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May 17, 2017

Whiling

In the summer there is a movement through the trees;
the wind in its normal melancholy
fills up with the touch of soft leaves and warmth.
It feels like same the strength
that holds the vowels of my name in place
so I feel dizzyingly that I have arrived—
finally—
to a place opulent and vital
and insistent on my being there.

Everywhere I look, my heart looks back:
uncountable leaves rushing into the red sky
and falling in on each other to buoy up again,
lovers sitting by the river's glinting ripples of water,
the lit taverns across the street, silhouettes of people
whiling away their Sunday night inside,
the concrete path stretching before me,
blurring under my bicycle's tires.
All of this in the dim shroud of dusk becomes one thing—
a long awaited summer—home.

5/7/17

May 14, 2017

Art Fair Confidential 2

After Saturday something special happens, I will have no more reasons to connive and can live gloriously and peacefully in each moment with no hidden agendas. Until, of course, I come up with a new scheme to save me from the inconvenience of needing a day job. Did I tell you how it happened? I had decided to do art fairs again. After my last fair two or three years ago I was done. I vowed never to schlep all my paintings and countless 25 lb grid-wall panels to another fair.

At the South Town Art Walk, however, I found myself with three successful artists who got to talking shop with each other about fair-life. Their conversation was casual and since they all live in nice homes without having to go to unrewarding day jobs I got jealous. I hate being jealous. When I am jealous I decide to become the thing I am seeing in others that spurred the feeling.

On the surface it was a rational decision. Despite my anti-fair vows I knew I couldn't judge whether or not they were a beneficial endeavor for me because I never showed at a reputable one. I was not willing to invest $300 plus in booth fees at the time so I went to small fairs. I heard over and over again from seasoned sellers that you have to go to a really busy fair that has a reputation for good art. People actually go to those with plans to buy art, with money in their wallets designated for art. You can't make money in a crowd of people who don't want to buy anything more than a greeting card or magnet.

And so I began. I made a calendar of application deadlines and researched displays, wanting to at least make good on the part of my vow where I never carry another grid-wall panel across a large field again. The light weight panels I wanted were $700 a set so I made my own which required more research and planning, not to mention pricing and shopping. Deadlines were fast encroaching so when my design was set I drove home on my lunch breaks to do the ironing and pinning, then I drove to my folk's house after work to do the sewing. I finished it, set it up in my canopy, hung all my paintings up, took the requisite application shot, took everything down, edited the photos and got my first application in on time. I kept applying to other shows, researched other people's prices, made my own price schemata, mounted and varnished a dozen paintings, and researched printers and paper so I could have items a range of price points.

Obviously this was an all-encompassing preoccupation for many weeks but one evening when I was thinking of something else entirely, a voice in my head said with great calm, "you don't need to do art fairs."

My whole adult life I longed with great distress to be tapped into a pure source of divine guidance that would insure all my decisions be right ones, as though I was a pawn and my life purpose was to be an infallibly will-less one. After a decade of languishing in my search for full-proof direction it seemed safe to assume that there was no divine plan detailed out for me. I set about learning how to make and live with my own imperfect decisions. This was an easy transition in my love life because kissing is rewarding even while crashing and burning at great speed. Career decisions were more intimidating. Committing to showing at art fairs was the first time I felt really good about taking this sort of risk. It was a choice I was able to take responsibility for even in the face of possible failure. I felt proud for working so diligently and had tangible hope that I might someday leave my full-time job wilting in front of a computer. It was unsettling to finally receive clear and calm guidance and have it invalidate my first big commitment. Could it be that guidance only comes in response to choices lived and has now power to interrupt a litany of mental plotting?

I didn't know what I would do with myself without these plans so I pretended that the voice was a very sophisticated sabotage mechanism and should be ignored. I kept applying to shows and ordered a printer. I also applied to an author fair I saw on-line. There wouldn't be much opportunity to make money at this event with just my books to show, but I was very excited about it. I was not at all excited about art fairs, just the possibility that I might be successful at them.

My excitement over the author fair unraveled my resistance. It reminded me of a latent choice from almost a year prior to focus on illustration and making books. My art practice has always felt like a broken-down circus cart, but I love it so I keep driving it around in lopsided circles. For a few weeks last summer I had a compelling urge to sit in my studio doing nothing. It felt oddly productive and more peaceful that my attempts to sit cross-legged and meditate. A sense percolated and rose up into my thoughts that it was time to get serious and that I couldn't be serious about every medium I was involved in. I noticed, despite all the voices to the contrary, that what I wanted, what I needed, was to be an illustrator and a poet first.

I cleaned out my studio then and began a more focused approach. It became challenging after only a week and I distracted myself with other things, as if it was uncomfortable to fix a tire on my cart and drive straight for a few blocks so I got out and kicked it crooked again.

In the midst of the art fair frenzy I reflected on that false start and thought about the calm voice gently suggesting art fairs may not be all that for me. I tried to remember the last time I actually made art instead of a display element or a game plan. I talked to friends about this mysterious suggestion that the most industrious path may not be the best path. I made the left turn. I declined the fairs I had been accepted to aside from the one I had already paid for, but deep down I knew that I should cancel that one too.

That fair is this Saturday and while I am looking forward to showing off my gorgeous paintings and handsome, homemade display panels, I am even more excited about packing up my things at the end of it knowing I never have to do it again, knowing I made the choice to follow my own wisdom instead of the sum total of all the how-to-get-what-you-want books composting in my intelligence. I don't plan to read Women who Work but having read reviews of it I am hopeful; with Ivanka's exacting—albeit unwitting—parody, The Great American How-To-Be-Successful-Like-Me-Book may finally see it's era fade and we can all get on with our lives doing things that are meaningful to us as individuals.

I am slowly getting back on track with my practice, drawing more, writing more, plotting the next book. It doesn't feel like conniving at all because I am not concerned about the outcome, it's just my life.

4/30/17

May 13, 2017

Finley



The osprey perched at the top of a snag and only the deep contrast of his wings made him stand out as anything other than the top foot of the snag. We got out the binoculars and admired the grey patches on his head, his silver talons. Every little turn of it's head was a thing so wild as to be breathtaking and I almost felt we were taking something from him with this sneaky up close look at his personal movement.



Later he flew over the lake while the heron held out its wings on the island fluffing his feathers in the sun.



The board walk led us into an ethereal grove of trees hung with the longest lichen. It was a place too magical for selfies and the woodpecker drummed heartily on a tree above us but never showed her red crest.

4/29/17

May 11, 2017

Two Questions


This article has moved to Medium:

What would you do if you won the lottery? And other important questions