Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it's been a week of hospitals, slumber parties and spring, as my dad works through some complication from dialysis, family and friends monkey pile at our house in support of the paterfamilias, and signs of spring erupt all around us.
It's time again for pools of tadpoles, bales of turtles and baby ducks galore. The ducks must know when my niece is in town, because they line up waiting for her to come out and feed them, then leap into the air at her arrival. Tiny feathered cuties scurry between her feet, fearless and hungry.
We went for a walk recently and came across a mockingbird on a low tree branch giving a concert. So we stopped and listened, about six feet away from him, eye to eye. To our delight, he just kept on singing, regaling us with song after song, including even the screech of a hawk. We thought he might eventually run out of songs or fly away, but no, he was content to entertain us for as long as we stood there. He provided our theme music as we walked off into the sunset.
Our neighbors have begun to close up their houses for the season and return north, as temperatures rise and days lengthen. The art season will wind down over the next month, but there are still a few events ahead to entice folks outdoors. This weekend will be my first ever outdoor festival with the Delray Artists League at Veterans Park on Saturday and Sunday. If you're free, come on out for a bit of malarkey. It's just what the doctor ordered.
For more information and directions, click here.
"Fragmented Genome" - mixed media on canvas paper, 20" x 16". Available on Artfinder.
It amuses me to no end how the universe makes a mockery of my suffering.
Because I don't think we were meant to suffer, but to overcome, persevere and triumph over every little thing (or big thing) that gets tossed at us by life. And sure enough, just as I was sliding into the abyss of self-pity, loneliness and a poor-me wallowing in the muck attitude, little dazzling connections begin to appear everywhere, tickling my fancy, bringing belly laughs and launching me back into happiness like a catapult full of jelly beans. The universe clearly thinks my self-pity is funny, and won't be dragged in to commiserate with me. Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.
This past weekend, during the Coral Springs Festival of the Arts, I met an amazing family of creatives, including two young men, one a musician and writer, the other a composer. Sparkling bright lights of fabulosity, these two creative guys and their super encouraging mom are a beacon of BE YOUR WILD SELF to the world. And then there was a gregarious and broadly smiling couple, who had just decided to drop everything and move to the Dominican Republic, taking only their art and clothing, starting fresh in a wild new life...just because they could. I am delighted that one of my pieces is going with them. Another adorable couple, who knew each other in high school, lost touch, then rediscovered each other decades later, charmed me with their sparkly romance as the wildly creative lady pulled candy, jewelry and whatnots out of her magic handbag and handed them out freely, leaving a trail of pixie dust and joy.
The event became a woven tapestry of creative delight, one connection after another. And so my recently fragmented genome has been coated in a balm of joy and laughter, free candy and puppy parades, happy people and their stories. The universe may be mocking me, but I like it. :)
"The Return of Bubbles" - mixed media on reclaimed wood, 20" x 17". Ready to hang. This piece will be on display at World & Eye's "Stories of Home" exhibit opening this Saturday, March 25th. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post-festival Monday and the studio is in a shambles. Thank goodness I was super productive last week, because I may just have to dig out before I can paint today. :)
In the thick of reading Clear Seeing Place and a chapter called "Counting Sand", in which the author tells a tale of wanting to count every grain of sand on earth when he was a child. His point is a grand one: "Art is part skill and part insanity..." So many ideas seem outrageous when we begin, but oftentimes those either ARE the very best or lead us to another one that is. "Shout your nutty ideas to the world; we need more crazy," says Rutenberg. And that has me asking the question - how many of our own nutty ideas do we even explore, let alone shout to the world?
I am more likely to embrace my own loony projects when I feel supported and confident. Or very pissed off. Either one will light a fire under my creative time and foster bravery. The very best environment for nuttiness is when surrounded by a tribe of other nuts. You know the ones - they wear crazy hats when they want to, and do their own thing no matter what people say. I love creating art surrounded by folks who let their wild child run amok.
On the opposite end of that, there is nothing quite like a bunch of sensible folks and hard and fast rules to drive creativity into the compost heap with the cow dung. "Insulate your foolish self from sensible people," Rutenberg stresses. "If you're lucky, that insulation will last a lifetime." This chapter, this book, fills me with the determination to follow my own yellow brick road to wherever the magic appears.
I want to know, where do you, dear reader, feel most empowered to BE YOUR WILD SELF?
"The Bog Village Horses" - mixed media on reclaimed wood. 15" x 17.5" x .75". Ready to hang. This piece will be featured at World and Eye Gallery. Show opens March 25th.
It has been a week of stories.
My own story, which continues to unfold, includes a long conversation with a sweet widow in Arizona whose husband was ultimately not my bio dad, but who gave me some new details of my mother's history and then told me her own story. Forty-eight years of marriage, two children and a lifetime of motorcycle adventures with her (now deceased) husband. She was so easy to talk with - it was like I'd known her forever.
The stories of others - those who were in similar circumstances or whose loved ones were. Their generosity in sharing stories, tears, joy and silver linings was touching. It seems my story is one often told in the days of modern science and DNA testing. I am part of a vast tribe of seekers.
The stories in the art - a week of intense studio time in preparation for a new show, which was deeply therapeutic and also completely ridiculous as characters emerged, including these colorful ponies, a chicken lady and a cowgirl. Oh, and Bubbles the donkey made a repeat appearance this week as well. My stories are tangled up in these pieces, along with parts of the stories of others. A delightful, colorful anthology.
And with the stories this week came so much connection and wisdom from others, including this: "We are not handed the truth. We are handed the story." Ah. And so, it seems, like Alice I have gone down the rabbit hole, into a story within my story which may include some truth but ultimately is, well, just a story.
"The XY Conundrum" - mixed media on canvas paper, 16" x 20". Inquiries: email@example.com
DNA. That most unique of identifiers. The slightest mutation of which can result in a host of oddities, such as being more likely to become addicted to heroin (really!), a sensitivity to biorhythms and sleep cycles or the likelihood of having smelly pee after eating asparagus. And about a million other things.
It also connects families, details heritage and discloses what percent Neanderthal lives in your body. That explains the foreheads (or "fiveheads", as we call them) of a few people I know. It is a bit exciting to find out how many genetic relatives you have out there in the world, and to maybe make a few connections you would otherwise have missed without the miracle of genetic testing. It brings the whole wide world of family right there to your computer.
DNA also tells you who your parents are. And who they are not.
That's what happened to me last week. The sisters shared their genetic testing so that we could compare medical information. Instead, we discovered we are only half sisters. It has been Jerry Springer kind of week in our family, as we try to unravel what happened more than a half-century ago. Secrets are being revealed: stories spoken. A trail of clues as to who my biological father might be. And the reassurances of my forever dad that nothing will change between us.
There are tweety birds swirling about my head as I process this information, stunned and disoriented. In the midst of it all, a mysterious male appears in an abstract painting and gives form to what I don't know. The universe has a wacky sense of humor.
"Flower Child" mixed media on cradled hardboard, 16" x 16". Ready to hang. Available on Artfinder.
March already! Spring has sprung here in SoFlo, where the trees are simultaneously blooming and pushing off last year's leaves, and pollen and leaves swirl together in the air, mix with the humidity and land in a clump of organic cement on cars, sidewalks and driveways. The clouds have returned, hinting at the rainy season to come. Snowbirds have begun to plan their return to northern homes over the next two months. And the lake in our back yard is filled with waterfowl mating rituals and the promise of gangs of ducklings emerging to terrorize residents with their irresistible cuteness.
It's also the big ramp up in art events before the end of the high season here. Half a dozen shows are going up over the next two weeks. My studio is a turnstile of paintings coming and going. Sheer madness.
I'll be jumping off the deep end into the art festival circuit later this month, sampling the art gypsy lifestyle under a brilliant white tent. Fortunately, I've got a strong man to set up and tear down for these events. He works for greens fees.
And then there is the art. This piece appeared out of nowhere, making me smile. A reminder to slow down and sit a spell, put flowers in my hair and enjoy the moment. A complete change from bossy queens, this one sweet and calm. I think I'll take a fashion cue from her today and wear clashing patterns. She tells me it's the latest trend.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation