One Degree of Separation

Big Easily Distracted

And the distractions just keep coming!

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We went to see John Boutte sing in a free concert at the Louisina Music Factory in the Marigny — I even got to shake his hand. John sings the opening song for the HBO series “Treme” — a series I highly recommend, about New Orleans in the months and years right after Katrina. Many of the “actors” like John Boutte are actually New Orleans musicians who play themselves, while other characters are played by actors from New Orleans, like Wendell Pierce who plays Antoine Batiste. Turns out Pierce, like Mike and myself, graduated from NOCCA.

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For us, New Orleans is a lot like Boise with its “one degree of separation.” In fact my friend Marilyn Z-B (my best friend at NOCCA) was sitting just inches away from me in our tiny Pied a Terre telling me how she and two others had done beading for many of the Indian costumes on Treme. Knock me over with a feather.

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I have been putting time into updating my website — all my portfolio pages for Public Art, Surface Pattern Design, and Exhibitions now have my most recent work, and I’ve been showing my tarps to everybody I know who might have ideas for how and where in New Orleans I might exhibit them.

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I’ve gotten nothing but positive responses — accompanied by consternation over where I might show them. Their size is a problem, unless you’re talking about museums, and if you’re talking museums then you are also talking about a depth of oeuvre which I have yet to achieve with the tarps alone. I need more time, more inventory. Four tarps do not a museum exhibiton make — at least not a solo exhibition.

There is consensus however that the tarps are knock-outs and — this is important — that they must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. I’m caught in a Catch-22 though, because in order to get the tarps seen by the people who are in a position to actually exhibit them I need the cred that comes with having shown them. It was ever so.

To illustrate my problem: the museum which has been mentioned every time as a good fit for the tarps is The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. We went to their Thursday night museum after hours event and toured the current exhibits while listening to a live musical perfomance. I was especially taken with the Outsider, Self-taught, Visionary exhibition, and these pieces by David Butler:

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My tarps definitely share the Outsider aesthetic, even if I don’t personally share the Outsider Artist diagnosis. I guess that makes me an Outsider outsider!

C’est la vie I guess. Well I’m not going to let a little Catch-22 stand in the way of my bon temps. Not in this town with so many wonderful distractions!

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(Check out more of Eric Water’s photography of New Orleans Second Line here.)

Confluence

I’ve been working on a woodcut for a collaborative print which I’ll be producing with three other artists at Wingtip Press. Our piece features a bird’s eye view of the Boise River which runs through each of our very differently patterned blocks and ties the four pieces together. Each of us chose a theme appropriate to the river — cottonwood fluff, a nest of goose eggs in the tall grass, trees along the river’s bank, and my block which has an overall pattern of feathers.

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The process of creating the block has been really satisfying as I had forgotten how much fun it is to carve one, and then be able to make multiple images. I literally had not carved a block since I was 9 years old!

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While all of this was going on, I got together with a new friend I met a year ago but had not been able to reconnect with until now, and who I’m sure I’ll be sharing more information about in future posts — Betsy Balch. Betsy designs scarves which she produces and sells, and I have one of her beautiful cashmere “bandana” designs (which is frankly awesome with my painted cowgirl boots!).

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Betsy loaned me one of her favorite inspiration books (which I will also be covering in a future post) called The Printed Square which is a picture book of vintage handkerchiefs like this one:

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Now, I don’t know about you, but my mind can’t help but make one of those “SET” combinations I’m so fond of out of all of these things. And then, throw in the Boise river too, and what have we got? We’ve got confluence!

Confluence: the coming together of 2 or more streams, people, or things; their place of junction; assemblage.

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I LOVE this kind of thing! Birds of a feather coming together my peeps. Birds of a feather!

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Second Helpings: Crab-Walker

Every once in a while my art actually gets to serve a purpose beyond just looking good. I do decoratively paint things I use — boxes, spoons, chairs, doors, floors even — but this item has turned out to be useful in a way I didn’t anticipate when I painted it a couple of years ago.

Ladies and Germs, the Crab-Walker…

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Yep. That’s a walker. A pretty cool one actually. It has wheels and brakes, and a cushy seat which hides a removable wire basket for carrying your picnic or art supplies.

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Marilyn Cosho gave it to me on the off chance I might want to paint it for a show we both participated in called “Helpers” which was sponsored by IPUL as the opening exhibit at the CAAC.

Evidently it’s not the sort of thing art collectors collect however, so after the show, and a stint hanging around IPUL, it came back to my house where it provided alternative patio seating for the most adventurous of my guests.

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Now it turns out this unintended Second Helping is really, truly “helpful” and even more serendipitously, “zodiacalogically appropriately” helpful because it now belongs to a Cancer!

So if you see the Crab-Walker and its new owner while you’re out and about in Boise give them a shout out, but don’t distract the walker. Service Second Helpings need to stay focused!

And to its new owner let me just add — Swift Recovery! I hope this makes it easier for you to “Walk-n-Roll” until your broken wing has mended!

Inspired By: Barbara Bowling

I love it when I can get out of my studio and into another artist’s. Especially if the other artist also has a really cool house and a sweet dog (who is very tolerant of Lula careening around in her space), and the artist makes me lunch, and we spend all afternoon yakking.

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I’ve mentioned Barbara here before. We’ve got that 1 degree of separation thang going on that runs rampant in Boise. I love Boise.

Anyway, Barbara’s studio is top notch. She has a separate space for metal smithing…

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where she makes covetable jewelry like this beautiful brooch…

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Barbara is on a mission to bring back the brooch. (Get them while you can, she may be moving on to tiaras next!)

She also has another room especially for enameling.

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There were several enamel pieces displayed throughout the studio, many of which featured images of beloved canine family members, both past and present.

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This is Lacey, canine family member, present. Such a sweetie.

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(Lacey found Barbara, like Snug and Lula found me — at the Idaho Humane Societythey should call themselves Best Friends R Us.)

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But I digress.

Barbara has a PhD. in Horticulture which means she can tell you’ve been cheatin’ if the leaves on the blackberry bush you painted wouldn’t leave teeth marks if they bit you — how’s that for esoteric botanical humor?

Actually it means many of the pieces she fabricates are botanically correct. Which isn’t nearly as dirty as it sounds. Dang it.

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She also fabricates enamel jewelry using the technique called cloisonne which she explains on her website.

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In fact, Barbara is teaching a sold out class on enameling for Community Education for the City of Boise right now. Another will be available in the Spring (3/31 – 5/19, 6:30PM – 9:30PM Mondays) and you can find out more by calling (208)608-7680.

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Thank you Barbara and Lacey for letting Lula and me spend the afternoon with you. We are inspired!

Frosty!

Woke up this morning and the ice had formed on the INSIDE of our bedroom windows. The heater was making “I’m going to fire off any second now…really…no, really…I think I can, I think I can…” noises which never actually turned into the heater coming on in reality noises. My weather app said it was 0 degrees in Boise, outside. Inside it was 51 degrees, and dropping.

I keep thinking about Little Women as I type these words wearing my fingerless gloves. Apple needs to come up with an app which warms your hands while you write. And maybe wafts the aroma of hot coffee every time you hit the return key.

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Anyway, Mike called the heater guys who are VERY BUSY because the entire city has been frozen inside a giant snow globe.

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And in spite of the fact that today is Sunday (yes, I know you are reading this on a Monday which means I am ahead of the game for once –ho ho ho!) we had a really nice heater guy here within an hour. “Cool house.” he said when he walked in. He wasn’t referring to the temperature.

(This is where I mention again that in Boise there is never more than one degree of separation between any of us. I might also add that is just so like Boise to have a moment like that highlighted on a day when the temperature has warmed up to…wait for it…1 degree.)

Turns our our heater guy is married to a very fine artist whom we know, and he is sympathetic to the (shall we call it a “down-side”?) practicalities of an artist’s life. He charged us zippity do dah beyond the cost of a Sunday/Off Hours/Emergency call. This is all coincidental mind you. Boise serendipity. Thank you heater guy! You’re my Heater Hero!!

As I am now getting the sensation back in my fingers I can share my Frosty Cup and Saucer with you, which was after all the original plan for today….

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This is a Second Helpings cup and saucer which I painted and SOLD a few years ago before we moved to Chicago where we lived for two years.

One day after we had moved back to Boise…
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(this is Chicago in April in case you are wondering why we might have left such an artistically dynamic city) I was shopping at my favorite secondhand store and there was this cup and saucer on the shelf with the other misfit cups and saucers.

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Of course I bought it! And no, I didn’t mention to the cashier that it was my work originally. I’m working on humility.

But who could resist that little face?

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I won’t lie. It was very weird to find my work back in the same secondhand store where I had found the original black glazed cup and saucer. At first I was miffed that whoever had been given my cup had put it out with their charity donation. Then I was impressed at how much more they expected me to pay for my misfit cup and saucer than for any of the others on the shelf. Then I was miffed again that I was going to have to pay for something I had painted. Then I was embarrassed that I was going to pay for something that I had painted. Then I just bought the damn cup and went home and had a big ass cup of coffee in it. Hot coffee. And it was good.

I guess the message is heater guys can be heroes, and misfit snowmen can melt your pride, and in Boise, the lower the degree of separation the warmer the connection!