Wednesday, November 30, 2005

You're Invited!!!...


"Somewhere in Canada"
Oil on Canvas
60"x 48"x 2" an opening reception at the BCAC (old Carnegie Library on 5th and Bemdiji Ave.)
Friday, December 2nd 5-7pm.

Main Gallery: Vivianne Morgan, Marlon Davidson, and Terry Garret
X2: Ashleigh Buck
X3: Me!

Hope to see you!!

Artist Statement:
We are all affected by color and my recent work is an attempt to express emotional experience through color. I read somewhere, “Look for a long time at what pleases you, and for a longer time at what pains you.” In many ways this has been the hardest year of my life. Within two weeks both my best friend and my grandfather passed away. Shortly after, I put my house up for sale and moved. It became important for me to communicate the deep sense of loss I was experiencing. When I began the project I thought that, for the first time, my work might become tremendously dark. But darkness, each time, was interrupted by light—and, as often, the feeling of loss was replaced by hope.

Working intuitively, I allowed my subconscious to be the primary motivation for artistic vision and I found myself returning to the open spaces of land and skyscapes for healing and inspiration. My paintings are meditations on thoughts and memories that have been transformed into associations and articulated through color. For me, painting is a form of writing when words are not enough. In using color as a narrative tool, it is my hope that the personal experiences of viewers will merge with my own, thereby creating a dialogue, a shared moment—one that goes beyond words—and is felt deeply.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

snow shovels and ice scrapers...

Today winter sounds like "sshhh-ssshhhk-ssshhh" and "chop-cchhk-chhop!" It's rather peaceful.

Self Portrait Tuesday: I should really get something done.

I've been doing more math because it's the end of the semester and I've lost my equilibrium as well as my sense of time and place. What it breaks down to is 15 days + 8 if you include finals week. My life has deteriorated into a mathematical equation.

I like this self portrait that I took early this morning, not because I actually feel as bad as I look, but because it captures my utter sense of exasperation and some of the dread of feel towards writing (and the passage of time). It looks like me every night at about midnight when I'm still looking at a blank computer screen and checking blogs too often. Don't get me wrong--I love writing. In a sick and twisted way, I do always look forward to it.

Happy Snow Dog

Monday, November 28, 2005

poems for a stormy night...

"A Single Seed Reveals Them"
An apple on the table
hides its seeds
so neatly
under seamless skin.

But we talk and talk and talk
to let somebody

~Naomi Shihab Nye from 19 Varieties of Gazelle

Or how about:

"Jerusalem Headlines 2000"

If someone's lemon tree
disappears under a drift

If your auto with the blue license plates
your goat or my aged donkey
If the clay jar in which your mother
hauled water for sixty years

If the snow piles up past everyone's windows
all of the windows


a sweeter sentence than baklava

than all the oranges of Jericho
offered up to God!

~Naomi Shihab Nye from 19 Varieties of Gazelle


This morning I did not "walk" Anu, I "skated" her. Glare ice. The best part was when she saw a squirrel. I held on to the leash, knees bent, and got pulled till we hit an incline. Good sled dog. (I wonder if the people in my neighborhood think I'm wierd???)

Today's a good day to stay home and eat leftover mushroom rissotto (my new favorite comfort food). I think I might even get back into my pajamas--cuz I'm not going anywhere.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

doing the math...

If I write approximately a half a page a day (or 3.75 pages a week) for the next 16 weeks I will have generated enough material for my thesis by late March (leaving me time for revision). I don't mean a half a page of junk, but of USABLE material.

.5 pages a day including 3 solid weeks of X-mas vacation time. Yes--I can do this. I think I might even be looking forward to it.

writing as art according to ernest

I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced…the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion and which would be as valid in a year or ten years or, with luck and if you stated it purely enough, always.

-Ernest Hemingway

Not that I need anything more to do, but...

Self Portrait Tuesday looks pretty cool. Oh to have just one, small creative endeavor every day of the week. And Wednesday-Monday? many possibilities.

You know, I'm really looking forward to break this year. There are so many thing I want to do!!!

Today the freezing lake water sounds like rain...

...a nice, soft, gentle rain. I pretended that I was in an Asian, tropical place. Across the street bamboo chimes rattled in the wind. But it only lasted a moment because I returned to pretending that I was in the cold, white tundra of Alaska (but that's only cuz I was wearing V's parka). I was returned to reality when I saw a turquoise blue flip flop tangled in a tree with bittersweet. Otherwise a fairly uneventful morning walk.

Anu is still happy from yesterday's hike in the woods. By late afternoon I was ready to do nothing, but forced myself to go. We're both glad. It felt good to return to our element. Deer crashed through the woods in front of us. We spooked at least a dozen grouse. Anu got to snack on a few gut piles :(- The air was cold. There were leaves and snow and ice and winter wheat that crunched under our feet. Needless to say, we went home happy.

Today is Thanksgiving #2. This time with V's parents and my dad and his girlfriend. I made the curried squash soup. The professional is in charge of the rest: Cornish hens stuffed with mushroom risotto and wrapped in grape leaves, string beans with roasted red peppers, sweet potatoes, fresh bread, pecan pie, and an antipasto platter. And I'd like to make a announcement: I like being married to an Italian! Ok, so they're crabby and unpredictable--but they are really good cooks!

My contribution is to clean the house (today I am living in Vinny's shadow).

Oh yeah-- and last night I dreamed I went to India...or at least I was trying to...except my passport had expired! And for real--it is. I think I better get that thing renewed. But for now what I really need--is coffee.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

firework finale and a peaceful is good.

I can tell by the temperature of the floorboards by the door that it's cold outside. I have slippers on and am drinking a cup of French roast in my favorite cup with cream and sugar. I've given up the blanket I had around my shoulders to the kitten who isn't really a kitten at all, but a cat who is treated like a baby. My generosity of warmth is paid back in loud purring that would last all morning if I had time to remain sitting here.

But alas, I don't. Instead, shortly, I will head down to the gallery for the afternoon. I almost forgot it's Saturday. I planned on writing all day with maybe an intermission for the hunterless woods with Anu. She hasn't been off her leash since we moved. Nor, I feel, have I. Ok, but first the gallery.

It doesn't matter--because today I feel relaxed. Last night I finished my show. Yes, finished. There was a lot of activity outside my studio windows because of the parade. I sat painting and wished Vinny would show up. Just as I put the last brush strokes on my last painting I heard a rap-rap-rap on the glass. It was my mind-reading husband! I let him in, showed him my work, and two seconds later... BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!!! Yes!! What an excellent finale to finishing this show--FIREWORKS! Perfect timing. I aM DoNE!

These past several weeks my life has been absolutely committed to my painting. It felt good and I can only compare it to the amount of focus I had in preparing for my Senior show. I will admit that I don't care that I fell behind in my other work--because I needed to do this. And now--ahh--sigh of relief--I feel good. I feel like, finally, I can focus on everything else that needs to get done. And mostly, I'm relieved and excited to give my energy to writing. I'm ready now to express myself in words (slow, creaky start).

But I'm thankful for paint--because without it I think I would still be floundering.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

thanksgiving @ grandma's

at least a dozen appetizers
bloody marys
wild rice
homemade stuffing
mashed potatoes and gravy
wild cranberries (picked from the bog)
homemade bread
a variety of vegetables
marshmallow salad of some sort (what's a holiday without it?)
pumpkin pie
berry pie

needless to say, i'm stuffed, but satisfied. completely. my sister's strolling the beaches of the atlantic in 70 degree weather...i'd say she's missing out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ok, point taken...

a paraphrase: you've gotta be able to create your own energy, not rely on others for it.

yes, it's true--and good to be reminded. anyway, today some writers blew yesterday's complaint out of the water. i need to quit complaining and start creating. 'nuf said.

Monday, November 21, 2005

little landscapes, mail, and other rambling thoughts...

After several months of thinking big (48"x 60" oil on canvas) I took an exciting detour and painted a little-iddy-biddy 6"x 6" landscape with acyrlic. It was wonderful. I painted sitting on a stool holding the canvas in my hand. I was rough with it and painted quickly. Normally I hate painting small. It makes me feel constricted. But not today. Today's painting felt a little like hiding out. I shut the door to the studio (something I never do), listened to music, drank coffee from a to-go cup, and indulged myself in a miniaturized world.

Afterwards I went to Nina's Senior show in the Talley, "On the Line," where I chatted with friends and began to notice that the more I paint and am surrounded by interesting people, the more alive I feel.

Which leads to my next thought: mail. Today I received a package of sorts. Package meaning it was big, flat, rigid, and didn't fit in the mailbox. It was a packet from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (ooh--that's a mouthful!) on their MFA in Writing. I've gotten stuff from them before, but today it especially pleased me because I have been thinking a lot about what the hell I want to do with myself next. Art or writing? Art or writing? Art? Writing? artwritingartwritingartwriting???? I've also been thinking a lot about the defunct energy that seems to be pervading the English department lately. No matter where you go there are highs and there are lows. As an undergrad I was surrounded by some extremely talented writers who were serious about their art. And I still am. But where's the energy? I know I don't have it. Nor am I getting it from others (generally speaking). I'm trying not to step on toes here because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. There are truly incredible people here. But man, I feel a deep need to move on. Actually, I don't even want to. In many ways I love it here. But it's hard to grow in (what feels like) a stagnant environment.

After long deliberation--I'm taking next year off. It's been an intense year and a half both in my personal and academic life. I need a break and I'm going to take one-- a year to work on my writing as an art form rather than an expectation, to experiment and travel and to work without the usual pressures.

Oh yeah, so back to getting mail...a program that allows me to write and to paint at the same time. Good god, could there be anything better? I've looked into interdisciplinary programs before and some seem a little hokey, but this one, not half bad. The problem lately is that I feel caught in a box. A big, fat, lethargic, dumb box.

And damnit--I want out.

roofers next door


hi roofers!! i think i need to rig up some curtains.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

and then on sunday...

I feel a little bit like I could sleep forever. Living in town, I've gotten in the habit of staying up all night, then sleeping late. This morning it felt good to sleep in, with sunshine spread across the bedroom. I'm still tired, or rather, exhausted. But today fits in with my definition of a good morning: sleeping in, drinking coffee, the pool of sunshine covering my desk, time to write, blue sky, a walk with not one dog but 2, a visit from my mom and brother, "brunch" with my husband and the neighbors. Yes, the definition of a good morning is when morning stretches all the way into evening.

This is the way Sundays should always be.

the life of a delirious painter on a saturday night...

i should be at a party right now celebrating nina's opening for her senior show in the talley gallery this coming monday. but i just can't bring myself to be around any more people right now. tonight when i got home from the studio i laid on the kitchen floor with my hands over my eyes and waited for water to boil. i desired nothing but darkness, quiet, and solitude. it's been an overwhelming weekend filled with many hours of painting and many, many people. wonderful people actually. a weekend full of artists. but ever since i've moved to town i feel overwhelmed easily. over stimulated always.

i ate supper and went back to the studio, finished another painting, and considered where i'm going with the next one. afterwards (late), i came home, laid on the couch, and numbed out with the tv. which is when it happened. nothing noticeable on the outside, but first a sinking feeling, then a tidal wave on the inside. i realized that i am almost done with putting this show together. i realized that in the past week i have painted myself inside out. i'm almost done expressing what has been the most difficult time of my life. and fuck-- i feel dry on the inside. raw. it's time to move on. but man, i think i could use just one last cry. a good one.

i feel a little bit like a bird that's just been given her freedom. i'm not sure what to do with it. caught in a strong wind, evenly, between sadness and starting over.

Friday, November 18, 2005

the small details...

so many things to write about lately. but it's 3am and i just returned from a bout of midnight painting. i want to write about walking home through a deserted town, everything silent except for the swish of perfectly powdered snow; i want to write about the lake water freezing at 6am this morning, the way it sounded like whale songs or dolphins, and how anu and i stood absolutely still with ears cocked for several minutes, just listening; i want to write about the sky and painting and and all the life that has returned to the studio.

i want to write about a lot of things... but man, i'm tired.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ladies, if you're looking for a man, try shopping at Fleet n' Farm

In search of weather stripping, boots, an outdoor extention cord and a dog house door I was showered by more looks from men than I have in quite some time. I thought of my single women friends and how easy it would be for them to pick up guys at Fleet n' Farm. Yeah, except that every time I turned around I heard a husband talking to a wife like she was an idiot. I guess the deals aren't so hot after all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Woodsmoke {and other thoughts}

ice...wind...frozen dog smelling lotion...television...sideways snow out window...drafts...rattles...snow in shoe...frozen car doors...accomplished homework...brittle branches...introspection...cheese...breaks go tap/tap/tap...curled up on couch with 2 cats and husband...heater vents blowing...words...candles...hibernation...wish i were a bear.

{p.s. i love you winter.}

Saturday, November 12, 2005


...the sky was so blue that it turned into an ocean

...and dolphins fell to the earth.

Even the humans started acting strange. Go figure.

Because it's dark outside...

I want to go home and curl up with the cats on our big, fat couch. These dark days make for introspective times. Good also, for accomplishing what really needs to get done:
  • Write Artist's Statement
  • Continue work on "Breath" painting and start another.
Too bad I didn't get my bike tires aired up in time. I wanted to ride, but now it's raining. I think the weather might be turning into winter soon.

But this is not the post I intended. My thoughts are flimsy and quiet... I sit in silence.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

22 degrees Fahrenheit...

today i walked the dog thinking that it is a coffee with cream, sugar and cinnamon day. 2 pots of coffee later and now even the windows are rattling. last night the wind brought down branches in our yard and neighborhood. it kicked open two windows that were formally painted shut. crash-bang. ghosts in the house and cats meowing. i ended up un-peacefully sleeping in the basement with round black balls of fur purring and pressed deep into the curves of my belly and legs.

and now it's already afternoon. i'v accomplished little-to-nothing. my feet are cold. there's a draft. but still, i love days like this. they give me an excuse to drink more coffee with cream, to light a few more candles, and to snuggle into the only chair in the house and start grading papers--before it gets dark.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Blue Story" continued...

After workshopping a short piece I wrote last night and this morning about Mexico, I'm embarrassed to say that I was only vaguely aware of the Juarez murders--400 women kidnapped, raped, and killed. Indra and Pol wondered if this had been on my mind while I wrote. No, it wasn't. But tonight, after reading more about it, I realize that I now have more to say--much more.

Gloria Rivas, victimJuana Sandoval Reyna & Esmaralda Juarez Alarcon, victims

Blue Story

In Mexico men dress in jeans and dirty polo shirts. They wait on street corners clutching business cards in their cracked hands—hands held out to slow my progress from one curb to the other, “Ay, SeƱorita…Dentist? Do you need a dentist? Low prices…this way. Por favor.” I practice blindness, but am caught off guard by an inadvertent brush of an arm—I hesitate, blink to the street, then slip forward, back into the crowd.

It’s now been many months, but still, Mexico reminds me of dentists—and the color blue. Azure, the sky presses down on me. Morning sinks into the white of my winter skin in shifting patterns of coolness and warmth—sinking into bone and blood until even the dogs become blue—mangy and ragged, with sagging tits; they trot down alleyways with garbage in their mouths. The alleys, stinking of shit, stretch out like paths behind houses saddled side by side, stuck one to the other. But in my memory it is the dusty, thin-aired quality of light and a profusion of color that prevails. The blue dogs shine beneath a soft sun where everything is made brighter. I think to myself, to the dogs, to the men, and the women too, “I want you forever.” I feel Mexico low in my belly where blue turns to red and then back again. Children chant and women tease, their smooth necks exposed. Ay, puta,” an old man yells from across the street. Not so innocent, not even the girls—except for one naive, but budding seductress—standing alone in a blue dress like the virgin robes of La Virgen de Guadalupe. Nuestra madre, saint, protectress of purity—standing in the dark, candle lit shadow of a doorway. But she’s not safe, not any of us—not even through marriage or faith—because in Mexico, sometimes, even the devil wears blue—swallowing women like water—leaving them covered in only blankets of stars.


Monday, November 07, 2005

life is good.

living in town aint so bad when the neighbor comes over with a plate of freshly made fudge. and, oh man, it tastes sooooo goooooood!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

paintable nature

autumn: when walking the dog becomes a hallucinogenic experience.

landscapes numero 2 and 3

last night I started another large painting, 60"x 48". This morning when I returned, it still wasn't dry (not even close)... so I started another, 24"x 24". They are going well--and I am quickly beginning to realize that these abstracts do not require the same amount of nitpicking that portraits do. That doesn't mean they're easier. In one sense, I have to trust my instincts more--they're easy to screw up. Anyway, they're not pure abstractions since they are landscapes--most existing only in my memory. I work with my fingers crossed and hope that, in the end, it will all hang well together.

This morning I walked to the studio and painted in a sun filled room with coffee and music. Bliss. At the moment the only thing I'm waiting for are these layers to dry so I can move onto the next. I'm impatient--but glad that things are progressing smoothly.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

good medicine

lots of ibrueprophen and fettucinni alfredo with artichoke hearts made the migraine go away. hurray. hurray. now i can look forward to a late night of painting.

at the moment i'm listening to the velvet underground and drinking strong, black coffee. remembering long afternoons spent at mildred's--a cafe in madison that i frequented because i liked their sandwhiches and coffee served in old-school greasy diner white cups. i could have sat there drinking, eating, writing--forever. the velvet underground playing--forever. i would walk the 7 blocks home afterwards in the cold, along the way stopping at the liquor store for wine or sake. at midnight i'd take my old black dog japhy with me down to skate at the park, on the pond, in the dark. japhy--named after japhy rider in dharma bums by jack kerouac. i miss japhy and cold walks and dark nights and mildred's, sake, and white coffee cups.

it makes me sad to think: life here in bemidji is boring. or is it me?

extended blog thoughts...

Last night I updated my sidebar links and in doing so spent more time than usual checking out the links of others. I found J*me's links especially interesting. I enjoy finding and reading blogs that are intelligent, thoughtful, and well written. This one I especially like. Lately I've been feeling like my blog could be so much more than it is. What it boils down to is that I don't give enough time to writing in my life. Funny, considering that is exactly what my life is supposed to be about right now. Still, I am grateful for inspiration--where ever it is to be found.

Last night, I laid in bed reading student essays. For once I decided not to grade but just read. I ended up in fits of laughter and then nearly in tears. This time around they got to write about whatever they wanted. They are turning out to be some of their most powerful pieces of writing so far. One essay in particular made me stop. It made me want to get up right then and there--and write. Instead I sat there for probably a half hour in awe of my students' abililty to get ideas and thinking about how I've changed as a writer since my Freshman year in college. I found myself wishing that I could once again be a beginning writer--without all the worries I've gained along the way. I sat there asking myself, "what is holding me back?"; "why is it so much harder to come up with ideas?" I think the answer is fear of failure. I've somewhere along the lines acquired a fear of producing "minor" writing and, in the end, it's keeping me from producing any writing at all.

I told my class that I would be doing the writing right along with them. And some of it I have. But the essays I haven't written-- I feel like I'm not only letting them down, I'm letting myself down. This semester I have a group of incredibly inspiring students. I don't want to miss my opportunity to write along with such an remarkable group. Lately I've been finding inspiration in many places. But I keep waiting for the dam to burst. Until it does, I guess there's only one thing left to do: write. I think I've heard myself say that before.

Friday, November 04, 2005

things to do:

drink lots of coffee (did that)
go for a long, long walk with wolfie (did that)
then go for another (did that)
clean up the mess i've already made of my writing room (not gonna do that)
grade essays (nope, not yet)
read advanced writing essays (not that either)
go to alicia's art opening @ the BCAC (ouch. got cancelled. long story.)
drink wine (drinking more coffee instead)
write (i wish)
listen to good music (the best of carly simon. ha!)

Things I did instead:
hauled canvases
cleaned and rearranged studio
ran errands
watched tv
took a really long shower
where the hell did today go??? ('s only 6pm. but so dark!)

Tomorrow. Sunday. Monday:
and write.

(oh, i suppose there's plenty of other things i should be doing too. if i ignore it will it go away? yeah right.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Road Trip!

A beautiful cold, grey, almost winter day to put on my big black turtle neck sweater, go through the coffee shop drive thru... and hit the road!

A short trip to the cities for over-sized art materials (and maybe some greek food!). There are a few things I really love. Cold weather, travel, and art supplies are definately towards the top of the list.