky for him, his choice of mates was equally…super!

Leftovers

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Today is the last day to submit work for the Wingtip Press Leftovers Print Exchange. I’ve only participated once before, but it was such a cool thang — you get 12 different original prints by other artists in exchange — that I’ve been meaning to repeat it, and I actually managed to get my act together this year!

In keeping with the idea of leftovers, my block is made of cut scraps of adhesive backed rubber from some long forgotten project which I stuck randomly onto a piece of cardboard, instead of just throwing them away.

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The paper I used is black printmaking paper which I’ve also had hanging around for quite some time just waiting for a project like this to come along.

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Mike let me borrow his ink, brayer, and method — which I have carefully observed over 27 years of watching him create our Christmas card each year.

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First you ink the block with the brayer.

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Then you lay the paper on the inked block and rub the paper evenly all over with the back of a spoon.

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And finally, you pull the print.

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I made 18 prints in all. 14 go to the Leftovers Print Exchange.

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I’ll show you the 12 I get in exchange when they arrive. Meanwhile, here’s #6/18 “Pieces of Summer.” (I guess I could also call it “One more reason to save your scraps!”)

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Tarpe Diem

At least I warned you my blog presence would be spotty, and now I’ve got pictures to prove I’m really not just sitting around watching Netflix and eating bon bons — though I’ve had my fair share of that as well. (If I don’t give myself little treats now and then I pitch fits and stomp out of the room and quit, so it’s just easier to let me watch Netflix and have a bon bon.)

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I have been working on my public art project for Treefort, which as you know is going to be giant tarps cut out to look like papel picado. Only I can only find the tarps in blue, brown, white and silver so I have had to paint 10 of them to get some fun colors.

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It took 17 cans of Fusion (for plastic) spray paint in red, pink, yellow, purple, and orange to paint 10 tarps with Mike’s able assistance. My hand could barely grip my toothbrush this morning. (This could be a problem considering the number of bon bons I earned with that little paint job!)

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Luckily we had a relatively warm sunny day and the tarps dried spread out on the lawn. They are now stacked in the loft in the garage awaiting the next steps.

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I have 8 million, OK, 8 rolls of carpet tape to adhere the cut tops to the painted bottoms, and my crack team of assistants is lined up to help.

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Honestly I wish I had a videographer to chronicle the process ahead and set the whole catastrophe to music. The plan is to take the tops which I have already cut out and ever so deftly adhere them to the colorful bottoms.

Here are the tarps I’ve already cut out, stacked in my sewing studio:

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I’ll let your imagination run with that plan I just mentioned for a moment.

There is hope, however. The cut out parts look really cool, and IF we can actually get them to become one with the other colorful tarps then I think this will end up being one of my favorite projects ever.

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I’ll keep you posted, and until then…I think I just heard a bon bon calling!