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Sunday, March 22

Buffalo small press book fair

Well, that was fun. This event would have drawn me, even if I wasn't part of it. Books, zines, prints. Heaven. No, I didn't make a ton of money, but I was surrounded by things I love and people who love the things I love. And it was walking distance from home. The organizer, Chris Fritton, does a great job. An artist himself, his love for the medium evident, his quirky, bemused exterior a foil for the disciplined organizer beneath.

The fair was at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, a beautiful old church re-worked into a bright gallery. At setup, it was hard to envision what the the fair would be like. It was just tables and tables, row upon row, like a maze.

We were each to share an 8 foot table and it was a challenge to get all my stuff on 4 feet of space, but I did it

Then I had time to check out the museum before the people came. I was in awe of how things used to be built. The care and the artistry. We'll probably never see it again.

I got to share my table with the lovely Sandie from St Catharine's "over the ditch". She told me how most photos don't turn out so I shouldn't feel bad, but I managed to catch her during one of the 5 seconds she wasn't smiling and my shots of her amazing cards didn't come out at all. So I feel bad about that.

But I did get pictures of some of the other interesting, creative vendors all around me

That last picture is one of the printers/artists drawing in one of my books. I love that.

It was a good day, an inspiring day. Sometimes the best thing that happens at a show is that you get to feed your soul, stoke the creative fires, connect with like minded folks and get some encouragement. It was all that and I sold stuff, too. A good day for me.

People came from all over, filling the gallery, supporting artists that came from 2 blocks away, from 2 states away, from Canada. They experienced a thriving art sub culture, visited a vibrant, diverse neighborhood and an awe-inspiring gallery space. A good day for the city.

Great job, Chris.

Friday, March 20

24 minutes 'til Spring


This has been one hell of a Winter. Not a whole lot of snow, but cold. Bone cold. Toes cold. Floors cold. The kind of winter that keeps you curled up in a chair with a quilt on you. That sends you to bed at 9, just so you can get under the covers. The kind of winter that exhausts you, just because you seem to be constantly dealing with it.

Yes, I'm sort of making excuses for why I haven't been better at getting ready for the coming season. But it is the first day of Spring and I feel myself thawing.

Of course, first I have to finish up the books for tomorrow. It's kind of nice, being able to focus on just one thing. I experimented with making an actual collage on canvas board to glue onto a book cover. The jury is out. I slapped it together, grabbing bits of ephemera from boxes and tins and bowls on my work table and it sort of looks like that. But I think it is something I want to pursue. Later. Right now i have to try to pry the one I did yesterday off the book and finish the others.

12 minutes to Spring. Maybe I'll go for a walk first.

Tuesday, March 17

getting out and getting ready

The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair is this Saturday and I need to get ready. But Spring is messing with me, so I need to get out, too. I compromised. An hour in the attic, an hour outside with Quincy. His first real excursion into the neighborhood.

I decided on two parks. A controlled stroll through Bidwell Parkway. He'll be a regular there once the Farmer's Market starts up again. 

It was muddy and we were the only ones there for a long time. He sniffed every blade of grass and was totally focused on exploration.  Finally, a couple with a boxer came, but warned us that their dog wasn't social, so Q could only watch from a distance.  We headed for the water.

As we pulled into LaSalle, I could hear a commotion, even with the windows up and the radio on. Quincy's ears perked up and his head tilted to and fro like a bobble head. I pulled over and there, smack dab between us and Canada, was seagull gathering of some sort. From the familiar intensity of the cries, I could only assume there was food involved, but there were hundreds of them. Flying and landing. Soaring and diving.  Calling, calling, calling. It was intense. Well, I thought, it is Spring after all.

A few feet further and more commotion. This time, honking. A flurry of flight and then this couple

content to stay behind and float and soak up the warm air. I imagined them chatting. I imagined them wondering what was up with those tacky seagulls.

While I focused my camera, Quincy was focused on the water and when I lowered the camera, there he was, under the railing, leaning over the wall, staring at a stick. A stick frozen into the Lake. A stick that was apparently calling to him. 

He was on a leash, but that led to even more horrifying images. I was able to pull him out of there without either of us having to brave an icy plunge. I have to remember that this is a puppy. A puppy with absolutely no concept of danger. Or height, for that matter. A puppy still small enough to scoot under the rail.

On we went, following the path along the water. (is it lake or river at that junction? I never know exactly where one starts and the other ends. I think at the marina?) One more feathered gathering. Ducks this time. Bunches of ducks. Horde of ducks? School? Herd? Whatever. Many. It looked like all these guys were finding spots of open water to float on. I wondered where they were all Winter. Boca? 

So, Quincy got to meet the neighborhood.  And I got to walk outside wearing a sweatshirt instead of a ginormous padded coat. There was open water on the lake and buds on the trees.

I think it was a good day. Yep, a really good day.

Friday, March 13

off to a good start

It's a "yes" from Kenan.   One down, millions to go. Or so it seems. 

The application dance slows for just a moment, takes a bow, then forms a circle for the next round.

Back to finishing the Canandaigua app. Cue the music...

Monday, March 9

"standing O" for American Style Magazine

The Publisher's Note from the current issue of American Style magazine:

I know, I know. The economy is tanking, people are worried about money, jobs and the dwindling balances in their 401(k)s, and suddenly we’re all a nation of savers, not spenders.

Admittedly it’s rough out there. But I really think it’s high time that we all just stop, take a collective deep breath and begin to focus on ways to be creative without breaking the bank.

Not possible? Au contraire! It’s a matter of choices. Do you really want to pull in the rug, bar the door and sit out the recession feeling sorry for yourself? Wouldn’t it be better to pull up the shades, let in the sun and channel your inner artist?

There are myriad ways to tap into the creative side of life. If you’re savvy about looking for what’s available at a price you can afford, you can soak up as much art and culture as your calendar can hold.

Think about designated free-admission evenings at museums, exhibition openings at local galleries and any one of the hundreds of craft fairs scheduled in the coming months all around the country and you’re off to a good start. Not only will getting out into the arts community give you the intrinsic pleasure of surrounding yourself with beautiful things, it carries an added bonus: you’ll be standing up for artists and arts organizations who, in these unsettled economic times, greatly need our continued support.

Now this has been my rallying cry for a while. You may be putting off buying that new TV or car or appliance, but you can bring home something fun and colorful from an art fair. Makes you feel good, it brings a little bit of the pretty into your life.

And we need to feel good. The news has jumped on this economy thing with a passionate zeal. I am not burying my head in the sand. I know there is trouble. But I would like to watch a segment on cooking that doesn't feature 8 ways to use leftover stale bread. I would like to watch a fashion show that isn't about how to look like a million bucks by buying clothes at Goodwill. I don't need to be clobbered over the head about the recession every time I pick up a paper or turn on the TV. I get it.

But most of us still have jobs, our homes are not in foreclosure, our banks have not stolen our savings accounts. Most of us are anxious, maybe a bit angry, but not yet desperate. Most of us still need a shot of feel good every so often.

I believe that there are 2 types of depression going on here: economic and psychological. I can't do much about the former, but this Summer, on city sidewalks with my cronies set up all around me, I really think a little bit of art and craft can help the latter.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, March 7

a night at the gallery

The inside of Grant Street Gallery is wonderful. A wall of windows, a wall of bleached brick, 2 white walls and a brown tin ceiling. I don't know what the space was before, but what it is now seems to be its destiny. The doors are old and the paint is peeling and I hope they keep it that way.

We set up simple displays of racks and tables, laughing and catching up as we went about the business of illusion. It is a joy to work with people you truly like. Hell, I actually love a few of them. 

There was even "Celtic Lemonade". That's Anne Bliss  in her great cap. Wish I could wear hats and look like that. If I wore that hat, people would cross the street when they saw me coming. Trust me.

The space started to fill with life and light and color and I knew I was going to enjoy this night, no matter the sales.

The core group of Urban ARTisans was represented:

Chary Robbins

Anne Bliss

Nicole Ambarchian

Anne Peterson

Paul Morgan of Avalon

Then there was me

and the wonderful whimsy of Carol Wannamaker's "Crow Biz"

the exceptional pottery of Steven Appler

Robin's fun and colorful Aremel soaps

T-shirts from CityLove

There truly was something for everyone, incredible for such a small show.

As night fell, the gallery became a beacon of light and warmth on the street, a block that had been dark and unwelcoming for years was now alive.

The coffee shop was filled with people and music, and many wandered over to see us when the guitar player took a break and announced our presence. All night, until the end, visitors came.

And they bought stuff! What more could you ask for?

A reclaimed storefront dressed up in its gallery clothes, spilling light onto the street, a hint of Spring in the night air, good friends and good art, green lemonade in plastic cups. I am shedding winter like a tattered coat and it feels really good.

Monday, March 2

object lesson

I had a revelation at breakfast this morning.

These are not pretty eggs. As much as I love to cook, I cannot fry up a couple of eggs and have them look pretty. The technique escapes me. So, I sighed and pondered the plate and a light went on. Those eggs were going to taste fine. The yolks were just soft enough for dunking, the whites had a slight crispy part underneath. I didn't burn the toast. What was my problem? Russell always tells me it doesn't matter, they taste good, but I had this cook's mentality. Or maybe I have an "artist who cooks" mentality. The color has to be right, the proportions. I have been known to add more corn to a recipe because there wasn't enough yellow. When I bring home a bunch of veggies from the market I sometimes arrange them in the drawers to showcase all the colors. It pleases me. I am, of course, whacked.

So, anyway, it came to me that I was applying this perfection principle to all the wrong things. Food is about hunger, art is about fun. Where does perfect enter this? Nowhere. Granted, there are manymany places in my life that could use a touch of perfectionism. I will attempt to redirect there.

Because Russell will always like what I cook and never notice the color ratio. Someone will love that journal that didn't come out the way it looked in my head. I've made enough stuff in my life that was made more interesting by slapping a piece of something over a mistake.

I guess what I felt was freedom. Freedom to enjoy the broken yolks in my life, whether they be art or breakfast.

Sunday, March 1

catching up and gearing up

What can I say? It's been cold, I've been working a lot of hours at the theater, Quincy the pup needs a lot of attention. But this week my supplies started coming in and I have my first show of the year Friday so it's time to end the hibernation.

I haven't exactly been idle since last season ended. I got my web site up and running. 3 applications have gone out. I redesigned my business cards and packaging. But I haven't been in the studio except to clean and THAT was a massive job. So yesterday I went up and got 3 miniature books ready for the press. It felt good. Like stretching after a good night's sleep. Like walking off sore muscles. Like that first cup of Love Buzz in the morning. I remembered that I like doing this stuff.

Friday is a small show in a small gallery. Just 8 of us, but there is something special about the venue and the group. The group running the show is Urban ARTisans, 5 excellent artist/craftsmen who market themselves and their work by setting up in unexpected places to the delight of the people who find them in office lobbies and hospitals and, like Friday, in galleries. I am delighted to be among them this week, especially since a few of my favorite people are part of this group.

As for the venue, this is a story, too. The corner upon which it stands had been, shall we say, less than glamorous? Grant and Lafayette is a gritty urban corner in the middle of a poor, hard knock neighborhood. The main attraction had been Guercio's, an old world style Italian market that draws the "yuppies" from adjacent neighborhoods who drive or bike in to get good prices on truffle oil and imported cheese and scoot right home. But a year or so ago, a woman, grieving for a lost son, looked at this corner property that had been many things over the years and decided it was speaking to her. She made a coffee shop, a gallery and studios. People scoffed. Not anymore. Here is the story. It's wonderful:

Sweetness 7 and Grant Street Gallery

We went to the coffee shop yesterday morning and loved it. We saw a lot of people from the neighborhood there, people that you would normally see at Spot, the coffee shop in the "good" neighborhood, the trendy neighborhood. They were staying this time, not scooting home with a baguette and a chunk of fontinella. They were greeting friends and drinking really good coffee. You get no choice here, it's one coffee and it's really good. It was strangely relaxing to be free from deciding between Kenya and Zimbabwe, between vente and tall, "One coffee please". It's great. We had gone to Guercios for avocados and stayed for breakfast at Sweetness egg sandwich on a big, soft English Muffin roll, cheese oozing from the sides, a big sloppy slice of tomato. Yum.

So, one more coffee and then I go to work. It will feel good, I think, to shake off the Winter haze that has been clouding both sides of my brain, to think forward to Spring. I'm tired of being cold and I realize now I'm also tired of being lazy.