Sunday, November 27, 2016

It Helps- a Bit

My world has been upended, how can I make sense of it?
The day after the most disastrous election in the history of our country, I had to load my car and drive in the rain down to NYC to hang my the exhibit of my work that I had been dedicating all of my creative energies to for the past year. I did all this with half-a-heart. But I got it done.

The next day, I returned to the city for the opening. A few friends showed up who said kind things about the work. I was pretty hollowed out with exhaustion and shock. We went to supper at a very noisy restaurant- inside I was screaming for quiet and surcease, outside I was putting one foot in front of the other. I spent the night with friends in Riverdale and then the next day took the bus back home to Kingston after a walk to Wave Hill and a much-needed reminder that nature and friendship abide and heal. And tea, lots of cups of tea.

I went back to work at the nursery to help close it up for the season. Closing up despite weather that implied that there was no need for this effort- the seasons had been suspended. Each of us would stop our tasks and try to talk through our disbelief and sadness with our friends, then coming to no conclusions, we went back to our labors. I would come home and collapse, sleep came fitfully and never seemed to help.

The nursery was finally put to bed. I woke up the next day with no schedule and sort of drifted for a few days. Read a lot, saw a movie (Arrival- highly recommended,) napped, puttered, petted my cat, drank lots of tea.

In the past, after big events, my creative well had run dry for a while- sometimes for a distressingly long while. I was expecting the pattern to hold and to have no drive or desire to go back into my workroom for a bit. But then I got an idea. This would be the second time I have been so smacked by my muse and I know better than to ignore it. I had signed up for a holiday market and been planning to have copies of the book and some pieces of original art from it and that would be that. But this idea hit me between the eyes and I have been making small pieces with a singlemindedness that surprises me. I am finding the process to be an anodyne and respite. They will go with me to the market, and then, I hope, to new homes.

I am using postage stamps from a "small" box lot I won in an auction several years ago. An 18" -on all sides- box filled with stamps for 5$. One day, I was bored so I started sorting them by color, filling small plastic bags with stamps. (That task is not anywhere near complete, but I did fill many bags.) These sat on the shelf for another year or 2. Then suddenly my muse came and dope-slapped me, directing my attention to these colored bits of printed paper. "Do something with these!" was the command- so that is what I am doing.

The series is "Mail-Order Brides" They will go for $100 each- there is a history attached to that amount that I will retell next time. Nine done so far, I have 19 days to go.







Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Up in the Air

Today has been a study in handling disappointment, nothing major but just enough to gnaw away at some of the confidence I need approaching the installation and opening of my solo exhibit at HERE Arts Center in NYC in 8 days.
I know I don't handle endings well and even though we still have a lot of work to do putting the nursery to bed for the year, today was our last official open day. From now until the end of November, the days will get shorter and quieter and grimmer- an object lesson in entropy. So I am a bit down about that. Then I got the notice that I did not get a residency I had applied for. It was a long shot- a very prestigious residency, and I am not a high-flier in the art scene.
And then there is my deep, abiding anxiety about the upcoming election, the building I rent in is on the market (reliving the foreclosure of 8 years ago...), I feel that there is little solid beneath my feet.
Then I remind myself of the solidity I have found in these years- the astounding knowledge that I have friends; my successful Kickstarter campaign and subsequent publication of my book: "The Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words- Illustrated; my month as AIR at Grand Canyon National Park; the growth of my work- including representation in 3 galleries, the upcoming show at HERE; the possibility- just a possibility as yet- that I may be able to rent a cottage in the countryside with quiet, dark skies at night, room to work, and room for a garden. I am blessed.
The only curse appears to be my own fears. And fears are not facts.


"Tempest VIII," bricolage, MMXVI, ©PMLaw


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Apace

Framing continues apace. The upcoming show consumes many of my waking thoughts and energies. So much so that I am recycling an old image and not writing about art.
You may not know that my second life is that of native-plant nursery manager. A year ago I was walking through Central Park on a day-trip to the city, and I spotted an absolutely spectacular Actaea pachypoda, common name- Doll's Eyes. This plant is one of those that takes a few years to make its statement and this lovely example has obviously been around for many years. Based on the seedlings we sell at the nursery, I did not know why anyone would go out of their way to grow this plant. After being bowled over by this stand with its fruit clusters larger than my fist with their signature cherry red pedicles and pristine white berries, I have added it to my list of plants I want to grow if and when I have a garden again.




Actaea pachypoda v. alba, White Doll's Eyes.

 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Art & Words- a shotgun wedding.

Art & Words: Today I had to spend some time writing materials for the public relations person at HERE Arts to use to promote my upcoming solo exhibit, "Means of Attachment." I had to write about myself/my work. I would rather have been asked to write about the effect of Brexit on the economy of Lichtenstein- I know equally as much about these two subjects; and I have no personal stake in the latter. I have a difficult time thinking about my own work much less writing about it. In my view, writing about my work is dissecting it, and to dissect something you have to kill it first.

When I am working, I am not thinking beyond a few simple rules I learned in school about composition or color- and I usually break them anyway. Mostly I am trying to make the thread that thrums between my gut and my brain vibrate pleasantly. When a piece is working, I feel happy- and I am not thinking. When I have to solve a problem, I am looking for that thrum- and I am not thinking. My brain is abuzz with inchoate hums and fizzes, colors and textures- I am not thinking. Occasionally, my upper brain will chime in- "you could use the stencil with the branch texture, it's over there in the folder." "Mmmmm, ya, ya, ya," the thread vibrates back, "color, color, nice, nice, happy..." and so it goes until all the vibration is happy enough and the piece is done.

I have a dear artist friend, Christie Scheele, who writes extensively and speaks about her work- and the work of others- with great insight, grace, and thoughtfulness. Another friend, Clive Hicks-Jenkins, also writes deeply, poetically, about his art. Their art is very different one from the other but I read their lovely, erudite words with bafflement and a bit of envy. How can they write so well about their work and still do their work so prolifically and beautifully? Why do I feel so tongue-tied about one of the most important things in my life? Is my silence really necessary? Time for a brooding, non-verbal cup of Tea...

"Storm Tossed," MMXVI, ©PMLaw



Monday, October 10, 2016

Post or Die

A good friend has told me that there is little on the web sadder and more reputation smudging than a neglected blog. She suggested I either post on a regular basis or just pull the plug on this blog. I have opted to breathe some life into this space. So...

Art: I am currently preparing for a solo exhibit at HERE Arts Center. The exhibit opens in exactly one month. I have stopped making new images and have started building frames. This is the most tedious part of my process and you may think it is merely a utilitarian chore, best left to framers. I see building the frames as the coda to my art making. I can look at the framed piece and know I built it all, it matters to me. I also have to admit that I began building frames as purely a way to save a lot of money when I was preparing for my first exhibit of the art from my Word Project 7 years ago. I had over 100 pieces to frame and it was impossible for me to afford custom box frames for that much art. Purchasing a router and a chop saw, lumber and glass were the only options left to me. So I made a virtue out of necessity and got to work. 
Along the way, I extended the connection between the handmade/craft aspects of my work to embrace frame making.
More about the art itself and the new directions it is taking soon.

                                              "Tempest VII," ©PMlaw/MMXVI

"Means of Attachment"
New art by Polly M. Law
HERE Arts Center
145 6th Ave, NYC
Nov 10-December 29, 2016

Words: New words for the second volume of "The Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words- Illustrated" have been politely tapping on the edge of my 'bran pie' for a while now. Once the exhibit is up and the opening is over, I expect that tapping to escalate to a more insistent knock. My seasonal day-job will be over for the year and the next few months will be there to be filled with art making. I have been promising a second volume for a while.

The first volume is available through me directly or at amazon







Tea: Gallons of iced tea with lemon, sweetened with stevia, drunk this summer. Now, with the advent of cooler weather, I have begun to drink decaf Lady Grey tea with or without milk during the day. Also, for the occasional treat- chai sweetened with stevia and a good slug of milk. I recently found my uber-tea mug. I will post a picture of it soon.

Okay, there is life in the old blog yet. So, are you happy now Michele?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Last minute hoo-ha, no insights

In less than 24hrs, I will be leaving the Grand Canyon after my 3 week residency. The sky is clouded over, for the first time since I've been here. What had been shocking, vibrant blue is now lowering and grey. It is still warm- in the 60's and will be tomorrow too. When I was emailing back and forth with the person in charge of the program she had said that some years they spent Thanksgiving in shorts & tee shirts, other times in full polar gear. There was no predicting what the weather would be, so I packed everything. It ended up that 3/4 of what I packed, I never needed. If I didn't have to drag my suitcase up and down all those flights of stairs, it wouldn't be an issue. Ah well.
Today, I spent my morning at the laundromat. I was surprised that there was anyone else there, but there are many tourists here for whom today has absolutely no cultural resonance, so why not get your clothes clean? Then I went for a hike. I took the shuttle out to the visitor's center/Mather's Point and then walked back to the Ranger Hqtrs to drop something off for my supervisor. I had burned out the tea kettle in the apartment and dropped off the funds to replace it.
The area around the visitor's center was full of people so it was good to get away from that area and just walk and enjoy the majesty of the landscape for one last time. Too many people taking endless selfies. Too many people talking about anything but the Canyon on their cell-phones. Too many whinging children. There is always somewhere to go hike or walk in the Park for an introvert like me- trails that are too far or not paved, away from the main overlooks and points. And since I am an acrophobic introvert to boot, there are enough of these quiet trails on the plateau. But I must say that the constant exposure to these potential plummets has lessened my acrophobia. Still not going to go stand out on the edge but I am not constantly getting the whim-whams anymore.
I had my Thanksgiving meal at the fanciest of the restaurants in the Canyon, some butternut squash soup and eggplant parmesan over polenta. I got a nice seat by a window. and pulled out my kindle to keep me company… but I had forgotten my glasses. I increased the font size drastically- maybe 20 words on the screen- and was able to read with just a little squinting.
Now I am back at the apartment and starting to pack up in earnest. What can I take down to the car? What won't I need tonight? Will I want to do some work? I just don't know. I wrote my Thanksgiving gratitude list yesterday, perhaps I will just meditate on that for a while- after all, I have time.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Better Late

How do you know when something is not working?
How do you know when it has righted itself?
I have a limited time here at the Grand Canyon. My residency is only 3 weeks and almost 2 weeks in I was struggling. I could not get a grip on the immensity that is the Canyon, the depth of time, the depth of the history of this place. I felt sure my puny mind was not equal to the task. I had produced two pieces that left me very unhappy. They were appreciated by those that saw them but to me, they were half-assed, trite efforts. Why had I thought I was up to the challenges?
Then, when I thought that I had made a shambles of my residency, and would have to return home with nothing but some failed pieces as a record of my squandered opportunity; a spark formed somewhere in my mind and slowly forced its way to awareness- an image was appearing of a piece using the starkly beautiful, powerfully geometric black and white patterns of native pottery I had seen at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
It also brought to mind the many fantastically contorted trees that dot the plateau. All in shades of grey, shadow and texture, line and volume.
I cannot deal with the rich reds and ochers, the saturated blue of the sky, the multicolored record of the eons of erosion and deposition as the Colorado River and the winds carved their way down to sea level. Too much color, too much confusion, and also too much of a trope- available printed on a multitude of items in the many gift shops here in the Park. Black, white and grey with hints of underpainted color would be my palette for these new pieces.
So that is what I have done, am doing. The smaller piece was completed quickly and without internal struggle- it created flow. Blessed flow. Creative crack for artists. I finally have done something true to myself and my mission here. Another, more complex piece- inspired by the tree forms- is nearing completion. My world has righted itself and now I feel the press of time. I have to pack up on Thursday, as I give thanks for the abundance in my life. I leave Friday morning early to begin the 4-day drive home. I will while away some of those highway hours sketching in my mind the works I hope to achieve over the winter in my studio.
Do I wish I had reached this place earlier in my time here? Yes, Of course I do. But that isn't the way it happened and I am just very grateful- and relieved- that it happened at all.