Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mapping Life and Editing Along the Way

 WATER, WIND, and TIME: Exposed #3 (Factory C)
Shanna Wheelock, 2013
Heartwood College of Art in their new digs at the North Dam Mill in Biddeford.
It's an amazing space!!!!
Contact HCA for more info on their low rez MFA program.
 The most fabulous beautifully-spirited women I could ever hope for in joining me on this journey.... sharing, growing, laughing, learning, creating, crying, (eating copious amounts of chocolate), and supporting one another.
Photo by Bonnie Faulkner
 My handmade book.
The Saturday MFA residency workshop was led by Bonnie Faulkner...pod-mate, artist, and teacher extraordinaire!
Bonnie also hosted us for a fabulous meal at her restaurant White Cap Grille in Portland. Amazing!!! I highly recommend!!!!
Making the prints.
My favorite color....grey! With just a tad of blue....
 A few of these prints made it to the finished book.
 Printmaking in the round at Heartwood College of Art.
Friday night critique.
Editing is key.
"I would like to tell you how to get there so that you may see this all for yourself. But first a warning: you may have already come across a set of detailed instructions, a map with every bush and stone clearly marked, the meandering courses of dry rivers and other geographical features noted, with dotted lines put down to represent the very faintest of trails. Perhaps there were also warnings printed in tiny red letters along the margins, about the lack of water, the strength of the wind and the swiftness of the rattlesnakes. Your confidence in these finely etched maps is understandable, for at first glance they seem excellent, the best a man is capable of; but your confidence is misplaced. Throw them out. They are the wrong sort of map. They are too thin. They are not the sort of map that can be followed by a man who knows what he is doing. The coyote, even the crow, would regard them suspicious."
"Desert Notes", Barry Lopez, 1976, excerpt from the essay titled "Directions" (page.55)
I found myself lost Friday night. Residency at Heartwood had wrapped up around 9:00 pm and I hopped in my car to make the short trek back to the hotel room. Earlier that afternoon I had been given directions by the hotel manager how to find my way to the new campus space. He said it was easy and wrote three "simple" turns that would be clearly marked. It turned out that the directions given were inaccurate from my point of departure and my arrival was not exactly what one would consider "fashionably late". It was more of an annoyance. Despite minor missteps, I felt confident that the return to the hotel room would be simple. I even saw a road sign on the main street that would clearly point me back to my room, a mere two miles away at most. After our MFA session ended for the evening, I confidently turned my car out of the campus lot, tired from a long day of travel, and set to return for a good night's sleep.
I don't know why I felt so confident that I could easily find my way back to the room. It was a new town, it was dark, and I had never even thought to write down the address of the destination. Not the best of planning on my end. I can get myself around Portland and Boston just fine, but for some reason, this little city threw off my internal GPS. I stopped to ask for directions, and again, a clear map was drawn for me by two very helpful mini mart workers. With a smile I was told that it was a simple drive and that I was literally three quick turns from the hotel.
An hour later, I stopped and asked for directions again. I was given visual markers and assured that it would be simple,  three turns including the one I would take out of the parking lot.
I did eventually make it back to the hotel, a five minute drive turned into nearly ninety minutes. A little worse for wear, perhaps a bit grouchy, but happy to be back to a familiar place.
The next morning I was again lost but this time only briefly. The return ride to the hotel later in the afternoon turned out to be simple (as I had been told many times!) and this time someone rode with me who had a GPS app, but even that turned out to provide inaccurate information.  Luckily my lessons from being  lost three times along this same path taught me which signs to look for. We made it easily back to the hotel and just as we were stepping onto the elevator, my phone rang. On the other end was a frantic pod-mate who, despite having her own GPS tracker, was lost and driving in circles. After a bit of deep breathing, she found the three simple turns to safely make her way back.
This is sort of how life has been presented. We map our days and years with a planned destination. Sometimes we know where we need to be, but the roads we take have far more twists and turns than we think. We need to allow for the unexpected. And once we find our way, help others as best we can through their own darkness.
This past week leading up to Heartwood residency was intense. I decided to throw away my map and put it out there for the universe to choose my course. I know that it will anyway, but the facade of thinking that we have more control than we do can be comforting. A walk and a conversation that I might be ready for the next part of my journey put my words and intention out there. At the time, it was more of a "thinking out loud" sort of thing, but little did I know that the energies were set in motion and now it feels like all has been kicked into an intense emotional high gear toward my purpose.
Of course, that is assuming that I have an inkling of what that might be.
I joined the Heartwood College MFA program four years ago, a member of the "pioneer pod".  At the time I had no idea how my path would unfold. It started with a postcard that showed up in my mailbox and I jumped in with a "what-the-hell-might-as-well-do-it" attitude. A lot of changes have come down the pike in these past four years, unexpected, and now here I am preparing to begin my thesis work. It has been a journey of self discovery and most recently re-awakening. Connections between my art and my self are being realized. Looking at my work and being able to finally acknowledge it as an extension of me at my deepest "kore",  (my experiences, fears, pains, hopes and joys) has been a profound experience.
I feel truly blessed to be on this path alongside others that I find inspiring. We have been each other's sounding boards and confidantes for four years. I always take from residency weekend a feeling that I have found that place where I am free to be my most quirky esoteric self and it is just understood as the norm.
I have returned to a microscopic corner of the world on this little peninsula ready to move forward. Open heart and ready (I hope) for the lessons that universe presents.




Monday, October 14, 2013

Artist Way and Mushroom Hunting

What an amazing past couple weeks it has been  - between travel, studio time, vending, foraging and socializing. I am reminded again and again why it is that I love it here and how blessed I am to be able to be an artist in this little corner of the world.
Before moving here, Chris' grandfather enticed us with the line that "Lubec is a great place for an artist and a writer". We were given a key and a photo and told that North Lubec Road is known as "Artists Way". I have never found anyone else to corroborate that, but twelve years later, I see that Artist Way is indeed "becoming". We enjoyed a potluck with a few neighbors a couple Friday's back and as I looked around the room I noted that every person present was either an artist, musician, or writer.
That seems to be the trend here. Artists continue to move to this little bit of (increasingly more rare) ecological paradise. It was, as I often say, a tough transition the first few years and now I can't imagine leaving. There is a supportive artistic community but also opportunity for solitude which fuels the creative soul. Living here has its challenges and is not for the faint of heart, but if you can find a way to make it work, it is a powerful existence.
There are a lot of pics in this week's blog, so I will lighten the text and let the images and blurbs speak for themselves. So full of joy and gratitude right now and looking forward to the next adventure - in the studio or otherwise.
Mini Vacation to Swans Island with mom.
My mom spent many summers on Swans Island with her Aunt Aggie (Nana's sister) and Uncle Carlyle. I have fond memories of my few times there and hadn't visited in twenty nine years. Last week Mom and I headed out for a two night stay.
Half hour ferry ride to the island out of Bass Harbor. This is actually the return trip - too turbulent to get out of car on the ride over and wasworried that the Dramamine might not have yet kicked in!
Me on the ferry feeling quite mellow and looking forward to my two nights on the island. Ride over was chilly and turbulent so we stayed in vehicles, but the return was gorgeous blue skies and calmer seas and I was able to wander around the boat a bit.
The quarry on Swans Island. Peaceful spot.
Blue Buoys at Trafton's Wharf on Minturn Loop. The elusive Tim Trafton (whom we were told to search out) was never to be found. In fact, there were few human sightings the entire three days! People on the island kind of do things in their own time.
Formerly Uncle Carlyle's lobster shed and dock in the harbor.
 Lobsterman just in with his day's catch.
Carrying Place Market. tiny, and very few items. This was the only market that we found. Well stocked with bananas!
Closing Day of the 2013 Lubec Open Air Market
Thank you to "Transtitions Lubec" for continuing support of the Lubec Market.  Looking forward to the 2104 season!!!
Heidi with her dried herbs and teas. She is the Lubec  Market Master  - and has done such a spectacular job keeping us all organized and informed. Check out her Plant Pep!!! Even the White House uses her organic fertilizer!!!

 Alex with yummy cheeses from Gardenside Dairy. She's a sweetie!!! I can't wait to see her handsewn creations at next season's market!

Thanks for the music at closing day, Curt! I still can't get "Grandma's Feather Bed" out of my head!!!
Thanks, Fred Pierce of Cobscook Bay Music for doing such a great job organizing tunes for the market! It's been such a treat to listen to live music every week!!!
 Critters are coming out of the woodwork this time of year....literally!
My new friend. I'm not the only one who likes cheese.
A few days off from pottery to focus on some sculptural pieces.
First grouping of factory columns this semester in their greenware stage. Not too exciting to look at right now but will transform over the next few weeks. Many more to go. I have some favorites of course.
I love it when chance meetings bring about new experiences.
 Maitake mushroom (Hen of the Woods) gifted to us during Saturday's farmer's market. Delicious! Met some new friends from the Maine Mycological Association and we enjoyed a walk in our back woods on Sunday to identify various edibles.
 Visitors from the Maine Mycological Association who led us on the tour of our back woods to identify fungi.
Ann Rugh, Ruthie Ristich, Michaeline Mulvey, Elizabeth Noyes, Mary Yurlina, Cheryl St. Pierre, and Cookie the dog.
So many gifts in nature.
A variety of mushrooms and chlorociboria.(and an apple core!)
 Michaeline Mulvey shows us how to identify edible Lions Mane.
 Chris, Michaeline, and Ruthie check out some fungi on an old branch. this was an exciting find! Unfortunately I do not recall the name. Looking through a tiny microscope - it was gorgeous!
 A cluster of edibles. Name? Honeys???
 Mary shows us a (I am told) quite yummy edible mushroom. Again, forgot the name!!!
Michaeline and Elizabeth with a cluster of Honey Mushrooms.
By the way, the wool for Michaeline's hat was dyed with a variety of mushroom! How cool is that!
Chris takes notes as Elizabeth cuts Phylotopsis Nidulans from a birch. Michaeline and Ruthie talk about Honey Mushrooms.
Witches Butter.
I believe it is edible, but more than anything, I just LOVE the name!
 A way-up edible find (Lion's Mane) on an old birch.
Later in the day....
In the afternoon, the foragers met for an ID workshop. I couldn't believe all the mushrooms that were found! Michaeline Mulvey led the informative discussion. I loved how animated she became when talking about the fungi.
Michaeline Mulvey explains how this shaggy mushroom provides a black dye that may be used by artists. Cool!

Chaga, known for its healing properties, is found on birch trees.
Wood stained with green elfcup, used for inlay.
Self-explanatory. Beautiful!!! This is the specimen that was cut from a birch in our back woods.
And after a long day of foraging....
An incredible feast hosted by Randy and Karen. Thank you!!!! And thank you to Ann Rugh for hosting the MMA group here in Lubec. I look forward to next year!!!
Randy Lisheness shows off some mean cooking skills while preparing artisan pizzas for the mushroom-loving crowd at a post fungi identification gathering. Thank you to Randy and his partner Karen Fry Primeau for hosting us at their cozy home.
Randy's feta, spinach, and maitake pie. Yum!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Getting in a Groove - The "right" kind of way

Footed Long-neck Vase
Herring Collectors Series
Cobscook Pottery
Fall Schedule
Saturday, October 5
Perry Harvest Fair
Perry, Maine   /   9am-2pm
Saturday, October 12
Lubec Farmers Market
Lubec, Maine  /   9am-11am
November 9-10
United Maine Craftsmen Augusta Show
Augsuta Civic Center, Maine 
November 15-17
Cobscook Pottery Open Studio and Holiday Sale
Lubec, Maine
November 29- Dec. 1
United Maine Craftsmen Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show
Brewer, Maine 
December venues TBA.
WATER, WIND and TIME: Exposed #3
Another Factory C drawing in progress.

Chris and I finally found some time to go kayaking.

 We love that the plot that borders us has been bought by a land conservancy. I did a little exploring this past week with a friend. I'm looking forward to the actual trail that will lead to Klondike Peak.

It's been a great season for the sun golds with this bunch being picked just a couple days ago. Despite my lack of properly tending to the garden (yet again) there were some wonderful successes.

Back in the cave to work on more columns.

I think my head has been in these lately...

 Photo-bombed by Bouli again. She can't resist the lights!

This season's final Lubec Market will be on Saturday, October 12th. It's been a great season! In this shot, my finds from last weekend: Beets (Three Dog Farm), Garlic Lovers Goat Cheese (Gardenside Dairy), Chinese Lanterns/Ceremonial Sage/Parsely/Rosemary  (Herbminders of Maine). This is the BEST sage I have ever burned!!!
It has taken a while, but I think that I'm finally starting to get in a groove. September was a s bit shaky with transitioning from pottery production to the artwork, especially knowing that I still need to somehow find a balance with pottery season ongoing into December. It feels good to dedicate the past few days primarily to my MFA studies and to get cranking at the slab roller and drawing table. I'm sort of picking up where I left off last spring. Factory C is still my artwork passion, but new images have been collected and filed (you know, in a big pile in the nook) for later use.
October and November are ultra busy months which will keep me on the road a lot of the time between vending, family, and graduate studies. I've been sort of bracing myself mentally for what is to come. I am no stranger to the multi-tasking and being able to manage everything. I love all that I am doing, but still find my mind wandering off to January when I will have a brief hiatus from everything. Of course, that's what I said last year before I got hit with both jury duty and the flu.
But that is how life kind of goes, right? You just never know what is right around the corner, as it is said "best laid plans of mice and men....." I'm kind of getting used to this now. I have always considered myself a planner, from to-do lists to goal-setting. More and more frequently though, I see that the universe has this quirky sense of humor and likes to shake things up.  Sometimes, even our perceptions of ourselves are shaken.
Yesterday, Chris said to me that he was left-handed therefore right brained. And even though I am an artist, I have typically thought of myself as left-brained. In reality, most humans are a fine blending of the two but admittedly, some left or right traits tend to dominate. I decided to look into this (it has been years since I read anything on it) and found this nifty little online left/right quiz. Chris was right away extremely skeptical (but wait, isn't that a left-brained trait...and didn't Chris just tell me that he is right-brained?). So, I took the little quiz and discovered that I am indeed right-brain dominant. If you know me well, you might have guessed that. Or maybe not, since I even seemed to fool myself.  The description of a right-brained person fits me to a "t". After a bit of prodding, and suggesting to Chris that I think he may not be so "right",  he finally took the survey.
Indeed, turns out that he is left dominate. When we read the descriptions there was quite a bit of laughter and perhaps a bit of ribbing of one another. But it did end in Chris saying that he now understands me a bit better. That's a good thing. I think.
If interested, here is the quick Left/right brain test.
Or just skip to the descriptions....