Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wrapping It Up

Christmas has come and gone and today is the last day of the year. I kept busy this past fall with photo shoots and editing. I currently have two nature photos in the Indianapolis Airport until March. I am anxious to drive down and see them and the rest of the exhibit. And I'm beyond excited to report I won first place in a magazine portrait contest. In a few weeks, after I get my prize money and copies, I will be able to share the details! I also have poems and photos in two new anthologies.

My kids have been doing well in school, work is ok; good news all around in that regard. The last few days of the year were a little tough for me though. I was asked to take pictures of the Spencer house as it was being torn down. (Tom was a well known poet and close friend. He regularly welcomed fellow writers and their families into his home and put out quite a spread. We always enjoyed the picnics, Labor Day parades, and Christmas parties he hosted.) Tom passed away over a year ago and his historical house, which was once a bed and breakfast, didn’t find new owners. His daughter couldn’t be there during the demolition so I took some pictures and videos for her then grabbed a few things from the rubble. It was a poetic ending but another difficult goodbye.

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with material to write about but overall it was a productive year and I’m looking forward to 2017. I hope to learn how edit and illustrate on my new Wacom tablet and am eager to try out my son’s GoPro among other things. New adventures await!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Finding My (Re)purpose

It wasn’t planned but my art route took a detour. In the spring I began collecting discarded beer caps, tabs, and sharp glass for a photography exhibit on beer because I didn't have any other ideas. I glued the glass on the frames to add impact and interest. My three submissions were on display for months at the Wildrose Brewery, then they came home. No sales, no one thought them remarkable or thought provoking. No one had to have these conversation pieces or talk extensively with me about my innovative and creative displays. Still, I was not discouraged or embarrassed. It's ok to be a garbage picker if it's for art's sake, right? If it serves a good purpose?  ABSOLUTELY!

The rest of my summer visits to the lake brought sadness to me too. I kept finding kid friendly things that were left by the young beach goers and their parents, friends, family. Shovels, buckets, popped balloons, cups, ribbons, plastic ware, etc. Beach party after beach party - celebrations where no one wants to do the dirty work or take any kind of responsibility at all. So I picked up the garbage, then arranged it, photographed it, and eventually made a poster for the Dunes Environmental Center in Gary, IN. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose …Love Your Lakeshore. This theme goes along with my poems that will be published this year which both praise our environment and curse the inhabitants.

Does anyone get it? What we are doing? You are going to the beach WHY? Hiking in parks WHY? To be with nature or to trash it?

Tomorrow our school custodian is retiring. Unable to sleep early early this morning I wrote a poem and devised a plan. After scouting the halls, classrooms, drawers, and cabinets all day at school and then at home I came up with an abundance of materials. A work of art like no other eventually evolved. This 8x10 framed poem is overflowing with admiration and appreciation. It's sad, how much we have, discard, waste but this shows someone understands and respects the hard work he did, the dedication he had. Hope he can take just one more mess. Thanks John and happy (garbage free) trails!

A quick detour or new direction entirely? Not sure, but at least I have a purpose right now. It’s an interesting, fun, and creative way to spread the message. Reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, replant, restore, ...

Monday, June 6, 2016

First Things First

I have lots to report since I have not posted in over six months. I’m happy to say amazing things are still happening…

December:  Mapping the Muse got published. This book celebrates Indiana’s 200th birthday and my poem “All Washed Up” was chosen to represent Lake County. (This is the first of many special events planned for our state).

January:  This was the first time I entered photos in the Porter County Gardening Show and they all placed! I got a 1st for Foliage, 3rd for Fungus in the Garden, and an Honorable Mention for Insect in the Garden. It really is a nice event and I wish I had more time to look around and shop. After the show the winning prints were on display for a month at a framing shop in Chesterton.

February:  I got to get to a Michigan beach in winter – first frosting photos!!! No, it was not ideal. The big lighthouse was not frosted over but the little one had some. The railings were ridiculous though – icy blue and white spikes everywhere.  Shelf-ice, icebergs, frosted steps:  Well worth freezing for!

March:  For the first time I had a photo accepted in the Cancer Resource Center’s photo contest. I had submitted four years in a row and finally was chosen to participate in their fundraising campaign. Butterfly notecards were handed out at the gala in April and are now on sale in local gift shops. Mine is the Monarch on Goldenrod. A few other Calumet Region Photo friends also got to participate.

Each month the Chicago Area Camera Club Association has a special category digital competition. I have received a few good scores and awards but finally got the best score. The category was “triptychs.” I had to look up the meaning but once I did I realized I had already made a few through my portrait work. I entered two different series of children and worked hard perfecting a frozen lighthouse scene. In the end my “Hugs and Kisses” caught their eye. It originally was a Christmas present to my sister-in-law and all my niece’s idea J.

Other nature photos did great in the Calumet Region Photo competitions this spring. I got three awards and of those, two got Print of the Month.  …And since we didn’t go anywhere for spring break I participated in some painting events.  I plan to do more this summer.

April:  I found out a different lighthouse picture I submitted in a cover contest will be used for the latest Encore edition. Encore is an anthology containing the prize-winning poems of the fifty contests held in the spring NFSPS contest (National Federation of State Poetry Societies). Valarie has been the editor of Encore for the past 12 years. We exchanged several emails and I hope to meet her someday. Each conference attendee gets a copy and they are also available to other members and the public. I cannot wait to get my copy. The conference is in Minnesota this year so I think they will appreciate the shelf ice surrounding the lighthouse and the long catwalk - especially since it is a wrap-around cover.

I submitted photos and poems about the environment (good: the dunes and other nature experiences, and bad: the way we are trashing the planet) to both The Edge of the Prairie and the next Hoosier publication. I had tried to step away from Prairie Writers last year because I was so busy, but they are such a great group I was drawn back in. Both publications should be out in the late fall.

Finally, May:  I saw a “Call for Art” about beer while out gambling with my mom and sister in Michigan City. I had no idea of what to submit until I took a walk on the beach. I was looking for beach glass but was saddened when I saw all the garbage. I ended up picking up rusted beer caps and tabs, along with shards of glass in various colors. A few more trips to other neglected beaches gave me plenty more material. The finds made nice photographic collages and hopefully will make a statement. I attended the artist reception a few weeks ago and did reconnect with an old friend – might have made a new friend too. Maybe not that ironically, the Memorial Day celebrations on Chicago beaches made the news a few days ago because of all the garbage people left. Of course I had to voice my opinion on one of the FB posts and share a photo of my own.

Summer is just around the corner but summer break has already started!!! I have a few small trips planned and also will be participating in a few obstacle races. Maybe I can slow down and not take on anything extra??? Now THAT would be a first for sure.