Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fun Field Trips: the Hospital Edition

The world premiere exhibit of my Cakeasaurus Picture Book Project happened this week, in my happy hometown of Ann Arbor, MI. Sound the trumpets, unroll the red carpets, get ready to sip wine and munch sweet, flaky niblets! Alas, no opening reception, since it's at a hospital, but Rick delayed his cross-country travel by a day to see it, and we had an unlikely restaurant + hospital date. Not the first such date, I recall now -- in general, I do not recommend it.

This, however, was quite satisfying. The photos I took don't really capture the scope of "Cakeasaurus: Scenes from a Picture Book." It's one thing to have half-done sketches taped up on the dining room wall to spur one on; to have prints and sketches occupying a basement wall in order to work through a narrative -- but how different to see the story laid out, in public, across ten display panels, all properly framed, along with extra frippery and signage nonsense! 

Five display panels in back, cleverly paired with Janet Kelman's glass art
The cruelty of non-edible confections

Digital prints and original block prints share the wall
At the penultimate panel, but is it this story's end?
"One Fateful Night" print (L) vs. double page picture book layout
Possibly dingy at night, but wonderfully bright during the day
The gallery, one of several throughout the University of Michigan Hospital, was deserted in the evening. Metal gates were locked to clinic floors. Janitors wheeled carts of cleaning supplies around the perimeter. Medical staff coming off shift bade each other goodbye; an older couple wandered past from the nearest parking structure. The quiet suited our visit.

Special three panel version of "Cakeasaurus Left Happy for Another Day"...
...Which led to failed attempts at recreating Cakeasaurus' triumphal strut. I may have been on a heavy prescription at the time. Still, a fairly accurate depiction of how it felt to see the exhibit up!

Here's hoping that adults and children who must frequent the hospital for any extended time will chance upon the exhibit, dive into the story, and be distracted from the heavier side of life.

We are fortunate to have top-notch hospitals in our community -- and that more hospitals have programs like "Gifts of Art," which connect art with healing and vitality. Check out their Facebook page and  current gallery schedule here.    

Monday, March 13, 2017

Which Would You Rather?

At a certain point, you don't write, because you *haven't* written and beyond the normal level of chaos, self-flagellation -- though quiet -- exerts its own weight.

So first thing's first: what's happened since the Fall? Well! The biggest, most exciting piece is our move to New Orleans. I never did make my own Calas cakes after that first jaunt so many years ago. Memories of glorious expanses of wrought iron, great buskers, and Django Reinhardt-esque performances at the Spotted Cat surfaced periodically in my mind. So Javier and I entered into discussions and you know how Rilke said that once you commit your will to making a thing happen, somehow the stars align? Well, the stars aligned. So long story short, now it's Javier, the toddler & myself, keeping company with the likes of Anne Rice, dusting off Nic Cage's pyramid, and collecting little plastic babies for the next round of King Cakes. Points to us in the game of Life!  We will happily accept all rejoicing, advice, undercurrents of envy...

Or....hmmm. What WAS true was that by October of 2016, training for the Iditarod was already entering high gear. My mushing skills were woefully underdeveloped, much to the confusion of my canine team. By the end of the first week, I was nursing bruised ribs and a deflated ego. I couldn't help remembering that one day in college when I convinced myself I would spend a summer on an Alaskan fishing boat, banking money and hardening myself to life in one fell swoop. Regardless of the animals involved, Alaska did not seem to be such a good plan for me...

And so here we are in Michigan, a few days out from a massive power outage (the more fortunate among us, that is). Snow has been falling since early morning and I have been checking out heavier decorative papers in the basement that could be used for a birthday crown for the little one's second birthday.

I go back and forth on the amount of time to invest in a crown, as she was delighted by the first one, before ripping it up and crying over it in less than 15 minutes. "Tape it! Tape it!" she demanded. "Bwwwoken," she moaned. She spends a lot of time destroying things and then getting upset about it. She has grown supremely confident in my limited fixing skills. A relative newcomer to language, but she weighs in, like everyone else. "Tape it!" she tells me, when the dining room light won't turn on. "Not worrrrrking," she observes from her car seat, as I curse my non-starting Subaru. She sighs.

The will to be an active agent, and the confidence to forge ahead in spite of reality, is definitely one of the most endearing aspects of toddler-hood. Any time a kitchen timer buzzes, she shouts, "I GET IT!!!!" before she barrels ahead, from wherever she was. No matter that the timer is never remotely in her reach. No matter that I get it every single time. There will be a time, some indiscernible time, when she will take charge of the timer. And know what needs to be done afterward. In the meantime, here's to the agency of the almost 2 year old.