I have a tree painted on the back of my garage with leaves made from pieces of soda cans, stapled loosely so that they rustle delightfully in the breeze. Against the trunk is painted ‘The wind of change may not blow you someplace different but it might shape you into something more beautiful’. I write this on the cusp between the Covid shutdowns and the George Floyd riots. Many businesses have been shuttered so long they may not survive. Some have been so impacted by the new health restrictions imposed on reopening, they have given up. Now we see others burned or looted out of existence and yet others may be unwilling to continue in some neighborhoods. I have a friend who has been through several careers. She describes the changes as getting to a point where she needed to reinvent herself. This year it seems many will need to reinvent themselves or make adjustments to how they live or work. One of the adjustments I’ve been considering is to make some work more easily shippable, so it is less prohibitive to sell online. I decided to experiment a little with refractured acrylics on canvas; lighter weight than panels, but also a different medium for the refractured part. The first experiment (above) was relatively successful. Another couple items that came out of spending time at home was an update to ‘Busting the Bard’. This is now available in paperback and kindle from Amazon. And the fourth poetry and painting book ‘My Next Breath’ is close to being complete. (Click here for links.) It is available as a paperback but my proofreader and the person writing an intro on the back have yet to have time to do this, so there will be an update hopefully by the end of this week and I’ll create the kindle version then. I’ll order hard copies once art fairs restart or other outlets need restocking, but if you’d like to get a signed copy let me know.
I will have work in two online shows: Jun 6-Jul 12: 6x6x2020 Online fundraiser for Rochester Contemporary Art Center Jun 2nd-Aug 30th (approx) The Planet of Joy at Lark Gallery Online. This may develop into a physical gallery show next month and I should be on a Q&A Virtual Art Talk on Zoom soon. I’ll send another email when this is set.
I decided to spent some of my new free time to call people I haven’t seen in a while, or have stopped seeing in the course of life because of the social distancing. I also decided to use the time for some more poetry. On Sunday afternoon I sat down to write a poem but didn’t find any inspiration, so I decided to call someone. I got voicemail. So I called someone else. Ditto. Eight voicemails later, I had my inspiration.
A quiet day with little going on,
in Covid times the schedule is quite bare.
I miss my friends, hope they have not become
statistics with what’s going on out there.
I guess they also won’t have much to do
so thought I’d be the one that would reach out,
pick up the phone and say “Hey, how are you?”
not leave our friendship’s worth to me in doubt.
But all I got was voicemails! Every one!
Had I missed out on something? Checked the news…
there’s really nothing different going on!
I guess just me that’s sat here with the blues.
They’ll all call back at once, that’s what they’ll do
And get my outgoing voicemail message too!
Having gotten to the point in life where I can order from the senior menu, I was eligible to enter the 55+ show “Visions: A gathering of Elders”, and this was it turned out the last time I was able to go to a gathering before the world imploded. True that people were observing precautions such as elbow bumps vs. handshakes, but otherwise it seems that the elder wisdom was the same as for having a bad cold. Don’t cough on people, and go home and feel sorry for yourself for two weeks.
Last weekend in Palo Alto, we were setting up booths – we start early because there is only one line of traffic allowed down the streets because of the way we set up, so the people on the non-traffic side get there at 5am to set up. By the time we’re done there’s usually a little trash that comes out of the process, and there was with mine.
Walked down the street a little to where I knew there was a trash can next to a neighbor’s booth. This is what I found.
Nice cover. Is it incognito? I wonder which artist got paid to design that?
I asked the artist next to it if it was something of his he’d rested over the can. No, the city people had come round and put the covers on. What? On a day when they expect a lot more people than usual and have many food stands, they close the trash cans. It did not make sense. Fortunately I have a few plastic bags in the box of tricks so I deployed my own trash can behind my desk for myself and my neighbors to use.
Later, when going to the restroom, I found the city had deployed larger trash barrels near the food stands and porta potties, marked recycle and landfill. It’s always interesting to go to different cities and find what is and isn’t regarded as recycle in different places, but I’m not going to do a survey on that. life is not boring enough.
Sometimes I think poets go through all the circumstances themselves so they can write about things from a personal perspective.
Outside of prejudice, a place that’s learned
like old wives’ tales, absorbed at parent’s knee
to recognize the ones that should be spurned,
no why, just that’s the way that it should be.
Inside of prejudice, that face is turned,
for reasons I can’t fathom, away from me,
til whispers, giggles stop when I get near
and conversation turns to other things.
I know I am the joke I cannot hear
and my imagination then takes wings
and rises on the heat of latent fear,
the wind that is despair, and all it brings.
Outside of prejudice can see no wrong.
Inside of prejudice I don’t belong.
Before you get too excited about my achieving second place with my chalk painting last Saturday in Moreno Valley, it was a very small field of competitors. I also had a small booth at the art fair and my beloved was being the store keeper for me, while I wore off my fingerprints. I discovered fairly early on that our choice of space to set up (chosen because putting Doug under the tree in the shade would allow me to use the umbrella to keep the blacktop I was working on from melting my fingers), was in front of the band. The band (there were several during the course of the day) and the between-bands background music was LOUD. So, to relieve Doug and allow him to walk around and repair his eardrums and sanity, I hurried through my work.
The need for speed was exacerbated by wind which took the umbrella for a tumble and meant I had to chalk with one hand while quickly rubbing the chalk into the now-scorching blacktop with the other. I finished in 2 hours, and apparently was the only one who completely finished, though other chalkers, intending to take until 4pm created larger compositions.
I had a limited amount of blue, so did the surrounding ‘atmosphere’ in red, rather than follow the original, and created far less clouds than on the mixed media painting this was based on. For this it’s more about the message than the accuracy of the map.
“That the world is round reminds us that we are on the same side.”
Just warming up for the crowd. The Middleridge tasting room is in a beautiful building in downtown Idyllwild.
Yesterday I was scheduled to attend two gallery receptions (blissfully perfectly timed so that I could, despite the 90 minute drive between them) for galleries who have my work. The first is the group show ‘Art Uncorked‘ held at Middleridge Winery in Idyllwild. This is the first time I have shown there, and there were eighteen artists in the show, most of whom were in attendance and who I got to meet. Spoke to a lot of interesting people about both my work and theirs – and not just artists.
One thing that jumped out when talking to most people about my work – I have hidden the poem ‘Arrows‘ in the painting so well, that hardly anyone found it without being told to look for it.
The “Jeni Bate” wall. I have two other round pieces in the show which will be in the upstairs gallery.