Friday, September 4, 2009

Turtles and Ferns

For a working artist in Bloomington, this is the biggest weekend of the year. The Fourth Street Festival is Saturday and Sunday, and that means two things. I’m frantically working to finish a few new pieces and I’m working to make sure the show appears effortless to the fairgoers. The piece I’m working on is tentatively titled ‘Among the Ferns’ and it features an Eastern Painted turtle. I really like turtles, and I’m the person who stops to help the turtles across the roads when they set out on a quest. Everybody needs a little help when life’s traffic starts speeding all around you. Last weekend I wove the background for the piece, including some dirt. Normally I try to create the reddish brown earth tones that are common in this area (and remind me of chocolate!), but this time I wanted a mossy feel to accompany the ferns. I came up with olive brown earth tones to anchor the ferns. The fern leaflets I need were also started a while back. They’re pretty labor intensive, and it only gets worse if you can do math. I wanted 8 fronds with about 50 leaflets each—that’s a lot of cut copper flashing from my secret supply store in Michigan! This week was I was in a serious wrapping mode, consuming a whole ball of green yarn from my big dyeing project a few weeks back (the “Greens of Summer” blog from July 18th). The turtle was my good-humored travel companion (I’m always poking at him). He’s been taking shape as I watch my kids at their Tae Kwon Do class, or when I’m in the Creek-Love class at Rogers as the kids sort beads, or any place I have a quiet few moments to fill. Don’t worry though—soon I’ll be done and he’ll have some new fronds. When I get a picture he’ll join the painted turtle from “Among the Hostas” and the soft-shelled turtle in the “Summer Pond” sculpture on my website.

The other big draw on my sanity this week is tying up the details for orchestrating the Fourth Street Festival. I have a lot of wonderful friends who have volunteered to facilitate the Children’s booth this year as they create a mosaic art piece. I hope I have enough glue—it’s hard to know how far forty bottles (and 30 leftovers from last year) will go on the project. I’ll also help mark the show layout tonight with chalk on the streets, and that’s a big project. Then I have to set up my booth and put on my artist hat back on. We are extremely fortunate to have Jean Kautt acting as show manager—she organizes and directs the volunteers, distributes artist packets and information. She tells them where to park, where they can find great pizza—whatever they need. Her calm, steady temperament is perfect for interfacing with artists, who are famous for their curmudgeonly independence. They’re the kids who wouldn’t take directions in school in case you want to spot them early. She also loves to use Excel, so we bond on a deep level. With the show in her hands I can go off and set up my booth with confidence that everything will run smoothly. So if you’re in town this week, come by and meet the turtle, visit the Children’s booth, and stop in and say hello!

Until next week…

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