Friday, March 29, 2019

Fifteen minutes

But we carry on our back the burdens time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal

Just when you think that you are all out of fucks to give, you find out that, well ...

You aren't.

I'm not.

This particular fuck resulted from a juried art show that I submitted an entry for.

Back story. The Art Center, where I take my ceramics class, held a Home Grown art show, an unjuried opportunity for local artists to exhibit one entry. After some vacillation, I entered a necklace made of 40-some of my handmade beads. I strung them on a leather cord and displayed them in a shadow box.

At the opening, the curator slash art historian gave a brief talk. I didn't appreciate that she emphasized that the show was unjuried, and explained that that meant that anyone who submitted original artwork could have a piece in the show.

She also mentioned that the show would be followed by another show for Lake Norman area artists called Bright Ideas, a juried show. Later I received the call for entries. An artist could submit photos of up to three pieces.

So for weeks I stressed about if and what to submit. I made a crocheted wall hanging, but we never did hang it to photograph it. I started laying out a mixed media mosaic piece using some of my beads, but I didn't finish it. I made a ceramic base on which I thought I could display beads on mandrels, but I didn't get it fired and glazed in time.

A week before the deadline I had pretty much talked myself out of entering. For one thing, the entry criteria was two pages long and called for a essay on how my work related to the Bright Ideas theme of the show, an artist statement, plus a CV. Then I got this email from the curator.
Hi Elizabeth.

After seeing your beautiful necklace and display in “Home Grown” I hope you will apply for “Bright Ideas.”

With thanks and all best wishes,
So I decided to pull together an entry after all. I came up with three things to submit, all bead specific because that's what I thought she was asking for. I thought she was telling me she wanted my work in the show.

Of course, the self-deprecating me wondered if she was just reaching out because the burdensome entry requirements had discouraged many potential participants and she didn't have many entries.

But I pushed aside those thoughts, wrote my essay, took my pictures, made up an artist statement and CV, provided all the rest of the required information, and emailed them to Marisa on the deadline day, March 22.

I put the odds of being accepted into the show at 50/50. I told myself I didn't care (much) whether I got into the show or not.

On March 27, I got this form letter response.
Dear Elizabeth:

On behalf of the Town of Cornelius thank you for interest in and submission to Bright Ideas. For our first juried show we received a resounding 71 entries from 29 artists living/working in the Lake Norman area. As the purpose of this show is to feature multiple works by fewer artists only a handful of these 29 artists were selected and regrettably your works were not chosen. This is the first of many thematic shows that will be presented at the Cornelius Arts Center so I urge you to watch your email and follow the Center on social media for future exhibition opportunities.

With many thanks and all best wishes,
That's when I found out that I still had at least one fuck left to give.

It turns out that I did care about getting into the show, a lot more than I knew.

A part of me wishes that I hadn't tried. A part of me is angry that the curator insincerely appeared to genuinely want me to be in the show. A part of me wonders what a handful or artists means. Five? Ten?

The bigger the handful, the more my secret humiliation.

At first I wasn't going to tell Neil. He knew I had entered but in all honesty I doubt he would ever have remembered and thought to ask. Or if he did, it would have stopped mattering by then, and I could be nonchalant or cavalier about not being chosen. Not having my art chosen.

I did tell him though. It was weighing on me too much. Sorrow shared is sorrow lessened, or so I've heard.

Then I started thinking about the ways I probably self-sabotaged. I didn't put a lot of effort into my essay or other written entry materials. You might say I phoned it in. As I told a friend, I can write bullshit all day long. I didn't think the written part of the test would be heavily weighted. If it was, it shouldn't have been. It's an art show.

But where I really think I failed is with the photos. I was scrambling at the eleventh hour, but I have only myself to blame for that. And I figured if Marisa was the jury, she had already seen the quality of my work in person. In retrospect, I should have considered that the jury was independent.

I'm not saying I should have had professional photos taken, but I knew my quick and dirty snapshots were crap. They weren't my personal best or even close.

So I made a half-assed try and now I am upset because my entry wasn't accepted.

Or maybe I’m pointing the finger at myself, accusing myself of screwing up on the entry, to avoid considering that maybe my art isn’t good enough.

Either way, no one likes to be rejected, I get that.

And there will be other shows, as my rejection letter tells me.

But I have to say, for rejection-sensitive me, it's probably better not to try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but nothing failed either.

So, in what now will come across as a condolence prize, a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, let me tell you about my fifteen minutes of fame.

After the Home Grown show opened, a reported from the Lake Norman Herald Citizen, the free local rag, called me to do a story about me. She came to the house to interview me in my studio, and the article appeared on March 21.

Read the article.

I won't go into all the things that are inaccurate (or ungrammatical) about the article, beginning with the headline Cornelius woman strings together new interest in beads

I'll just point out that I rarely "string" my beads and I've been making lampwork beads for more than 11 years.

Beyond that, I'll try to take it at face value, as a well-intended small bit of recognition.

And in case you are interested (because I can't stop myself from going back and picking at that scab), here are the pieces I submitted for the Bright Ideas show.

"Bead Box"

"Necklace Trio"

"Key Chain"

So yeah, crap photos.

And I'd love to say that I don't give a fuck about not getting into the show.

But you know me better than that.

Heaven bend to take my hand
And lead me through the fire
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight
Truth be told I tried my best
But somewhere long the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
But the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I've tried, I've fallen
I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know
So don't come 'round here and
Tell me I told you so

We all begin with good intent
When love was raw and young
We believe that we can change ourselves
The past can be undone
But we carry on our back the burdens
Time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal
It's the bitter taste of losing everything
I've held so dear

Heaven bend to take my hand
I've nowhere left to turn
I'm lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads, embarrassed
Pretend that they don't see
That it's one misstep, one slip, before you know it
And there doesn't seem a way to be redeemed

Though I've tried, I've fallen
I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know
So don't come 'round here and
Tell me I told you so.

(Gwyneth Herbert, Will Rutter © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A blanket statement

And I don't want to be a stranger
And I don't want to be alone
But sometimes I just want to be somewhere else

Hello. Yeah. It's been a while.

Possibly the oddest thing about that is that we've been home from our trip for almost five days, and this is the first time I've actually been in my office, let alone sat down at my computer.

As I've mentioned, writing on this platform on the iPad is too hard. I suppose I could write a post in email, then copy and paste it, and add photos and links later. Too bad I didn't think of that until now.

Anyway, I'm here now. The cleaning lady just left and Neil also rolled out for one of his softball tournament weekends. And it was always my plan to catch up, on this and other things, this weekend.

So let me tell you about our trip. We did a tour of Texas, four days in Houston, two days in Austin, two nights in Dallas. We saw all four kids and all two grandkids, plus a handful of friends. We had lots of good food, too much if you ask me, but that is one of the perils of travel, because you can't just get together with folks, you have to break bread with them.

I felt a little like I did at Disney World. By the end of the first day you are tired and not sure you can do it for a week. But the next morning you feel rested and ready to go again. Only, despite how well you might sleep, you are a little more tired every evening and a little less refreshed the next day. You may get a second wind along the way but you are secretly counting down to sleeping in your own bed again.

Highlights of the trip for me were hiking with Chelsea at Hamilton Pool in Austin, lunch at Google with Chelsea, touring the wedding venue with Kandace, Chris, and Ryland.

As you know if you've been reading (you have, haven't you?), my daughter Kandace is engaged. They've set a wedding date in November, and they're doing the traditional gig, with gowns, bridesmaids, groomsmen, DJ, dancing, even though it is her second go. It's not what I'd want for myself, but it's the first (and knock-wood only) time for Chris, and to be fair, it wasn't Kandace's choice to end her first marriage. She's a romantic and it's her right to start off again with all the ceremony, bells, and whistles that belong to a blushing bride, if that's what she and Chris want.

The place they chose is very nice and they aren't asking me to pay for any of it, so it's my only job to muster as much enthusiasm as I can, and give her my opinions on matters such as rings, engagement photo attire, centerpieces, and menu choices, but only if I'm asked. I'll probably offer to host a brunch for out-of-town guests if we can come up with a good option for that. I do so wish that Torchy's Tacos had a private room, because that's about what my budget would prefer to contemplate. Plus I love their tacos.

And of course, I'll volunteer to wrangle Ryland for the week of the wedding. That will be my pleasure.

It's been lovely to be home and a little surprising how much this has become home. We had fairly good weather in Texas, yet despite it just barely being March, it already felt too warm and humid on any day that didn't feel too cold and damp. On our last day we got quite overheated just throwing a ball around at the park. I'm not sure I could live in Texas again. But never say never.

This week I had another fun ceramics class. I'm not very good with clay, but I like my fellow students and the vibe of the Art Center, and I love my teacher. I'll probably stick with it for a while. I also have another knitting class that starts on Saturday. We'll be making a shawl, using circular needles.

I finished another crocheted wall piece. I wanted a small project to take on the trip and it was perfect. There's a call for a juried exhibit at the Art Center, and I'm toying with the idea of entering something - or things. We can submit up to three pieces. I'm not really sure whether my wall piece is art. I made up the pattern but not the stitches, I chose the colors but didn't weave the yarn. Still, I might enter it if I can figure out a way to display it.

I have other works in process. I'm laying out a mosaic piece, but I haven't been very motivated to complete it. And one of my ceramic pieces is designed to be a base for a bead display, but I may run out of time to have it bisque fired and glaze fired, and then I still have come up with a way to stabilize the beads upon it. It's not dead in the water yet at least.

About beads. This has definitely been the longest time since returning from a trip that I haven't rushed back to the studio and lit up the torch. That is definitely on the agenda for the weekend, along with another stab at listing some beads for sale. If nothing else, I'd like to start making some of the pieces to use in my mosaic design.

Melting glass still has a lot of allure for me. I look at pictures of beads all the time, on Facebook and Instagram, and I check out the sales of glass and supplies, but I honestly think I am done with buying. I do want to keep making, and I have plenty of everything I need to do that, but it's not as much fun when things aren't selling. I also find I am less drawn to making jewelry. I once thought that if and when I gave up beadmaking, I'd still make things like necklaces and earrings with the beads in my collection, my own and those I purchased.

Now I'm not at all sure. A necklace that I made for myself broke recently. I was able to scoop up all the beads but I still have to restring them. That's on the list for this weekend too, but I'm not excited about doing it. It also makes me mistrust my style of making necklaces, since it came apart at the crimp. I'm going to start double crimping, and I should probably restring all of my necklaces that way, or I will worry about wearing them. It seems like a lot of work though. I might need to find a different design method, such as stringing with leather or waxed cotton instead of flexible wire, but then there is the challenge of attaching the clasps in an attractive way.

I'm thinking about it. And there's really no rush, since I don't often go anywhere that I feel the need to wear jewelry. I'll probably put on something tonight, for the HOA annual meeting, since I will be sitting on a podium with the board. We are electing new board members tonight, although my term runs for another year. I doubt I will run next year, but that depends on who is elected tonight and how the year goes.

On Friday morning I have lab work in the morning for my annual checkup. On Saturday I have my knitting class. It's good to have some structure, some purpose, and some reason to take off my soft pants and leave the house, especially when Neil is away.

It's true that I can while away a lot of hours with crochet hook and yarn. I started another blanket, my fifth. I'm not sure why, except that they are easy to make, once you have the stitch sequence down. You don't have to count rows or do a lot of irregular increases and decreases, or even consult the pattern often. It's pretty mindless, which means my mind is free to wander where it will.

This particular blanket is one I'm making with heavier weight yarn. Why? Because before I had a clue what I was doing, I bought a lot of yarn because it was pretty. And/or on sale. I was confused by the differences between aran weight and worsted weight, which are sometimes considered interchangeable, but not always. I also had yet to learn that just because something is described as DK weight doesn't mean it is the same gauge as any other given DK weight yarn. I hadn't learned to pay attention to meters per gram weight yet. I hadn't even learned what would seem to be obvious, the differences between types of wool (sheep, merino, alpaca, cotton, silk, exotic, etc.) and don't even get me started on blends. I did manage to avoid the 100 percent acrylic rabbit hole, thanks to some early good advice, but I hadn't yet become any kind of purist either.

Live and learn, I guess. And pay the piper. I have all this yarn now, so I'm trying to use some of the skeins and balls and hanks that I wouldn't buy if I was starting over. At least I can say that I learn things with every new piece I make, and I'm saving the good stuff until I am a better knitter or crocheter.

Just like I have a nice stash of glass waiting for that mythical moment when I become a better beadmaker. I'm pretty sure now that that's never going down, so I'm allowing myself to use some of those special colors, a rod here and a rod there.

Maybe that's how it will be with yarn. Maybe ten years from now I'll be breaking out some of the glorious colors I continue to collect and whipping up a sweater or a dress or a coat, something I wouldn't dare to tackle now.

And yes, something that I probably won't have more reason or desire to wear than I do now for getting decked out in my jewelry.

But it seems that is how I roll.

And all those blankets will come in handy at some point, I'm sure.

You can never have too many blankets.

From departure to arrival
What does it mean to travel
With your suitcase by the handle
Holding everything you need

Are you going or are you coming
Walking slow or running
Toward somebody or from something
Trade your longing in for speed

And the freedom to be a stranger
Is a bargain that's ours alone
Sometimes you just want to be someone else
Unencumbered and unknown

From departure to arrival
What does it mean to travel
And from taking off to landing
You could feel your heart expanding

You walked halfway down Manhattan
Till you met the Brooklyn Bridge
And in a 2 am transmission
From a high wire act position
How the skyline behind you glistened
As if someone pulled a switch

And I don't want to be a stranger
And I don't want to be alone
But sometimes I just want to be somewhere else
Untethered and unknown
When I am far from home

From departure to arrival
What does it mean to travel?

(Mary Chapin Carpenter © Why Walk Music)