Choose Expectancy...Still Learning

Recently, I read a story about a teacher who wrote down all the negative things occurring in her students’ lives.  She crumpled them up, and hung them over the door as a reminder to be kind to others for we don’t know what they are going through.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in being kind.  However, all I saw was a bag of doom and gloom hanging overhead, and I thought to myself, “What a depressing way to start the day.”  A constant reminder of the negativities of life.  Do we really have to remind ourselves of others’ misfortunes to be kind?  

For every difficulty, there is something positive to be learned.  Strength, courage, opportunities come from adversity.  The old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” is true.  

Perhaps, if we took those negative things listed in the bag of doom and gloom and found the positive in those situations we would all be a little happier.   We would begin to expect what can be done in spite of our circumstances.  

“What you think, feel and do is what you see, hear and attract.”-James Altucher

What you believe about yourself has lasting effects on your future.  Your future and all it entails.  Your health, your income, your overall success in life, are based entirely on what you think will happen.  If we start seeing what our circumstances have to offer us, we stop the limitations.  

Start expecting more.  Expect the positive.  As an artist, though this applies to everyone, expect the day to go smoothly.  Expect the talent to come.  Expect you can.

“One will never get more than he thinks he can.”-Bruce Lee

Turn the difficulty into an opportunity.  Fill the bag with blessings and hang that overhead.  Expect to be blessed when you enter the room and blessed when you leave.  

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Choose Speech, today's that day

Here we go again.  The topic of moving to an abundant mentality and the choices you make to get there.  Have you ever heard the saying, “The words you speak become the house you live in.”?  Well, there’s truth to that.  Studies have proven that your subconscious mind interprets what it hears literally.  In other words, your mind and body will follow where your words lead.  

Being an artist, I am constantly bombarded with negativity from others.  From criticism regarding the artwork itself, to ridiculing my career choice, to all out negative judgements about my intelligence and net worth.  Just this weekend, I was subjected to: “There’s no money in that.”  “Sounds like a lot of work.  It wouldn’t be worth it.”  “That won’t sell here in St. Louis.”  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  Of course, there were many people complementing me on my work, talent and courage, too. 

However, none of the positive complements can I quote verbatim.  That’s because positive and negative memories are handled by different parts of the brain.  Everyone’s brain.  Artist.  Accountant.  Athlete.  A negative memory takes up more space; therefore, we remember the negative more than the positive.

Knowing that our minds naturally gravitate toward the negative and that our lives will follow, it is important to combat the negative, no matter where it comes from, with positive thoughts and positive speech.  Positive language about you, your journey, your dreams help you to rise.  Rise to the challenges of life.  Rise to meet your dreams.  Just plain rise.  Negative language, as one would deduce, works exactly in the opposite way.

Since all brains work the same, the optimist has either learned positive self-talk along the way or according to some studies was born that way.  The optimist will distance herself from negative life situations and tend to congratulate herself on positive life occurrences.  Pessimists will dismiss their positive life occurrences as dumb luck, diminishing their efforts.  Pessimists love being the victim.  Optimists love being the victor.  

Self-talk, whether it comes out of your mouth or it stays in your head…affects your perspective.  Regardless of genetics, it is possible to move from being the victim to being the victor.  Positive self-speech can hep you push toward becoming the victor.  It’s a choice.  It takes work but it will be worth it.  There’s money in it. 

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Today's Playlist

Three More Days-Ray LaMontagne

The Wrong Side-JJ Grey & Mofro

Missing My Baby-G Love

Tupelo Honey-Van Morrison

Street Corner Preacher-Amos Lee

You Are The Best Thing-Ray LaMontagne

Solid Simple Thing-Tad Benoit

Had My Reasons-Anders Osborne

Thursdays

Thursdays.  Priority number 1.  Trap that darn cat.  Five years of Thursdays.  Roughly 260 attempts.  Ok. So, that’s a lie. Some days it’s too rainy, or too snowy, or just too cold.  Some days, he is a no show.  As of late, it’s been a constant battle with raccoons.  Yet, I swear by persistence.

Today.  I set the trap but he is wise.  He heard the rattle of the cage and fled.  He has not returned.  Yet, I sit…watching, waiting, guarding.  The last thing I want is to trap a raccoon instead of a cat.  They can be nasty.  So far, I’ve been lucky when it comes to raccoons.  They have been nothing but sweet.  Perhaps sneaky but sweet.

Once, nearly 20 years ago, a couple of friends and I spent a week camping our way up the West coast.  Day 4, we arrived at camp.  The Redwoods.  Midnight.  We unloaded; then realized, we were out of firewood.  I chose to stay behind while my friends drove back to the gate for timber.  It seemed wise at the time.

It was dark.  Really dark.  The forest was so dense that it blocked out the light of the moon.  I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  Litterally.  Not wanting to drain the battery from the flashlight, there I sat in the darkness.  Cross-legged.  On the picnic table.  

It’s funny what happens when you can’t see.  It’s true…your other senses do kick in.  I strongly sensed I was being watched.  I could feel it was close…whatever it was.  I listened.  I strained to hear.  Movement.  Breathing.  Anything.  I got nothing.  

I grabbed the flashlight.  My senses were correct.  There they were.  Eight sets of eyes belonging to eight raccoons.  I was completely surrounded.  All eight on their hind legs.  All about four feet away.  All about three feet tall.  Staring.  Just staring.

Not knowing if spooking them would cause them to flea or attack, I chose to turn the flashlight back off and sit.  So far, it had worked.  Seemed logical at the time.  So, there I sat.  In the dark.  Quietly.  Motionless.  After about five minutes, I checked again.  And there they were.  All eight.  Still in the same position.  Same stance.  Same stare.  Apparently, we think alike.

So, logically, I turned the flash light off again and began the wait.  Shortly thereafter, my friends returned.  

Today, I wait again.  Guarding my trap from raccoons.  Yet, this time I wait on a stray.  A very wise stray.  Persistence will pay off.  I will win.  

Who's at the Farmer's Market?

St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair

It’s Saturday.  It’s early.  8:30am.  I’m standing in line at SudAmerica waiting to order.  It’s a beautiful morning.  Lake St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair.  It’s already packed.  I grab my empanada and chicha morada, and wander through the fair.  Exploring.

Veggies.  Lots of veggies.  It is a farmer’s market after all.  Hand-made aprons.  Soaps.  Even dog treats.  I wish I had a dog.  I wish I knew a dog.

A booth of photography.  I must see.  One photo in particular catches my eye.  “Early Morning Ride.”  The vivid colors of the hot air balloon harness my attention.  Not an easy feat.  I have a hard time looking away.  (See the photo below and you’ll understand.)

I break my gaze to chat with the artist.  Kent Smith.  He, like all the vendors here, is local.  Friendly guy.  Considers his art a hobby, as he is retired.  I say my adieus.  Move on.

Grass fed beef.  I smell coffee.  As I’m still savoring my chicha mirada, I pass on the coffee.  That was quite possibly one of the best empandas I’ve ever had.  I see a sign that reads, “Organic.”  I make a quick right.  Tomatoes.  I must have some tomatoes.  Maple syrup.  Jam.  Cherry Vanilla to be exact.  All Hart Beet Farm produced.  Hart Beet Farm, outside of Eolia, Mo, doesn’t just grow organic, sustainable food but they also collect wild fruits, mushrooms and maple syrups.  Obviously, they also make their own interesting, unique flavored jams, as well.  Check out hartbeetfarm.com for more information.  

For now, I must move on.  Goose Poop.  I can’t resist.  It’s Grandpa Spencer’s Original Gourmet Mustard.  It’s a salsa.  It’s a mustard.  Kind of.  Definitely delicious.  I buy two.  And you can, too.  They are available at Ellbee’s General Store in Wentzville or on mustardking.me.  Check it out.  

From a few “doors” down, the smell of wood-fired pizza fills the air.  Too bad I had an empanada.  Nope.  That’s a lie.  I really liked that empanada.

So, let’s see.  I’ve successfully purchased 5 tomatoes, a bottle of syrup, a jar of jam, and two containers of Goose Poop.  What else?  Ooooh.  Cutting boards.  I’m not in need of any at this time.  However, these are gorgeous, and they make great gifts.  Iris Woodworks.  I grab a card.  Iris Woodworks make their cutting boards from exotic woods.  The combinations of wood grains and stains are truly beautiful.  Find them on Facebook…Iris Woodworks.

Oh, no.  I’m out of chicha morada.  I meander back to SudAmerica.  A South American, mostly Peruvian, bakery.  They’re here every week.  I’m tempted to get another empanada but I have lunch scheduled with friends at BC Kitchen.  For now, the chicha morada will suffice.  

With my chicha morada in hand, I wander back through the fair.  I hear “Celebrate” coming from my right and a little gospel music coming from my left.  It’s still early.  Still Saturday.  It’s going to be a beautiful day.

Lake St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair happens ever Saturday 8:00-12:00, approximately April through October, at the Meadows (20 Meadows Circle Dr.) in Lake St. Louis.  


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Kent Smith, KC Photography  “Early Morning Ride” Framed print 20X16”  Permission to by Kent Smith

Kent Smith, KC Photography

“Early Morning Ride” Framed print 20X16”

Permission to by Kent Smith

photo by Natalie Avondet; permission to print by Kent Smith, artist

photo by Natalie Avondet; permission to print by Kent Smith, artist

photo by Natalie Avondet

photo by Natalie Avondet

The Pulitizer Arts Foundation's New Exhibit

Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt

Rarely do I pass on Egyptian exhibits.  I have no plans of missing it today.  I’m not at home; so, I journey to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation along a different path than usual.  Heading South or what I think is South on what I think is Spring St., I glance to my left.  I catch a glimpse of a shell of a church.  Interested, I round the block.  The Pulitzer can wait.  

I park.  Step out of the car, cross the road and examine this one-time church up close.  No roof.  No windows.  No doors.  All that remains are the block walls, now covered in ivy, and a sign that reads, “National Memorial Church of God in Christ.”  I wonder what happened here.  Did it crumble in decay?  Did it burn down?  Was it burned down?  The walls have been braced with steel beams.  Someone or someones care deeply about these ruins. 

Peering in, I see it has been tagged with graffiti.  Someone else’s effort to claim it as their own.  Leave their legacy.  

Master, why did you tolerate his insults? You should have challenged him to a fight? 

I must google this church when I get back home, because now, I must do what I set out to do.  

Get to the Pulitzer.  I walk around the corner and across the street.  Enter.  Claim my brochure and head down the hall.  

I see four artifacts.  No descriptions on any of them.  I realize I might want to read my brochure.  I find a seat.  I’ll paraphrase.  

“The exhibit features forty statues and reliefs…from the 25th century BCE to the first century CE…The ancient Egyptian religion taught that statues and reliefs in human form could be activated through rituals to host the spirit of a deity or a deceased person…a means for spiritual forces to act in this world.  This quality…established [the objects] as targets by those who viewed their power as a threat.”  

Power?  They held power?  Interesting.  I’m having a flashback to a Gomer Pyle episode.  Seriously, now?  Why am I thinking about Gomer Pyle.  Really?  Yes.  Really.  I’m bringing up Gomer Pyle: USMC Episode #15 in a big way.  Let me explain.  In this episode, Gomer has difficulty leading his platoon until he is given his grandpa’s lucky charm.  Unbeknownst to Gomer, during the middle of his drill, the charm falls to the ground.  He, however, continues to lead his platoon flawlessly.  In the end, Gomer learns the charm only held power because he believed it did.  The true power was in his own mind.  

Back to the brochure…Power.  Hmmm.  The things that make you go hmmm.  As I said, interesting.  “This exhibition examines specific moments when clashes between competing leaders, religions, and ideologies resulted in iconoclasm-the intentional damage to, and the destruction of sacred and political images.”

Statue #1 Hatshepsut

A former female Egyptian ruler.  Her forehead is damaged.  It once held an image of a snake that was intended to protect this monarch from her enemies.  She has been decapitated and her nose has been destroyed.  The ancient Egyptians believed that burning incense under the nose of these statues awakened the spirit inside.  Destroying the nose of the statue would prevent the spirit from breathing, and thus, awakening.

This statue was apparently destroyed by Hatshepsut’s successor.  In order to keep her spirit from returning and regaining power, her successor attacked the symbol of protection and then, suffocated the statue.  He was Egyptian and therefore, he, too, would have believed in the mystical powers of these statues.

Statue #12  Isis

A statue of the Egyptian goddess, Isis.  Per the brochure, “Christians who sought to abolish all polytheistic religions destroyed many ritual objects.”  Correct.  Christians didn’t, nor do they now, believe in multiple gods.  Quoting the brochure again…the statue’s head and feet have been removed…”signs of an attempt by Christians to render the statue powerless.”

“Christians widely attacked ancient Egyptian statues and reliefs, motivated by a deep fear of the old gods.”  Hmmm.  Interesting.  I’m reminded of Isaiah 45:18-21.  The things that make you go hmmm.  I don’t know what these early Christians were thinking.  

However, if I were in a battle with another, my first goal would be to destroy the other's source of power.  If their power was an arsenal of weapons, a cobra on the forehead or rabbit’s foot, that’s what I’d go after.  I’d cut the head off the snake.  I might fear heavy artillery but never a talisman.  The charm holds no power to the non-believer.  Then I, too, would leave it as a reminder to the believer that their power is gone.  But that’s just me.  Maybe I’m a girl who grew up watching too much Gomer Pyle and reading too much Sun Tzu.  Now, that’s something that’s really going to make you go hmmm.

If someone brings you a gift and you don’t take it, to whom does it belong?  The one who offered it, of course.

Statue #37  Fragmented Triad of Memkaura, Hathor and Nome god

“The statue was found in an area of Memkaura’s temple accessible during the Islamic Period when it may have been reduced to a rectangular shape by Muslim Egyptians.”

After Muslims conquered Egypt in the 7th Century, long after the Christian invasion, the remains of the statues and reliefs were then treated as raw materials.  They were repurposed as building blocks.  The reuse of these statues is not considered iconoclasm because the intention had nothing to do with destroying their power.  As stated, the statues and thereby their power, real or in the minds of the Egyptians, had already been destroyed.  There was no need to re-destroy it.

I end my tour, and at the conclusion of my brochure, I come to a section entitled, What are the origins of ancient Egyptian culture?  Wanting to know more, I continue to read.  Egyptians were a thriving African people who created a distinct civilization.  I’d say.  They amassed a huge wealth, built those massive pyramids, and survived over four thousand years.  “Within the relatively inclusive ancient society, being Egyptian meant practicing the culture’s religion, speaking its language, and submitting to the king.”  So, if you adopted their culture, you were considered Egyptian.  “Yet, at the same time, people from civilizations that existed outside geographical bounds of Egypt…were considered foreigners.”  Hmmm.  That makes it sound like everyone lived happily side by side.  Did they?  How did they gain their wealth?  And just how did they build those pyramids?  Things that make you go hmmm.

As I drive away, I circle back by the National Memorial Church of God in Christ.  Its remains are simply beautiful.  Perhaps even more beautiful.  Especially the way the light shines through the circular glassless window.  I recall it’s tagging.  The beat goes on, my friends.  The beat goes on.

It’s the same with envy and insults:  if you refuse to accept them, they belong to the one who offered them.

The things that make you go hmmm.  

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My Day as an Artist

Coffee.  It’s 4:30am.  Coffee.  My husband is leaving at 6:00 for a golf tournament.  I get the day to myself.  A full day of uninterrupted work.  Sort of.  You’ll just see how uninterrupted my day will be.

Coffee.  My second cup.  Devotion done.  Time for meditation. Positive thoughts.  Breakfast.

5:30.  Shower.

6:00.  He’s out the door.  I’m on my own.  Do I get a third cup?  No.  Not today.  At least not now.  First things first.  Bossa Nova on the Bose.  A rough sketch.

It’s now 7:00.  Where did that hour go?  Positive thoughts.  Positive vibes.  Ahh.  “The Girl from Impanema.”  I wonder What she looked like?  Pretty sure she doesn’t look anything like this sketch ‘cause it’s a he.  

I stop to change the music.  I’m just going to hit shuffle.  Stretch my back.  Check my phone.  It’s time for Kombucha.

Should I start a load of laundry?  Sure.  Up the stairs.  Whites.  Now, down two flights.  Laundry is in.  I climb back up two flights.  

7:30.  Finally, I get to paint.

Wow.  It’s noon.  Have I really been painting that long?  What song is this?  Food.  I need food.  Laundry.  Crap.  I forgot to put it in the dryer.  Down two flights.  Dryer is on.  Up the stairs.  I grab some water, a protein shake and some strawberries.  I check my email.  Facebook.  That’s a hilarious cat video.  Social media.  Blogging.  I hate it.  I always feel misunderstood.  Nothing is ever interpreted how I mean it.  Come on.  Positive thoughts.  Take your own advice.

1:00.  Back to work.  That looks like crap.  What was I thinking with those colors?  COME ON.  Positive thoughts.  I step back.  Tilt my head.  Take a deep breath.  Start again.  Step back again.  Ugh.  Is that the door?

That’s my husband.  It’s 3:00pm.  Did I get anything done?  Sigh.  

As I wash out my brush, I come back to the positive thoughts knowing it will all come together.  It’s not where I want it to be today but tomorrow.  In the words of Nina Simone, “It’s a new dawn.  It’s a new day.”

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Choose Your Thoughts

Thoughts.  We have them all the time.  Some good.  Some bad.  For me…some just plain weird.  Seriously.  However, I’ll take weird over negative any day.  My weird thoughts always make me laugh and that’s way better.

Good thoughts.  Well.  For some, it’s just not that easy.  It takes work.  Especially, if you are unfortunate to have grown up in a negative household or facing one negative event after another.  Life can seem unfair at times. 

However, there is always a positive way of looking at something, If you can’t find a positive vantage point, you can always look at the situation as though something negative is being removed and your path is being cleared. 

If you believe in being the Devil’s Advocate, then you, by default, must believe in being an Advocate for God or good.  After all, for every force there is an equal and opposite force.  However, I believe the power of positivity is far superior than negativity.  

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Now at CAM in StL

Per usual, before I exit my car, I adjust the rearview mirror, ask myself…”Which face shall I wear today?”  Lipstick.  Today, I wear lipstick. Pink Rosette.  I apply; exit the car; and head to the museum.  The door is heavy.  I pick through the complimentary brochures, and climb the stairs.

I am alone; though, I can hear a tour guide educate his followers on the floor below.

It’s a handful of photographs by Vashon High Schoolers.  All in a row along one wall.  Beautiful souls caught by the lens of a camera.

The photography on view, this photography, is a partnership between CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) and VHS, led by St. Louis based artist, Tiffany Sutton.  According to the CAM pamphlet, the exhibit is a collection of the selfie composed of “deliberate creative choices.”  The exhibit is an exploration into the “multitude of personalities” each student, each photographer, each and every person has.  In that we can relate.  However, for me to know or compare my experiences to these souls would futile.  I don’t know.  

Yet, here I stand in front of a photo of a girl.  She wears a pinkish head wrap and a military uniform.  “Do you see the child inside?  Do you see my wild side?” I love the contrast between what I assume is her everyday attire or the attire of her heritage and the uniform of America.  Two in one.  I want to know more.  More about her and more about Vashon High School.  I’ll have to research that.  I read the card.  Her name is Kayla Green.  I want to know more about who made the creative choice in this portrait/selfie.  Was it the subject’s, Kayla’s, or the photographer’s, Nicholas Allen’s?

I move on.  It’s another image of Kayla.  Military gear sans head wrap.  The next…Kayla in street clothes only.  She had a read head scarf.  Bright almost neon orange nails.  Very long.  “A woman who hides her fears, holds in her tears?”  Both of these photos were take by Allen as well.  I want to know more of the Kayla I see.  All three of the Kaylas I see.

The next photo I see is one of Allen.  Nick in Blue.  It, however, was taken by Kayla.  The subject has become the photographer.  Nick has cleverly been divided between light and shadow, hinting at contrasting personalities. “Can you see my dreams?  Can you hear my screams?”  Was the creative play on light and dark his decision or hers?  Who chose blue?  I want to know.  

Backing up, I examine all the photos.  All are intriguing.  Creative.  Thought provoking.  I am no longer alone.  A crowd has formed.  My thoughts are now being influenced by what others say; therefore, it’s time to leave.  

I reach for the door.  It is still heavy.  I exit.  Now outside, I turn back.  “I feel as if I am on the outside, lookin in.  Look at me…who do you see?”  I check my reflection in the window.  My lipstick is gone.  “Who do you see?”

“I have many faces.”  Funny the author is unknown though the poem can be found at poetryoflife.com.

ArtReach: Vashon through a Lens, installation view. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 17-August 18, 2019. Photo: Dusty Kessler.

ArtReach: Vashon through a Lens, installation view. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 17-August 18, 2019. Photo: Dusty Kessler.

Jamijna Westbrook,  Donyae , 2019. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist.

Jamijna Westbrook, Donyae, 2019. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist.

Choices

Recently, I was watching a news anchor I really respect.  She incredibly smart.  Highly successful, and beautiful.  What I found interesting was when she said that when she is ready to turn out the lights, she chooses to do one more thing.  She stops.  Looks around.  Thinks…I’m not done.  I’ve got enough in me to do one more thing.  So, what can I do today to make tomorrow easier?  

The act of choosing.  That’s life.  A series of choices.  Deciding to get out of bed is a choice.  Hitting snooze is a choice.  Jeans or pants?  Breakfast or brunch?  Arrive early or late…Yes.  For the most part, being late is a choice.  

Every choice has a consequence.  Every choice leads to another choice, and another consequence, and eventually your circumstance.  The sooner you realize the choice-consequence-cirumstance connection, the sooner you can begin to move in the direction you want your life to go…but that, too, is a choice.  I don’t mean to sound preachy preachy but it’s true.

For me, I choose how my day will go.  I’m not always correct which then forces me to choose how to respond.  Sometimes, it’s easy.  Sometimes, it’s hard.  Sometimes, I fail.  

Choices.  Choices.  Choices.  There are choices you make without even thinking.  Here are just a few:

  1. You choose your thoughts.

  2. You choose what you say.

  3. You choose expectancy.

  4. You choose how you spend your time.

  5. You choose your friends wisely.

Give that some thought.  Better yet…choose to give that some thought.  

Today, I chose to shower.  I choose to get dressed.  I choose to work…and I feel good.  :) 

April

The month of April.  Yes.  The whole month of April.  I spent it packing and unpacking.  I’m living on the air in Cincinnati…WKRP.  Seriously, now.  I spent the entire month organizing.  Our place had really gotten out of hand.  After 8 years of accumulating, the house began to suffocate, especially after the last two years.  It’s not a big place to begin with.

Because we have a plan, we need to stay here hopefully only four more years.  Thus, I cannot suffocate.  It’s not good for the living and it’s not good for creativity.  I had to find room, room somewhere other than out in the open, for our stuff.  As much of our stuff as possible.

It took a lot of creativity finding storage and a whole lot of letting go.  Basically, we’ve narrowed down to necessities, sentimental items and anything and everything I can repurpose and reuse.  

It’s been packed down; packed up; and packed tight.  It’s done.  There’s room to grow.  There’s room to create.  Not much, but enough for a few more years.  I can breathe.  I like breathing.

Poetics of the Everyday: Amateur Photography 1890-1970 at St. Louis Art Museum

As I pull into the parking lot, Sturgill Simpson leaks through the speakers.  “The dead will still be walking around this whole world alone.  Well after life is over the afterlife goes on...”  I put it in park.  Turn off the radio.  I mean my phone.  Hum the next refrain to myself as I walk to the entrance of the St. Louis Art Museum.  I like it here.  This time, I’m here for the Amateur Photography Exhibit.  

I keep walking.  I keep humming.  

Arriving at the double glass doors, I meet the exhibit.  I enter, and immediately, I’m hit with the wall of description…Poetics of the Everyday:  Amateur Photography: 1890-1970:

This exhibition draws attention to an extraordinary period beginning in the late 19th century, when portable cameras became available to throngs of enthusiastic amateur photographers…these photographs are rich in detail and complex in composition, entangling us in their small worlds.  As unique physical prints, they reflect a different relationship to picture making than we have in our digital era.  This exhibition helps tell a larger story about the history of photography…

A quick scan of the exhibit.  It fills two rooms.  Seems to be divided into sections of like photos.  Slowly, well, not so slowly, I meander from section to section; reading each accompanying blurb.  

I find myself lingering longer than intended in front of not one, not two, but three works.  Oddly, I can’t get Sturgill’s song out of my head.  I tap my foot.  Shake my hips.  Slightly.  It’s a slow song.  I’m in public.

One, a framed collage of black and white photos from long, long ago.  Mixed media on paper.  Photos salvaged, perhaps, and brittle from resting years in the bottom drawer of an old, old hutch.  Their destruction loomed with their resurrection.   I can smell the photos.  Feel their weight.  All have hand-written notes.  Names.  Dates.  Places.  All held meaning to someone somewhere but not to me.  I don’t know these people, nor do I know their photographer who was most likely a family member, a guest at the party.  Long gone.  

Two, a very eerie photo of a man standing in a field.  Ghost-like.  I laugh at the memory of how the development process was once just as delicate as these photos.  How if something went wrong somewhere that spooky image emerged.  The shutter glitched.  The light was too bright.  Something, anything that caused over exposure, a burn mark, or that faint image in the background.  That thing that sparked the imagination of the unexplained.  

My foot still taps.  “They’re just ghosts inside a dream of a life that we don’t own.”

I wonder, “Did the photographer know the gem he held?  Did she know someday, somewhere, someone would stand marveling at its beauty?  No doubt, the photo has faded over the years, but the fog complimented by the glitch in development sends a chill down my spine.  Did someone just blow in my ear?  Am I under an AC vent?  I step to the left.

Three, a series of a man diving into a pool.  Is it many different shots of one dive?  Did the cameras of yesteryear really react that quickly or is it different shots of many different dives?  Who is this man?  Who was the photographer?  The composition is truly lovely.

Alas, I come to the end.  A glass case filled with vintage cameras.  The cameras that once captured all these everyday moments.  Funny.  There’s a 1930s box camera.  A Beau Brownie No. 2 from 1931.  I have a very similar model that was my grandfather’s.  It sits on the shelf in my living room.  Every living room I’ve had for the last 30 years.  Pretty sure it pre-dates this model but not 100% sure.  I should check that out.

My thoughts then turn to my camera of today, or should I say phone of today.  Something that was once a luxury is now an everyday item.  Pictures we used to hold are now on a screen, untouchable.  My, how things change.  Yet, touchable or untouchable, weathered or pixelated, amateur or professional, the desire to hold onto a moment, leave a legacy, or create runs soul deep.  

“The dead don’t die anymore than you or I.  They’re just ghosts inside a dream of a life that we don’t own.  Well after life is over, the afterlife goes on.”  - Sturgill Simpson The Dead Don’t Die






Angad Art Hotel

Angad Arts Hotel.  Friday afternoon.  It’s a hotel.  It’s a gallery.  It’s an all-around art venue.  Several months ago, there was a grand opening.  A grand opening here.  Complete with a tour of each color-themed room.  Green.  Blue.  Red.  Yellow.  Yellow for happiness.  Red for romance…you get the idea.  All art-filled luxury.  

However, today, on this Friday afternoon.  I’m here for the gallery.  I park on the street.  It’s a beautiful day.  My heels are comfortable, somewhat.  I’m in no hurry.

The gallery is ground floor.  Right inside.  Seriously, you can’t miss it.  For a hotel that’s all about art…genius.  The floor, solid concrete.  Cracked elegance.  The North wall is a wall of doors.  Open one and find a visual surprise.  Pick up the head phones and listen in.  

Though again, today, I’m here for the newly installed Spring Exhibit.  Nick Schleicher.  Brandon De Sha.  Briana Kagy.  Zach Smithey.  All St. Louis artists.

It’s an atheistically appealing collection.  Modern and familiar.  Schleicher evoking thoughts of Rothko.  De Sha stirring my own personal memories.  Kagy, with her black and white “Touch- Me-Not Before” piece, I am taken back to the 50s.  Smithey, I can’t not hear KC & The Sunshine Band…but that’s just me.

Maybe I’m wrong.  I think I’ll take a seat and do a little research.  Did I mention the installation of chairs down the middle of the gallery?  Not sure if they are serving a dual purpose or not, I choose the floor.  

I start with Nick Schleicher, painter.  At nickschleicher.com, “his work ranges from color field abstractions focused on the process of painting as informed by astronomical imagery to sculptural forms inspired by domestic display.”  I revisit his work.  I still feel Rothko.  Very different but both have strong blurry fields of color.  Nice.  

De Sha, photographer.  The piece I’m drawn to, Untitled Collage #4, I believe it’s from his “Silent Hell” series which is described as “a series of self-portraits created as a means to express the personal experiences of struggle and inner turmoil.”  Memories are not always fun.

Kagy, printmaker.  “Touch-Me-Not Before.”  An image of the plant by the same name.  Black and white foliage.  Nope.  I still feel the 1950s.  A time when things were more black and white…not a lot of room for gray.

Jumping ahead.  1970.  Smithey’s “Stripe Series.”  As I said, I can’t get the disco music out of my head.  I love it.

Again, that’s just me.  My first and very surfacy impressions.  I can go deeper.  I can tie the blended ballad of color that is Schlecher’s to the black and white “Touch-Me-Not Before” and all it entails of the 1950s to the “Silent Hell” some experience with the Boogie Oogie Oogie era.  I can go deeper and draw a connection that will tangle its way through this exhibit.  I can do that but then, I risk a heaviness.  It’s Friday.  I’m wearing heels.  Today, I choose yellow and perhaps a drink on the rooftop bar.  It’s quite the view.

Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin' and we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive. ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive, ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive

Choose Abundance

Recently I saw a graph defining the scarcity versus abundance mindset.  See an excerpt from the graph below.  I believe it is from Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Scarcity 

Point of View:  You’re a victim, a bully, or simply checked out.

Mental Energy:  Confused, disorganized, narrow in your thinking, only focusing on what’s not working.  Typical thought pattern:  “I have no choice.”

Abundance

Point of View:  You’re in the driver’s seat.

Mental Energy:  Feeling of clarity, the ability to perceive multiple angles, listen actively, and notice something new, what would it be?”  Creative agency.  Nonjudgemental beginner’s mind.

I keep coming back to the “I have no choice” attitude of the scarcity mindset.  Aside from circumstances that you were born into, some health conditions and possibly weather related incidents, life is nothing but a series of choices.  One choice leads to another and another…all through the day.  Day after day after day.

Choose abundance.

“Through Her Eyes”  An all woman show at Grafica Fine Art Gallery

Grafica Fine Art Gallery and Framing.  The corner of Big Bend and Laclede Station.  St. Louis.  Webster Groves to be specific.  Any other gallery, I would be driving around and around trying to find it but not Grafica.  I know it well.

A quaint little house on the South side of Big Bend.  It’s rainy.  A tad cold.  I wind my way through each room taking note of the hardwood floors (I believe they’re oak and original to the house.); the fireplace; its mantel.  I spot Lary.  Lary Bozzay.  Owner.  All around good guy.  We chat.

The mantle catches my eye yet again.  A perfect place to display a gorgeous oil on canvas.  A landscape filled with a mustard sky and olive foliage.  I sense a peace.  A glance to my left and I’m hit with Judy Stroup’s work.  A small piece.  A stunning flower that jumps out at me.  Yet again, I sense a peace.  

A quick scan of the room.  It’s work of all sizes.  Bordered by a variety of frames.  Mostly landscapes.  All beautiful.  All peaceful.  All women artists.  It’s an all woman show.  “Through Her Eyes.”  Twelve women who paint together outside and in.  

Mary Drastal

Jane Flanders

Sandy Haynes

Gwendolyn Moore

Debbie Rathert

Susan Rogers

Lee Streett

Judy Stroup

Deb Trafton 

Jan Träger

Margaret von Kaenel

Norma West

Most are former art teachers.  Retired from teaching, but not from making art and sharing their passion.  All creating beautiful paintings of all sizes and colors that blend magically.  Similar subject matter as in one gender, yet each creating a beauty all its own.  

“The true beauty in a women is reflected in her soul.  It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows.” - Audrey Hepburn

“Through Her Eyes” a show by twelve different women.  Each framed piece is like looking through the eyes of the artist.  Each piece reflects the beauty of the artist’s soul.  Eyes are, after all, the window to the soul.  

Again, I go back to the work on the mantle, it’s by Sandy Haynes.  Her mission…”to paint the world around [her] with paint and canvas.  [She] attempts to find beauty in the commonplace by demonstrating the power of light on a subject.”  The mustard sky.  The light glowing behind the the trees brings tranquility.  I feel its warmth.  

The clock chimes.  Suddenly I realize I’m late for an appointment.  As I leave, I notice the sidewalk is brick.  Has it always been?  The sun is out.  I swear it’s twenty degrees warmer.  

Was I in there that long?

The show only runs through May 24.  Grafica is located at 7884 Big Bend Blvd.  Grafica’s hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00am to 5:30pm and on Saturday from 11:00am to 3:00pm.  

Now at SLAM: Rachel Whiteread Exhibit

Not realizing the cut-off time for entering the exhibit was a full hour earlier than the close of the museum, my pace is hurried if not an all out run.  The sound of my heels and their echo are almost indecipherable.  A taptaptaptaptap.  More like a typewriter than an echo.  

With only a few minutes to spare, I reach the entrance.  Hand over my ticket.  Flash a smile.  Check to make sure I didn’t break heel…not an unusual occurrence for me.  I am in.  A glance here.  A glance there.  I take note of what looks like a door, several “boxes” arranged in a grid on the floor, and a few hot water bottles on a shelf.  

Not knowing much about the exhibiting artist, Rachel Whiteread, I decide to read the pamphlet.  She’s British.  Good to know.  She was the first woman to win the Turner Price for sculpture in 1993.  Interesting.  Known for her solid casts of negative spaces, she is one of the world’s leading contemporary sculptors.  Very interesting.

I check out the hot water bottles.  The “boxes.”  The door.  I hear the echos of the other patrons’ whispers.  Should I whisper, too?  Examining the displays a little closer, I realize the hot water bottles are casts of the interior of each vessel.  Each “box” is a mold of the underside of a chair.  The door is simply an impression of its exterior.  Now, the negative space is clear.

Whiteread is casting the blank space inside the hot water bottle, around the chair, on the exterior of the door to create her work.  Essentially, she is recreating the mold that was or could have been used to create the object.  She is taking the subject back to its origin and preserving the memory of its form and every memory it holds from its creation to its time of casting.  

In Whiteread’s own words, “In a way.  It’s almost like taking photographs or making prints of the space.  If those parts of the building don’t exit later, I’ll still have, as you say, the archive of the place.’’  A blueprint, if you will.  As stated, her work transcends the blueprint.  She has also “found a way to make memories solid.”  For it is in that space, the memory takes place.

Though each cast of each door can be used to re-create a door, each cast holds the memory of a knock; its opening to a first date or a soldier returning home from war.  Each cast of each hot water bottle holds the memory of a home remedy.  A mother’s touch.  Comfort.  

Her works range in size, material and color.  From a tiny toilet paper roll to a full sale Victorian house which earned her the aforementioned Turner Prize; from resin to concrete; from translucent to pink…she explores similarities and differences.

Though the door casts are similar, each has its own knicks and scrapes from years of knocks, or as Whiteread has more eloquently stated, “the residue of years and years of use.”  And though we may not have ever knocked on that particular door, we all share a memory of knocking on some door, somewhere, some time; and therein, lies the experience, similar yet different.  

It’s 5:00.  The exhibit is closing.  I’m hungry anyway.  As I leave, I return to the door from which I entered.  I am walking more slowly now.  There is no hurry.  The echo of my stride is a much more familiar echo.  Tap….tappptappptappp.  Tap…tappptappptappp.  Tap…tappptappptappp.  Similar yet different than an hour before.  Just one of the memories the space between these walls hold.  Hmmm.  I wonder if my barefeet would produce an echo?


The exhibit is on display Tuesday through Sunday, March 17 to June 9 at the St. Louis Art Museum.  (1 Fine Arts Drive).  Tickets are $6 to $12 except for Fridays.  Friday, tickets are free.  For more information visit www.slam.org.

If you had a chance to see the exhibit, what was your take away?  Comments welcome.


#RachelWhiteread #SLAM #Scupture #Avondet  #Art






Where's Your Focus?

If you have read my bio page in its entirety, you’ll know I love seeing what people focus on, including me, and not just in my art.  For me, this fascination goes with me all day.  I am constantly paying attention as to where my mind is and I am amazed at how two people can see things so differently.  

Most of the time, I am left marveling at how differently I see the world.  It’s probably why I like abstract, expressionism and the combination of the two.  It’s definitely why I like contrasting white and black, black and color, and color and white all with metalics.  The viewer will see something, feel something I never did.

In addition to art, I’ve taught yoga for years.  Cues are important.  In a class of 10, nine people will hear my cues and they will do exactly what I mean and what I say, while the one does only what I say.  It makes me laugh.  They aren’t wrong.  It’s just that they did not interpret my cues as I intended.  It’s funny how two people can see, hear and bring so many different interpretations to the same thing and not be wrong.

One-of-Kind Gift

Ever get frantic about finding something special for someone?  Take a deep breath.  Finding that one-of-a-kind gift is easier than you might think.  Galleries, museums and Etsy are fantastic sources for that unique and unusual gift.

Ideas are endless.  Seriously.  From decor to jewelry to the less personality specific soap, bottle openers, candles.  The range of items runs the full gamut from elegant to eclectic.  Whatever your interest, you can find an artist who crafts it.

Alternatively, for those who love the  rustic and old, find your unique gift at an antique store or flea market.  Reuse or repurpose.  Bring its story and you’ll hit a home run on uniqueness every time.  

For me, I love glass Christmas ornaments.  And every year, I have a friend who gifts me a handblown glass ball for my tree.  Each one is different yet just as beautiful than the next.  And every time I decorate, I think of my friend and am grateful for her, her love of art, and her self-less gifts.  These Christmas ornaments will bring me great joy for years to come.  You don’t have to wait until Christmas to gift them, either.

Get out there and help art find its way home.

Tattooing

Probably the best known form of art.  It knows no race or gender.  It transcends all socio-economic levels.  And yes, it is an art.  

However, there are tattooists and then there are tattoo artists.  A tattooist simply traces an image and fills it in with ink like a coloring book.  An tattoo artist creates.  What they are capable of creating by blending colors, shading, and contrast all with a needle is simply amazing.  It takes the skill of a master.  

From cosmetic application to camouflaging a scar to seamlessly wrapping an image around one’s arm is simply astonishing.

Here’s to those who do it!

When Your Birthday Rolls Around...

Birthdays.  As we get older, some of us love them.  Some of us dread them.  No matter how you feel about them, they are yours to celebrate as you choose.  So, from the all-out birthday bash to a quiet day at home, here are a few ideas to make your birthday planning quick and easy.    

  1. Cater your party with a food truck. Rather than picking up Subway, feed your guests outside via the good old food truck.  (Yemanja would be happy to roll on up.)

  2. Splurge on dinner out. Is there a place you’ve been holding out for? Make it a special night with your significant other or celebrate with a group of friends. (Blood & Sand and Claverach Farm are my choice for the St. Louis region.)

  3. Listen to live music. Follow dinner up with a  bluesy dive or basement bar oozing with live jazz. (Again if you are in St. Louis, Old Rock House or BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups are my picks.)

  4. Plan a spa day.  Make it a full day of pampering or if on a budget, go for the hour-long, hot stone massage then return home to spend the rest of your day quietly relaxing. (If in St. Louis, Pure Harmony Day Spa is an excellent choice.)

  5. Go to a winery.  Sometimes getting older goes better with a little vino.  (In St. Louis region, Chandler Hill Winery.  Mid-Missouri, Les Bourgeois Winery, and in Kansas City, try Amigoni Urban Winery.)

  6. Book a night or two at a boutique hotel. Make sure it is next to the local hot spots or comes equipped with a bar, restaurant and pool. (Le Fontaine in Kansas City.  If you are really wanting something special, Casa Tua in Miami.)

  7. Buy yourself a gift. Treat yourself. Make a day of shopping the locally owned stores.  Or better yet, plan ahead and order online and have it gift wrapped and delivered on your special day.  (If in St. Louis, my new favorite store is Sammy Soap in Kirkwood, and online, here are a few of my favorite things….

Phlur not only smells great but is clean, too.  It’s free from paragons and all that other stuff we don’t want. This sampler kit allows you to try several fragrances before you commit to just one. See below for link.

Kate Spade monogram necklace   There’s no other like you.  You’re definitely one in a million and what a better way to remind yourself than this sweet necklace from Kate Spade. See below for link.

Burt’s Bees classic gift A sampler pack of non-toxic products that are within budget and a great way to save the bees. See below for link.

Spanx faux leather leggings  You’ll definitely love the way these leggings make you look.  Feel great on your special day. See below for link but be sure to check the size.

Mate tea  The best of both tea and coffee. See below for link.

Pop Top bag  A fun, unique clutch for a unique woman. See below for link.

Kimono robe  There’s no better way to spoil yourself than a beautiful robe. See below for link. Be sure to check sizing, etc.

Tealyra glass tea kettle  Keep the tea boiling all day long.  It’s stylish, unique and useful for serving one or a group. See below for link.

Sun’s tea clear glass tea/coffee set  It’s time to bring back the saucer.  See below for link.

8.  Send yourself flowers.  Or pick them up.  It’s your treat.  Make it one large bouquet or several small ones throughout the house.  Maybe even throw in a few helium balloons.

9.  Drink.  Don’t over do it but definitely say yes to the Mimosa at breakfast, wine at lunch and the 5 o’clock cocktail.  Maybe even try creating your own speciality drink for your special day.

10. Eat the cake. All of it, if you like.  Make it yourself or find a local bakery and order the cake they’re known for and enjoy it.  All of it. 

11.  Meditation Retreat.  Last but not least, take a get-away just for you.  Relax and revive with a mediation week-end.  Timber Creek Retreat House in Kansas City, MO is just the ticket.