Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday cheer, plus a little art…

This week news revolves around family activities, but I did manage to get some art done. I created a new kind of scarf—thanks to Cappi for the idea! It's made from old sweaters that I felted last week and red felt balls that I made last year! I’ve been making more sweater petals and re-stocking places like the By Hand Gallery and Wonderlab, but my main focus was on creating holiday cheer. The boys and I did some shopping downtown on the square with our wish lists in hand, supporting local merchants. Still, we couldn’t lose sight of the fact that Grandma and Aunt Lois were due to arrive Thursday afternoon. That meant a lot of house cleaning and holiday baking were on the agenda. The whole family piled in to the borrowed van and surprised them at the airport with our large welcoming contingent and hugs from everybody.

The holidays mean a full house with lots of feasting and adventures. Jim prepared a freshly baked peach pie as a welcoming present. It became breakfast on Christmas Eve day, and it was delicious. I learned that Indiana summer peaches freeze nicely. I plan to remind Jim of that every trip to the farmer’s market through peach season! That day we went to see the Cardinal Stage production of Annie. They just outdid themselves with this one. I didn’t think that was possible after last year’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” so now I can’t wait to see what they’ll put on next year. It was wonderful to see some children we know in the production, Joelle Jackson and Marlena Wagschal. We were beaming with pride for them and the great job they did. Their poise and talent was just amazing. That night nobody slept well, but everybody was still ready and excited for Christmas morning. There were plenty of presents and a tree decked out in chocolate. Everyone was happy. I made my traditional Stollen for breakfast, one with marzipan and one with rum-soaked fruits. Yum! They were excellent with coffee or orange juice, depending on your preference. That day I made a big pan of scalloped potatoes in a beautiful dish from Jan Arbogast while Jim and his Mom worked in the yard. She mowed the lawn and leaves while he raked and mulched. We had hoped for snow, but the sunny and mild weather was best for yard work. That evening we brought out the wedding china that hasn’t seen daylight since the boys were born and had a delightful Christmas feast, featuring an orange-ginger glazed salmon, my huge dish of potatoes au gratin, Aunt Lois’ cranberry salad, and enough jasmine rice to keep Jacob happy.

Monday morning we still had a house full of family, so the front yard became the focus. Grandma mowed, Jim raked and picked up sticks, then both went in the back yard to touch up the places that needed more attention. On Tuesday the winter skies finally opened up and gave us a little snow. Tommie and Jacob made a snow fort and they had battles with Jacob’s friend Garrett. Jacob and Garrett had the fort, but I think Tommie reigned supreme throwing snowballs, combined with his quick reflexes to dodge the frozen projectiles. Jim got out the chainsaw to cut up some wood when our fireplace pile went down. Tommie helped split the wood and cart it to the carport. We’re a good team—they make a roaring fire and I enjoy it!

All good things must end, and yesterday Grandma and Aunt Lois headed back to their home in cold Michigan. For me, it’s nice to be back at Zumba, shaking my tushy and working off the holiday fudge from Haley and Kris in New Mexico and the cookies from Katy next door. I laid out all my business paperwork for the year and soon I’ll be chugging along, filling out excel spreadsheets for the end of the year accounting. I expect the kids will be screeching around me with offseason play dates. I’m really looking forward to developing some fresh art ideas in the new year, which is my carrot to get the paperwork done. I want to do some stamping on fabric to support my Re-shirt venture. I’ll make my own stamps using the linoleum carving tools I still have from high school (I’m sure my five year reunion must be coming up soon!). Happily I got a new shop light for Christmas (our gifts are pretty utilitarian) that is hanging over my bench so I’m ready to go. I’ve been drawing a few sketches for patterns I might want to try. Much of the work will have to wait until the boys are back in school. Still, today I dream and tomorrow I work.

Until next week year…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas is in the building…

The boys, out of school as of Friday, are my new daily companions as I weave through meetings and my art life. They are usually delightful to be around most of the time, but they take good cheer to the next level in the holiday season. Together we brought a big, lush tree from Bloomingfoods into the living room and started decorating it. The room has a fresh smell and it’s a great treat to pull out all the ornaments. As we hang them I get to remember how each piece is associated with my family history, from pre-wedding gift ornaments to pieces we got when the boys were born to special ornaments that Grandma gave us over the years. It’s a walk down memory lane. The boys are now deep into their advent calendars and are awaiting the arrival of Grandma and great aunt Lois on Thursday. That meant we had to launch into major cleaning mode to prepare the house so it doesn’t look like an artist with two kids lives here. The aptly named jungle room will become Lois’ bedroom so we picked up and sorted all the toys, games, legos, videos, and everything else a kid could accumulate over the years. We’ll be delivering care packages to the Recycle Center, Opportunity House and any other worthy place that will take the second hand games and toys.

Of course all the family activities exclude much time for creating art this. That’s OK, even artists need a week off. I did make a few sweater petals, and I did re-stock my sweater petals at By Hand Gallery and the "Bike the B-Line" t-shirts at the Downtown Visitor's Center at the Buskirk-Chumley theater. Fortunately, the theater is right next to Blu Boy Café and Cakery. We had to stop in to fortify ourselves before heading over to Lennie’s for celebratory pizza. At the noon BEAD meeting we ran into Chad Rabinovitz from the Bloomington Playwrights Project and we chatted about the grand reopening of the BPP in January. It will feature two commissioned art pieces (including one of mine!) and coincide with a new play called The Boy in the Bathroom. Chad says it’s an excellent production, so Jim and I will check in for an afternoon matinee. We’re also excited to see the Cardinal Stage production of Annie on Christmas Eve. It features two friends of the boys, Marlena Wagschal (our former neighbor) and Joelle Jackson (a preschool contemporary of Jacob).

On a final note, where art and life coincide, I was briefly banished from Target as the boys wanted to do some Christmas shopping without me. A woman who was a total stranger to me walked up and asked where she could buy my sweater petals! Maybe she saw me in this month’s issue of Bloom magazine—did I mention that I was one of the "7 Artists that Inspire" ?!? Well, why yes, I am! The answer is that you may stop by By Hand Gallery, Wonderlab, or you can find them online at Sweany Artworks online. Jaime Sweany was the owner of the Wandering Turtle Art Gallery downtown, and now she’s off on her own art endeavors. She’s a good friend and I like to support her. Oh, and speaking of supporting friends, local artist extraordinaire and truly tireless supporter of the Lotus Festival, Deborah Klein, is packing up her bags and moving back to Australia. We went to a delightful reception Sunday to say goodbye. Local artists each contributed a quilt panel to make a beautiful going away present for Deborah to help her remember her time in Bloomington. We all wish her the best down under.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas waits around the corner…

I know this because, sitting just out of sight on the veranda, is a Christmas tree with its back against the house, waiting to come inside. We got it from Bloomingfoods a few days ago but the traditional tree corner was filled with Legos and card supplies. Tonight for sure it comes inside! The boys will do their homework right after school so we can start trimming later in the evening. It’s here, it’s here!

Of course this skips right past the frenzy of the week. We’re looking for a new Saturday routine since the Farmer’s Market closed down. The hardest part might be not getting the hot chocolate from Le Petit Café first thing in the morning. The charming lady who enabled our habit calls us ‘la famille chocolat’. Saturday morning we skipped over to Sweet Claire’s on Third Street to check it out. I got a tart with custard and cherry jelly that was delightful. The boys tried the hot chocolate and rated it a 9.5 out of ten, versus a 10 from Le Petit Café, so that speaks volumes.

In between holiday adventures I’ve been focusing on making my new sweater petals. To find the materials I’ve been zipping around to all my favorite re-sale shops looking for more wool sweaters in different colors. I was delighted to find a lovely orange men’s sweater at Opportunity House and some good strong red ones at the sorority thrift shop on Third street. Oh, and by the way Mom if you’re reading this—I found a really cute black and white striped shirt that I can’t wait to show you in person! I told the person behind the till that I’m going to show you and say that it’s MINE. Hee hee hee hee!

As I transition from art shows to marketing at retail outlets over the holidays, I spent some time restocking cards at my venues around town and distributing my sweater petals. I dropped off a big batch at Wonderlab and within a day or so I got a call asking if I could bring them more! They were closed Monday so I re-stocked them on Tuesday. I also sold a few at the last of the holiday art fairs this weekend at the Beth Shalom center. I shared the Discardia booth with Jean, Jeanne and Laurel so I could hang out and chitty chatty with my recycled art friends. The organizers did a nice job promoting the show, bringing in a very happy crowd for the art and a cookie sale. Oh, and while I’m on sweater petals, I discovered a new kind that looks something like a cross between a rose and a brain. Maybe Jill Bolte-Taylor will want one! I made them out of old suit jackets, especially the kind with the big padded shoulders that give you the eighties flashbacks. I see my job as a community service, ridding the community of all the old clothes that shouldn’t be rediscovered (like the men’s orange sweaters). Anyway, I’m also thinking that the new flower designs should also find their way into a weaving that I’ve been dreaming up. It will feature an hand holding out a bouquet of flowers over a background of sweater petal flowers.

Finally, on another family note, Jim’s birthday was Sunday. He didn’t want to have a cake with all the other goodies that have been available, so we made frozen yogurt parfaits with fruit from Bloomingfoods. I think everybody liked them! For his birthday I got him a bunch of new shirts, which he also seemed to like. Little does he know that every time he adds a new shirt to his closet I get to sneak out some of the old ones that I don’t like to see him wear any more. They’ll become part of Re-Shirt art tank top, so everyone wins!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Season, Here We Are!!

It was a jam-packed week for me, culminating with the Unitarian Universalist Art Fair and Bazaar over the weekend. I had to keep focused all week with meetings planned for Monday through Wednesday. I managed to make a few scarves each day in the days before the show. I was pleased and impressed to see all the yard signs advertising the show and the ads in the Herald Times—the organizers did a great job promoting the show. Thursday evening my set-up crew came to help me at the church. The boys and Jim did a wonderful getting the booth set-up in a new spot this year. Just about everybody was shuffled around, which freshened up the show. My Sweater Petals were a big hit, as were my Re-Shirts. This show was the first chance I really had to display them both. It was good to see people trying them on and moving around, which gives you a much better sense of how the fabric moves when you put on my wearable art. It’s a lot like seeing fashion come down the runway, where the movement of the fabric helps bring each piece to life.

The show ended at 7 on Friday, which let me sneak out to see Jim’s brown belt test at 7:15. I got there just before it started with a package of dark chocolate brownies from Galaxy Gourmet to match the new belt. We usually celebrate with ice cream after a belt test, but this time we went home to have some fresh-baked apple pie. I don’t think anybody minded.

After the show on Saturday we packed up the art and the booth, headed home and collapsed. With each boy doing Taekwondo and sparring back-to-back before the takedown my roadies were ready to relax. We had a fire in the fireplace, a little wine with a Peppered Salmon dish from the freezer, and everybody went to bed tired but satisfied. Of course Sunday just brought a new set of adventures, beginning with St. Nicholas day. On the Bloomington Celerin calendar it falls on the Sunday after the UU show. Each family member found a big stocking stuffed with treasures, ranging from chocolate to toothbrushes and bubble bath. I even got some Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea (I’m really tight with the Jolly old fellow). Oh, and when I came downstairs I found a note from St. Nick next to an espresso and a stollen filled with marzipan that I suspect came from Sweet Claire’s bakery! It’s a nice low-key introduction into the holiday season. Now I’m eyeing Christmas trees at Bloomingfoods and planning for the candy house. I just have to remember Jim’s birthday next weekend! Shhh, don’t remind him…

Oh and one more holiday show - next weekend is a Discardia event at the Shalom Multi-Cultural Bazaar (3750 East Third Street, Bloomington, IN) on Sunday from 11 - 3pm

Hope to see you there!!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin