The last time I blogged it was the week prior to the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts. I’m tugged in so many different directions once the fair starts that I can’t focus on much else. This year’s show turned out to be perfect in so many ways. The weather responded beautifully to my demands and the weekend was sunny and pleasant. The crowds responded by packing the streets, looking as happy as I’ve ever seen them flowing by my booth. The show was the perfect capstone to a wonderful summer of art. After take down Sunday, my life took a few days to return to something close to normal. I had to get everything put away and re-enter the family routine. I was welcomed home with a delightful dinner and raspberry pie so I knew everything was OK.
About that time, though, I had to begin preparing for a workshop I was planning to do at the Artful Dimensions gallery in Fredericksburg Virginia. I was so excited to participate instead of coordinate a workshop! Having the amazing Pamela MacGregor teach us about dimensional wet felting was an incredible prospect. Except for one small problem. The workshop was scheduled for Friday through Sunday, and my flight touched down on Saturday night. Our organizational wires got crossed somewhere and it look like I was not going to be able to attend. The husband of my host Elizabeth Woodford, Tom, came up with a great solution, though.
He said I should just come to Virginia for an art-cation! Both Elizabeth and Barbara Posey, my host from my last trip to the gallery, both urged me to come in such welcoming tones that I felt good about traveling. On the trip east I made lemon slices for a new art piece idea I’m going to try out at the holiday markets—I’m going to create some much smaller compositions at a lower price point. Somehow the idea of making lemons on the trip was my way to turn the trip into spiritual lemonade.
The bonus for me was that they worked it out with Pam that I could participate on the final day of the workshop. I do have some experience with wet felting, which meshed with the call for intermediate to advanced felters at the course. She guided me through techniques I had read about but hadn’t tried myself. I ended up with a fabulous tea pot, wet fingers and a lot of great new ideas to try back in Bloomington. I’m inspired to create more 3D pieces after completing the entire teapot project on the last day. Pamela is such an amazing teacher and a fountain of knowledge and techniques that traveling to Virginia was definitely the right decision.
The trip wasn’t all hands-on art exploration, though. Elizabeth and Tom are regular commuters to Washington DC, which makes them familiar with the best times, routes, lanes and strategies for efficient travel through a gridlock-prone highway system. Elizabeth concocted a plan for us to visit DC the day after the workshop to visit museums.
I did spend a couple of weeks in DC during my Ph.D. training, but I was tethered to the NIH complex doing research and never got a chance to be a tourist. Elizabeth more than made up for that. We visited the Textile Museum and saw some historic kimonos and surface design techniques that survived centuries. I was constantly doing my visual dance where I take off my glasses and stare very closely at the interstitial textile framework before stepping back to get the big picture view. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the gallery was between exhibits. Other trip highlights included the Vietnam veterans memorial, the Vietnam nurses memorial, lunch in a fabulous Mediterranean restaurant and walking along the mall. That afternoon we visited the Hirschhorn museum. It’s a place I’ve read about many times in ArtNews, but to actually be there in the space to experience the outdoor sculpture garden and the exhibits was wonderful.
I enjoyed the video art there, which is a form that I have tried hard to appreciate and understand without complete satisfaction on my part. I also got a chance to see some of the gallery’s own collection, including a huge Helen Frankenthaler, several Calder pieces and at least a dozen Willem De Koonings. It’s wonderful to see images of pieces, but seeing them live—enjoying the colors and the textures and the face-to-face experience—is so much more powerful than viewing reproductions in a book or on a screen. It was a fabulous cultural and personal experience, but oh my gosh, the traffic! The number of people and congestion is just overwhelming.
I spent my final two days in Fredericksburg playing in Elizabeth’s sandbox, which was a lot of fun. We explored techniques and tried a few experiments to see what we could come up with. Overall it was a wonderful art-cation, but by the time I was flying home my mind was flying back to the reality of Pippin costuming. When I had my feet in the costuming studio I launched the final push to create the last of the props and costumes for the production.
As of today I’m official declaring myself finished! Of course there are still a few costume tweaks in store. I’m expecting a few broken elastics to appear and a snap to add or repair. But all in all, with safety pins and duct tape they could go on stage tomorrow. The best part of coming home, though, was that my family was so glad to see me that I got another peach pie! The second pie lasted the past week, with the final slice accompanying coffee Friday morning. My wonderful family was super excited to see me and I was thrilled to be back home again. Next up is getting ready for family visits for the Pippin performances, and to take on all the art projects I’ve lined up in my home studio. Now I need to get back to the enjoyable task of being a working fiber artist!
Until next week,