Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Fantastic as Entry to Reality

What happens when you gather the multi-dimensional likes of
 writers, Ari Berk, M.T. Anderson, Holly Black, artist/sculpture
Charles Vess, Canadian mythic  swordsmith, Jake Powning,
storyteller Charlie Bethel, Elizabethean scholar Kris
McDermott, psychologist and writer, Larissa Niec, and English
harpist/composer Elizabeth-Jane Baldry for two days of
presentations, readings and discussion in a 1920's movie
theater in Mt. Pleasant Michigan? One fantastic, energizing,
and thought provoking conference. And so "The Imagining 
the Fantastic" conference organized by Ari Berk and funded
by  Central Michigan University  April 11-12 was
 ....and much more

I thank Larissa Niec for encouraging me to hop on a plane
and come and hosting me while there. After looking over the
list of folks invited and topics to be discussed, I figured it was
something not to be missed.  I was correct.

At the conference and through casual conversations before
and after "formal" events, we explored "The Alchemy of
Beginnings"; discussed the use of imagination and the fantastic
as an entry into reality, rather than an escape; joked about
being kind to the Imp of the Perverse who nudges one to
distraction...or great ideas; the art of creation as an act of
healing; the need for the artist, writer or performer to leave
"space" for the reader or viewer to engage; how a story can
save one's life; the romanticization of the "madness of
creativity"; the necessity for grounding; world building in
art and story; the question of "how dark is too dark"
and on and on.
We were treated to amazing presentations including Charlie
Bethel's rendition of Gilgamesh and a screening of the
recently discovered 1924 American black and white silent
movie version of Peter Pan. Elizabeth-Jane accompanied
with the harp score she  composed for the film. She pointed
out that James Barry, himself,  chose the actress to play
Peter Pan and told us to look for the American, not British,
flag raised on the pirate ship after the defeat of Captain

It would have been especially fun to watch the movie with
my costume designer brother,  Peter.   He's been gone  now
over 24 years...but I'm sure he was there at the conference
with me.  He switched to using his middle name, Taylor, in
college, but said it was comforting when nurses called him
"Peter" in the hospital in London where he had lived for years,
Peter Pan had always been a favorite for  Peter and me. He
would have thoroughly enjoyed the 1920's flowing
sophisticated Tinker  Bell and her  dramatic dying scene...
not to mention the 1920's decor of the theater complete
with art nouveau metal seats.

The setting of the conference in the movie theater in
downtown Mt. Pleasant added an intimate and relaxed
atmosphere and encouraged engagement with the attendees.
A generosity of spirit prevailed as questions were taken and
answered and conversations continued after sessions in the
lobby or at meals. Although the age range (17-70's) and fame
of everyone there varied radically, the atmosphere was one
 of peers mulling over important issues together.

Sunday after the conference I was fortunate to be able
to hang out with everyone at Ari and Kris's home...
more discussion ...and a romp in the woods behind
their house where trees, perfect for sketch,story,
animation,...or perhaps habitation by one of my creatures,
were in abundance.
 We came upon a troll house - not there last time Ari
took a walk.  Charles and Jake seemed right at home.

Charlie and I found this tree which called to me. Charlie
offered to boost me up to the first branch... but sadly  it was a
bit  too high..  It would have been an amazing climb.

I returned home challenged.  I loved the painting by Charles
titled "Gathering the Worlds".used as the conference logo.
"What does the world world look like in which my creatures
exist? What sounds or music would they hear? Do they live
in a cohesive world or worlds? I also arrived home determined
to finish the editing of  the long mythic tale I've been working
on for ages, tentatively called Sophia's Quest.  I reconnected
with illustrator, Ingrid Kallick at the conference and
promised  to send her an edited draft to see if she decides
it is something she might want to brainstorm together on.
I've been busy at the computer.The draft is going out by
the end of the week.  The conference and discussions gave
me an insight into the complexities and pitfalls of the
world of publishing. But being tentative never accomplished
much of anything....It's time to leap forward.

Adventure on.  Wendy

Monday, April 7, 2014

Stones, Stories and Sharing

It's taken a while for me to sort through my thoughts
and musings about our Jan/Feb trip to Ecuador and
Peru. Although we've been home almost two months,
I feel like I'm just beginning to understand the insights
it offered.  In this post I focus on our time in Peru.

About a week ago, I  awoke from a deep sleep in the
middle of the night with the words "sharing","stones"
and "stories" bouncing around in my sleepy blur. Before
we left, one of my questions had been whether I would
find quiet alone moments to soak in the spirit of
the wondrous places we would experience.  We were
going to be traveling to the Sacred Valley of Peru
including Machu Picchu with our daughter, son-in-law,
his Dad,and  our 5 and 8 year old grandkids.
What would that be like?  Well - truth is, it was a bit
chaotic at times, there were not many opportunities
for sitting alone in silence, and yes, logistics were
complicated by traveling in a group of 7. But in the
wee hours that morning, I realized, all that just
didn't matter.My favorite photos and memories from
the trip all involved shared moments...the ones that will
produce the stories for years to come. Silent moments
of soaking in spiritual essence have their place, but it's
a blessing to share adventures  across generations.

We watched our granddaughter take photos of her ragdoll, Lily, 
including ones of Lily sitting in the window at Machu Picchu, on
the Ollantaytambo Inca seat,on the steps in Cusco. (Our 
granddaughter says she is going to write a book of Lily's
adventures.) It was a  brilliant parenting move to give each of
the kids the use of their own digital camera so each could choose
what they wanted to photograph.  (Both are developing quite 
a photographer's sensibility.)

We comprehended the scale of the Incan terraces by watching our
grandkids climb up the stones from one level to the other.

We appreciated how exhausting it would be to trudge up and down
the LONG deep staircases created to help  navigate the terrain
by climbing down them oursleves..hard on the knees.

I realized Machu Picchu with the Incas in residence would have
been a place brimming with sound, people, and animals, hardly
places of quiet awe.  The stone paths  and walls certainly hold
story upon story , some passed down through oral history -
most only imagined by those walking the corridors today,
though I suspect some seep through shoes into those who tread.

 I  marvelled at the amazing craftmanship and artisanry of the
stone masons, extraordinary architectural vision, engineering
expertise and astronomical understanding involved in the Incan
 planning. Whoever carved or designed the Intihuatana at
 Machu Picchu certainly had an amazing sculptural eye.

I loved seeing the old part of Ollantaytambo which has been
inhabited since Incan days, same streets, thresholds, and
doorways ...and seeing  our grandkids walk down the streets
...and visiting a potter there

I empathized with the artisans in the market town in
Pisac, setting up  early each morn, dealing with rain,
hoping for some customers. We spent two days there
at the welcoming small Hospedaje Familiar Kitamayu

We talked  a long time to artist/jewelers, Miguel Valeriano
Lecaros and Margarita Quispe Rocca (Joyeria Miki Marga)
in Pisac They  shared with us the meaning behind the
symbols in their  work and  the philosophical core of
Quechua culture.

We heard stories from Gils, who offered up delicious
croissants and coffee (and a scrumptious piece of
chocolate cake for my hubby's birthday) at La
Boulangerie de Paris in Aguas Caliente....a rather
frontier feeling town.

And on and on and on and on... concluding with sharing
the  experience of seeing a newborn alpaca manage to
stand for  the first time in the Sucsayhuaman ruins
above Cusco.

Reflecting on the trip also clarified for me why I still hang in there
participating in fine craft shows. It's the sharing that goes on at
the shows that is important to me...sharing one's art, being
inspired by others - keeping creative energy flowing in the world.

Speaking of creative energy - This coming weekend,  I'm heading
to the  "Imagining the Fantastic II" conference  at Central Michigan
University organized by the energetic and fantastic,Ari Berk.
I'm looking forward to all the sharing that will occur among the
artists, writers, musicians and storytellers,  both presenters
and attendees -Watch for a blog post about it soon.

Adventure on!   Wendy

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Images of Mountain Summer to Dispell Winter Blues

   While  winter still rages here in many areas of the U.S.,
I pause to remember and savor images from our trip to
Ecuador and Peru in January/February.  We spent 2 ½
weeks with our daughter and her family who live in
Cuenca, Ecuador, a colonial city high in the Andes
where cool evenings and warm days exist all year long.
Then all traveled  together to Peru to spend 10 days in the
Sacred Valley and Cusco, wandering Incan ruins. As I
reflect back and sort through hundred of images, themes
are beginning to emerge, but for now, I offer these images
of mountain summer to warm, inspire and intrigue...

From Cuenca - a river bank path:
 Flowers in the family's yard:

 Hornet's nest in the field near the  house.  Our grandkids were fascinated.

 Landscape on the way to one of the rural schools where our
 daughter runs a mobile library and literacy program (stay tuned
 for a blog post on "From Words to Wings" )

Then off to the Peruvian Andes -where the rocks we climbed
over  in Pisac were alive with plants and flowers:

Here are some images of the luscious green and flower strewn
 Incan ruins in Pisac

And a few images of green, mist and mystery at Machu Picchu:
(Although by the time we reached Machu Picchu we'd already
explored some amazing locations,  its grandeur did not disappoint.)

And finally, some images of the road out of the Sacred Valley on
the way to Cusco:

Hope these images have helped warm you a bit in many ways.
Of course, spring will eventually arrive  - even in the Northeast
U.S. Somehow it always does.
Reflections, more images and stories stirred up by the trip in
future posts.

Adventure on.  Wendy

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Art, New Show locations - in Boston and Brooklyn

 December with all its activities has a way of rushing by,
but this year it seemed to sweep by even faster.  Here
we are in January, and I wonder where the month went.
Where were the moments for quiet reflection? Doing
two back to back shows probably had a lot to do with
the frenetic pace - which hasn't seemed to slow down
much since then.

Before images and memories are flooded with new
ones, I want to share a bit of the two shows .
The first, Craft Boston Holiday was held at the
Hynes Convention center this year.  The size
was increased and  many of us had reservations about
the change of venue. However, thanks to the efforts of
the staff of the Society of Arts and Crafts, attendance
was quite good and sales to match.  Sculptures and
many leather items with eyes left my booth.

Reardon, the Rambunctious, pranced off to a new
 Burrolle and Terref , the Traveling librarian packed up
books and were off as well. This especially pleased me
since the proceeds from the sale were designated for
funds for our daughter and so-in-law's mobile library
and literacy program in Ecuador called  "From Words
to Wings"
(Stay tuned for much more about that in a future

The following weekend  Dec. 14,15, I was off to Brooklyn
for the American Art Marketing's new American Fine
Craft Show Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum.  The space
where the show was held was gorgeous. (The photo
at the top of my booth there gives you a sense
of the elegance. )

As a new show and with a snow storm on Saturday to
complicate our lives, attendance was not quite what
we hoped for. That said, however, many of us are
very enthusiastic about this show which we think
shows a lot of promise and will do everything we
can to make sure it flies high in the future.
(Next year's dates are Nov. 21-23. - so perhaps
I can avoid back to back shows in 2014. )

This year the show soared from the viewpoint of
quality and diversity.  I was inspired by the work of
many artists.

John Borrero was set up a few booths away from
me ...a treat since I don't get to see his intriguing work
often enough.

Margery Goldberg of Zenith Gallery brought along
the art of many exciting artists including that of
Chris Malone. I've admired Chris's work in
magazines, but had never seen it in person:

and Fernando Roman:

Many of the  exhibitors at the show were familiar to me from
other major shows. It is always an honor to show with
 friends, but I also hope to meet new artists. One, whose
work pulled me in was Olga Grinberg.  Olga finds inspiration
in nature and primitive art.  I especially liked this guy:

Orders placed afterwards by people who saw me at the
Brooklyn museum added to sales I made at the show.
I'm optimistic that if we put in the effort to publicize the
show in every way possible, we can develop the market nicely.
In addition, thanks to lots of help on hand, the move in and
move out for the show was easy and uncomplicated...a nice
way to end the year.

Now on to 2014 to see what it has to offer.  One adventure
in the plans is a trip to Ecuador and look for
blog posts about that before long.

Happy New Year  - May this year be filled
with wondrous  adventures for us all!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Journeys by Hand - bridging neighborhoods through art

Artists together, showing, working and laughing...what more
could you ask for to stir up creative energies? As mentioned in
my last blog post, I joined two other  Roxbury artists to share a
gallery space on Beacon Hill in Boston for two weeks in November.
Lisa Lee, Kristen Belton Willis and I are all connected with
 Discover Roxbury's ArtRox . The aim of this effort was to
bridge neighborhoods through art.

We showed under the collective name "Journeys by Hand" -
All of us do extensive hand work in our art.Our hands
have taken us on many journeys - together and individually.
The three of us live within a block of each other. The
hours in the gallery gave us an opportunity to share
stories about our individual journeys  and to get to know
each other better.   We all work with the children at the
Hawthorne Youth and Community Center in our
neighborhood - stay tuned for a blog post about Lisa and my
First Night project this year with HYCC.   In December,
Kristen led the kids in an improv performance of the Black
Snowman by Phil Mendez at the neighborhood Christmas
tree lighting as part of her work on literacy with the after
school children.

The space at 98 W. Cedar Street used to be the office of
Barry Reality Group.   Skip Barry had talked to Derek Lumpkins
of Discover Roxbury about renting it to artists in an effort
to bridge neighborhoods through art.  Derek proposed the idea
the all in the ArtROX group. We thought it sounded promising.

Of course, a few folks dropped in asking about apartments, but
then enjoyed the art.  We were the  second artists to occupy the
space, two more set up after us.  By in large our experience was
very positive, although comments by a few individuals made us
realize how important this sort of exchange is.  We're hoping the
effort can continue.

 We were able to set up displays and create workspaces.
 Kristen displayed and worked on  some of  her Abena Family
rag dolls, her  jumping brooms, tuxedos for wine bottles and more
 including scrumptious sweets for our gatherings. (She does
 catering  as well as visual art!)
 Lisa was their with her "ladies" of leather, leather trees and bugs,
and exquisite jewelry. The name of her art business is "Royal
Dainties". Lisa is also an awesome spoken word artist!

I set up my creatures and books on the other side of the room
and stitched up miniature books and worked on inventory for
December shows:

We used social media and posters to let folks know we were there
and held Friday night  parties welcoming all.  (The photo of us
laughing at the beginning of this post was taken by the
photographer, Windy Seven at the first party. Thanks Windy,
it really captures the spirit of the experience!)

A great group of  friends and family came out to support
our efforts.

 Across the street from the space is the Advent School annex
building for art and language. Turns out Saskia Van Vactor, the art
teacher at the Advent was raised in our Fort Hill Roxbury
neighborhood. Journeys have a way of intertwining. Each of us
did a workshop with a  class of the  Advent - Lisa made leather
bugs with first graders studying the rain forest; I made mythic
creature books of paper and wire with the  fourth grade
investigating"cultures" and Kristen made "jumping brooms"
with the third  graders and talked about the creativity shown by
people who figure out ways  to maintain ceremony in spite of
obstacles.  These are some of the creature books which emerged
during  my workshop with the Advent School children:

 Since we were up on Beacon Hill, we took the opportunity
 to  join the Artists Under the Dome event at the state house
and visited our legislators.  Here we are in Tito Jackson's office.

It's important for the voices of artists to be heard!

I feel blessed to be connected with such a dynamic
neighborhood art community.  Here's hoping  everyone's
journeys  are filled with fun and  surprises  in 2014.
I'm hoping we Journeys by Hand ladies can figure
out more joint projects!

 Adventure on!   Wendy