Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rotary Phones, Emily, and Art Hops

Begging for a plant.
Last Saturday’s Makers’ Mart in Toledo was the culmination of incredible hustle & inventory bolstering. A tiring-but-rewarding event, made infinitely more enjoyable by All Who Stopped By. Thanks, Friends! The event was sadly under-caffeinated, but the burnished food truck fries and buttery crab rolls were splendid. People watching, as always, is one of the best things about any fair; and this did not disappoint, though, what with the day’s hustle and the passing of a few days, the more deliciously freaky interactions/overheards have dissolved like dream fragments.

On the basis of visual entertainment alone, I’d like to award extra points to the vendors of tiny-cacti, planted in teeny clay pots, the new owners of which walked about, awkwardly holding their new succulents. Waiting for friends, cradling a cactus; browsing, one hand held aloft, away from the body.  I am quite certain that, sans packaging, I’d be unable to make it home without crashing the little pot, or spilling it across an unrelated display, or inadvertently abandoning it in some murky spot. They were much more confident than I. I envied the guy who passed by with a medium sized cactus, planted in a retro black table model rotary phone, spiky leaves arcing out where the number/letters had been. That was cool. But to commit, I’d still need a box.

I brought a couple art books and an Emily Dickinson volume to riffle through, and was quite happy I
did so. A full day of friends, strangers, new fans and casual dismissal is always a few hours beyond my limits – best to bring some book friends, for an instant oasis. And when is this NOT a good idea? This browsing, however, brought with it some unwelcome news: somewhere along the way, my ability to read and discern meaning from poetry has diminished. I used to read a LOT of poetry. A LOT. And I don’t think I was a tool about it – I wasn’t wandering around randomly quoting passages and missing the substance – but…I don’t know. On Saturday, I picked up Dickinson – read and re-read – considered death, the bee, captivity – and knew I missed a lot of each one. Sad little brain, what happened? I eventually ate the aforementioned fried food and felt better. Still disappointed.

Fast forward to a quick table break down under lowering clouds, a peaceful drive home, and a blissful reading bath the next morning, on Mother’s Day. I drew a bath on the sly and snuck into the tub, since my daughter would want to clamber in the moment she realized there was bath water to slosh onto the walls. I steamed and sunk into my water logged copy of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing; ate clementines and drank ice water. Lovely. Midway through, the child burst in:

“Oh! You surprised me, I didn’t know you were taking a bath.” A pause before she shrugged one arm from a sleeve, announced: “I will JOIN YOU!!”

I hurriedly said No, the water was too hot for her; I just wanted to read, not play (“—I will read WITH you!” countered the pre-literate); I would be out in a little bit~~

She stopped mid-negotiation. “I didn’t realize you could DRINK in a bath. I didn’t know you could EAT in a bath!...Next time I’m going to have a bath WITH A BOOK AND AN ORANGE AND WATER” I was able to scoot her out while she was all filled with purpose about future bathing options. A good start to a classic Mother’s Day. See also: breakfast in bed, chocolates and apricot ruggelah; flowers, and card drawings. All fine, and fine. ‘Course there were also meltdowns, anguish, and fury much later on in the day. But the start? Golden.

What comes next for prints and cards? So glad you asked! I happily delivered a new batch of cards to Nicola’s Books yesterday, so they will have a robust Cakeasaurus Prints card inventory for the Summer months.

Next up, the last show I will do for a while: Westside Art Hop. If you’re local, this is a really cool art fair/art walk to explore!

This Sunday, from 10-5, over 50 artists will display their work across 20 homes and businesses, across a handful of streets in the Westside of Ann Arbor. I’m excited to be at Gretchen’s House on 700 Mt. Vernon Ave, along with thirteen other artists. All participating venues will be marked by two red balloons, plus area signs. Check here for list of artists and here’s a handy dandy map:

No cover and a nice meander! Don’t forget to ask your artist for a sticker with purchase, to take advantage of the following local deals:
  • Conor O'Neill's - special reduced rate Art Hop menu
  • Washtenaw Dairy - adult size for the price of a kid size
  • Sweetwaters - Free 16 oz coffee or tea with any food purchase
  • Parrish framing - percentage off of next framing job. 
 Happy Thursday, All! I hope to see some of you this weekend. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Buttercup, Travolta and Gazelle Board a Car to Toledo (--> Maker's Mart, That Is!)

It's almost here.  It's almost here! For the past month I have been gearing up to sell at Handmade Toledo's Makers Mart and NOW, here we are, one day away! Last year's Winter show boasted a fabulous vendor list, plus ridiculously good grilled cheese and mac-and-cheese balls, so I have high hopes all around for this May show. Please come visit me in the tent adjoining the main hall! Scroll midway down to check out the robust vendor list.

I'll pack up my car after Rick returns from the first student matinee of his final Mosaic play-with-music, "Detroit to Dakar," which he also wrote and directed. It officially premieres tomorrow -->  tickets for this weekend or next may be purchased here.  His over-the-top production week coincided with my own intense week, which perforce coincided with a more tearful daughter. Harried fun for all!

Coming with me: spiffy new handcart, delusional blue footed boobies, improvised card sign bases to replace the *perfect* ones (now 20% bulkier, with uncooked rice!), bullying squirrels, angst-ridden groundhogs, hedgehog stickers, and random art books and Dickinson poems to leaf through on the off-moments.

Wishing Fellow Artists and all Attendees a Wonderful Show!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Venn Diagrams FTW Plus Say Goodbye, In Dog

A couple weeks ago, the girl and I had a rough patch. It was exhausting and infuriating, and followed close on the heels of a couple months of trading illness. The collective household was rundown, pining for Spring, and just a mite peevish. Now, the homefront norm -- at least with the under 4 y.o. set -- is debate over every possible thing, market haggling over bedtime variations, selected water glass, cutlery facing the wrong way; harsh words over block tower aesthetics, the slowness of adults, furniture climbing constraints, etc. This, we are used to. We get pulled in; or we skillfully manoeuvre around the verbal roadblocks (“Re-routing,” intones parental GPS. “Re-routing…re-routing~~”)

This rough patch, however, delivered us into different terrain. Without a pause, we had left the suburbs for…What? Off-roading in the wrong vehicle, with towering bramble hedges, hostile natives, and a high potential for ambush. To be fair, on my daughter’s end, there’s probably new construction underlying – and fueling – most behaviors. I DO know that a lot of our emotions must be listened to and then also grown and shaped by our peers and elders  – and ALSO that preschoolers are often “trying on” emotional ways of being. But it’s disquieting when a person shorter than a yardstick seems capable of contempt and menace. In short, one of the few highpoints from the week was doodling the following Venn diagram:

"Our daughter's in the center, right?"

A brief, inspirational selection:
  • “If you do not do [X ridiculous thing], I will take your skin off” 
  • “No YOU just don’t REMEMBER because I’m SMARTER THAN YOU”
  • Silent, grim plotting [inferred]
  • Sitting on top of a play structure, chortling, while the girl she has pushed to the ground cries. Glances triumphantly at father, as if he will share the moment.
Disclaimer: We have no kitten.

In truth, the following proportions may be more accurate:

On the more innocuous side of things, our daughter often informs us of surprising skill sets. While we think the world of her, we are apparently we of little faith, as far as she's concerned.

Yesterday evening* I was driving her home from preschool. *Also from a couple weeks ago.

"Sooooo," she begins from the darkness of the backseat. I turn down the radio. "I was thinking: tomorrow we could go to gymnastics."

"Uh hunh."

"Gymnastics won't be open, but they have a lot of ice?"


"So we could go and skate on it."

"Hmmm. Well ~~"

"Oceane [preschool classmate] says I'm not ice skating, I'm SLIPPING. But I can ice skate, so we could~~"

"Is there actually an ice rink?"

"~~No but there's a lot of ice and it's cold. And Daddy [principal ferryman to gymnastics] doesn't believe that I can ice skate. He doesn't want me to be in the parking lot. So I have to TRUST him and show him so he believes it. You. And Me. And Daddy, we can all go."

"So usually when people ice skate, they wear special shoes?" I steer and make eye contact with her through the rear view mirror. "And they have metal blades on the bottom and so you wear them and go along, wooooosh in them, across the ice--" I make weird slicing motions with my hands and arms.

She peers at me. "Maybe. But I don't think so."

Oh the certainty~~!  Part bluster, part wish. Or verbal doodling. Maddening, but fascinating. The first couple times she professed an enthusiastic love for something i just cooked, I relaxed into pleasure, ready to file the recipe into the child-friendly section of my mind. And then, less then two bites later, she sniffed:"Actually, I don't really like this. What are my other choices?" Wait, whaaaat? I have given up on trying to debate that one. It seems like she has warm up reactions, or specific faux-social reactions that she tries on; then abandons. And where does the true preference reside? I suspect she knows a small portion of the time, but she's game for playing whatever the role demands.

In any case, we have thankfully -- if mysteriously -- swung back to a more pleasant part of the behavioral spectrum. Whatever, however, we'll take it! She turned four on Monday (!!!) and so far, she is pretty much like a 3 year old, but more cake-filled, and armed with a Frozen bike.  

Favorite snippet from this morning, while out on her scooter. Two larger dogs lunge at their fence, across the street, as we draw level to their house. 

PS [shouting]: "WHAT...ARE YOUR NAMES??" They bark at us.
PS [to me]: I think they are saying, in dog, 'WE DON'T KNOW WHAT OUR NAMES ARE, BUT WE ARE DOGS'"
ME: Or maybe they're saying, 'HEY, don't come in our backyard! This is our house!' Because dogs tend to be very protective and they don't know us.
PS [pauses then shouts]: I GET IT! 
PS [to me]: I was letting them know I understand and we won't come over.  
Me: Ohhh, okay.
PS [shouting over her shoulder]: WOOF! WOOOF, WOOF!!
PS [to me]: I was trying to say goodbye, in dog. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Scooters: the Newest in Animal Transport, Plus BookEndless Kitchens

I did a thing. I did a new thing! Well, not BRAND brand new, it's a two color linocut. But for my first time in all these years using some nice sharp Pfeil gouges instead of my usual throw-away student things. After ALL THESE YEARS, you ask yourself, If I was going to continue with this endeavor, WHY would I deem proper tools an extravagance?

As well, last week marked the first week of using my mini hairdryer to soften up the linoleum blocks, even though this wee hairdryer has been stored in my work space, for just such a purpose, because god knows I don't use it on my head. Why does it take so much time to shift from the idly contemplative, "Mmm, yeah, that seems like a good idea"/ "Hmm, that beats what *I'm* doing~~" to a positive follow-through? I must first overcome my own crotchetyness before paring away the crotchety aspects of my process or surroundings. So: Bahhh! And wheeee! The lino -- supple;  the tools -- sleekly sharp. I had hesitated over the return, after decades, to palm-held tools, but once I picked them up, they felt natural. A calming, more controlled experience. Hopefully they will show through in my work -- but the process alone is an improvement! Nice to hole up in a warm corner of my basement while Winter rages on up above. I also spent some time since January going through the basement and my work area, getting rid of and finding places for the various just-in-case possessions. My work area feels more ready to work these days.


So, here we have the latest, on mulberry paper:

Visit Etsy listing here and check out my Instagram here for the second variation (bright pink, currently drying in the basement).

On the homefront, we have emerged from high fevered nastiness for the little one, capped off at the end with a plummeting geode bookend that landed on our daughter's big left toe. Justified wailing + pool of blood = hours in Urgent Care Random. We eventually had very good care*, and, but for some pitiful hobbling, she soldiered through. 

Per usual,  interactions with the resident preschooler range from the ghastly to perplexing, to goofy-cute. From this morning:

Me, startled by a suspicious pool: Why is the floor by your bed all wet?
PS, matter of factly: Oh, I was spitting there.

Me, failing to run my fingers through her hair: Why is your hair all crunchy?
PS: Oh I had a lollipop in the car last night
Me: Oh, you *know* you're not supposed to touch your hair with lollipop hands!
PS, indignant: I *DIDN'T*! ... (more as an aside) But then I forgot and I touched the lollipop to my hair.

Breakfast Humor
Q: Why did the pantry cross the road?
A: Because it has a handle!

Eating her avocado toast

Q: Why did the piece of avocado cross the road?
A: Because it was green!

From a couple days ago. She is at a work table in the basement, seriously inking a couple small lino blocks. I am reorganizing the space. I turn up the radio, sing along. She gazes up at me for a moment.

PS: NO dancing. [I shimmy and purse my lips at her]. NO DANCING. [she pauses, and mutters to her paper] ...This is not a wedding, NO ONE is getting married. 

*barring the ONLY nurse I have ever actively disliked. She batted an impressive pair of fake eyelashes at my slumped daughter and proceeded to coo over her, repeatedly likening her to a a little baby doll in a toy box, she was THAT PRECIOUS, NO SERIOUSLY, THAT PRECIOUS, and finally addressing the patient directly:"So, darling, who are your THREE FAVORITE PRINCESSES???" Celie kind of stared at her. She has discovered Frozen, and is as smitten as most -- Rick and I are inevitably on call as Elsa- or Ana- stand-ins -- but this question caught her up short. She seemed confused an adult would be posing it to her. The nurse pushed on to some other rote obnoxiousness, without ever addressing her about the reason for the visit, etc. She took the blood pressure gadget from the wall and I noted she could actually talk to my daughter about that. She asked sweetly whether Celie wanted to be a doctor and she exclaimed yes! Without missing a beat, Gender Stereotype upped her Weirdo game:"Oh GOOOOD, you'll make LOTS OF MONEY! You could buy your Mommy a NEW CAR, VROOOM VROOOM, YEAH wouldn't THAT be FUN and your MOMMY would LOVE THAT!" Celie remained uncharacteristically silent. She could tell something was different here, but didn't know what to do with it; I was just waiting for her to leave. Which she did, thankfully, soon after that. WTF.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Final Days for the Flowers; Go for a Ride in the English Countryside

New year, new creativity, right? Best to stoke the creative fires with a good museum jaunt. First outing of 2019: a trip to to the Toledo Museum of Art to find out whether Rebecca Louise Law's "Community" exhibit is as magical as all that ("It was magic?" asked my 3 1/2 year old. Well, no, not technically). It definitely falls in the category of more than the sum of its parts and good lord, it had a TON of parts. An attendant opens the frosted door as you draw near, so you glimpse the room only at its threshold. Hundreds (thousands?) of dangling garlands of local flora create pathways within the bare white gallery space. The flowers themselves (or seedpods, wheat stalks, berries etc.) were strung by kind, creating areas of suspended color, swaying ever-so-slightly. The beauty/sweetness is balanced by the dried/decaying aspect, though any decay falls into the faded/desiccated variety. I was too late to catch the "fresh" part of the fresh and floral exhibit (it went up in June 2018) -- I imagine it was initially verdant, lush -- but the delicately dried curtains were still rich. 


First reaction: quiet delight. I wandered about, grinning like a fool -- and making vain attempts to capture the wonder with mediocre picture taking. Second reaction? "How LONG DID THIS TAKE??" Even the more masochistic artist types would lose it before stringing a third of the room's garlands. And this, naturally, was the community aspect of the installation, which I failed to grasp until I watched the artist conversation video back home: Law invites local volunteers to participate in garland creation, so that her vision is collectively brought into reality. Back in the exhibit, you can see everyone else shuffling through, craning their necks upward, partially obscuring themselves for floral portraits. On this Friday, the audience is overwhelmingly female, barring a couple seeming boyfriends. A couple women tick off Latin plant names to each other; a handful of older women joke about their rowdiness (minimal); a young man and woman in matching blue "Dunder Mifflin" tee shirts come off as generally embarrassed. At the same time I lose my will to wander,  the gallery room strikes me as newly small. My picture taking isn't going to improve, and I'm not suddenly going to possess a deeper knowledge of flora and fauna. Do I feel more connected? Not so much to the community, possibly to the moment, or at least the day overall -- the freedom of being able to wander without hurrying to chase a child.  

"You're just so tickled!" says the woman at the door.  She extends her hand toward the door handle.

"Oh, it's delightful."  She asks if I'm related to someone who works there. No, I say, but it's a lovely place. Is she a volunteer, or staff?

She leans in conspiratorially: "I'm security. I'm the one whose supposed to break your bones if you get out of line!" As Rick often says of me: she fails to intimidate.

"...Wellll, I'll try to be good."

"Yeah," she says gruffly, "Tone it down."

--> This exhibit closes January 13th.

Next up is a short walk to the "Sights & Sounds" exhibit in the newly renovated contemporary art gallery. I am rarely drawn to, or have the patience for, extended video pieces, so I'm surprised to immediately get sucked into David Hockney's "Woldgate Woods, Winter 2010," a nine screen video showing an English road and woods from his childhood. It's 52 minutes long, silent, and hypnotic. The screens are displayed in a tight 3 x 3 square; and everything almost-but-not-quite lines up. Despite the deliberate jarring, and the ongoing driving forward of the camera/car,  it remains calm. 

The tire tracks ahead are deep, the tree branches and underbrush are all coated thickly with snow. It looks cold, but feels cozy with the trees on both sides. The sky lightens. A car pulls ahead, on our right, and travels far down the road, before mysteriously stopping. To what end? Eventually they pull away and dwindle to a dot. Birds dart in and out of frame. It's like front porch neighbor-gazing, without the pleasantries; fireside snoozing, barring the crackle and snap. 

Suddenly, the trees open up the left: And now! Such a feeling of freedom and space! And then, someone walks toward us. Obviously we don't know him, but will he interact somehow? But no, he tucks his head down, hands pocketed, and passes to the right. Second piece at the museum, second time being mesmerized,  contented. A voice inside me sneers: "Are you just predisposed to LOVE everything today?" in the tone usually reserved for "WHAT IS *WRONG* WITH YOU?" Maybe so, maybe not. Maybe I'm more open than I tend to be, but it's also a strong opening exhibit for this refurbished gallery. Artist-takes-on-nature is a classic, and as a classic, is in danger of falling into the trite. I haven't thought deeply enough to comment on the cohesiveness of the exhibit, but I will say the artist roster is impressive, as are the number of appealing, engaging pieces. 

From the Woldgate Woods, one also hears the ocean, and possibly sitar music.* Takashi Ishida's fantastic "Wall of the Sea" is responsible for the ocean's intrusion into the British countryside. Three screens, three identical white rooms. A projector in the middle shows a seascape on the far wall, which quickly overflows its smaller screen and pools out across the floor. Each room is rapidly consumed by different depictions of water -- calligraphic ink swirls in one, broad watercolor splashes, white paint on black surface; each screen is overtaken, before all recedes, the space is new again, then overtaken. Photographic footage of the sea is grey, grainy, blurry vs. the rich blue pigments used by Ishida. I love the whole experience of it, without fathoming intended messages.

Other favorites: "Frank," by Robert Longo (ESPECIALLY his process, haha!), Kiki Smith's "Seated Nude"** (clearly not a child's figure, but the overly large head is still so endearing to me. Creepy, but endearing), the elegance of Maya Lin ("Dew Point 18," "Silver Erie"), Jonathon Borofsky's business men screenprints ("2740475"), "Mount Rainier, from The United States" (gorgeous woodblock print from 1925, by Hiroshi Yoshida).

Definitely worth a trip. This exhibit is up through February 24, 2019. 

*Nope. Just a guitar. But very plinky!
**this leads me to a SUBfavorite, particular to all the 3D works: the overly large ALL CAPS

Signs. Hard to not imagine the total aggravation behind it. ...For the love of God, you're in a museum, people!! WHY MUST WE ALWAYS STATE THIS. People, people, people.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Studio Visit for the Win! Sunday Zen

Update: This is from a few days ago. You have one more chance to visit Laurie Eisenhardt's studio in Royal Oak, tomorrow, on Saturday the 15th.

Beautiful Sunday morning, sun-filled and cold. Yesterday was my last craft/art show of the year and tonight we light the menorah next to a decked out Christmas tree. This week I may manage to send a couple cookie boxes out, for the first time in a few years -- and in a couple weeks, we'll travel to Pennsylvania to be with my side of the family. Aside from down-trodding run-of-the-mill illness, the year seems to be wrapping up nicely!

This morning I paid a magical visit to Laurie Eisenhardt's ceramics studio. I seriously second-guessed myself about going: a long drive, I felt crummy, tired from yesterday's show, and I already had presents mostly squared away, so what did I think I was doing? Basking, as it turned out. A sign on the front door guided visitors to follow the hay path around the side of the house, up to the studio. The first thing you see are her tiles climbing the walls around the painted studio door, in iridescent tendrils.

Inside, music played, wall-vase heads sprouted leaves and berries.  A short table stuffed into one corner offered up ripe strawberries, glazed chocolate cookies. The studio's bounty of inventory was clear evidence of an established, highly functioning studio -- though it appeared neater, more spare than it had any business being. All chaos doubtlessly laying in wait behind the sheets lining the small, light-filled rooms. But visible, tiles everywhere: girls with tree crowns, leaping cheshires, grazing stags, miraculously scaled fish, shallow women-bowls with vegetables dancing in their skirts. Night skies with fortunes, sleeping moons, and star-babies. Lively and quiet; playful & mysterious. I was sucked in by the delight in her artwork.

Over the past few months, I have repeatedly come back to how joy resides in tools, through the promise of their -- and thus, our -- potential. And it's why old-school hardware stores and boutiquey kitchen stores leave me with the same happy glow: Ohhh, the things I could do! Even, it seems, when my fix-it levels are vastly overrated. Somehow it never occurred to me to view art purchases in the same way. Not *exactly* the same -- years of drinking coffee from gorgeous mugs have not morphed into spontaneous skill at the potter's wheel -- but in a broader sense, in surrounding yourself with loved art, you are supporting potential realized. You have signed on for someone else's creative journey. If you are a repeat customer, you are watching how their work evolves; you connect with some pieces more than others, some paths they explore, you gaze at from the roadside; but others feel familiar, or tantalizing, and in you jump.

When I was looking at Laurie's work and deliberating, I felt the uplift of consumerism, potentially acquiring art I liked, which also feels guilty and frivolous -- but why exactly should it be so?* But I also knew that whatever I brought home to have on my walls, would boost me whenever I took the time to appreciate it anew. Both for the inherent joy in the work itself, and in the knowledge that this tile began as potential, to which the artist committed herself. Our artwork isn't similar. Our skills and talents are different. But on that broadest making level, what a nourishing thing to have beautiful work around you that is physical proof of others committing to their vision and bringing that vision home.

*I mean, aside from the obvious indication of level(s) of privilege and ease.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Favorite Uncaptured Photo

Our daughter scrambled up my side of the bed and pounced on a nondescript sleep mask. "Ohhhh Moooooommy" she cooed,"This is TOO SMALL for you!" She held it against her xylophone shirt. "THIS! is JUST MY SIZE!"

"Oh honey, that's not a bra-"

"It IS--" she slid back down the comforter "-- and it's just FOR ME!" she ran into her room and slammed the door. Was she humming? She may have been humming. She had pig tails and little salmon pink grosgrain bow barrettes and her tiny person glasses with plastic flower beads on each temple. And now, as she proudly rounded the corner again, she wore fuzzy navy pants plus one shiny black sleep mask that was doing its best impression of a bustier. It did remarkably well, but for the nose bridge smack in the middle of her chest.* Rick and I were shaking with laughter, how could we not? Her eyes twinkled. "Wanna take a picture?" she asked, very sweetly.

"YES!!!-" I said and ran to find my phone
and "NOOOOOO!!!" Rick said, "DO NOT TAKE THAT PICTURE!!!"

and I found my phone, but she was already putting a t-shirt on, and now all that was really apparent was the nose nub and general bunchiness. I returned to my "Not a bra" stance and set about reclaiming it, so it didn't get swallowed into child world before the next time I needed to use it. Three y.o. was crestfallen, disbelieving. "You! YOU GO TO CARTERS AND YOU BUY ME A BRA!!" I sorried and sorried and said they don't make bras for little girls, it's only when one gets older and has a bigger body. She slumped on her crib-turned-to-bed, hung her little pig tailed head. And obviously, we are not ready for her to grow up and progress along those lines; and she has no idea whatsoever about the reality behind the wanting of the things, but I do respect this sense of entitlement, Mommy has these things, and I shall have them, too. Why would I not?

*I mean, really, how many objects can adequately stand in for other entirely unrelated ones? This, though is a game 3 y.o. plays pretty much constantly. But our adult brains just aren't as flexible.