Sunday, June 28, 2009

Planning for Lubec Arts Alive 2009

My work as a volunteer began when I seventeen. I helped the local chapter of the U.S. Jaycees with our high school project graduation fundraiser: a Halloween haunted house. From there, I joined the Jaycees and worked on other charitable events. In 1989 I began a three year stint of organizing the Old Hallowell Days Parade, and a few years later took on publicity for the UMA Mile of Art event and did that for two years running. After becoming a teacher, my work became more focused on the school community and left little or no time for anything outside of that.

I have always enjoyed organizing and volunteering, and living in a small town such as Lubec, there are more committees and needs than there are people available to do the tasks. Overwhelmed with my full-time teaching job, running a business, being an artist, and keeping self, family connections, and relationships healthy, I have had to say "no" more times than I like.

In January, Maine artist Natasha Mayers sent me an email about the UMVA (Union of Maine Visual Artists) and the possibility of "arting-up" a town. My excitement at the thought of Lubec as a possibility for this project put me right back into full-swing organizer mode. Before I had a chance to think logically about how much work this would require, I was deep into planning and networking. So here we are, five months later, with an incredible event being planned. What is different for me this time, though, is that I am not in charge of only one aspect of a proeject, but I am involved with all aspects of this one. I am increibly excited about the event this summer, and have decided to put a lot of things on hold in my life for the next couple months so that the project will be a success.

The basic idea is that a bunch of accomplished Maine artists will visit our town as "artists-in residence" for one week in August. Along with local community, we will paint a mural, sculpt, create installations, paint iconic images on signs, share artwork, feast, and enjoy the energy of a group of of artistic visionaries working together for a common cause.

This is most exciting for me because I get to work with artists whose work I admire: Natasha Mayers, Robert Shetterly, Karen Adrienne, Rose Marasco, Kenny Cole, Diane Dahlke, Barbara Sullivan, Alan Crichton, Richard Brown Lethem. What is doubly amazing is that the grant that was applied for to do this project is unlikely to happen as expected, and, these artists are, in the true spirit of artistic community, still coming to our town! I am so heartened by this.

So, we have town support and a super duper committee in Lubec that is organizing housing and food for the artists, publicity, schedules, and fundraising. We need donors and volunteers and the search is on! I have begun a blog dedicated solely to the Lubec Arts Alive 2009 event and will start updating that with solid information: who, what, when, where, how, etc. as the planning develops. I expect to have that information posted within two weeks, or most of it anyway! There is also an email address for folks to use if they have questions or ideas. So, if you are reading this blog, be sure to check-in and follow the Lubec Arts Alive 2009 blogsite as well.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Favorite Writer

I woke this morning (after a beautiful restful eight entire hours of sleep!) to the sounds wind whipping the trees and rattling windows. The rain seems to have moved on, but the grey sky and breeze remain. It's one of those mornings where you just don't want to get out of bed. So, I didn't!

Well, I admit that I did go downstairs briefly to fix me up a cup of hot cocoa, but other than that, here I am, snug and warm, listening to the awesome sounds of nature. And Bello. That frisky cat is clawing at anything he can find, asking me to PLEASE let him out. But he will have to wait. For now, I am feeling in a...poetic mood. So, I thought that instead of my usual self-indulgent blog (okay, I admit, I did start out that way) I will share a few poems with you by my favorite writer, Chris Crittenden.

He has written, literally, thousands of poems since I have known him, and published hundreds. When we first met he was teaching ethics (feminist and environmental) and primarily writing articles for philosophical journals. That influence is evident in his poetry and novel writing. I will share three poems here, all of which are some of my all-time favorites. If you were to research his poetry, you would find that his work spans themes too many to mention. If I had to sum-up his work, though, I would see him as a writer of nature, politics, and the human condition. That covers a lot!

Chris can be reached at:

Exile of the Loons
night came
like a violin without a bow,
seeking my murmurs,
for silence had cursed its
ebony since the exile
of the loons. stars watched
with their trivial, infinite gaze
as my cheeks offered wet
glissandos, my lips wavered
between fever and howl, my
fingers scurried, plucking
strings of mist.

i waltzed with a willow
while moonbeams splashed her hair,
stomped silver trickles, accosted a
snoring crow, but still night
was not pleased

until i sobbed a strange rapture
over the lake where ghosts
once flew, skinny-dipped,
amphibious as a duck,
toward the liquid center.

there my throat learned
how to woo a marsh.
it memorized the vibration,
the heat, the solitude. finally
the night smiled, hearing
its cold stage haunted once again.

-from the chapbook Opals of the Opened Soul

The Gods Reflect on Creation
we gibbered and gabbled
in the null onyx,
afraid that heat might seethe.
one of us quacked too loud
and light erupted, birthing awe
alongside violence and waste.

after eons of reptiles
prayer wafted up. it was far better
than mindless solar pageantry.
our new toadies prattled
more efficiently than we,
collapsing truth
into a few apt equations.

soon they had a stash
of nuclear kicks,
enough to freckle plains
with poisonous craters.
it wasn’t enough for them
to gnaw the crust. life itself
made them salivate, the urge
to splice it into freaks,
to distill tints and recombine piths—

like evolution but more wanton,
even slutty; an orgy to harvest ambrosia,
so they could be immortal like us,
sit on pinnacles and shout in release—

to be as great
as the thrill that started it all—
that seminal yoctosecond
among the timeless idiocy
of our babbling.

-from the chapbook Gordian Butterflies

Song for a Forest
no one can tell me
the forest has no flesh.
my feet have tasted its roots,
licked across arteries
even as their spirals split
again and again
below a simmer of fallen leaves—
pumpkin, pale, russet—
and a dark brewing depth
of drunken earth.

why are leaves drumming
and oak limbs swaying to a beat
as ripe as a lover’s heart?
why are raindrops sad or joyous
on the eyelashes of pines?
ants are red cells in a greater blood,
sparrows breaths in a windy lung.
owls are nothing but the pupils of elves
half torn from fetal sleep,
deer nothing but caresses
of brown fingertip.

i kiss streams with my eyes
and they kiss back with pouts of sparkles;
or whisper into my ear, soft as sensual lips.
i follow them where they feed cushions of moss,
toes of alders, visions of blue pools sky-entranced.
i hear messages in warbles and whirs
that come together like bits of a thought.
i watch sunlight splinter into bright lines,
the outer edges of a smile.

-from the chapbook Opals of the Opened Soul

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is it really happening?

After five or more years of dreaming of a year-round space to create in, we are finally taking the plunge and diving head first into the world of home renovation. It's a project that is both stressful and exciting at the same time. Symbolically, it represents our commitment to settling-down in this area of the world. I will admit, it was touch and go for the first few years as to whether or not we would stay in Lubec. At first, we didn't think so, but about three or four years after living here, we started to become attached to the environment and to our new friends. It is only in the past couple years that I have grasped, on some level, what my role is in this community, and that has been a real turning-point for me.

About two weeks ago the big equipment made an appearance. Chris, in California visiting family and working on his class, is missing most of the excitement. Maybe that is a blessing in disguise, on some level anyway. But soon he will return to find that the earth has been turned inside out. In general, we try not to affect the landscape much beyond its own natural inclination, however, for me the artist, I need a space where I can do my clay work year-round. I couldn't imagine a lifetime of only creating six or seven months of the year. Artists know that it is a horrible feeling to have inspiration strike but to not be able to act. So, it is a joyous time indeed, knowing that this coming winter I will be sitting at the wheel, hands muddy, gazing out the window at drifting snow while feeling toasty and content. Chris is not left out of this either. He will be writing from a new space as well, with inspiring views and bookcase-lined walls, sitting at his great-grandfather's antique desk. Too long now, his books have been in storage - and finally, they will come out of the attic and into his hands once again.

We are fortunate, Chris and I, that we have so many generous and loving people around us, who believe in us, our vision, and support us as artists. We are truly blessed, and for that I am incredibly grateful, beyond what words can express. Without their help, none of this would be possible.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sitting on the deck by the bay...

Peaceful Sunday afternoon, sitting on the deck, listening to the birds chirp near and in the distance. Sun drenched, warm, mild breeze rustling the leaves. Pink phlox blanketing the field, grass swaying, bees buzzing as they fly by, time and time again, their usual route. The water is extra blue today.

This moment is such a contrast to the usual hectic routine. I spent the last few days in a whirlwind of grading, graduation, travel, building, meetings, appointments, and hosting. Most all of it fabulous, but the pace is not one to be kept-up long term. This moment feels like a deep-breath after days of hyperventilating.

In a flurry of activity, my husband left for California, a new studio/office addition has begun to be built, I hosted a committee and dinner for the Lubec Arts Alive 2009 project, visited Heartwood College of Art, saw my family in central Maine, knocked off a couple medical appointments, and returned home late Friday night to prep for my artist friend Becky's visit with her almost-seven-year-old daughter. All this, on top of teaching.

I am not accustomed to a weekend of "just hanging out." Normally I would be in the studio working hours on end, but since we have begun a building project, the electrical line to the barn studio has been dislodged and there is no power at all out there. For how long? I don't know! My usual art-obsessed self is being forced to change the routine. It created a lot of stress for me, knowing that I would not have my studio for an unknown length of time, but I am actually starting to come to terms with that, and I feel okay!

It has given me an opportunity to focus on some other things that need attention. I also know, that for the first time in over ten years, I will have a studio space that I can work in through the winter. Yey! Extremely exciting. In summer, I usually feel the push to get all the clay work done that I can, knowing that winter will be just around the corner. I am curious how my work time will be divided now, knowing that I will have the flexibility to pace myself.

So, this past weekend was about reconnecting with my friend Becky. For the first time since she had children, we were able to spend a few hours just talking. It was awesome! Her daughter is amazing, a testament to how great she and her husband are as parents. We hiked the trail at West Quoddy, shopped at Northern Tides, Wags and Wools, and Monica's Chocolates, beach-combed for sea glass, had ice cream at Atlantic House, painted, weaved, and ate fresh fabulous meals. They were here just about 24 hours, a short visit for such a long drive, but we made every minute count.

The next week will be devoted almost entirely to school responsibilities. The end of the year is near, and there is plenty to do. We pack up our rooms for summer deep-cleaning, and I need to get student artwork ready for sale at the lighthouse gallery. I hope to meet up with my artist friend Diane at the Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth next weekend, and look forward to my mom's later visit that same day.

As I blog this, hummingbird just visited the beautiful red geranium my mother gifted me two days ago. Perfection in this moment.