Sunday, August 23, 2009

What a week!

Richard Brown Lethem paints Eugene, local lobsterman and chocolatier. Finished paintings in the background include me! I love Lethem's wild colors and quick expressionistic brush strokes. It was a real treat to observe him at work.

I guess I can say that Lubec Arts Alive 2009 is officially over. The last artist working, Natasha Mayers, swung by the house to pick up her books on her way out of town Saturday night at 6:30. It was a week to never forget - a bustling of activity from morning 'til late night. Lubec has never seen the likes of this - accomplished artists from Maine and beyond, thirteen of them, landing here for one week to "art-up" the town. The project definitely grew from its original conception of just bringing wild color and creativity - to something that documented a town's history and people while celebrating community. What is even more amazing is that these artists were originally expected to be paid, however, when the grant didn't come through, they all enthusiastically said "I'll be there anyway!" So, this definitely defined "Community" in the sense that everyone pitched in to help out. Individuals and local businesses provided housing, food, supply money and talent. Our sponsor list topped over fifty, and that doesn't even include the volunteers who provided muscle and equipment. Astounding!

We started the week with a wine and cheese at Crow Town Gallery. The committee had their first opportunity to meet the resident artists. Frank Van Riper and Judy Goodman were there from the beginning to photo document the event (they have since taken over 450 photos!), and Ruta of Tours of Lubec and Cobscook volunteered a local history tour of the town. Monday morning we started right in with the mural, portraits, and doorways. It was such an incredible experience to see all our planing come into action: folks from the community filtering in, feeling honored, creativity flaring, people laughing, curious, eager to do their part.

Throughout the week, we saw lots of faces, and honored many from the community. We feasted (many times!) The mural, which should be mounted soon, is amazing! I am so impressed with Natasha's ability to mobilize a crowd and get such an enormous and gorgeous artwork completed in one week. Hamilton Beach was filled with natural found object sculptures in the style of Goldsworthy, and Chris even gave a poetry reading here in our new studio space, which was followed by a fire circle complete with marshmallow toasting, banjo and accordion playing, and a sharing of poems. The portrait sessions were at times touching (especially the public viewing at the library of finished portraits) and the doorway installations downtown drew lots of attention from passers-by. The slide show (and moving shadow puppet show) showed the audience just how incredible, accomplished, dedicated, and talented this group of thirteen artists were, and how fortunate we were to have had this experience.

I was sad to see each artist leave, and the energy that they brought to our town and project. I hope we all have a chance to cross paths again.

I must also say - that I was overwhelmingly impressed with (and thankful for!) the committee here in Lubec! This group of five women worked their butts off! The two weeks prior to the event, and the week of, (and the months before!) left little time for anything other than organizational activities. This was the first time I was "at the helm" overseeing a major project, and as events unfolded, I could see even more clearly how talented this dedicated group of women was, and still is! I would without hesitation work with this same group again. It couldn't have been a more perfect combination with each person's talents complementing another's.

I need a little time to catch my breath and do some follow-up reporting and documenting for the event. Before long, we will update the Lubec Arts Alive blog with new pics, and perhaps build a website or flicker site to post all the incredible photos that were taken by various folks (including Judy Goodman and Frank Van Riper!). Wing Lum, filmaker, is also editing out the footage that he shot, and who knows where that will lead!

Thanks to all the incredible artists who came to our tiny little town to "art-it-up" (Natasha Mayers, Robert Shetterly, Richard Brown Lethem, Kenny Cole, Karen Adrienne, Rose Marasco, Barb Sullivan, Diane Dahlke, Alan Crichton, Harlan Crichton, Mary Bernstein, Siena Mayers, Jill Lavetsky!). Thanks to my fabulous hard-working, amazing, astounding, (and unbelievably gorgeous, if I may say) Lubec committee (Claudia Mahlman, Karen Burke, Jean Bookman Fincke, Jean Deveber, and Ann Rosebrooks). Thanks to our steadfast volunteers who were with us near every day (Roberta Cantlon, Judy Heyer, and that amazing family from New York!) and all the others who helped prime and cut wood, paint, clear out the grange, provided space for our events (Bonnie Beard and Ukey Santos, Suzanne Plaut, Denise Plouffe, Melissa Lee) and to all the businesses and people that provided food and sponsorship! What an amazing community!

I need to shift gears for a while. I begin teaching in less than a week and that will consume most of my time. All the while, we are still trying to get the studio done - which is coming along beautifully! I have missed my clay and weaving and hope to be back to that full swing within a month or two (my barn studio looks so bare to me!). And, "Two Countries One Bay Art Studio Tour" is coming up in there is lots to be done!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lubec Arts Alive 2009 is Underway!

The volunteers were busy little bees at the Grange - priming boards for the "iconic signs"

Lubec Arts Alive 2009 has officially begun!

Well, sort of. The all-star cast of artists arrives later this afternoon, except for Natasha Mayers who rolled into town last Friday. I think I have met my match energy-wise. That woman works hours on end and does it with a smile.

Friday evening was a welcome break from the organizational work. Chris made his fresh basil and pine nut pesto (the best you will ever have!) and I threw together the pasta, shrimp, salad, and homemade gingerbread with blueberries we picked ourselves at the end of our drive. The country french loaf that Ed and Dane baked fresh yesterday in their wood fired oven was literally...a slice of heaven. Boy oh boy, did we feast! Nearly two years had passed since we last visited with Natasha. It was great t0 catch-up a bit, but mostly, I enjoyed her gentle words of wisdom dispersed throughout the conversation. She is an amazing and inspiring woman.

The prep work at the Grange began yesterday morning at 9:00 a.m. We are so fortunate that Due East Realty donated us the use of this amazing and huge space! This project really wouldn't have fit so perfectly anywhere else. The location is visible, the space is vast, there are lots of tables, and there is space outside to park or work. Perfect!

I arrived at the Grange about 9:20 a.m. - and walked into a busy hive of worker bees ready to do what needed to be done. Jean did an amazing job of organizing volunteers for various tasks. It was a bit overwhelming at first with ten different people asking ten different questions, all eager to do their part, but needing direction. Claudia had her list of what needed to be done and did her own direction - and I tended to the carpenters, cutting needs, and portrait area set-up. And I must note, what AMAZING carpenters! So helpful and generous with their time. Thankfully Chris came along to help out too. He provided some excellent muscle and worked with Natasha to get her mural area ready. I wouldn't have survived this project without Chris' help. (Are you reading this Chris? THANK YOU!)

The volunteers and Natasha are due at the Grange at 9:00 this morning to continue with priming, paint mixing, and mapping out the mural. I am going to stay here at home base for a few hours to get the welcome speech and handouts ready for the artists' arrival later this afternoon. We have a wine and cheese for them at Crow Town Gallery (thanks Bonnie and Ukey!!!) and a local tour planned with Tours of Lubec and Cobscook (thank you, Ruta!!!!).

This project has been an amazing community effort - and without everyone's help would not have been possible. I am so grateful.

I know that you all are reading this blog entry and want to be here with us! You can be! Follow this link to the Lubec Arts Alive 2009 blogsite for a schedule of events. Then come on down, pick up a brush (or random natural-found-object) and create! We would love to have you here!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


The trail in our back woods

It's been one of those summers where it seems I can't find a moment to catch my breath. building the studio addition, on top of organizing for Lubec Arts Alive 2009, has been a full-time job and almost too much to handle at times. This past week had the added touches of losing my 16 year old siamese cat Barley, and the news of a childhood friend suddenly struggling for recovery in the hospital. But this morning, I woke to beautiful blue sky, warm breeze, and sounds of rustling leaves. Instead of writing my blog, instead of answering my emails, instead of making the calls that I need to make for the event next week, I decided to go for a hike.

My workaholic self finds it hard sometimes to tear away from the tasks at hand. But my soul needed a morning to forget about all the activity (and tragedy) around me. So Chris and I suited up (he in his straw brim hat, decked out with two shirts, long pants, binoculars, bug spray, and walking in shorts and shirt, carrying as little as possible) and headed out. Chris picked the trail.

One thing we love about this area is that there are so many gorgeous and interesting hiking spots. Morong trail is part of Cobscook trails, and is about 5 miles from our house, just off Crow's Neck Road. It isn't oceanside, but does have it's own unique character.

We parked our car a bit from the trail head since the road looked a bit sketchy. The walk in was through long grass and wildly buzzing horse flies. Luckily, the spray kept us relatively protected. We crossed a small wooden bridge with marsh on either side. The birds were singing happily, so many of them. We could hear a pileated woodpecker not too deep in the woods. The mucky spots from recent rains left many tracks for us to try to identify: Raccoon, dog, deer and bear we assumed. Berry-filled scat corroborated that fact. We picked and ate our first wild apples of the season, and devoured a few ripe, plump raspberries. We imagined the animals foraging for these delectable finds. It was a paradise feeding ground for all the critters.

One of the most fascinating finds on this hike was an old dwelling. At first we didn't realize it. We were standing on a huge boulder looking out over a field with a scattering of apple trees. We thought that this must have been a good spot for some old farmer to stand with his gun, watch for coyotes or predators of some kind that could serve a threat to his cattle or garden. Then, as we walked down around the trees, we noticed that the dip was a mass of huge rocks. Further speculation led us to the discovery of what must have been an old foundation made of huge flat rocks. At one corner, it appeared as though the rocks were laid to form some sort of steps into the basement. The dwelling was well disguised by the outcropping of trees from its center. Just passing by, without investigation, one wouldn't even think that this grouping of trees was anything other than just that, a grouping of trees.

I am not sure if I would call today a beautiful end to a rough week, or if I should view it as a beautiful beginning to a new week. Either way, it was a gift.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Twenty Hours Later....

I freely admit, I loathe painting. This sounds somewhat strange to me, being an artist. Why wouldn't I love to pick up a brush and watch a wall transform before my eyes? Well, I guess I don't have a problem with the transformation part. I do like that. I just don't like that I am the one having to do the painting. I am extremely messy. I leave big globs of sticky paint goo dripping under the windows and in the corners. Warning: don't ever hire me to paint your walls!

My sister and her partner had planned to visit this past weekend. Little did my sister know that her visit would fall at the exact time I would need to paint the walls of the new studio space. I could say that I feel extremely sorry for her, and guilty for my forcing a roller in hands, but (now this I find odd), she actually ENJOYS painting walls! She is one of those people who changes her wall colors every couple years. And she has a knack for picking the perfect color. I, on the other hand, am always disappointed once the color is on the wall, stating that it NEVER looks like the sample card.

Go neutral. That's what the contractor told me to do. He must have thought I needed this advice, having seen the rest of our house: orange kitchen, pink living room, green den, teal bedroom. You get the picture. So, I picked out what appeared to be a very neutral creamy color. I was a bit freaked out first night of painting when I did a sample patch on the wall (mind you, already purchased three gallons of the mixed color). Rice cake looked more like daffodil. I am happy to say, though, that after primer was applied and two coats of paint, the color did mellow and I really do like it now. It has warmth and I think will look very nice next to the light floor and woodwork.

In our two and a half day, twenty-hour, whirlwind painting marathon (5 gallons primer, 2 gallons ceiling paint, and three gallons wall color) many a bug have met any early and unfortunate death by speedy goopy roller. So other than those little bumpy buggers (buried 'neath rice cake), I would say the painting job was a success. Kudos to my sis.