28 Oct 2012

About missing Dewey Beach.

This year was the first of many that I have not attended the Greyhound Reach the Beach event in Dewey Beach, Delaware. It is one of those “not to miss” Greyhound events. It’s like a  pilgrimage for Greyhound lovers worldwide. The mark on the calendar each October, the weekend before Columbus Day.

I think I’ve been every year since 2003 minus 2007. I think. But this year there was no 2.5 day drive across the upper midwest, no flurry and hurry to get ready for the event. I missed seeing all the friends, people and hounds that I only see once a year. All the people that share the passion of Retired Racing Greyhound.

Instead I went to Minot, North Dakota. I was gone four nights instead of the nine to ten nights for Dewey Beach. Here’s the problem with going to Dewey Beach: four nights is pushing maximum on the dog care front. Currently my Dad checks in on them. But the nights are a problem for Winchester.

And that is the worst of it: My Winchester is getting old. He can’t “hold it” like he used to – needs that 4 AM backyard break.

I need to find someone who can stay overnight if I’m going to go to far events. Everything is far away from here.

30 Sep 2012

Grants and headaches.

It’s the same process every time I tackle a writing a grant. First the headache. Then my mouse batteries die. Then the printer is out of ink.

Never fails.

Sometimes I step away from the computer only to return to have lost the file I was working on. And I never lose files… except when grant writing.

Who likes writing grants? Not me. That’s for sure. I’ve written a bunch and even gotten a few.

Writing them sucks. Every. Time. When is it going to get easier? Never? Ugh.

I always think it’s going to be easy. “No problem!” I say when the ideas and spewing out of my mouth. “I could write a grant!”

Then the deadline looms. And that Gene Fowler quote comes to mind:

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

Yes, that’s it.

Plus come up with 100 ways to say, “Please Give Me Money!” without sounding desperate or saying it outright.

The grant writing workshops say it helps to add Powerful and Active words: Visionary! Facilitating! Accessing! Advancing!  Connecting! Informing! Enhancing! (Can you tell this is a library grant?) I’ve got my action words sprinkled through my second draft.

I’ve answered the questions on the grant application once, then again in another way: “List the changes within your community that will occur as result of this project” and then “What are expected outcomes that will benefit citizens of your community?” Do they seem like the same question to you? Maybe this pounding headache is making my perception a little  loopy.

Keep plugging along. Because when it is all over… euphoria!

That postmark is going to feel so good.

21 Sep 2012

One of those days.

The “to do” list has been written. Finish taking photos of new work. Process those images. Make clay. Update the portfolio section of this website. Plus find the UPS guy and hand off a stray package. Get the errant PC from the library to the PC-Dr. Design a new business card? And then there is that grant deadline looming.

Today would have been my brother’s birthday you see. It is important to have a “to do” list that is weighty and pressing. Visit the grief but don’t stay.

Of course, it doesn’t really work. But it, kind of, does. Shooting for “bearable” which it is, because what’s the alternative?

So here’s song for the day. One of those sadness plus comfort songs. Are their any others as fine as this? I love Lyle.

19 Sep 2012
29 Jul 2012

Why North Dakota?

As I try to get into blogging – trying to stick to a schedule here – I thought I’d write a little bit about my love/hate with North Dakota. I’m going to try and keep the whine out of this.

Why do I live here again? Family. Stability. Big Skies and Wide Open Spaces. Clean air. Oh yeah… that’s it.

I have a restless feeling. One of those feelings a vacation cannot cure. I try to fight it – push it down – but it keeps coming. I need to make a change. Or make a big body of work .

That body of work would be based on the sketches I’ve been working on for a year and a half. A North Dakota themed show – greyhounds and such – but about North Dakota nonetheless. I shake my head – seems like a lost cause. Where is the audience for that work? If it isn’t Badlands, Rodeo or “Western” it has no validity in any of the “local” gallery or art outlets. Those places have to keep the lights on. They need what sells in this market. I get it. I understand.

Not my audience.

Oh well. Wouldn’t change it if I could.

But I’m going to make that work just because I want to. Even if it sits in crates in my basement.


4 Apr 2012
21 Mar 2012

Scenes from the studio

Pugging clay. The old cans are on the shelf right in front of me. They were leftovers from the previous owner. The green and white Sinclair can is my favorite. Here are some of the cans and other photos from inside my studio.

8 Mar 2012

An exhibition.

Weird how life works. I’ve been playing with my new camera and the 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. I bought this lens in 2008, took a few photos of sterling pendants and such, then basically shelved it. It never produced what I wanted. With the new camera body, however, it’s a whole new experience. Anyway. I’m shooting in macro, having a ball, thinking about things in a new way. (Don’t you love camera lenses. Swoon…)

Then I go to the art show at the Dickinson State University gallery – and the paintings displayed are playing with the idea of macro and micro. Well played, Universe. Well played.

The work displayed belongs to Kevin Bernstein. He’s showing paintings and drawings.  On the far north wall were these these three along with three other square format drawings. I am so drawn to squares and the way they can force the composition. These paintings were my favorite from the show. The header, above, shows the rich, vibrant texture of these works. Heavenly. Could look at these paintings all day.

I love how this work is so natural and yet mechanical.

This is a close up of another of the large paintings. I tried to photograph, within the limitations of my iPhone camera, how textural these paintings are. Not sure I succeeded… so if you’re in the Dickinson, North Dakota area, stop by the gallery in Klinefelter Hall. It is quite an experience.

5 Mar 2012

Why I choose handmade mugs.

Almost a year ago, I made a choice to try to live more purposeful. It wasn’t some big spiritual awakening or New Year’s Resolution. Instead it was a simple idea. How can I make choices — good choices – in my life. Because I was feeling like my life was living me rather than the other way around. I was tired of that life.

I chose to make one simple change. I got rid of my mass-produced, machine made mugs. To goodwill they went (save one with a reproduction of Grant Woods’ American Gothic and another with a Greyhound etched on it). Then I began to develop my collection of handmade mugs.

I had purchased artist made mugs here and there. Now I wanted a cupboard full.

Here’s why: every morning I get up and make a pot of coffee. In the past I reached for any old mug I could find. Most were purchased at a “big box” store – one of many from a set, all identical. Now I wanted the first decision of the day (after coffee, of course) to be purposeful. Which mug do I want to drink out of today? Because each handmade mug is a different drinking experience. No more auto-pilot. The Cupboard of Choice awaits.

Here are some of my favorite mugs.

Dacotah Clayworks/Robin Reynolds buffalo skull mug

This mug was made by Robin Reynolds in Hebron, North Dakota. She uses native clay that she digs. The outside of the mug is unglazed so it has a unique textural quality that my other mugs do not have. A natural and simple mug with the bison skull on the side.

This mug is one of my most recent acquisitions. Made by Brian R. Jones in Portland, Oregon and purchased on etsy. I’m fascinated by the markings on this mug. Fresh and clean.

This mug is Tama Smith’s Prairie Fire Pottery from Beach, ND. This mug evokes thoughts of North Dakota. The glaze is spectacular – reminds me of the layers in the North Dakota Badlands. If you’re driving through North Dakota on I-94, you must stop at Tama’s shop. Must. Must. Must. Also, this mug keeps the coffee hot like none other. Must be the design? And feels great in the hand.

Sue Tirrell. I covet Sue Tirrell’s work. This one was a gift from a friend. Can you believe it? I was amazed when I opened the box. Like 100 Christmas mornings. Sue also does sculpture of horses and rodeo themes and much more.

Another new mug, Ayumi Horie. Oh do I love this mug. Its the go-to when I’m anticipating a tough day. Holding it makes me happy. I love the bunny on the side. I love the glaze. I love the shape and how it is slightly off of round. The detail in the handle. A beautifully crafted piece of art to begin the day.

And the last mug I’ll show today is this little brown mug, artist unknown. I purchased this mug for $15 at the Spearfish, South Dakota Art in the Park. Its lip is not level so one has to be careful when filling it. Somehow I end of reaching for it anyway.

I’m always on the lookout for new mugs to add to the collection. Of course, I’ve got a Pinterest board devoted to mugs I’ll add someday.

To surround oneself with beauty… To live purposefully…. Good goals.

4 Mar 2012


Lately, I’ve been thinking about some of the challenges and benefits of having a part-time job along with a full-time artistic practice. I feel pulled apart at times, struggling with shifting gears and making the most of my time. But the library job gets me out the house (and studio), out of my head and around people. No secret, art making is a solitary, sometimes lonely, activity.

My art process is a self-centered kind of a world. It is about my ideas, my thoughts, my feelings about a thing. A large part is shutting off the Chorus in my head and silencing the voices that have a running dialogue of “it’s not right, it should look like this, it could be better” – ad nauseum. This takes effort and practice. It isn’t easy, but the payoff is euphoria.

The job at the library is a different animal. Yes, at it’s root it is a creation job- to make a place that fulfills the Library’s mission. This is what I love about it. But the route to creating the outcome is different. Like art making, I make innumerable tiny decisions that effect the outcome. Unlike the art making, the Chorus is external and internal.

Budgets & time will keep my Vision of the Library from being a reality. I say this with a positive outlook. This isn’t Negative Nelly talking. This is reality. It won’t happen.

With the Art, I try again. Start a new piece. The library is like working on the same painting, forever.

I’m okay with this mostly. It’s a part-time job after all.

When the library job gets hard is when people complain. When the library job gets really hard is when I’ve worked on art in the morning, headed to into the library in the afternoon, and hear the complaints.

(Complaints is probably too strong a word. It’s more like… comments. And since this is the midwest people love the back-handed compliment. They are not confident enough to stand behind a full out endorsement of a thing. So their comments come out mostly positive, but with the nasty barb at the end turning the thing negative. Regionalism? Habit? Ugh.)

I haven’t been able to figure out why these negative comments bother me so. Why do they get in my head? Most of them have nothing to do with me or how I run the library. What the heck is this? I think I’ve finally figured it out. Art+Library days are worse.

On those days, I’ve spend the entire morning in the studio silencing my internal critics, letting the guard down, being open, and doing the work. It is optimism and vulnerability. Then to the library popping in to keep the plates spinning. Most of the time things are going great. But on these days, I hear the comments.

Now I realize the mile from studio to library is not a great enough distance for me to re-armor myself.


So a series of sculptures on Armadillos? Or maybe tiles with turtles?

1 Dec 2011

New friend.

Winchester has a new friend. Charley is his name. He’s a Great Dane.

This makes Winchester very happy.

Charley loves to run and play. He plays differently than the greyhounds. Winchester doesn’t know what to think of this, but he still tries to get Charley to play. Charley has his own ideas of course.

So Winchester dances. And leaps.

And stamps his feet.

“Should I bring it?”

Bring it!