Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I have found a place and put down the deposit. I don't know whether to laugh, or cry.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life as an Open Book

One of the most unfortunate consequences- among many unfortunate consequences- of all of this has been my inability to create new works. Whether it has been due to the press of outside events, the necessity of action spent on moving, or frankly, the anxiety, exhaustion and despond that have overtaken what little free time I have had, my life as an artist was last in line for my attention. I was also afraid it would not come back when I was settled in whatever new place is to be mine.

But there is a show coming up on the WAAM schedule: Altered Books, that I had put on the calendar when I was still chair of that committee and I felt I needed to enter something. I became interested in Altered Books a few years ago. I love the synthesis of context, sub-context, creativity and the artful use of what's at hand (bricolage.) The techniques overlap/intersect with my work with my dolls and I have incorporated my doll work with the books in the past. But, the book work is time intensive- much time to core out the pages, build the structures etc. Time and energy I just don't have right now.

Fortunately, I found a book I had already cored-out, but then had become stuck as to what to do with it further. Having worked under advertising deadlines for over 20 years had taught me a thing or two about how to get the creative juices flowing when needs must. I bless that experience now. I actually came up with something that I think is half-way decent. Well, decent may not be the best descriptive...

The book I worked on is titled: Human Heredity and the chapter the book is forever open to is titled: Sex. So, a golden egg on one side, flying screws on the other... I am just so happy to have done this even under all of the pressure being applied from the outside. Will it get into the show? I have no idea- but just having something to enter is reward enough.

My search for a live/work space continues...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dismantled Life

One of the conditions of my being able to stay until the 15th of September is that the new owners can begin work on the outside of the house. Today one of the owners came with contractors who started measuring. I stayed in the studio making calls, continuing my search for a place to begin rebuilding my life. An hour or so after they left, a dumpster was delivered and parked in the drive. Unfortunately, it had been used previously to haul garbage and they didn't clean it out enough- it stinks. I hope it was not intentional. If it was, shame on them.

The enormity of my loss has hit me this evening. I look at the stars spangling the sky and listen to the crickets chirp. Today the remnants of the garden were alive with butterflies and birds. Soon, I will not have that view of the dark sky nor the butterflies or birds. My world will be much more bounded and less green. I also keenly feel the loss of all the dollars I spent on this place, none of which I am getting back, the furnishings that haven't found new homes that will end up in the dumpster, the plants that I lovingly chose and planted that will undoubtedly be ripped out. I do not think the new owners care about Wafer-Ash, or Golden Club, or Flame Azalea- if they don't sell them at Loew's they probably don't want them.

I have not felt this alone and forlorn since the night after my mother's funeral when I was left in her home, all alone, with none of my familiar distractions or comforts to ease my loneliness and loss. I was 500 miles from friends. My brothers had left without apparently any thought about how it might feel to be stranded in that house. That is how I feel again, now. I might as well be back there with only overwhelming feelings of loss and sadness, I might as well be 500 miles from anyone who cares about me.

I have to go to work tomorrow at the nursery, I have been away too long. I am afraid of what I will come back to, what fresh reminder of my failure will greet me on my return in the evening.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I had my court date yesterday and even though I was visibly shaking and sure the end had come, I was able to make it through. I felt like a real wuss but I have not been sleeping or eating well, nor really relaxing for the past several months and it is taking a toll. My lawyer handled the negotiations and the questions and was able to secure me a few extra weeks to find a new home and work space. I am so very grateful. I have been working on clearing out the 15 years of living and creating done here, sorting, selling, packing and saying goodbye. The house is pretty much bare except for some sticks of furniture that I sleep on or store my clothes in. The rest of my remaining worldly possessions are in storage or piled in boxes in the kitchen waiting to go to their new home wherever that may be.

I then went into town to get some supper and stopped in to see a friend in his used-book shop. He knows what is going on in the village and when I told him what I was looking for, he came up with some suggestions. So, I actually slept most of the night- a real accomplishment. I have my goal for today: hit the village and talk to the folks Richard suggested and see what shakes loose. I am feeling that slight swelling of hope again and that is a lovely, sacred feeling. So, for today I have a roof over my head, food to eat and clothes on my back- and a list of possibilities.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Step Back

The Studio Tour went well for me considering the change of venue and the economy. It was a long weekend but I was pleased with the results. I did get many, many strokes for the quality of my work. I am resolved to take my work to the big city and look for a gallery there. It will undoubtedly be another sisyphean slog but I must get my work out into the bigger world.

Finding a place to live has not gone so well. My dream space has been rented, but not to me... I had gotten together the funds to secure the space and called this morning ready to plunk down the dollars but it was not to be. I was and am so disappointed and the anxiety level is being ratcheted up. I need to be out of here and I have no where to go. I looked at an adequate space in Kingston, the nearby city, but it would disqualify me from the Tour and I couldn't get out into green as quickly. Miniscule kitchen, fluorescent lighting in the ceiling and the constant hum of the air conditioning unit for the downstairs business- oh, and its on the third floor with a narrow staircase. I don't even know if my studio worktable would be able to be moved up the stairs.
However, I may not be able to find anything else.

I can't really do anything else today so I just have to let it go. But I fear I am stuck on the bank, watching my future flow further and further away from me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Art's Not Here

This coming weekend is the 6th Annual Saugerties Artists Studio Tour. I have been a part of the Tour for the past 5 years, not only showing (and selling- a trend I hope continues) but also acting as the web mistress and general graphics gadfly.

The Tour is a group of 25 or so artists and craftspersons, there are numerous comings and goings, and coming backs, every year; and we open our studios one weekend every August to the general public. This means months and months of planning by the group- and I want to emphasize that this event is organized, promoted and run by the artists ourselves- and days of frantic cleaning and tidying of studios immediately before the Tour weekend.

The loss of my home and studio threw a real monkey-wrench into the process. The new owners, a corporation of local real-estate brokers, do not want people on the property so it looked like I was not going to be able to show and sell this year. I was crushed. The Tour has been a real locus of much good energy in the local art community and I have loved being part of it.
I was therefore blessed and am eternally grateful to another member of the group who won't be showing this year due to prior commitments who said I could show my works at her studio. Bless you, Loel, for your kindness. I am also grateful to the other artists for allowing me to bend the rules and show at a studio not my own. However, there was a price to be paid- 2,500 maps had to be altered to reflect the change. So, some hours and many little stickers later, all the maps have been corrected. My thanks again to the stalwart group.
This change however, has not been without its bizarre consequences. I had emailled around to everyone I know locally about my search for a new place to live. When the map came out, someone noticed the change in my location, and, putting 2 and 2 together, got 5 1/2. There was a rumor going around that Loel and I are living together.... now, I like Loel but we aren't that close. And besides, I am still working on securing my dream space and all sales I make this weekend will speed me toward that goal.
I will also have to answer many well-meaning, but uncomfortable questions about my altered life. Many of these folks saw my old studio being built, and will be curious about what happened. I'm not looking forward to that and will need to remind myself that these folks have probably left their mind-reading caps at home and don't know how painful this is for me. Some of them may have left their courtesy-cloaks at home, too.
So, if you live in the Hudson Valley of New York, come by this weekend. I'm #25 on the map- the artist with the really great art, and the weary smile plastered on her face.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


The sale is over and I had my expectations set too high. Despite moving a lot of items out, there is still way too much left. I had also been hoping I would make enough to allow me to secure the dream space and buy me some time to find a compatible studio- or room- mate. That did not work out. So here I am rattling around in this house that is not a home, everything is at sixes and sevens and I am very, very sad.
I miraculously retain a flickering ember of hope, like a pale ghost of a star glimpsed in a momentary thinning of the clouds. Just a hint, but if that is all I have to cling to tonight, it will have to do.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Priced to Move

The big sale of household goods is tomorrow and Saturday. The past 2 mornings the fellow who is handling the sale has been here pricing the mountains of stuff. He keeps requesting that I not be offended when he prices, say, one of the hundreds of teapots I had collected, at 10 or 15 dollars. Am I offended? No. I have only asked that 3 items be priced a little higher, otherwise I have been granted the gift of detachment from all these things.
I see my choice as either remaining shackled to this monstrous burden, trying- and failing- to keep up the pretense that I am not bent over and struggling with both the physical and the psychic weight of it all; or I can let go of it, hopefully getting some much needed cash in return, and be able to walk upright again. I choose the latter.
The detachment truly began with the death of two of my cats a few weeks ago and I am working through my grief about them and the studio and garden and can see glimmers of hope. Yesterday, I took some time to sit on the porch and read. Just about that time the quality of the air shifted and it became clearer and drier. I stopped reading and looked at the old willow gilded by the westering sun, felt the breeze and realized that I was..... happy. I soaked it in like someone who had been crawling through the desert and had found a spring of clear, cool, pure water. True, it did not last- I can't say I am as happy right now, but I have retained a small bit of optimism.
I also have had to detach from a space I found that other than the price is perfect- in some ways it is my dream. I have taken steps to find someone to rent part of it as a work space to make it affordable and anything beyond that is out of my control. So I have had to detach from it, if it was meant to be it will happen, if not well, I have until the 21st...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Lesson in Semiotics from the Attic

Have I spoken about the bowl? I believe I have- ah yes, when I was boasting about not having accumulated much... a bit of braggadoccio I have had to swallow raw and without any salt.
The bowl came to mind as I was clearing the attic in preparation for the sale of household goods this weekend. I found little to keep, much to let go of and even more to think about.
    Here is what I have learned about myself-
  • I apparently love, love, love Christmas with all the trimmings. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of ornaments and odd bits picked up at post-season sales and yard sales. Thinking about it, yes, I do love Christmas, and I miss the celebrations of my childhood. I had long-realized I wanted- no ached- to have this house be the place my whole family gathered for the holidays; why else would a single person need a house with three bedrooms? But, it never happened- what remains of my family lives almost 500 miles away, they have jobs and families of their own. (More about the Christmas thing below.)
  • I also crave lots of little bitty bits of light judging by the large number of skeins of Christmas lights and boxes and boxes of candles I had. (For those of you too young to remember, Christmas lights were once large, clunky and only put up at Christmas time unless one lived in a cantina somewhere very far south of Poland, Ohio and sported hoop earrings.) I have always loved the idea of a kitchen strewn with small white lights, a porch illuminated by flickering candles. These fantasies also include lots of friends eating the wonderful food presented in the large bowls... it all ties together in one big semiotic orgy. Ask me to tell you about Stockholm in the late autumn sometime...
  • I have started many schemes and not finished them: funky wreathes smothered with the Christmas ornaments I had gathered; silk-screened prints- made the frames and the separated images; small pieces of furniture painted a la the Omega Workshop. All of these started but then abandoned, some further down the road than others.
  • Blank books with the intention to write in them everyday; this category includes date books and other devices to make me organized. I see now I should just be organized instead of looking for magical devices that I hope will effortlessly make me so. ( I was in Barnes & Nobles this afternoon and saw some- yes, blank books- and was this close to buying one. I then remembered the stack of blank books I have to cart to the dump tomorrow and, casting a wistful backward glance, walked on.)

So, this is the semiotic stew-pot I am living in. I am glad to see now the casting in 3 dimensions the realm of my desires- I want family; I want warmth and conviviality; I want dancing, soft light; I want to be connected to others; I want abundance but not burden. As of today, I still don't have a place to live after the 21st of the month... but, these qualities are largely interior, they are not dependent upon place. My mental attic is getting cleared out in preparation for .... what?
(Did I mention I found a place I would love to live in but...)