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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What makes you CRAZY?/ What brings you PEACE?

In our last post Eileen shared with you our latest Creativity class project-her presentation was fabulous! She had taken pictures of all of the postcards and created a Power Point presentation for the class. The presentation captured her theme of memories/impressions of a day. Such a great idea as we get older our memories do fade-well at least mine are...
My presentation was old school: A big piece of butcher block paper with my 12 days of doing the same thing-attached. For 12 days I asked my students and the adults I work with at my Elementary school to create a response to, "what makes you crazy?/what brings you peace?" I then posted the responses and let other staff members comment. I posted the display in a hallway which staff has access to but not kids. The secretaries at work sit at the end of this hallway and they told me many people stopped to view it! As I was taking it down to bring to class-2 colleagues were near by, "Hey, you aren't taking that down are you? We love it!"  Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the display which I titled, "The Curiosity Project-an Interactive Art Instillation"-but I have pictures of pieces of it....
A child qualifies their responses.
An Adult response.
Both kids and adults find READING soothing!
 Another adult response
Wacky Kid response!
 Profound adult response-
Profound kid response-
I hope you all find peace on Thanksgiving this year and forget about the CRAZY!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The post card project...

At my Creativity Studies at the School of the Art Institute we were to make a list of 25 things we were curious about.  Then we were asked to create a "game " based on one of these subjects..  It is easy to come up with ten curiosities but 25 was a stretch. It really made you think beyond what comes up on a surface level and what bothers you deep down.  For me, the one that stuck with me was "lost memories".

As I am getting older it really bothers me that I do not remember all the adorable things my children said and did.  As they are getting older I am mourning the loss of their youth.  It is bittersweet.  I am so happy for the experiences, opportunities and love that life has to offer them but I miss being the one who supplied that love and everyday experiences. I cherish my Sunday calls but I wish it was so much more.

I also lost both of my parents within the past 3 years.  I am trying to keep those memories alive but wish that it was easier.  I want to remember more of the everyday memories, the ones that helped form my development but they are fading.  The ones that come easily to mind are supported by a photograph or a story told over and over again. I wish that I could remember everyday of my precious life because I truly appreciate how precious it is.

For my "game" I chose to make a post card each day for 14 days based on the visual memory of the day. Sounds easy but with my limited artistic ability proved to quite a challenge.

Here are a few:

To remember a day shared with a friend who is trying to stay on the right path.

The warmth my heart feels when my kids come home

To remember a meal shared with a friend whose son will not be coming home again. 

In honor of Lucy who pushes me outside my comfort zone

All I could remember from this day was how tired I was and could not wait to sit down to rest.

 Next entry will be about who I sent these cards to and why.

Have a good week.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is ART an acquired taste?

I have vivid memories of being dragged to the Art Institute of Chicago once a year as a family outing and HATING every moment of it! NOW going to that same museum and wandering is a looked forward to and relished event in my life. Are museums and ART viewing like spinach (at this point in my life something which I love) something kids grow into?
I still can not convince my adult children to join me in going to an art museum...this past weekend our daughter Virginia and I visited our youngest son George at his college-Miami of Ohio. It was his fraternity's Mom's weekend. Quite a lovely affair with many activities planned....BUT Saturday afternoon after the required trip to Walmart and before our dinner engagement-I suggested we bop into the Art museum on campus. I couldn't even bribe them to join me. What I did talk them into was a walk around the sculpture park outside of the museum!
"Only if we can pose as models in the pictures." WHAT?! Really, you can't just smile?
A little bit of a smile on Virginia....
Always fabulous to be with our kids. Throw ART in and it is a perfect day!
Maybe I will be able to influence the grand child more than I was able to convince my own children? CAN'T wait to try....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Milwaukee Art Museum

I feel kind of strange writing about Art after Lucy's beautiful post about sadness in our friends (and our) lives. I know we are at that stage and we need to embrace all the beautiful moments we can but at times it can seem a bit superfluous. I do know I feel better after observing and appreciating beauty.  It sure is a lot healthier than other ways to "escape" the pain of a time.  I am not giving up my Sauvignon Blanc however.  I have cut it down to 3 times a week which I feel is quite acceptable.

I played hooky from work and took a Friday field trip with my good friend Barbara to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  I had heard it was beautiful but I was truly moved by the architecture, setting and art. It is such an accessible museum. The rooms run into each other and the art can surprise you. You do not get bogged down in certain periods which can happen in the larger museums.

Strangely what I took away from the museum was not only the art but the friendly and docent like security guards. They were happy to walk you to a certain piece, give you suggestions and tell you about an artist or even art movement.  When I asked how they became so knowledgeable they said they are included in discussions about new pieces and listen to the docents.  I am sure their down to earth Midwestern attitude helped as well.  The museum hires well.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the museum.

By Tara Donovan.  Entirely made of buttons.  Amazing.

Chuck Close.  Early work.

Gabrielle Munter.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her work.

Folk Art section.  A bit of the "Possum Trot".  It was mechanical and had singing.  Hilarious.  I do believe the security guards do go a bit batty with the music.

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein assembled turkey and chicken bone chairs.  Who'd a thunk?

Lastly, the beautiful sculptures of Harry Bertoia against the Lake Michigan waves.  Exquisite.

All of this blogging and my class at the Art Institute have finally sparked me to start creating.  I will write about that next time.  Have a good week all.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The ART of living each day

In the past 6 weeks I have experienced the highs and lows of an everyday life. I have been surprised by my inability to act when confronted with grief. How part of life is learning to live with profound sadness which makes the unexpected joys in life such a surprise. But heaviness is a part of our human existence...
The heavy heart I carry is for 2 different friends who are experiencing great loss. Different circumstances, yet both friends have to live with a tragedy which has struck their families-specifically their children. As a parent I ache. As a friend I have cried with my friends and tried my best to comfort. Both friends have been overwhelmed by the kindness of family, friends and even strangers responding to their family tragedy. Experts say that "time" really is the only healer-THEN how do individuals carrying such heavy emotional loads get up and function every day?! As a "doer" being still and letting time heal is a huge challenge for is cliché to say it is the little things in life which bring joy. Maybe celebrating the kindnesses of life is an ART?
The inverse of grief is tremendous joy...
Our son James and his wife Amanda are expecting our first Grand child! (I am thinking a grandma at age 49 should be called something other than grandma-maybe "Lu-Lu?") James is serving in the United States Army and will be deployed in February. Amanda is due in April. My first response when they told me was, "Hey maybe they won't send you now that you are going to be a parent?!" James assured me that the army does not work that way.
 Life brings things which we don't plan. As I am immersed in my reflective 50th year my mantra has been. "Keep Calm. Do more Art." My friend Eileen is a much better observe than I am-maybe I need to take a lesson from her and start observing.
On November 11 Chicago experience the first snow of the season. It started snowing about 2 in the afternoon-my third graders went crazy. I need to be more observant and view through the eyes of my students the joys of this life!
The neighbors heard my screaming when the birth announcement arrived!
Silly post cards which I made as part of an Artist Way project-the act of drawing without worry of judgment is a little joy for me.
I received these flowers at school - a wonderful act of kindness during my crazy parent teacher conference week-with an attached card "Best of Luck with conferences Love ??????" I get anonymous secret admirer flowers 3-4 times per year....How luck am I that I am married to a man that continues to deny he sends me flowers these past 26 years?!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Poets on the beach

Hi all.   Back to Jenner California and those cool beach huts.   I love how people engraved or wrote on the drift wood.  I think it is always wonderful to see people reflect based on surroundings.  Being on the Pacific Ocean in a small remote town can sure bring that out of you.  Here are a few of the quotes and drawings I found.  Yes, they might have come from other sources (movies, books etc...) but they are thoughtful.

For you Harry Potter fans...

So true.  Leave your cubicle people...

Might be upside down but this is the way I found it.

Source Oprah?

From the Bill and Ted movie...

Be excellent to one another today.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Art at the beach...

When in California we spent a day in Jenner.  A beautiful to little town where the Russian River and the Pacific ocean meet.  We enjoyed a yummy cup of fair trade coffee and strolled the beach.  We were fortunate to see a large group of seals playing in the water.  It was very special to see them in their natural habitat.  They were just adorable.  Thank you to Mollie and Ted for being such good tour guides.

On the beach we came across these huts/party houses/shelters made from drift wood.  Wish these walls could talk.  I can imagine a lot of laughing and philosophical discussions taking place.  This is what they looked like from the outside.

Some were small and intimate.

This one had a bar area and a small sitting room.

I love how they made a small picket fence around this one and a gate to enter through.  Look at the ceiling.  So charming.

This is the dining room table of another with shells as plates. 

The really cool thing about this was that we did not see any trash.  No beer bottles, no wrappers of any sort. Good stewards of the environment.

Next time I will share some of the engravings found.  Very insightful.

Have a fantastic weekend!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

California slacking....

I have to admit I have a bit of a blog slacker. I wish I could say that I have had my head in the clouds day dreaming or in the final touches of my first novel but I have not.  I have been working, taking care of my family and trying to control our new puppy.  It is amazing how the addition  of an adorable little fur ball can disrupt your life. Now that I have explained my absence I can tell you about my trip to Northern CA, the picturesque land of hippies, wine drinkers, foodies and artist's. Talk about a  beautiful place to day dream and reignite your creative juices.

We spent 3 days in Calistoga which is in Napa and 2 days in Sabastopol in Sonoma.  My darling son is a harvest intern at a small winery.  An awesome job for a recent college grad.  Here we are at the winery where he works. We are very proud of him.

While staying in Calistoga we came across the Indian Springs Art gallery.It has some interesting wire and glass sculptures.  It also had a nice selection of figurative abstract painting that I was drawn to.  What really got me in the door was these potted trees with tags hanging from them.  They flapped and glistened in the sun and wind.  Upon closer inspection, each tree had it's own theme and you were encouraged to write your reaction on a tag and hang on the tree.Such a cool way to contribute to a communal art project and reflect on each theme.

What is your first thought to each theme?

                                                              "Past Loves"
This tree had reflections about loved ones who have died and those who got away.

"I want more..."
This one is sagging with wants...

"I want less..."
Not as popular.  Hmmm...

"One thing I am grateful for..."
What would you say?

"I am happiest when..."
Would your answer be different if you were alone or with someone looking over your shoulder?

"My best decision was..."
Interesting.  Many of the tags said "my marriage" and a few said "my divorce".

Till next time, I promise it won't be as long.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Yarn - Wine - Chocolate and Friends

This past Friday evening I was transported from my everyday worries and able to relax with friends at a very fun event! My work life as a 3rd grade teacher has been very difficult this year. What I went into teaching for 25 years ago- the love of learning-helping kids grow emotionally, intellectually and creatively has turned into test scores, goal setting and all about a number! I have had to adapt to a new model which really is going against what my core believes is best for kids. I should LOVE going to work. I work with precious, adorable, full of life 8 year olds. There should be JOY in everything which I do for them and with them. I've lost that Joy and it makes me really SAD....I am bogged down with the demands of unrealistic expectations that children need to have  "target growth points" for a computer generated standardized test. It is no wonder that I have 3rd graders dealing with anxiety disorders, teacher friends resorting to medication and a constant feeling that I am not doing anything right!
BUT- after another long week of staying late at school, sleeping less than I should and worrying about students....I attended a Friday evening Yarn Tasting. I met 2 of my knitting friends for dinner before the event. Since I have been bogged down at work I have not been able to visit with friends-so that was a LOVELY treat. We then went to a 2 hour "Yarn Tasting" at our local yarn store, String Theory in lovely downtown Glen Ellyn, IL. The owner-Janet had put together a Skype adventure with a yarn mill rep in Wyoming-Mountain Meadow Wool. We learned that this company was started by 2 women who felt it was important to try to help their local sheep farmers make a living. It was a fascinating story and another example of women taking a leap. We then got to play with the yarn from their mill. Janet had also organized a sampling of 2 wines from our local wine store and fair-trade chocolate from Ten Thousand Villages. I FELL in love with a luscious green yarn which I immediately had to have. I left the event having laughed with my friends, excited about a new knitting project and for a short time I was calm.
Saturday morning I woke-up thinking about the shrug which I stayed-up till midnight working on....instead of trying to figure out how I am going to cram the measurement unit into the next 2 weeks at school!
The Yarn tasting's supplies.
Participants engaged in the knitting process.
That is me on the right....engrossed and calm.