New Orleans

And Another Week Down…

Time flies. Even when you’re not “having fun.” Which is not to say we are NOT having fun, we are, but we are also just living “normal” life, which believe it or not is about work, and laundry, and “making groceries,” even in New Orleans where your work schedule may vary.

Melissa Chambers by the Daigle Grocery hours sign

I do love having the luxury of two months here though because we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything when we have days like Friday which we spent keeping cosy and dry in our little hideaway.

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The day before the deluge I’d taken the ferry across the Mississippi to the foot of canal:

Riding the ferry to the foot of canal

and hung out with Joy — having “True Blood” juice at the Canal Street Bistro:

True Blood juice at Canal St. Bistro

and coffee at Monkey Monkey Coffee & Tea.

Painting at Monkey Monkey Coffee & Tea in New Orleans

The sun came out again for the weekend, just in time for First Saturday. First Saturdays in New Orleans are like First Thursdays in Boise, with art walks in all the gallery districts and many openings of new exhibitions. (Well, Boise X 1,000.)

We spent our evening in the Warehouse District on Julia St., and as the storm of synchronicity which keeps raining down on me would have it, Karen Bubb and Rachel Reichart (of Boise City Department of Arts & History fame) were in town too. So we visited the galleries together.

Karen Bubb and Melissa "Sasi" Chambers together in New Orleans

Here’s a little of what we saw at the Arthur Roger Gallery:

Viewing art at Arthur Roger Gallery

Mike viewing a Chihuly @ Arthur Roger

Art at Arthur Roger

But my favorites were the amazing embroidered portraits “Friends & Neighbors” by Gina Phillips at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery:

Melissa Chambers talking to model for embroidered artwork behind her

Artwork and model at Jonathan Ferrara gallery

Portrait model at <a href=

It would seem that little dogs showing up with their people at art galleries and openings, and even in the artwork itself is the new thang round here.

Lula?

Are you ready for your close-up?

Lula, ready for her close-up

Getting a Jump on the “To-Due” List

You already know I’m a big “To-Due” list keeper, and, because I DO get things done, you would think I could keep those lists pretty short.

Nah.

Of course the little habit I have of adding things to the existing list after I have accomplished them, just so I can cross them off said list might be one reason for the length of those lists.

But I don’t want to talk about that right now.

Anywho. I’ve got a really long list this week because on Saturday — 2 days from now — we are getting on the road to NEW ORLEANS!

But you don’t want to know what’s on my To-Due list before we hit the road with 3 dogs, all of Mike’s paintings for his exhibition in May, clothing for 3 versions of climate change, and at least a couple of my new tarpestries from this past year, do you?

Nah.

So instead, here’s a photo album of the Tarpestries I’ve created for the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (BUUF) Social Justice Partners 2015/2016…

November 2015: Farmer’s Market Mobile Market — Food Justice, food security, income inequality
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December 2015: ACLU of Idaho — Criminal Justice Reform, Against the Death Penalty
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January 2016: BUUF Partner Church Meszko Sholarship Fund — Supporting UU 6th principle of world community
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February 2016: Feed the Gap — Child Hunger, Food insecurity
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March 2016: Interfaith Sanctuary — Homelessness
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And because we are going to be away, and I didn’t want to leave work undone, I have gone ahead and made the tarpestries for the months we will be in New Orleans….

April 2016: Women’s & Children’s Alliance — Domestic Violence
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May 2016: Planned Parenthood — Reproductive Justice and Comprehensive Sexuality Education
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June 2016: Habitat for Humanity — Affordable Housing
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I have 4 more tarpestries to create to finish the year — which I’ll make when we get back from New Orleans, and, I’m planning on creating another book with the help of my friend Debra Smith who is doing the Social Justice coordination for which I am creating these tarpestries. Team work, baby. Collaboration is the name of the game for me these days, and my tarpestries are my medium.

I’ll update you from the road, and then undoubtedly inundate you from NOLA, because that city knows how to make Action Girl work up a serious head of steam!

Making a Splash at Reel Foods

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The Fish Tarpestries are up!

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Terry Burkes and I met at Reel Foods this morning and put them up together.

I’ll be adding a few more velcro straps here and there to help keep them a bit straighter, but they look awesome — if I do say so myself!

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You know what else looks awesome?

The totally fresh seafood at Reel Foods.

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After we finished installing the tarpestries, Terry and I were treated to some wonderful Sushi — we had the Boise River roll with smoked trout. And, I am very impressed by, and can’t wait to try, the variety of oysters they offer. Chef Mark thinks the Steamboat oysters will charcoal grill nicely — just the way we loved them in New Orleans!

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Hungry yet? (Jeez, I am!)

Well, you should go to Reel Foods on Capitol Blvd. and check them out…

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the fresh seafood, AND the Fresh Fish Tarpestries!

Up and At ’em

Tonight is the Opening for Spring Awakening, the latest TVAA exhibition at Boise State Public Radio. It is also the debut of my tarpestry “Spring Awakening (The Unconcious Arsonist).”

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I’m excited to have one of my original tarps out in the world where people, besides my nearest and dearest, can actually see it in person. Descriptions and detail shots don’t do it justice — you have to see the entire “elephant” if you know what I mean.

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It’s been a whirlwind around here lately what with making plans to sell my beloved artists’ home, and being so jazzed about making more tarpestries inspired by our New Orleans trip, and having a new traffic box to design — yes, I’m doing a “traffic tarpestry.”

It’s actually a bit ironic that I am oozing with inspiration at the same time I have to subtract myself and a lot of my art from this house. Potential buyers have to be able to “see” themselves living their lives here, not me living mine.

(This bad boy is coming with me!)

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I’ve “restaged” a couple of the rooms so it is more “housey” and less “artsy.”

Buh-bye “Gallery,” hello Living Room…

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Buh-bye “Music Room,” hello Bedroom…

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I left myself enough space in the Living Room to work on my tarps, sort of. It’s a little cramped, but that just highlights the kind of studio space I really need, and is helping define what we want for our next place. The next space has got to work as a studio first. We can live in our studio, but it’s much harder to turn traditional living space into working space. I’m guessing a lot of you are very familiar with that conundrum.

This is my latest New Orleans inspired tarpestry — sorry about the usual less than great shots since it is so big, and is on the floor.

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Some detail shots…

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And this is the “traffic tarpestry” under way…

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(More to come on this piece in my next post.)

I hope you can make it to the Opening this evening for Spring Awakening — there is a ton of other work besdides mine to enjoy as well.

Up and at’em!

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The World is My Oyster

Our sojourn in New Orleans is over for now. We are back in Boise, and as usually happens to me when I travel and have a literal change of perspective, I’m in an entirely different “place” than I was when we left.

If you’ve been following my blog you have undoubtedly gathered how much New Orleans means to me and to Mike. How vital it is to our sense of being who we truly are as artists, as a family and as citizens of the world. It is our true “heart home,” the place we feel WE belong.

Don’t get me wrong, we love Boise too! It’s like Boise is our BFF, and New Orleans is our Soul Mate, and we believe we can have both. It’s just going to get a little complicated around here while we make that happen!

I know you have heard me muse on ways we are better using our house in Boise as our artists’ home — repurposing rooms as studio space,

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turning our former living room into a “gallery”

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and Logan’s former apartment into our new living room

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and studio space.

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That’s been done, and it absolutely works for us as it reflects the way we live now that we are empty nesters who also happen to be artists.

BUT…we want to have another home in New Orleans too, and we can’t do that and keep this house. So, our plan is to sell this house and buy two condos — one in Boise, and one in New Orleans.

We have bought and sold houses before, but there has never been a house I’ve loved as much — or have poured as much of myself into — as this house. It hurts physically to think about selling it, but no pain, no gain, right? My wish is that someone will fall in love with it the way I did and I can hand it over to them with a light heart.

Wish us luck as we embark on this next phase of our lives which I have dubbed “Bon Temps Le Boi.”

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Who says you can’t have your oysters raw, and chargrilled too?!

#Festooned Lagniappe

Only a couple of days left on our New Orleans Sojurn so I thought I’d wind up my posts with a lagniappe (a little something extra) of photos from my #Festooned series of Mardi Gras beads leftover after Carnival, many of which you can see on my Instagram account @sasiwasi….

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To bead, or not to bead? That’s never the question in New Orleans. Even after you’re dead, the beads goes on.

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Oysters and Poboys and Beignets, Oh My!

Or, how I ate New Orleans in two short months.

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As you’ve undoubtedly gathered from my posts, New Orleans is a place you come to eat. In fact it’s tradition here to discuss your plans for your next meal as you are eating the food in front of you.

If you couldn’t get excited about what to eat next you’d never get to that future meal because you are constantly full. Mind over matter baby — it’s the only way.

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(Lina demonstrating great discipline as she starts in on beignets at Cafe du Monde immediately following our muffuletta at Central Grocery.)

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I think of the food here as being divided into Traditional New Orleans Cuisine which includes Italian, Creole, and Southern Fried Seafood; International — lots of Vietnamese, but also Argentine, Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, and Chinese; and Local Neighborhood which is often a fusion of the Traditional New Orleans with the International. It’s all good.

(Lina and me at Rebecca Rebouche’s crawfish boil for her birthday. Oh, the crustaceans!)
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Here’s an idea of what, and where, we’ve eaten on this trip:

Traditional New Orleans Cuisine…

Casamento’s

Oysters of all kinds. Raw, char grilled, or Oyster loaf.
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All of the above are also wonderful at Katie’s where among other things we had the caramelized onion, arugula and brie flatbread:

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Katie’s is just down the street from Liuzza’s

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which is our favorite for fried pickles, red beans and rice, hot sausage poboys, or shrimp remoulade salad.

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Traditional New Orleans cuisine can be very casual like at Parkway Bakery and Tavern

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Or it can be fancy, like at Pascal’s Manale

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which serves the original New Orleans’ style BBQ Shrimp.

International Cuisine…

We ate delicious spicey beef pho at Pho Cam Ly, washed down with Vietnamese ice coffee of course:

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Terrific asado tacos with cebollitas at Taqueria Corona:

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Amazing garlic shrimp, lamb stew, and flan

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at Lola’s, a Spanish restaurant on Esplanade.

And terrific Middle Eastern food like the chicken shwarma and gyro platter

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at Babylon Cafe.

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Local Neighborhood Cuisine…

Probably my very favorite place to eat on this trip has been Butcher.

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I’ve been four times, and have taken, or sent all our out of town friends who’ve visited to eat there too.

I could live on the “Carolina” BBQ pulled pork topped with coleslaw with a side of their marinated roasted brussels sprouts. @#$@%&*@#$ it’s good!

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The Mint Modern Bistro is another place we just ate at recently which I’m already looking forward to returning to for their Kim Chi Burger and seasoned sweet potato fries.

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For breakfast our favorite Local Neighborhood place to go with our friends is Surrey’s. There are two locations, both on Magazine, one in the Lower Garden District and the other Uptown. This trip we’ve eaten three times at the Surrey’s Uptown location.

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It’s hard to beat their corned beef hash with two eggs over medium and a side of fruit.

And finally I guess I’ll have to add another segment for Coffee and Sweets which fit into every one of the larger categories above, like Cafe du Monde, and Morning Call which are both Traditional New Orleans Cuisine, for Cafe au Lait with Chicory, and beignets, 24 hours a day.

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Or Brocato’s

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and Sucre
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(that’s my Coconut Basil Gelato next to my Cafe au Lait).

And Croissant d’Or, (which is always closed on Tuesdays, and after 3:00 so plan accordingly), which all fit into the International category.

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Which leaves us with the Local Neighborhood Coffee and Sweets places which are legion.

I’d have to say the Cake Cafe in the Bywater is really, really good if you like cupcakes.

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And District Donuts on Magazine is no slouch when it comes to coffee and donuts.

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Honestly, I could go on and on. Since we’ve been in town we have gone to 51 different restaurants, 18 of them more than once! They’re all wonderful. I think I’ve had one “meh” meal the whole time we’ve been here and I’m not saying what it was because the next time we go it’ll probably be great.

Well, this post has taken me all day to compose. It’s worn me out, and you guessed it — really worked up my appetite! So until we eat again, remember what Luciano Pavarotti said: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

You heard the man.

Art We’ve Seen Part 2

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There is some form of visual art pretty much everywhere you look in New Orleans. From huge murals on the sides of hotels, to random sculptures outside snoball shops.

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There is a lot of public art throughout the city, and along the riverfront.

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There are wonderful museums dedicated to art of all kinds: Classical, Contemporary, Southern, and African American. I’ve walked through the Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art three times. It’s always beautiful.

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And there are the parts of town where galleries are concentrated like Royal St. in the French Quarter and Julia St. in the Warehouse District, both of which I told you about in Part 1.

A third area which we’ve spent a lot of time in is Magazine St. which runs from the Lower Garden District to Audubon Park. There are tons of little shops, restaurants, galleries, antique shops, and boutiques, interspersed with homes, up and down its entire length.

The Carol Robinson Gallery, where Mike shows, is on Magazine and Napoleon. We attended her “Artists of Faith” Opening and this piece titled “The Golden Boat” by Michael Yankowski was one of my favorites.

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Carol represents a number of artists who work in a variety of disciplines — painting, ceramics, fine wood sculpture, jewelry and photography — and she hangs new shows all year, except possibly in the summer when things slooowww dooowwwn, alot!

Well, YOU try hanging art in 95 degrees and 100% humidity!

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The first Saturday of every month is the time when new shows open. We attended the March openings on Magazine and after going to Carol’s we went to Cole Pratt Gallery which had some interesting work, badly curated and arranged (in my opinion), which just made me want to get out of there before I created a scene and started rehanging everything.

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Wouldn’t it have been funny if I’d just gone for it, and had gotten arrested!

ARTIST ARRESTED FOR REHANGING EXHIBITION. SITES NOCCA “HOT EYE” TRAINING AS REASON SHOW READ AS “GIBBERISH.”
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We also went to the Guthrie Contemporary Gallery and enjoyed well displayed work by Susan Dory.

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These paintings are acrylic, and you can’t tell from my photos, but they look like encaustic. Really cool.

Another place on Magazine which is less gallery (though they do have paintings) and more beautifully arranged art objects — they refer to as bohemian luxury — is AKA STELLA GRAY.

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Every time I go in there I just want to move in and call it home. Of course it doesn’t hurt that there is often a sweet little French Bulldog named Poppy there to greet you!

And speaking of home, as you know by now, the Pied a Terre where we are staying is also home to Rebecca Rebouche’s atelier, The Beauty Shop. Rebecca is a painter, and her work shows up on dishes and linens and wallpaper murals for Anthropologie, but her individual paintings are also available for purchase.

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With any luck, the next time we’re here and I give you a tour of the visual arts scene in New Orleans — I’ll be including our home and studio space.

Well a girl can dream!

ART WE’VE SEEN Part 1

The time is truly flying by. We only have two more weeks in New Orleans, and next weekend we’re going to be in Florida visiting family, so it’s not even a full two weeks. I’m looking forward to being on the beach though, so no complaints.

I thought as we wind up our trip I’d do separate posts about the art we’ve seen, the food we’ve eaten, and throw in a lagniappe of my #Festooned photos just for fun.

First up: ART WE’VE SEEN

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There are three main parts of town focusing on art which we spent the most time in this visit. I have to add that there are “new” places which we didn’t get to this trip which are rising out of the reconstruction and a new generation of emerging artists doing their own thing. I hope to spend more time exploring those places next time.

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For the parts of town we did spend time in, there’s Royal St. in the French Quarter which has a lot of art meant to appeal to tourists, but is starting to have more individual local artists who are self supporting. The gallery scene is much stronger here than in Boise, but the call to “just do it” on your own is also alive and well.

Cathy Rose of the Lucky Rose Gallery is one of those artists on Royal St.

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Cathy was very encouraging and supportive about the idea of two more artists moving into the local art scene, and she even had suggestions about parts of town to consider where we could still afford live/work space.

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We also had a couple of conversations with Jim Pennington of Pennington Fine Art.

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Jim was generous as well with his encouragement and advice about returning to New Orleans for part of the year as working artists.

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Interestingly, we had seen Jim and his work in Savanna, GA a few years ago when he was there regrouping after Katrina. Small world, baby.

One of my favorite artist-run galleries on Royal St. is the Antieau Gallery which shows Chris Roberts Antieau’s gorgeous work.

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Antieau is a textile artist who does realistically detailed embroidery as well as appliqued “fabric paintings.”

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She is also the mother of Noah Antieau — who runs The Red Truck Gallery — the first gallery I looked at and thought might be a fit for my tarps (if only they were a wee bit smaller, or the gallery was a crapton bigger).

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Julia St. in the Warehouse District is a well known part of town with a number of good galleries. We spent a couple of different afternoons there on our own, and with friends visiting from New York (holler, John and Hiromi!).

The Arthur Roger Gallery is a long standing favorite. I thought the current show of work by Amer Kobaslija of paintings of birds’ eye views of artist’s studios was appropriate to our current quest.

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We also saw work at boyd/satellite gallery and talked to Blake Boyd. Blake shows his own work at the gallery, but the work currently on exhibition is by Errol Barron and is titled “rigged.”

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Another gallery on Julia St., the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery has a show of giant matchbook covers by Skylar Fein.

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The show cracked me up because our metaphor for doing anything but what we’re supposed to be doing is “reading matchbook covers.”

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There are several other galleries on Julia St. that we spent time in which I’m not going to get to this time, but I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention George Schmidt and his eponymous gallery.

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George is a real character and a true Renaissance Man. In addition to being a painter and printmaker, he’s a musician. We saw him play banjo and sing with the New Leviathan Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra at the Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago. What a hoot!

I’m afraid both my iPad and I are running out of juice, so I think I’ll stop here for now and continue in ART WE’VE SEEN Part 2 very soon.

Stay tuned!