Part 3: Uncovering Heart(s)

pall

something that covers or conceals

especially : an overspreading element that produces an effect of gloom

 

Heavy Hearts

Some mornings, before the last dream fades away, the world – my world – feels ‘normal.’

As I open my eyes…the feeling dissipates…and reality falls over me – clothing me in a kind of grief – a pervasive sense of gloom.

My ‘normal’ return to Peaks Island would be to clamber to the top deck of the Casco Bay ferry, stand next to the railing and become hypnotized by the waves. (VIDEO)

Mid-way across the bay, I would turn my back to the mainland and take in the view of the islands.

In years past, as we approached the dock, there would be a line of islanders waiting to board. They were headed to work or school on the mainland. Some may have nodded a greeting as they sipped their coffee. I once was welcomed by a serenading accordion player.

In May, there was no one waiting to greet arrivals. No one heading to work. Instead as the gangplank was lowered, a stenciled number 9 appeared on the road.

As I turned the corner, the number 9 appeared in store windows and on sidewalks. On telephone poles and car doors.

I later learned of the accidental death of a teenager from a longtime island family. His football jersey number was #9.  Islanders conveyed their compassion by adorning their doors and house windows with the number 9.

 

 

Eyes that do not cry, do not see – Swedish proverb

 

In his article titled ‘Spare a Moment of Sorrow,’ John Dickerson of 60 Minutes wrote:

… in this period, we should spare a moment for sorrow and grief. This is the human thing to do; it is what following through on the pledge to be in this together actually means.

If we spare a moment, we give our neighbors the simple communal feeling of being seen in their loss. If we spare a moment, we minimize the risk of sending a public signal to those who have just lost their world that the rest of the world is indifferent to their suffering. If we spare a moment, we acknowledge that the national push to find solutions and get back to normal at some point, as reasonable as that is, is impossible for many.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/the-grieving-world/609013/

 

 

I find myself tearing up at the most inopportune  moments – in the grocery store, the middle of conversations, or after a small act of kindness.  Events and scenes that in the past would not engender tears are now inextricably paired with spontaneous sorrow.

 

 

 

 

I can’t help but feel this grief is not just personal but a reflection of our collective losses as we learn to live within the “new normal.”

Revealing Heart(s)

Melancholia was described as a distinct disease with particular mental and physical symptoms in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Hippocrates, in his Aphorisms, characterized all “fears and despondencies, if they last a long time,” as being symptomatic of melancholia. Other symptoms mentioned by Hippocrates include: poor appetite, abulia, sleeplessness, irritability, agitation. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melancholia

Artists appear to have struggled with melancholia throughout recorded history. Aristotle gave melancholy a philosophical dimension. In his Problem XXX, written in the 4th century before Christ, he asked:

“Why is it that all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts are clearly melancholics?

https://www.medicographia.com/2010/10/melancholy-in-the-arts/

Works of art depicting those inflicted with what is now classified ‘melancholic depression’ by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – V appear throughout history.

In 1514 Albrecht Durer, the German Renaissance printmaker, created Melancholia 1- a psychological self-portrait.

“Dürer may have associated melancholia with creative activity; the woman may be a representation of a Muse awaiting inspiration but fearful that it will not return.”

Metropolitan Museum of Art  www.metmuseum.org

In 1621 Robert Burton in his book An Anatomy of Melancholy described melancholy as the ‘character of mortality.’ Somewhat facetiously he wrote: “I write of melancholy by being busy to avoid melancholy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagery later evolved from depictions of the angst of others to self-portraits reflecting personal ‘melancholia.’

In her article: “How Artists Took Selfies 400 Years Ago,” Tanya Mohn wrote:

“The differences between then and now are significant. But one thing remained unchanged: the fact that the creators of a self-portrait must choose how they want to present themselves.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2015/07/30/selfies-from-the-golden-age/#59564d993859

Seventeenth century Rembrandt (1606-1669) produced more self-portraits than any other artist of his time.

Early images of himself as a young man reveal a secure, yet introspective, demeanor. At 53, following the death of his wife and bankrupt as well, Rembrandt’s self-portrait depicts none of the self-assuredness of his younger self. Instead, his image reveals the changes that he has endured.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/renaissance-reformation/baroque-art1/holland/v/rembrandt-nga-self-portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The PBS American Portrait series, In This Together, features first person accounts of how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives. They are a kind of video selfie – shot and edited by the ‘citizen producer.’  Through personal stories, photographs and videos, people share their firsthand stories.  They are provided an opening phrase (…I never expected…) and closing phrase ..(…when this is over…) around which to create the work .

https://www.pbs.org/american-portrait/series/season-1/special-1-in-this-together-an-american-portrait-story

 

‘I never expected’..

… that a pandemic would create a journey from normal to the ‘new normal.’

… that I would mourn the death of live performance.

… that I would question the role of art in my life.

… that I would lose heart.

 

In her article, Breaking Open in the Bardo, Buddhist Pema Khandro Rinpoche explains four essential points for understanding what it means to let go, and what is born when we do.

It’s when we lose the illusion of control—when we’re most vulnerable and exposed—that we can discover the creative potential of our lives.

https://www.lionsroar.com/four-points-for-letting-go-bardo/

 

Recovering Heart

Mainers, especially islanders, are known for their creativity and problem-solving skills.

No yard sales:

Place no longer wanted or needed items at the side of the road. Attach sign – ‘Help yourself – but leave the table.”

No public library:

Set up “free to good home” book tables.

 

 

 

 

No playgrounds:

 Build tree houses or secret hideouts under porches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No PPE for essential workers:

Re-tool your company and produce face shields for the State of Maine.

Charley Friedman grew up on Peaks Island. As a teenager, he learned to use an industrial sewing machine to make and repair boat sails. And as the story goes….

One day, his grandfather’s hand-me-down leather wallet finally fell apart, so Charley crafted himself a new one out of scraps of racing sailcloth from the factory trash. The wallet was super thin, lightweight, and tough as nails. And just like that, trash turned to treasure, and Flowfold was born. https://www.flowfold.com/ The product line includes wallets, backpacks, totes, bags and now faceshields.

To respond to the overwhelming need for PPEs, masks, and face shields for Maine’s hospital personnel, in eight days – yes, 8 – Charlie retooled his machinery, trained employees and became the producer of face shields for the State of Maine.

https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/maine-business-flowfold-steps-up-manufacture-shields-for-health-care-workers/97-a46eb135-93b1-4297-8b8e-0e0ce52d66dc

 

Making the decision to return to Maine was influenced by my commitment to produce a play to commemorate the Maine Bicentennial. In 2007, while sculpting a memorial bench to my Dad, I cleaned the 5th Maine Museum in the evenings. www.FifthMaineMuseum.org

I washed floors, scrubbed bathrooms, dusted pictures of generals. I polished glass cases filled with ephemera related to Maine’s contribution to the civil war.

I became curious about a framed handkerchief embroidered with names.

Every time I dusted it, I copied another name to research.

Solving this ‘mystery’ was the inspiration for the creation of the play: Trunk Show.

Trunk Show highlights the origin of summer stock theatre in Maine and was intended to provide an immersive theatre experience. Attendees would attend a 1920’s style summer stock theatre production including opening acts, a short play and closing musical event. Proceeds from the sale of popcorn and root beer would go to the Lion’s Club scholarship fund.

After a winter of writing and revising the Trunk Show script with my co-author, forming the Ad Hoc Theatre Company, casting the show with both year -round and summer residents, finding a director, finalizing dates with the venue, and applying for a grant, we scheduled the first reading of the play for Memorial weekend.

As the pandemic spread, more and more arts and community related events were first postponed and then cancelled. In response to Covid-19, it appeared that all performance venues on the island would be dark for the season.

The Trunk Show would not be performed live on stage.

Radio was the first broadcast medium, and people regularly tuned-in to their favorite radio programs, and families gathered to listen to the home radio in the evening. A variety of new entertainment formats and genres were created for the new medium…By the late 1920s,… sponsored musical features soon became the most popular program format.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Age_of_Radio

Most radio stations are corporate or group owned. PIRadio 1700 AM is the brainchild of Chris Marot and Brijit Joyce. (Brijit also has a used book shop.

Peaks Island Radio 1700AM is committed to providing high-quality, local radio to the Peaks Island community. PIR is self-supporting and very – VERY – local. Waddling ducks greet you as you approach their home. The studio is wedged into a second floor guest room.

Programs are streamed live as well as available on-line. Chris exhorts island residents to share their personal stories through PIRadio. He believes: “We could all use some neighborly contact….”

Persons of a certain age who watched Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies know the solution to all setbacks and challenges is to “put on a show.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRZ5400UKSc

In July, the members of the Ad Hoc Theatre Company embellished the rallying cry:

“Let’s Put on a Radio Show!!’

Converting a play written for the stage to a radio program, on the face of it, should have been simple.

  • Voices would need to differentiate characters.
  • Narration would need to clarify scene changes.
  • Sound effects would need to distinguish action.
  • Humorous dialogue would need to replace sight gags.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/tnkQgSgPJVWM4ZpZ3hHbjv/ten-tips-for-writing-a-play-for-radio

  • However, during a pandemic, there are other factors that require, not only creativity, but out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Casting would need to be based on quarantine requirements or cohort relationships.
  • Scheduling read throughs would need to consider time zones, work schedules.
  • Rehearsing would need to take place via Zoom.
  • Recording sessions would need to be in a space large enough to accommodate recording equipment, sound absorbers, dividers, microphones and stands, computer, cables.
  • Actors would need to maintain social distancing while recording.
  • Doors and windows would need to remain open throughout the session to allow for airflow. (This proved somewhat problematic due to passing airplanes and lobster boats.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editing would need to be completed by a production specialist with a connection to Peaks Island, a sense of humor and dogged determination. And, of course, a willingness to volunteer.

Trunk Show is the story of 1924 theatre, tourism, prohibition and politics on Peaks Island through the eyes of two sisters as they prepare for an uncertain future. It is a 2-act play with multiple scenes. There are 14 characters as well as music and sound effects.

Editing of any kind (words, video, film, music, sound effects) is a slow, tedious and always frustrating, process. It could take 10 hours of editing to produce a minute of video.

  • You need to download the sound files to the computer.
  • You need to sift through each sound file for the best of 3 takes for each. character for each scene for each act. (Occasionally parsing out a two-syllable clip.)
  • You need to research, identify and download onto separate sound tracks the music, commercials, sound effects and then insert them into the sound track.
  • You need to match audio levels.

And you do this again and again…and AGAIN. Until it is ready to air.

Steve Devoney, Production Specialist, musician, actor and volunteer editor.

“When this is over…”

… I will appreciate the willingness of others to accompany me along a difficult path.

… I will honor the indomitable spirit of the ‘creatives’ in my world.

… I will believe that solving problems can grow from artistic endeavors.

… I will celebrate the completion of another community-based artwork.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

Trunk Show Premiere

Thanksgiving Week.

Wednesday:        November 25th  –  8 p.m.

Thursday:           November 26th  –  2 p.m.; 6 p.m.; 9 p.m.

Sunday:              November 29th –  8 p.m.

The live broadcast will include interviews with the playwrights and cast. To listen, go to peaksislandradio.com and click on “listen live.” Trunk Show will be archived and available to download after premiere week.

 

More ShowS That Did Go On …

Peaks Island in the late 19th century was famous for its summer entertainment and earned the nickname “Coney Island of Maine.” Entertainment on Peaks Island has a long history, beginning with a picnic grove that visitors accessed by rowboat during the 1850s. …later transformed… into an amusement park, known as Greenwood Garden, that featured an open-air roller rink later converted to a playhouse … http://www.portlandlandmarks.org/peaks-island-amusement-district

Despite Covid-19 and its restrictions, the burning of the island post office, reduction in boat service and fewer tourists, the arts community of Peaks Island has been able to continue its long tradition of providing quality entertainment for island residents.

 

The 19th Annual PeaksFest kicked off the summer with virtual events: Scavenger Hunts, Schmoozefest, BINGO, Dock Day Expo. In lieu of the Common Hound parade, canine competitors and their owners practiced their favorite tricks and “paraded’ via Zoom.

 

 

The 71st Variety Show a 2-night event open to all island ‘talent’ built an outdoor stage. Audiences sat at socially distanced picnic tables.

 

 

 

 

 

The TEIA Players staged the play Our Place on the TEIA Docks and set up the sound system in a dinghy. https://teiaclub.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5th Maine Museum Art on the Porch highlights local crafts became an Art Walk providing a map to individual artists homes. https://www.fifthmainemuseum.org

 

The Umbrella Cover Museum erected a ‘Pop up Pavilion.’ At the end of every tour, visitors shook mini maracas (sanitized nightly) to the beat of  “Let a Smile be Your Umbrella” played on accordion. https://www.umbrellacovermuseum.org

 

Concert performances and other musical events became Porch Concerts and a way to support island talent.

The Lion’s Club substituted burger nights and outdoor seating in lieu of lobster bakes and weddings to raise monies for scholarships. They opened their grounds to outdoor Pilates classes and jazz concerts.

Part 2: Uncovering Changes

 Part 2: Uncovering Changes

gettyimages-1214829913

 Missing the Before

The City of Portland, Maine is home to 66,215 people. Bon Appetite named Portland the 2018 restaurant city of the year. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/portland-maine-city-of-the-year-2018.

Portland has followed the pattern of city revitalization taking place throughout the country. The boom in real estate led to a lack of affordable housing and an increase in homelessness. Neighborhood histories disappear as condos replace older homes. The process to preserve historic landmarks cannot keep up with the renaissance. Long-time residents bemoan the lack of parking, the increase in taxes and uninspired architecture. Newer and younger residents revel in all the city has to offer – green space, walkability, music venues, microbreweries and ubiquitous coffee shops. Some, like Coffee by Design, served as my de facto office for a year while creating Welcoming the Stranger: building understanding through community based art in 2015.

Tourism is one of the five major industries of the State of Maine.

April 1 – COVID-19:                377 confirmed cases statewide                     9 deaths

When Maine Governor Mills issued the stay-at-home order on March 31, she said:

 “I implore you – look to yourself, your family, your friends, your loved ones, your neighbors on the front lines, first responders and health care workers fighting the virus, those who can’t stay home; the children who live around the corner, the farmer who grows your food, the grocer and the pharmacist who sell you goods, the teachers who are missing their kids; the fisherman, the sailor, the truck driver, the janitor, the waitress at your favorite diner; these are the people you are protecting by staying home. This is who you are saving.”                

 The City of Portland closed: no hotels, no restaurants, no cruise ships, no coffee shops, no bars, no barber shops and the list goes on.

The stay-at-home mandate reduced the need for car ferries to and from Peaks Island. They scheduled only 3 boats a day. https://www.pressherald.com/2020/03/19/casco-bay-lines-to-reduce-ferry-service-because-of-coronavirus/. At 5:30 am, I joined the line of cars waiting for the ferry. The lines continue throughout the day to accommodate construction workers, food deliveries, essential workers and returning summer residents. Masks required; social distancing at all times.

ferry

Finding Home

In preparation for my 2-week quarantine in Maine and possible food shortages on the island, I did what is euphemistically called: A Big Shop. The trunk and backseat of my car were now a mobile pantry.car seat

Growing up in New England, neighbors always had “ just in case’ food.  Some they grew and canned. Some they purchased. Snow storms, power outages, lost employment, ferry breakdowns, or any number of other possible catastrophes –  and now a pandemic  – are on the list of ‘what ifs.’

The children’s book Stone Soup  has its roots in European folktales. Once upon a time, a stranger arrives in a town. He carries a soup pot but has no ingredients with which to cook. He sets to boiling water and adds a stone.

Each villager stops by and asks:

What are you cooking?

The stranger replies:

Stone soup.

Each villager then says:

That would taste much better if you added …

 – a carrot, a potato, some greens and so on and so on…And they did. The community created a soup and the soup created a community.

“Just in case” pantries are, not only for your home, but for sharing with others in need.

Finding Community

The island was deserted. All businesses were closed: gas station, laundromat, café, restaurants, library, bicycle and golf cart rentals, ice cream shop, school, museums, churches, hardware store, taxi service and non-profits. Hannigan’s grocery store was open limited hours.

Hannigans 1

Peaks Island was a microcosm of the state – if not the country.

When I first returned to Peaks Island to share in the care of my mother before she died, I was welcomed into a year-round community of  900 residents that traditionally swells to more than 5000 in the summer.

I learned the names of the mail carriers, restaurant owners, grocery store cashiers, librarians, tour guides, waste collectors, landscapers, musicians, and artists. I joined the chorale and (hoped in the future) the ukulele band.

In her book Year of Wonders Geraldine Brooks tells the story of a walled town in 1666 that chose to protect the greater community from the plague raging within its walls by allowing no one to enter the town and no one to leave. http://geraldinebrooks.com/year-of-wonders/

At the conclusion of the weekly Maine CDC  Covid 19 briefing, Dr. Shah reminds everyone:

Be Kind. Take care of one another.

banner

The residents of Peaks Island took to heart his ‘mantra.’

A Peaks Island Covid 19 response committee was formed to provide up-to-date communication, assist with shopping and transportation, food pantry access. Mental health teams offered support if requested.

https://wgme.com/news/coronavirus/maine-island-residents-work-together-to-keep-community-safe

Year-round residents used stimulus checks to purchase gift cards to island restaurants and shops to support their small businesses.

Masks and social distancing and stay at home orders are strictly adhered to.

Arriving summer residents are expected to self-quarantine for 14 days.

 May 1- COVID 19:                 1149 confirmed cases statewide                   59 deaths

Traditionally, Memorial Day weekend shepherds in the opening up of cottages and return of summer residents. “Opening Up” a cottage means adhering to a long list of  ‘To Do’s’ developed over time through trial and error. My friends/patrons/supporters of island arts are not able to travel to the island due to the pandemic.

cottage

Therefore, I am the designated cottage caretaker. In exchange for housing, I will oversee a roof replacement, landscape the gardens, perform general repairs and paint. My other task is to collect news of others and general goings -on.  I will respond to islanders who inquire of them. In weekly zoom meetings, we will exchange information about life in England vs US,  compare the graying of our locks and trade recipes. I will send them photographs of the most recently bloomed flower and exquisite sunsets.

Their 3-page list includes the following tasks:

Locate the hidden key if you forgot yours.

Unlock and open the doors to air out the cottage.

Get tools out that you need to proceed.

Turn on electric.

Take down shutters.

Install porch screens. (Check that no bird has created a nest on top of the screens. If so delay installation until babies fledge).

Check for damage  – evidence of leaks, torn screens, broken tree limbs.

Seek out evidence of any dead creatures and remove. (I ask the neighbor to remove them.)

Vacuum up bugs, dead flies.

Turn the water on – check for leaks.

Uncover the Goddesses. 

As part of Crossroads: Art for Contemplation, I created 7-circuit meditation labyrinths throughout Maryland to provide a place and a process for anyone to “journey inward.”

When walking a labyrinth, you enter with a question. When you exit, you may have an answer or a sense of direction or hint of movement towards something  you had not considered.

I installed ceramic sculptures of the Greek goddesses – Demeter, Persephone and Hecate – as part of the artwork. They now ‘live’ on Peaks Island. One possible interpretation of their myth asks what we learn about ourselves when we have time to ‘journey inward.’

For many, being in quarantine provides that time.

Finding Nature With My Eyes

In general, I am a big picture kind of person. When walking, I see an entire landscape – not individual trees or blades of grass. Since I am forced to slow down due to the pandemic, I am seeing ‘smaller’.

I arrived to a second spring. It feels heartless of Mother Nature to create this amazing spring while we are under strict orders to stay at home and distance ourselves from friends.

Lilacs had just started to bloom. Hostas were leafing out. The viburnum would soon provide a backdrop for the purple Siberian irises and lupines.

viburnum

During my first removal of fallen branches and leaves from the gardens, I uncover plants heretofore not seen before – at least by me:

Under the juniper – Jack in the pulpit Jack in the Pulpit

Moss roses

 

 

 

Under the hops – covered apple trees – moss roses

Lady slipper orchid. (It is endangered so their location is secret.)

Ladies' Slippers 2

I am still hard pressed to discern between native plants and weeds. (Although a friend once told me that anything in the garden that isn’t where you want it,  is essentially,  a weed.)

cover_2

Dr. Chuck Radis’ (with his brother Rick) co-authored Wildflowers of Peaks Island, Maine. The color coded pages group wildflowers by season and habitats. They describe each plant by color, placement, shape of leaves, and measurements. I refer to the book as I weed.

ASIDE:

Dr. Chuck Radis in his book, Go By Boat: Stories of a Maine Island Doctor,  shares his time as the doctor for the residents of Casco Bay islands. https://www.pressherald.com/2018/12/31/peaks-island-doctor-brings-practice-to-pages-in-new-book/

 

Tree rings

The stumps of maple trees felled over the winter provide seats from which to observe more “small.”  I realize how different the vista is without them. The light has changed since it is no longer being filtered through the leaves.

I count the rings on the stump: 1 light plus 1 dark ring = 1 year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwNJC-IRgPE

Each ring has a story to tell. Maybe this tree witnessed the 1918 pandemic.

One morning, while putting on my work boots,  I noticed a shiny ‘trail’ on the exterior of one of the boots. I know slugs leave this ‘trace’ as they meander about.  Gingerly, I inspected the interior – fortunately it was empty .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8ma6vDvXAM

SlugNo one likes slugs.

Everyone I ask:

“Of what use are slugs? “

To a person each replies:

“Absolutely None.”

For me,  taking the time to watch a slug perambulate provides new mantras on to how to go forward each day – not just during a pandemic:

Set a goal and persevere.

Keep eyes looking forward.

Slow down and take note of your surroundings.

Stay still if threatened.

“ Just being alive is enough” Suzuki Roshi

 

June 1 –  COVID-19:                  2352 cases statewide                         95 deaths

Finding Nature with my Ears

When I first arrived, the island was preternaturally quiet. No sounds of golf carts or cars or planes or party boats or cruise ships. No lawn mowers or leaf blowers. An island committee formed to study noise levels pre and post pandemic – in hopes of stemming the future increase in airplane noise when the friendly skies re-open.

There is one exception – one very loud exception – the sounds of birds – songs, tweets, squawks, gobbles (yes, the turkeys have landed. ) create a new island soundtrack. Every morning the birds signal the beginning of another day in quarantine.

Turkeys

My sister and brother in law are “birders.”  They have ‘life lists’ (To date: 286) and cool binoculars.

They learn habitats, recognize calls, possess language to describe each bird and spend time ‘looking and listening.” I have never really listened to the sounds that birds make. Until now.

Bird vocalizations includes both bird calls and bird songs.

  • Songs are used to defend territory and attract mates.
  • Calls tend to be shorter and simpler — often just one syllable long. There are different kinds of calls:

Alarm calls

Contact calls

Flight calls

Begging calls (feed me)

Mating

Warnings

There are phone apps that record the song and match it to one in the data base. https://www.audubon.org/news/how-start-identifying-birds-their-songs-and-calls

https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/

Bird songs can even be used to create an opera.  Just listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMXD4h5w8D8

Finding Nature with My Nose

There seem to be roses blooming in every garden. Out of quarantine and back to my daily walk, I continue to see “small.” I look at the color and shape of roses in gardens around the island.  I breathe in the smell of the rose then squeeze a blossom in my hand and inhale the fragrance. It seems the most visually beautiful are the least fragrant – some with no fragrance at all.

Hedges of the ubiquitous beach rose – rosa rugosa – circumnavigate the island.

IMG_2844

Swedish botanist Carl Peter Thunberg first introduced the western world to Rosa rugosa (meaning “wrinkled rose” because of its creased petals and serrated foliage) in the 1770s, having come across it in Japan. So, although it is a dominant species in certain areas of the northeast and northwest of the United States, it is not native.

https://www.gardenista.com/posts/rosa-rugosa-roses-perennials-flowering-shrubs-growing-care-tips/

lowest tide

I walk the circumference  of the island – starting or ending at low tide on Centennial Beach. There is a distinctive smell – especially at dead low tide.

It is a Sulphur-y kind of smell produced by bacteria as they digest dead phytoplankton.

As a child, I would stomp along the sand in hopes of enticing a clam to “spit” – creating a tell-tale hole revealing its location. It is still a valid technique when digging for clams.

https://bangordailynews.com/2018/08/31/outdoors/the-inside-scoop-on-how-to-dig-for-clams-in-maine/

In 3rd grade I won a contest for the most books read over the summer. (I had an unfair advantage since I lived directly across the street from the library.) The prize was a chart of seashells with accompanying samples of each shell. https://www.maine.gov/dmr/shellfish-sanitation-management/shellfishidentification.html

Walking along the beach today, it is rare to find a razor clam or a sand dollar or a horseshoe crab.

Horseshoe crabs are “living fossils” that have existed for at least 445 million years and are not really a crab.

invertebrate_horseshoe-crab_600x300

Their blue, copper-based blood contains lysate, which reacts to bacterial toxins by clotting. Horseshoe crab blood has long been harvested to test everything from water to intravenous drugs for contamination. It’s also key to making vaccines for diseases such as COVID-19. https://www.nps.gov/gate/learn/nature/upload/nature_horseshoe_crab.pdf

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/07/covid-vaccine-needs-horseshoe-crab-blood/

Searching for beach glass has replaced beach combing for shells. Beach glass hunters are readily identified by their start and stop walking, stooped posture and/or bowed heads. Children collect the shards, store them in their pockets and parents find them in the bottom of the washing machine. Glass-filled jars occupy window sills for years – and eventually discarded over time.

Seaglass shell

July 1 –  COVID-19                             3288 cases statewide                        123 deaths

Making the decision to drive to Maine was influenced by my commitment to co-author and produce a play to celebrate the Maine Bicentennial. Proceeds from ticket sales would support scholarships for island students.

Due to Covid 19 – all performance venues would remain closed until summer 2021. After 2 years of research and countless revisions, we had been holding onto the possibility we would mount a stage production.

Trunk Show” tells a story of 1924 summer stock theatre, prohibition and politics on Peaks Island through the eyes of two sisters as they prepare for an uncertain future.

Like so many art and performance groups, we hope to share our vision. However, like the “Trunk Show” heroines, the future of our cast, our play, our lives – everyone’s lives – is uncertain.

Yet, the sun still sets every night.

Nice thing about sunsets is you can't do anything to them. 
You can't improve them, repair them, prolong them, sell them or 
change them in any way at all. Miranda V.

Uncovering: Circles

The circumference (from Latin circumferens, meaning “carrying around”) is the perimeter of a circle .

The circumference of a circle is related to one of the most important mathematical constants. This constantpi, is represented by the Greek letter π.

pi….an ideal that in numerical terms can be approached, but never reached.

March 14:

My residency at the Vermont Studio Center ended abruptly. The Governor of the State of Vermont declared a state of emergency and began closing schools, bars, restaurants in hopes of containing the virus. I had been in a news-free bubble during my residency so was unaware of the severity nor the rapid spread of the virus. I packed up my installation Aletheia: state of not being hidden and headed home. https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2020/03/30/a-different-line/

01Aleteia

Warned by many friends to expect empty shelves at Maryland grocery stores, I stopped along the way for toilet paper.

March 15:

I self – quarantined. I had spent several weeks with artists from other states and countries and had crossed several state borders (and Canada.)  My decision coincided with Maryland’s first stay at home order:

…Leave only for essential work or critical health care – doctors , food shopping, walk yourself or walk the dog. Schools will remain closed. Work from home if you can. Wear masks. Wash your hands.

March 30:

Governor Hogan of Maryland extended his initial shut down/stay at home order:

“We are all going to need to depend on each other, to look out for each other and to take care of each other. We are all in this together,” Hogan said.

Drawing the Circle

Friends shopped for me and deposited bags of dried beans, rice, lentils, oatmeal, corn meal at my door. Yeast and flour. Fruit and veggies. Cleaning products. One brownie mix. And of course, more toilet paper.

I made cloth masks for friends and families. Using fabric from quilters’ stashes.

masks

 

Just 2 weeks prior,  I had used my 100 year old Singer sewing machine to create an art installation  It might have been used during the 1918 pandemic. Maybe even to sew masks.

Sewing machine

 

In 1918, advanced masks like the N95s that healthcare workers use today were a long way off. Surgical masks were made of gauze, and many people’s flu masks were made of gauze too. Red Cross volunteers made and distributed many of these, and newspapers carried instructions for those who may want to make a mask for themselves or donate some to the troops. Still, not everyone used the standard surgical design or material.

 https://www.history.com/news/1918-spanish-flu-mask-wearing-resistance#:~:text=Masks%20Were%20Made%20of%20Gauze,the%20pandemic%20flu%20in%201918.&text=Red%20Cross%20volunteers%20made%20and,donate%20some%20to%20the%20troops.

Coffee – its consumption and creation – has featured prominently in many of my past blogs.  This time it wasn’t the coffee, but the plastic coffee bag closure used to re-seal the bag.

Tin ties

I collected them from anyone I knew that brewed their own cup o’ Joe in order to create fitted nose pieces.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MSyjcbr90E

I talked, texted or emailed daily with others – like myself – who live alone.

A Smaller Circumference

There are 28 stairs from my sleeping loft to my studio shower. It has been ‘strongly suggested’ by friends and family (in response to a fall and broken ankle that my next artwork should be to create a shower in the loft. This would necessitate moving the washer and dryer to a location TBD.

Building a shower where the washing machine had been seemed like a fairly straight forward project. There was existing plumbing, drainage and venting.

I am an inveterate watcher of This Old House https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ and revere Richard Trethewey – the plumber – enough so to research his introductory quote:

it is a typical plumber’s lament…”220px-MarioNSMBUDeluxe

A Plumber’s Lament is the name of a piece of art created by Garro of Nimbus Land for the kingdom’s queen Valentina during the events of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. The gold-colored statue is a depiction of a plumber.

There are hundreds of internet sites devoted to Mario if you have time to research  – but I had work to do.

After watching innumerable you-tube videos, I determined which tasks were within my skill set. Next,  I called the plumber to handle the remainder (Naturally, it included re-routing the existing pipes, drains, vents, etc. )

Before leaving for the art residency I had demo’ed the old wall board and replaced it with durarock (resistant to water); applied leveling material (due to the uneven durarock installation ) and was  ready to tile.Durarock

The walls for the new laundry room and closet (the first and only closet at the firehouse) were framed in.

Then I headed to Vermont. Then I returned from Vermont. Then I continued the renovation. Fortunately, I had already purchased the materials for each project from the Loading Dock http://www.loadingdock.org/

The Loading Dock, Inc. (TLD), a building materials reuse facility, offers great deals and interesting finds to people who need inexpensive building materials and are interested in keeping materials out of the waste stream. TLD serves as a national model for communities interested in starting a reuse facility.

It is rooms and rooms of everything and I mean everything – needed for construction and renovations and just plain old cool stuff.

TLD_Warehouse

Because I was in quarantine, if I didn’t have it, I improvised often. (Although a neighbor did deliver some drywall screws I had run out of. It was the opposite of curbside pick-up – more like doorway drop off.)

At the end of each day, I walk to the town Wetlands Park – now 20 years old. The trees are full grown, native plants have taken root and milkweed proliferates to attract butterflies and other pollinators.

images

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1997-01-20-1997020032-story.html

I wear my mask – but when no one else is in the park – I remove it. I revel in the ability to take a deep breath – unencumbered.

I walk on 4 foot wide paths mowed an additional foot on each side to create a 6 foot distance. I perfect the ‘swerve” to avoid unmasked walkers. I learn the names of dogs whose owners I had never seen at the park before. And encourage tottering young bicyclists.

As I installed the final tile in the bathroom and hung up the last article of clothing in the closet, the Governor issued another 2 week extension of the stay at home order.

2 more weeks of being alone

2 more weeks of relying on friends

2 more weeks of finding ways to fill the day with meaning.

Creating a Circle of Care

Comfort_PRINT_CircleCare-1

I graduated from high school the same year Sesame Street was first broadcast.  When I became a first grade teacher, I often relied on materials and concepts developed by the producers of Sesame Street.

There is an activity that asks children to complete a worksheet called ‘Circle of Care. ‘ The goal is to reassure kids that they are never alone. There are always people who will be there to help you.

 “The Circle of Care is like a giant hug.”

https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/activities/exploring-kids-circle-care/

As the pandemic restrictions continued, friends offered me gift cards or brought me food as part of their weekly shopping forays. One friend offered me their stipend check since they were still employed. I was deeply touched by their offers of kindness.

I am included in their ‘circle of care.’

My Circle of Care

PC Marker

I don’t know if it’s part of aging but I have grown comfortable with silence.

Maybe I realized that I would rather sit in silence than attend a traditional house of worship.

Maybe the Quaker belief in non-violence and community led me to attend.

Maybe my increasing comfort in silence led me to Quaker Meeting or maybe attending Quaker Meeting led me to silence.

Maybe it’s not about silence but about ‘seeking that of God in everyone.”

The Pipe Creek Friends Meeting was established in 1772. Its doors have remained open since its inception.

At one time, there were only 2 attenders. They met in their living room because they couldn’t afford to heat the meeting house. Yet, they did not “lay the meeting down.”

In the 1970’s,  possibly in response to the Vietnam War and civil unrest or (according to Pipe Creek oral history) because the outhouse was replaced with indoor plumbing, the number of attendees increased. When I started to attend in 2001 there were less than 10 members. As the U.S. contemplated entering another war in 2003, more ‘seekers’ entered our doors. https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2016/09/

Throughout the pandemic, I am ‘led’ to open the Meeting House doors on Sundays. It is a 10 minute walk from my studio. I sit silently while other members – out of an abundance of caution – ‘zoom.’  Like Quakers throughout the country.

https://whyy.org/articles/in-the-age-of-social-distancing-quakers-have-quickly-adapted-to-online-worship/

Expanding My Circle of Care

 When stay-at-home orders were first announced, radio commentators remarked that 2 kinds of people would welcome the order: artists and writers.

Artists and writers have always had to guard their time. They need to turn inward to create characters or plot lines or images. They may need time for research or just what a friend calls ‘dreamtime.’  Time is a precious commodity during ‘normal times.’ But this is the ‘new normal.’ For many, time spreads out like a vast ocean.

vast sea

Many of us have time now but are plagued by a heavy heart.

As a community based artist I need community input, collective knowledge and skills to complete a work.

My first community based art project in 1994 in Carroll County: Seeds of Change focused on rural hunger through the lens of women’s spirituality. We grew buckwheat to make flour, distributed it to food pantries and sponsored Pancake Breakfasts through local volunteer fire departments to highlight the existence of rural hunger.IMG_1678

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1994-03-04-1994063038-story.html 1994.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1994/09/12/reaping-what-shes-sown/91ca5ff6-3d66-4ffa-bb8b-e1946adf476b/

Twenty- five years later,  food insecurity has continued to grow throughout the country. The increasing unemployment in the pandemic have worsened the crisis.

https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/facing-shortages-rising-demand-food-banks-may-turn-to-rationing

ubseal

The population of the Town of Union Bridge Maryland is 964 and  encompasses 1 square mile. Settled by Quakers, Union Bridge began as a farming community. Food production is no longer the major source of employment.  The median income is lower than surrounding cities. According to the 2010 census – 394 households were counted and 34% had children under the age of 18.

When the locally owned and operated grocery store closed in 2008, it not only deprived local teens their first job opportunity but ushered in the term: food desert.

To help meet the food needs of families in town, members of St. James Lutheran Church joined with Dream Big Union Bridge to create a Food Pantry.  Pipe Creek Quaker Meeting provides fresh vegetables raised in the community garden.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll/opinion/cc-op-nonprofit-dream-big-union-bridge-20180802-story.html

PC garden

Almost 30,000,000 school aged children qualify for free/reduced price lunches.

https://www.mdhungersolutions.org/pdf/maryland-school-breakfast-report-card-2017.pdf

Throughout the school year, 45% of students receive breakfast and lunch. Closing schools for vacations, snow, and now a pandemic – leaves many children hungry.

With the help of a town council member, we were able to create a local feeding site  for curbside pick-up of breakfast/lunch. As the quarantine continues, the line of cars increases.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll/top/cc-meal-delivery-20200417-4my22vxnlbhkfebxs2qsgmggfm-story.html

In other towns, residents are converting their Little Free Library into Covid 19 pantries. http://www.littlefreepantry.org

Photograph+of+Bishopthorpe+Little+Free+Library_Little+Free+Pantry

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/little-libraries-become-food-pantries-during-covid-19

May 6: Schools closed for the remainder of the year.

Extending My Circle of Care

Spring-Paper-Roll-Crafts-43Making “virtual” art is a challenge. I have a weekly craft hour with a five year old via Facetime. Fortunately, she is more skilled with how to use the technology than I am – and has more patience with it.

I decided to create ‘Take and Make’ bags for the neighborhood school-aged children. I scoured my studio for supplies, solicited toilet paper tubes from everyone, scrounged crayons, tape, scissors, coffee filters. I included directions for projects and links for more ideas. I wore gloves to assemble the materials into individual brown paper bags. Out of an abundance of caution: All materials sat for a week in my studio. They were distributed at the Food Bank.

Governor Hogan was right. We are all in this together

Going in Circles

I struggled with the decision to make my annual trek to Maine. In 2007,  I returned to Peaks Island to create a memorial for my Dad.  https://vimeo.com/29998120 More recently to share in the care of my Mother before she died.

I have spent the summers creating with others – music, plays, gardens, art. Making the decision to drive to Maine was influenced by my commitment to write and produce a play to celebrate the Maine Bicentennial and raise monies for island scholarships.

Maine’s Governor Mills decided to institute strict restrictions to help stave off the spread of the virus.

https://wgme.com/news/coronavirus/maine-island-residents-work-together-to-keep-community-safe

There is a mandatory 2-week quarantine for out-of-staters upon arrival in Maine.

I weighed the risks, to not only myself, but to others in my Maine circle of care .

My friends were more concerned that during the 12 hour drive, rest stops would be closed. *

I was more concerned about missing the last ferry and having to spend the night sleeping in my car.

As I crossed the border from New Hampshire into Maine, I  read the sign:

Maine Welcome Home.

But will  home be the same?

image sign

https://www.mainepublic.org/post/maine-turnpike-signs-will-instruct-out-staters-self-isolate-if-they-come-maine

 

* My friends were correct – rest rooms and rest stops were closed necessitating detours into towns with ‘welcoming gas stations.”  The 10 hour drive extended to 12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archeology

 

archaeology. c.1600, “ancient history,” from French archéologie (16c.) or directly from Greek arkhaiologia “the study of ancient things;” see archaeo- + -ology

STRATA 1: Studio

I am stuck.

When I said “No’ to exhibiting Welcoming the Stranger in Tucson, I broke my cycle of creation. For 9 months I research, plan, and then ‘deliver’ the art work. I then take 9 months to recover: to earn money, to eat right, to sleep and exercise, and to reconnect to friends.  And then I begin again.

During ‘recovery’ I look for a little-known piece of history that is echoed in current day events.  All my projects have focused on the past: Seeds of Change, Invisible Legacy, Heifer Relief, Palimpsest series, Liber. I then choose the materials that best convey the idea, concept or message.

Eighteen months have passed.

I am stuck.

Writers call it writers block. I call it ‘stuck.’

Sometimes when I am stuck, I clean the studio.

IMG_1114I re-shelve previously exhibited works – already boxed, labeled and stored

I sort through sketches, photos, unused materials, postcards.

IMG_1125

I am still stuck.

Most artists keep sketchbooks and record ideas on various scraps of paper. I keep journals. I document the personal and political, big projects and small, workshops, dreams – day to day anguish and Artist’s Way morning pages. I record my adventures on trips, people I meet along the way, even the cost of gas and food. There are lists of what I hoped to accomplish, places to visit. I even found my “obituary” written at a workshop on death and dying. (Unlike Jefferson who believed he would one day be famous, I do not include copies of my correspondence.)

Sometimes when I am stuck –  I read my journals.

STRATA 2: Journals

Journal entry: Toronto, 1986

The Tate Modern in London houses the national collection of British art from the 1900 to present: the exhibit rooms are arranged by eras. – a kind of archeological foray through the history of art. http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern. It also maintains a large collection of Henry Moore sculptures.

IMG_0922

I have a very clear memory of seeing the work before – but not in England. The Art Gallery of Ontario houses Moore’s plaster and bronze models and the stones that inspired him. According to a journal entry, I visited the gallery in 1986 but recall only a desk from his studio on which small bones and maquettes resided.

I wrote I wanted to create art and have a studio in the country.

Journal entry: Maryland, 1994

My Firehouse Studio is located in the farming community of Carroll County, Maryland. I held a 100 th birthday party for it as part of a House Tour – complete with cake and candles. However, it is more than 100 years YOUNGER than the Dielman Inn of New Windsor – only 4 miles away.

The Town of New Windsor was laid out and surveyed into 28 lots in 1797 …

…One of the most notable structures in town is the 10,000 square foot, 42 room Dielman Inn at High and Main Streets. It was a popular gathering place for vacationers from the 1870s through its closing in 1927. The proprietor was Louis William Dielman, a former professor of music at Calvert College in town. He delighted in sponsoring after-dinner concerts, musicales, lectures, skits and tableaux featuring guests who hailed from as far away as New York

 

 

An archeological “dig” takes place every Saturday at the Dielman Inn and is open to members of the community. The ‘privy’ collection includes pieces of pottery, broken tools, detritus from the 1700’s and later.

In her day job, Lisa Macurak teaches ancient history to middle schoolers but her passion is archeology. She shares her time and knowledge with anyone willing to listen while they uncover a piece of history.

 

IMG_0390I wanted to be an archeologist in my next life.

Journal Entry: Taos, New Mexico, 2000

I always wrote. Poems, stories, scripts, letters to editors. At one time I had a column in a local newspaper.

At the Aztec Ruins National Monument there is an exhibit that depicts the various layers in the geological history of the site and objects revealed during its excavation. There are placards with explanations based on the thinking of the archeologists at that time.

Traditional Puebloan attitudes about ruins are that every place has its life and once it has been abandoned, it is proper and respectful that it be allowed to return to the natural elements of which it was originally created.

What are the elements from which words are created?

STRATA 3: Words

I have decided to shred my journals.  As I tear out the pages and feed them into the shredder, I read each one. It is somewhat freeing – and at the same time – fills me with nostalgia.

Shredding my journals is like being an archeologist of my own life —

The annual New Year’s resolutions, recorded dreams still requiring more analysis than I have time for, and the litany of what I haven’t accomplished in my artist life as well as my personal life, fill the pages. (it also appears I have the same 30 lbs to lose – intermittently – and regain eventually. And ALWAYS need new walking shoes.)

IMG_0995

My studio is now littered with bags of my shredded journals. I am still stuck but now I am also stuck with the detritus of my writing – a lot of it.

I always attend the Biennial Book Arts Fair. https://www.pyramidatlanticbookartsfair.org Artists exhibit their hand-made paper and one of a kind Artist Books – There are calligraphers and letter press printers. There are sculptures made from paper pulp.

When you studied Maine commerce in 4th grade, you learned about potatoes and paper. When I entered Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center doors,  I was thrown back in time to rainy days growing up in Maine when the smell of the SD Warren paper mill reached our noses. The mill was a major employer at that time.

http://wgme.com/news/in-depth/maines-pulp-and-paper-industry-by-the-numbers

Today, I would describe the smell as kombucha made from trees.

Gretchen Schermerhorn is the PAAC artistic director and an artist in her own right. She creates works on paper and sculptures with paper.

http://gretchenschermerhorn.com/section/294491-Sculptural.html .IMG_1016

IMG_1017

I spent several days working with Gretchen. I combined my shredded pages with water in a Hollander beater. As the paper and water mix, a slurry is formed.

IMG_1018

Forty-five minutes later, I have paper pulp – lots of it. Then I fill 5 gallon buckets with the mixture. It is a very physical process.

My journals produced 50 gallons of paper pulp – IMG_1020

its color derived from the blending of all the ink from all the words.IMG_1015

(For a 6 minute quick overview of paper making you can do at home, check out: Pulp and Deckle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE2VWojDb1g )

 

STRATA 4: Museum

The term archaeology, was not used until early in the 17th Century. Prior to this there was no real desire to carefully preserve the history of long forgotten cultures.

….‘However, Europe’s Dark Ages were slowly being illuminated by a revived thirst for education. The newly invented printing press had placed bibles in the hands of those outside of the clergy and there was renewed interest in the biblical sites of antiquity.’Wikipedia

Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie is historical fiction. ‘Johannes Gutenberg was a German blacksmith whose printing press has been widely considered the most important invention of the modern era because it profoundly impacted the transmission of knowledge. ‘ The book traces the development of the printing press in a world of monastic scribes through the eyes of one of those scribes.

Scriptorium (/skrɪpˈtɔːriəm/  literally “a place for writing”, is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribeshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scriptorium

 Thousands of books of hours made between 1250 and 1700 survive today in libraries and museums,… No two are exactly alike, although they share one group of devotions. That text, a set of prayers in eight sections meant to be said at regular intervals throughout the twenty-four-hour day, is called the Hours of the Virgin, and is the basis for the term book of hours.  https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hour/hd_hour.htm

One of the largest collections of illuminated manuscripts is housed in the Walters Gallery of Art in Baltimore.

Nine hundred illuminated books of hours and manuscripts are preserved in the lower level of #5 Mt. Vernon Sq.IMG_1111

Although they have been digitized and can be viewed on line https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umOc5nXmO_U , I am adamant about seeing the books in situ. They are available for viewing (by appointment only) at the Original Manuscript and Rare Book Library.

Access to the library is via a labyrinthian path for which you need a guide. Nicole Berlin majored in archeologist but spends her days researching and translating manuscripts written in Latin or Greek.

As we make our way to the Library, we stop to examine an exhibit of the history of paper and book making – with examples of the implements, tools, and materials used to illuminate manuscripts.

The library looks like a set from an Agatha Christie mystery. Shelves of ancient tomes line the walls. A globe occupies a corner of the room. Displayed on a large wooden table are 4 books resting in wooden cradles—designed to protect the fragile bindings.

 

The viewing process is frustrating because only the Curators are allowed to turn the pages. (No white gloves.) To view the details, I must rely on Nicole’s descriptions and analysis. We discuss the content of the books, the design of pages, intricate patterns, gilding.

IMG_1102Although we are strangers, there is a kind of intimacy created by the proximity of our heads as we peer at the pages. I am sure that we look as if our heads are bowed in prayer. Or at least a monk peering at his work as he creates an illuminated manuscript.

After years of creating large scale community based art, my friends want me to limit the size of my next artwork to that of a shoe box – .

50 gallons of pulp could be formed into paper –  a lot of it.

I may no longer be stuck.

 

IMG_1112

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

A place of refuge or safety

A nature preserve

A sacred place

The innermost recess or holiest part of a temple or church

I am once again on Peaks Island.

It is a place where I wake to the caws of crows as they trail after the trash truck.

It is a place where bird sightings – snowy owls, guillemot, night herons, downy woodpeckers –are shared via the Nextdoor listserv https://peaksisland.nextdoor.com/news_feed/.

It is a place where the eider ducks are busy protecting their babies from the newly arrived eagles. The adults form fortresses with their bodies as they shepherd their babies to and fro. https://youtu.be/2rlHaF4vq1g

It is a place when in 1946, the Davies sisters bequeathed their property to the “preservation and development of the wild beauty of the estate and the attraction, propagation and preservation of song birds.”

Sanctuary – A place of refuge or safety.

I am staying in what was formerly called the Lemon Cottage. Scheduled for demolition in 2001, my landlords – avid architectural preservationists – purchased, dismantled, relocated and rebuilt the circa 1860 style cottage – minus its kitchen and bathroom. Due to the fact they had not numbered the boards, there were a few leftover pieces post reconstruction. The cottage now serves as a woodshop, boathouse, and my “nest.”

 

Surrounded by trees, the Nest is ‘feathered’ with side-of-the-road furniture. In exchange for the use of the Nest, I open their cottage at the beginning of the summer. There is a 2-page list of “to do’s” – posted on Leonard (the refrigerator) including but not limited to:

Outside:

Turn on the water (requires crawling under a building,) arrange for electric (flip circuits), remove tarps, charge the car battery and test brakes, remove shutters, rake leaves—take leaves to the compost bins at the community garden.

Inside:

Spray for ants, vacuum up bodies; look for rodent evidence (don’t vacuum up their bodies), unpack EVERYTHING stored in plastic bags, discard dryer sheets used to deter rodents (sometimes effective.)

As I unwrap their art, I recognize works created by many of the island artists. My hosts support of all forms of art – paintings, ceramics, clothing – even my community-based work Welcoming the Stranger.

This year, I am adding sculpture to their collection. In 1998 I built labyrinths throughout Maryland. https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2013/02/

Since then, three 8’ ceramic reliefs – Demeter, Persephone, and Hecate – have been waiting for a permanent home. They have found it at the Nest.

 

Here I can focus on being a naturalist, an artist, a writer. (And a cottage concierge.)

Here I can give myself permission to not worry.

Here I rest until I am renewed.

Here I am supported by friends.

It is a sanctuary built on kindness.

 

Sanctuary: A nature preserve

I have a bucket list. I no longer wish to visit creations produced by humans but want to experience creations that existed before humans. Each adventure requires travel and specific timing:

  • Witness the monarch migration in California;
  • Experience the aurora borealis in Iceland (with a few active volcanoes and hot springs thrown in); and
  • Kayak with humpback whales in Tongo.

There are two ‘families’ of butterflies. Those east of the Rockies migrate to Mexico; those west of the Rockies stay in California and occupy towns along the Monterey coast from October to February. http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-migration.html

For my February birthday, my sister and I ‘migrated’ to the Monarch Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California. Since the 1930’s, Pacific Grove has been Butterfly Town USA.

http://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/visiting/monarch-butterfly-sanctuary

It is easier to locate a coffee shop in Pacific Grove than to witness monarchs flying. For butterflies to fly, it must be sunny, 60 degrees or above and NOT raining. 2017 has been the wettest winter in 122 years along the Monterey peninsula (and elsewhere in California.)

According to the docent, sightings were down dramatically. No one is exactly sure why. The butterfly is now a ‘climate refugee.’

There are 5 stages from egg to adult monarch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocWgSgMGxOc

Milkweed is critical to the process. It is the only plant on which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs and is the primary food source for monarch caterpillars.

The plant decreased 21 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2013. Scientists, conservationists, and butterfly enthusiasts are encouraging people to grow milkweed in their own yards and gardens – to create Monarch Waystations – pesticide free zones – sanctuaries.

The community gardens at both the Pipe Creek Meeting house in Maryland and on Peaks Island are home to pollinator plants and native milkweed. (And we compost.)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-monarch-butterfly-milkweed-environment-ecology-science/

 

Sanctuary: A place of refuge or safety.

Linda Rabben in her book: Give Refuge to the Stranger traces the history of sanctuary since ancient times. She believes altruism – in primates and other animals – is at its foundation. The historical roots of the movement derive from the right of sanctuary in medieval law and Jewish and Christian social teachings.

“ ….Human beings may have given refuge to strangers for 100,000 years or more. So many societies around the world practice or have practiced it that it can be considered a human universal, a characteristic of our species as a whole.”

The Sanctuary Movement was a religious and political campaign that began in the early 1980s to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict. The movement was a response to federal immigration policies that made obtaining asylum difficult for Central Americans.

At its peak, Sanctuary involved over 500 congregations in the United States which, by declaring themselves official “sanctuaries,” committed to providing shelter, protection, material goods and often legal advice to Central American refugees. Various denominations were involved.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary_movement

Several prominent Sanctuary figures were arrested and put on trial in the mid 1980s, including its two “founders”: Rev. John Fife – Southside Presbyterian Church and Jim Corbett – a Quaker.

Busted by Federal Agents, a Tucson Pastor Keeps the Sanctuary Light Aflame for Fleeing Salvadorans – Vol. 23 No. 12

Today, Reverend Fife continues the work of welcoming strangers to Tucson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwHOACm3Yaw

 

Sanctuary: A sacred place

 The word sanctuary comes from the Latin word for sacred place.

 Tucson is located about 100 miles from the border with Mexico. It is surrounded by the Santa Catalina, Rincon, and Santa Rita mountain ranges.

It is a city that welcomes strangers.

 

I met Mary Koopman on the Peaks Island ferry. On our ride to Portland, we had a conversation about death and dying. She is a nurse specializing in hospice care. We have kept in touch over the years as our lives evolved. She moved to Tucson, was ordained as a Buddhist priest and established the Sky Island Zen sangha. She volunteers with a refugee resettlement program. (On my first day visiting her, we transported donated furniture to a newly arrived refugee family.)

She believes Tucson may be a place to install Abraham’s Tent and pursue another exhibition of Welcoming the Stranger. https://www.facebook.com/welcomingthestrangerart

Once again, I research possible venues, make appointments and follow leads. I travel to Tucson.

I attend the Handweavers and Spinners Guild annual meeting. More than 200 weavers and spinners were there. A member invited me to speak to her college class about community-based art.

I visit the Warehouse Arts Management Organization Gallery – housed in a 4000 sq ft historic warehouse in downtown Tucson. It has been a catalyst in the renaissance of the downtown arts district. It could house the exhibit and provide space for additional events.I meet with gallery curators and advocacy organization directors including The Jewish Historical Museum of Tucson, Jewish Community Center, YWCA.

 

 

 

 

All make time to talk with me.

All are underfunded.

 

Sanctuary: the innermost recess or holiest part of a temple or church From Latin sanctuarium, from sanctus ‘holy.’

My last day in Tucson, I attended the Religious Society of Friends meeting. http://pima.quaker.org

Quakers sit in silence and listen for that still, small voice within for guidance. It was a warm spring day. The windows were open. The curtains fluttered in the breeze.

The hour passed in complete silence.

At the potluck lunch, I spoke about Welcoming the Stranger and my ‘call’ to create the work. I provided hand outs on the history of the project, what was needed to mount the show and how unclear I was about whether to exhibit in Tucson.

Someone suggested a book in the meeting’s library: Callings – Finding and Following an Authentic Life 1998 by Gregg Levoy.

http://www.gregglevoy.com/callings/index.html

As I flipped through the pages – a phrase caught my eye:

Saying No to a Calling.

In 2015, Welcoming the Stranger was exhibited at the Maine Jewish Museum and examined the history of immigration in Maine and immigration today.

In 2016, Guilford College, a Quaker school and home of Every Campus A Refuge, sponsored its installation in the City of Greensboro, NC – an official sanctuary city.

To exhibit Welcoming the Stranger in Tucson, I would have to proceed without secured financial support or a sponsor.

A clearness committee is a group of Friends (Quakers) appointed to help a member of the meeting find clarity around a leading. A clearness committee’s job is to help the person discover whether there is clarity to move forward with a matter, wait, or take other action.

https://www.fgcquaker.org/resources/clearness-committees-what-they-are-and-what-they-do

As I write this blog entry, the United States government is considering legislation to cut federal funding to all cities that declare themselves ‘sanctuary cities. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/02/us/sanctuary-cities.html action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

 

How did medieval societies decide to pursue the rule of law rather than allow mob rule?

How did the members of the Sanctuary Movement decide that their spiritual beliefs superceded the law of the land?

How does a city and its people decide to remain a sanctuary city rather than receive federal funds?

How does an artist choose between following a calling or letting it go?

 

I continue to listen for the still, small voice within.

 

Welcoming the Stranger is a 501 3c organization. If you would like to make a donation, make check payable to the Welcoming the Stranger Fund and send to:

Community Foundation of Carroll County

355 Clifton Blvd # 313

Westminster MD 21157

Or donate directly with Pay Pal:

http://www.carrollcommunityfoundation.org/funds.asp?fund_id=252

 

Inauguration

Inauguration:

 From French inauguration “installation, consecration,” and directly from Late Latin inaugurationem (nominative inauguratio) “consecration,” presumably originally “installment under good omens;” noun of action from past participle stem of inaugurare “take omens from the flight of birds; consecrate or install when omens are favorable,” from in- “on, in” (see in- (2)) + augurare “to act as an augur, predict” (see augur (n.)).

It’s January.

It’s cold.

It’s gray.

I am drinking Peace on Earth coffee and wearing ‘glittens’ as I write this blog. I am listening to the morning news on the radio.

img_3932Peace on Earth coffee is grown in Peru and Columbia and processed in Madison, WI. I know this because as a SERRV “customer care” representative, I was frequently asked questions about the growing and production of their coffee. http://www.serrv.org/product/organic-peace-on-earth/coffee-tea

poe-coffee

To learn more about the role of coffee in my art process refer to https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/ing-part-2/

The mission of SERRV International is to “promote the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products in a just and direct manner.” www.serrv.org

 SERRV was started in 1949 by the Church of the Brethren – one of the traditional peace churches that include the Quakers and Mennonites. Peace churches are churches, groups or communities advocating pacifism or Biblical nonresistance. I first learned about the peace churches when creating Heifer Relief: Compass, Ark, Berth a multi media installation about the ‘seagoing cowboys’ of WW2. https://www.heifer.org/join-the-conversation/blog/2014/March/honoring-heifers-history.html

SERRV began importing handicrafts from the world’s least developed countries as a way to alleviate poverty. Recognized for adhering to fair trade principles, it currently works with 85 small-scale, cooperatively run producer groups in 35 countries.

I wish that drinking coffee and wearing handmade gloves could pave the way to peace – between people, between communities, between countries….

But as the BBC radio program ends,  I realize the road to peace is still long.

 

Inauguration: the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.

All we are saying…is give peace a chance.

The Beatles’ song quickly became the anthem of the anti Vietnam-war and counterculture movements. In November of 1969, a half a million demonstrators sang it in Washington, D.C. at the Vietnam Moratorium Day. I moved permanently to Washington in 1975 after graduating from Gallaudet University to become a teacher of the hearing impaired at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School.

In 1977, I attended President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and  interpreted his speech for hearing impaired friends. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=6575

His speech outlined a road map to healing – out cities, our country, our world –

“Within us, the people of the United States, there is evident a serious and purposeful rekindling of confidence. And I join in the hope that when my time as your President has ended, people might say this about our Nation:

–that we had remembered the words of Micah and renewed our search for humility, mercy, and justice;

–that we had torn down the barriers that separated those of different race and region and religion, and where there had been mistrust, built unity, with a respect for diversity;

–that we had found productive work for those able to perform it;

–that we had strengthened the American family, which is the basis of our society;

–that we had ensured respect for the law and equal treatment under the law, for the weak and the powerful, for the rich and the poor; and

–that we had enabled our people to be proud of their own Government once again.

I would hope that the nations of the world might say that we had built a lasting peace, based not on weapons of war but on international policies which reflect our own most precious values.

In 1978, the Camp David Accord resulted in a cessation of hostilities between Egypt and Israel. Anwar Sadat was named Man of the Year by Time Magazine. He and Menacham Begin shared the Nobel Peace prize._1632849_campdavidap300

In 1981 Anwar Sadat was assassinated. Since then, there have been other attempts at peace and other assassinations ending the progress. From 2003 – 2011, there have been 37 armed conflicts throughout the world – some still ongoing – most we know little about.

In A Land Twice Promised,  an Israeli woman and a Palestinian woman intentionally begin a dialogue to share their personal and political histories — one conversation at a time – over a long period of time. The author,  Noa Baum adheres to the belief expressed by the Quaker peace hero Gene Knudsen-Hoffman:

“an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.”

http://www.compassionatelistening.org/archive/gene.html

 

All we are saying… is give peace a chance.

The 1st Amendment guarantees the right to peacefully assemble.

Philadelphia 081

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

My first protest march was accompanying my mom at the Mothers March in Portland, Maine in the 1960’s. The local swimming beach had been closed due to sewage pollution. In a neighborhood populated by a large number of low-income school-aged children, there was no alternative. Parents were unable to afford private day or sleep away camps. Prospects for recreation during the summer were bleak.

The Mothers were victorious. The City of Portland not only constructed a pool but hired life guards – many from the Munjoy Hill neighborhood.

(Full disclosure: I taught swimming there for 4 years.)

As the seat of the federal government, Washington D.C. has “hosted “ protest marches since the inception of the country. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protest_marches_on_Washington,_D.C.

1900 – 1949         7

1950 – 1999          48images

2000 – 2009         40

2010                           7

2011                           3ueuh_0001_0005_0_img0238

2012                           6

2013                           4

2014                           1

2015                           2

 

In the book Democracy’s Big Day – Jim Bendar tells the story of the history of protests. In 1913, prior to Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, 1000’s of women marched for the right to vote. http://wamu.org/story/17/01/09/trumps-inauguration-will-bring-protests-part-long-tradition/

 

Inauguration: a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.

img_3929I live in a town of 900+ people that is approximately 1 mile square. Unknown to most of the inhabitants, the street names reflect its settlement by the Quakers in the 1700s : Farquhar, Shepherd’s Mill, Quaker Hill. The Pipe Creek Friends Meeting opened its doors in 1771 and still welcomes those who “ Seek that of God in everyone.”img_3926

I became a member of Pipe Creek Friends Meeting in 2001 as we prepared to invade Afghanistan. I wanted some place in which to build community and continue my search for “a lasting peace” – though now it would be a more intimate quest through personal prayer and non violent action.

In 2006, the American Friends Service Committee created a traveling exhibit – Eyes Wide Open – intended to “present a visual reminder of the human cost of the Iraq War and provide a place for public mourning….’

The exhibit contains a pair of combat boots to represent every American soldier and marine that has died in the war, as well as a pile of shoes representing Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives during the invasion and occupation. At that time, the exhibit contained 504 pairs of boots. https://www.flickr.com/photos/124651729@N04/28789922374

National Mall - Eyes Wide Open Exhibit

From my journal May 13, 2006:

It was the day before Mother’s Day.

Bookended by the Capitol and the Washington Monument, we marched in silence. The only sounds were the steady rhythm of our feet like a steady heart beat, Shush shush, shush shush, on the pebbled path. We walked – a small group of protesters – and then gathered to listen as names of the most recent casualties were read aloud.

I had seen her earlier, affixing a red, white, and blue banner to a pair of highly polished boots. Tending this tiny shrine, she was adding a personal note and a photograph. I averted my eyes because it seemed to be such a private moment, although it was occurring in the midst of a public protest.

I didn’t know what to say.

What do you say to a mother who has lost her child to war?

 Nothing. You just listen.

I kneeled next to her. We talked about her son, how she and her husband had become Gold Star parents against the war. We exchanged addresses. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-parents-of-fallen-heroes-unite-scott-pelley-2/

As a community-based artist, I attempt to create works that reflect individual feelings and ideas within a larger – often historic – context.

Not long after, I received a letter with a poem she had written – A Mother‘s Prayer. She hoped I could find a way to incorporate it into my artwork.

 

Inauguration: the formal admission of someone to office.

In classical Rome, augury sought the divine will regarding any proposed course of action which might affect Rome’s pax, fortuna and salus (peace, good fortune and well being).

INAUGURATIO was the ceremony by which the augurs endeavored to obtain the sanction of the gods.

The augur was a priest. His main role was interpreting the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds: whether they are flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are.

We cannot foresee the future. I could not have known that it would take 5 years to create a work of art that reflected the feelings of grief – in the nation, in the community, at a protest and in a mother that I witnessed on that day in 2006.

01dovejo

Sometimes it takes years for the disparate pieces of an idea to be woven into a fully realized work of art.

I dug the blood red clay at the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts and it “marinated” in 5-gallon buckets for 10 years under a worktable in my studio.

I found the steel cage in a barn 7 years ago and stuck it in my garden where morning glories intertwined with it – making it invisible.cage-at-gallery2

It was not until five years ago that the sound of mourning doves echoed my heartache about the continuing conflicts .

 

Doves, are used in a variety of settings as symbols of love, peace or as messengers. Doves appear in the symbolism of Judaism, Christianity and Paganism, and of both military and pacifist groups.

And so I started to make ocarinas shaped like doves.

Each clay dove fit into the space created by my hands in prayer._llf3459

 

_llf3520dsc_0115

 

00placing-in-pit

With the help of friends, I pit fired the 365 small birds.

The doves survived the flames.

The ashes became the nest.

The steel cage became the Dovecote.

Each dove is an ocarina that sounds like a mourning dove.

 

 

It’s Not Always Pretty

The effectiveness of augury could only be judged retrospectively. I cannot predict the future. I cannot know if a Presidential inauguration unifies a country or if protest marches change the course of history or if art contributes to lasting peace.

Still, I am preparing for another inauguration.

Still, I am preparing for another march.

Still, I am preparing for another exhibit.

Each time I install Dovecote: 365 Prayers for Peace, I pray as I place each dove in the cage.

I pray for peace in the cities;

I pray for peace in the country;

I pray for peace in the world.

I pray for ‘lasting peace.’

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Always Pretty Exhibit – http://www.theartistsgalleryfrederick.com

The Artist Gallery

216 N. Market St

Frederick MD

January 7 – January 29

Hours:  Fri, Sat 12 – 9 pm  Sun. 12 – 5

By appointment: 301 696 8187

TR Wailes delivers Dovecote.

TR Wailes delivers Dovecote.

Welding Contractors llc built the base.

365 doves to be installed.

365 doves to be installed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s March Controversy: To wear or not to wear a “Pussy Cat” hat.pussy-hats

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1913 Women’s March – hats!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-womens-march-needs-passion-and-purpose-not-pink-pussycat-hats/2017/01/11/6d7e75be-d842-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?utm_term=.2be9fc8523b5

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/03/100-years-ago-the-1913-womens-suffrage-parade/100465/

 

 

 

 

A MOTHER’S PRAYER

O God

How do I pray for my son at war?

How can I ask you to keep him safe without at the same time

asking to not keep some other mother’s son safe?

I want you to end this war.

Now.

But, while he is there, please fill him with your holy spirit

and fill his buddies as well.

Guide them, give them the knowledge you wish for them.

Fill them with love and compassion

for each other,

for those that they fight for,

and for those that they fight against.

Please don’t let them become hardened.

Be with him when he takes the life of another, for we have taught him that life is sacred

Soothe his pain, his anger, his guilt

Most of all, God, don’t let him be afraid

Make your presence known to him.

Make the love of his family known to him

the near idolatry of his sisters,

the pride of his father,

and those undefinable emotions that stirred in me when I first felt him in my womb.

Please don’t let him feel fear.

I am afraid, God,

This feeling is awful

Nearly crippling

Please don’t let him be afraid

Please don’t let him be afraid

Please don’t let him be afraid

“A Prayer to a Dying Son” was written by Lorene Davey for her son Seamus. KIA 21 October 2005.

 

Next?

Every year since 1987, Super Bowl MVP winners are asked in a commercial:

What are you going to do next?

They always respond with great exuberance:Disney

I’m going to Disney World.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_going_to_Disney_World!

At the closing of the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit – a 2-year community-based art project – everyone asked me:

What are you going to do next?

I replied:

Recover.

Recover

  • return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength
  • recuperate, get better, convalesce, regain one’s strength, get stronger, get back on one’s feet 

In October, the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit closed.

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/04/exhibition-at-maine-jewish-museum-examines-portland-immigration-then-and-now/

In November, my Mom died. **

In December, I returned to Maryland. firehousesnow

In January, ‘snowzilla’ led to a decision to paint the firehouse walls.01 snow

In February, I fell.

Scaffolding

I fell 12’ from scaffolding.

I broke my ankle.

Foot

 

In’ valid

  • Latin in (not) + validus (strong) = weak
  • Suffering from disease or disability

 

 

I live in one of the least accessible places you can imagine. There are 17 steps from my front door to my living space. There are 3 more steps to the kitchen; 7 more to the bedroom in the loft. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1272771?preview

I would be bed-ridden with my leg elevated above my heart for 6 weeks. I would spend most of my time establishing my own version of the intricate systems I had created for my Mom when she broke her hip.

I used a computer chair with wheels to transfer in and out of bed. I set up an “ accessible” kitchen. I borrowed a mini fridge into which multiple Tupperware containers appeared daily. (The empties eventually made their way back to their original owners.)Tupperware

I devised a job chart (remember I was a 1st grade teacher) listing a variety of tasks – laundry, transport, library, dishes, boredom reduction. Friends signed up for a shift. I will be forever grateful for their continuous support.

I would eventually go to Physical Therapy twice a week for several months.

I slept – a lot.

I watched Netflix – a lot.

I celebrated my birthday – not so much.

I did not make art.

Inva’lid

  • Being without foundation or force in fact, truth or force

There is a legacy of making art while bed ridden.

http://www.huckmagazine.com/art-and-culture/art-2/artists-bed/

Renior continued to paint while suffering from rheumatoid arthritis so crippling that his son applied the paint to the brush and placed it in Renoir’s hand. http://www.openculture.com/2012/07/astonishing_film_of_arthritic_impressionist_painter_pierre-auguste_renoir_1915.html

Kahlo in bedFrida Kahlo spent 9 months in bed after an accident in which her bus collided with a trolley car. She suffered a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. During her confinement, she created a series of works referencing her accident and recovery. Kahlo art

Henri Matisse turned to cut outs when a chronic illness made painting too difficult. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/carving-into-color-matisses-stunning-cut-outs/

foto_cutoutThe cut out was not a renunciation of painting and sculpture: he called it “painting with scissors.” Matisse said, “Only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated.” Moreover, experimentation with cut-outs offered Matisse innumerable opportunities to fashion a new, aesthetically pleasing environment: http://www.henri-matisse.net/cut_outs.html

When a young Henri Matisse asked Renoir why he kept painting [ in chronic pain], Renoir is said to have replied, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

Learn

My hat

If you are not making art,  are you still an artist?

I had spent the greater part of 2 years creating the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit. And now, I was spending most of the day staring at the walls, re-arranging my pillows and planning for the next action I would take – retrieving an object, transferring to the chair, brushing my teeth. I allowed myself 2 hours a day to be depressed.

I do not make art.

I learn.

I learn how long a bone takes to heal.

I learn how to depend on friends.

I learn how to be humble.

I learn how to be patient.

I learn how to be grateful.

I learn that chicken soup is not just a Jewish thing.

Recover

  • find or regain possession of (something stolen or lost).
  • retrieve, regain (possession of), get back, recoup, reclaim, repossess, redeem, recuperate, find (again), track down 

My art career started with the death of my Dad. In his last few months of life, he encouraged us to live our dreams – – and not wait. He had hoped to spend his retirement painting. He died at age 61.

My return to Maine and Peaks Island was to sculpt a granite memorial on the 20th anniversary of his death and to film a documentary of the process. https://vimeo.com/29998120

My mother visited my exhibit just before she died. She wove on the Journey Loom, wrote comments on the chalkboard, viewed the aprons and Abraham’s  tent. As a result of many falls and several broken bones, she was confined to a walker. Our visit to the Maine Jewish Museum two years before had led to the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit.

The CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of accidental deaths and 43% of those are from ladders. After my friends elicit a promise that I will never climb scaffolding again, they then ask:

What are you going to do next?

Just to recover physically will not be enough. I need to reclaim my life – my artist life. I need to learn to walk again on the stone path. I am not sure about what that will require, but I know one thing for sure:

I know, I’m not going to Disney World!

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Pablo Picasso

 

**Caroline Borofski Israelson

Community activist and long time Munjoy Hill resident.

In the 1960’s when the East End Beach was closed due to pollution, Munjoy Hill (PTA) mothers marched on City Hall demanding a swimming pool be provided for their children. Leading the march was Caroline Israelson.

Caroline Israelson passed away, November 22, 2015. She was born on March 20, 1929 the daughter of Joseph Borofski and Elizabeth (Levinsky) Borofski.

An ardent Democrat, her first foray into the world of politics and community activism was when she wrote to President Roosevelt requesting a photo with his signature. In support of the war effort, she joined others of her generation and collected scrap metal for recycling.

Caroline bequeathed a ‘Legacy of Values’ to her children. She lived by two principles:

Tikkun Olam – a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or ‘mend the world.’

and

The Golden Rule to treat others fairly and respectfully no matter race, religion, sexual orientation (or during the 1960’s, length of hair.)

A lifetime resident of Munjoy Hill, she adhered to an ‘open door’ policy at her Moody St. home. Anyone in need of food, shelter, coffee, conversation or counseling was welcomed at her table – day or night – whether the dishes were done or the floors washed or the laundry put away.

Throughout her life, she continued to serve the community. As an organizer and advocate – politically and socially – she sought to improve the lives of those less fortunate. She was one of the first members of the Portland Chapter of the NAACP and attended the annual Martin Luther King Day breakfasts.

She was also a member of the Anti- Defamation League, Hadassah, B’Nai Brith, National Council of Jewish Women, Etz Chaim and Bet Ha’am Synagogues.

Caroline volunteered at St. Paul’s Soup kitchen and served on the board of Serenity House. She worked with young children as a volunteer for Head Start and as a mentor at the Juvenile Youth Detention Center.

As a Notary Pubic, Justice of the Peace, Caroline performed many marriages in her Moody St. living room.

At the People Regional Opportunity Program (PROP) she worked to keep youth safe by improving recreation opportunities, advocated for affordable safe housing, and food access.

She never lived more than a mile from the corner of Moody and Munjoy Streets. After her move to Bayview Apartments, she remained political – participating in resident meetings, registering voters and monitoring at polling stations. Although her bid for a seat on the City Council ( ‘Go with Experience” ) was unsuccessful, her mentorship and endorsement was sought by first timers seeking elected office.

A tireless campaigner, she supported efforts to elect the first African American President. She had hoped to witness the election of a woman President and reminds everyone to vote in 2016.

Until her health declined in recent years, Caroline (wearing one of her colorful bandanas) was a familiar figure to East End residents . Her daily walk along the Eastern Promenade culminated in a cup of coffee – regular, cream, 2 sugars and donut – at the Hilltop Café. On her return loop, there were brief stops to pet a cat or two along the way. She continued her neighborhood forays even using a walker.

She became a die hard Red Sox fan while attending Red Sox games at Fenway when dating her husband, Leon. They saw Ted Williams play.

Caroline was sure if she were the manager, she could make them win the World Series and finally got her wish in 2003 with the arrival of Pedro, Manny and Pappi.

Known for her sense of humor as well as her sense of adventure – including a solo trip to Australia at the age of 60 – she took bus trips throughout New England with Anne Jordan and other friends….

She never stopped learning and growing. She was an early adopter of yoga and reflexology and practitioner of (TM) meditation. As a Member of Codependents Anonymous, Caroline believed in the healing power of counseling. She was often asked by neighbors to include prayers for a job or health during her Shabbat candle lighting ritual.

Caroline made her home wherever she lived. In declining health, she accepted her move to Southridge Assisted Living in Biddeford with both grace and grumbling. There she became a beloved member of that community – staff and residents alike.

She treated everyone with respect and valued her friends as much as family. Caroline cherished her life-long friend Margaret Carter that she met in kindergarten.

She was one of the first participants in a study of the use of Lithium for Bi-polar disorder. Founding member of the Polar Bears –that offered support to many individuals suffering from bi-polar disorder and depression.

Pre-deceased by her husband Leon of almost 40 years and her sister Sylvia Glantz, she will be missed by her family and friends especially the Margaret and Robert Carter Family.

Family: Jo Israelson, Union Bridge Maryland, Katherine Scott of Palo Alto California, Lynne Israelson Mason and husband David of Newburyport Mass, Michael Israelson and his wife Norma of Westbrook, Maine. Her grand children, Christine Henry, New York City, Emily and Elizabeth Scott of Palo Alto CA, Rachael Israelson and Michael Israelson of Westbrook and her nephews and nieces Joseph Glantz of Bridgton, Faith Glantz and Sasha Morelli of Portland.

Service to be held Tuesday November 24 at Congregation Bet Ha’am, 81 Westbrook St. South Portland, Maine 10:30 am followed by interment Temple Beth El cemetery, Portland 04103.

Temple Beth El Memorial Park

Following the interment, A Celebration of Caroline’s Life and luncheon will be held at Bet Ha’am beginning at approximately 12:30 p.m. All are welcome. Please bring a canned food item to be donated to local food banks in her name.

Tuesday evening from 6 pm – 8 pm, friends are encouraged to come with stories and stay for coffee at Becky’s Diner, Commercial St. Just say you are a “Friend of Caroline’s “.

In honor of Caroline’s unique fashion sense, the wearing of bandanas and/or Red Sox regalia is encouraged.

In lieu of flowers and cards, donations can be made to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention www.afsp.org , Portland Chapter of the NAACP or the charity of your choice.

 

– ING Part 3 (b)

2nd Law of Thermodynanics – Law of Entropy

aka Murphy’s Law

In particular, Murphy’s Law is often cited as a form of the second law of thermodynamics (the law of entropy) because both are predicting a tendency to a more disorganized state.

It is impossible to delineate all the tasks that need to be accomplished in a multi-media installation nor to predict all the problems that will need to be addressed. To-do lists and post-its are often inadequate. So for the most critical of needs, my hand becomes a bulletin board.

IMG_2305

In her one-woman show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Lily Tomlin portrays a homeless woman who was once an executive and leads her life via the post-its attached to her clothing. http://www.amazon.com/Search-Signs-Intelligent-Life-Universe/dp/B001O9CFCC

Count-ING Down

Murphy Challenge #1: Weather

Temperatures would be in the upper 80’s during the entire installation. (Maine in September!! Who knew?)

The Maine Jewish Museum is not air-conditioned.

TEN: Prepping Walls

Maine Hardware is the go-to place for most Peaks Islanders. http://mainehardware.com The employees are knowledgeable AND they provide FREE popcorn.

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Ladders, tarps, paint, coffee, blue tape, levels, sand paper, spackle, scrapers, coffee, buckets, paint trays, rubber gloves, coffee… a seemingly endless list but the multiple trips enable us to replenish, not only supplies, but popcorn. (Which is important if, in addition to the coffee and donuts, it becomes another source of nutrition during the 10-day installation.)

NINE: Painting Walls

Etz Chaim sealEtz Chaim synagogue was built in 1921.  After several incarnations and years of disuse, it was restored and became the Maine Jewish Museum. http://mainejewishmuseum.org The 1920’s construction and previous renovations meant locating studs was an ongoing struggle.

Murphy Challenge #2: Construction

The spackling, sanding and painting of the museum gallery walls took place the same week that construction began on the new bathrooms …There were moments of dueling drills and lurching ladders but we were able to share the space as well as extension cords – and of course, the donuts.IMG_2897

 IMG_2899EIGHT: Stenciling walls

Working around the daily operations of the museum, as well as respecting religious tenets, resulted in a type of shift work. The key to progress was FLEXIBILITY. (And a willingness to ‘couch surf’ after missing the last ferry.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CouchSurfing

While attempting to wrestle a Journey Loom through a door way that was a smidgeon too small…. I noticed a helmet clad bicyclist chalking arrows on the road.

IMG_2905Noticing my plight, she helped maneuver the loom into the building. A painter in her own right, Ebyn Moss volunteers – at arts centers, community organizations and non profits. She is a Board member of the Hour Exchange. http://www.hourexchangeportland.org and lives her life adhering to its tenets.IMG_2925

The settling of the foundation of the building during the past 94 years created uneven walls. There was a 1” drop over 50’ making it difficult to determine level. Ebyn was undaunted. She had worked for MacKenzie Childs. Doing what? Stenciling. http://www.mackenzie-childs.com

(Another beshart moment – Bookmark this link https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2014/05/ for more beshart moments.

IMG_2921The word begat is sometimes interpreted as ‘to bring forth.” The stenciled ‘walls’ of Abraham’s tent are intended to remind us that we are all part of the same ‘family.’ http://www.enterthebible.org/blog.aspx?post=2646

Over 3 days, Ebyn stencilled the word ‘begat’ 2000+ times.

Murphy Challenge #3: Colliding Events

Stenciling the word begat on 2 – 50’ x 10’ walls while beautifully appointed young women and their families attend a previously scheduled Bat Mitzvah proved to be challenging – but not insurmountable. And, the work on the new bathrooms continued…

SEVEN: Engaging Press

For years, artists just sent their press releases to the local newspaper. They would include the 5 – W’s and a few photos. Today, vying for the attention of the press requires more than just notifying the newspaper. There are free papers, community papers, magazines, and social media to notify and continually update. Maintaining a presence in the public eye requires time and energy – both in short supply when installing a multi media exhibit.

Sometimes it is a matter of timing. For weeks prior to the exhibit opening, the plight of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants occupied local, national and world news. Amidst the spackling, sanding, stenciling, Press Herald and Portland Magazine reporters appeared with their photographers for an interview and pictures of the exhibit. (And some of my closest photographer friends did the same.)

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Murphy Challenge # 4: No there there

We had ‘begats.’ There was no tent; there was no carpet; there were no community weavings. The exhibit was still in process – I had words and ideas but was STILL short on visible objects.

It is easier to talk on the radio where words and ideas ARE the medium. WMPG is a community radio station that broadcasts from a small house located on the campus of the University of Southern Maine (my alma mater.)IMG_2280

I arrived paint spattered, harried and sleep deprived. Chris White is the host of Tuesday Night Talk Radio Club. His interview framed Welcoming the Stranger within the context of the Portland community and the New Mainers. Articulating the thought and history behind my vision clarified for me – and hopefully the listeners – my hopes for the exhibition.

http://media.usm.maine.edu/~wmpg/archivefiles/Toosday/TNTRC_150901.mp3

SIX: Creating QRs

For each aspect of the exhibit, there is a sound collage. I combined real life interviews with scripted histories, sound effects, ambient noise, and music to create a kind of sound track — but without pictures.

The sounds of children practicing Hebrew formed the basis of the sound collage for Abraham’s Tent. Laura Boenisch is the principal and director of B’nai Portland, an Independent Hebrew School. With a degree in music education, Laura taught herself to chant Torah tropes so that she could help prepare her son for Bar Mitzvah. https://www.facebook.com/bnai.portland/info?tab=page_info.

We met in the Sanctuary. When I attended synagogue as a young girl, I was excluded from the first floor and relegated to the balcony. Standing at the bimah, Laura chanted the story of Abraham and Sarah from Genesis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bema.

 

FIVE:             Supporting History

I almost missed the meeting…I flew out of the Museum covered in paint. In a packed hearing room in Portland’s City Hall, I raised my hand to testify in support of the designation of India Street as a historic district:

(In my neighborhood…) there were those fortunate enough to have grandparents or great aunts and uncles to tell stories of how their families ended up in Portland, Maine.

There might have been photos of family members posed in of local stores and houses and churches and synagogues. There may have been photos taken on holidays, family events – graduations, weddings, funerals. You could take a walk. around the India St. neighborhood – past the old synagogues, St Peter’s, Micucci’s, Amato’s, Abysinnian Church http://www.abyme.org, and North School – and experience history as seen through their eyes and the architecture that was still in existence.

Map 1914

And for those not so fortunate, the buildings, businesses, streets must remain. It is easier to imagine when waves of immigrants settled in what is comparable to the lower East Side of NYC when you can walk by historic structures that greeted those new arrivals. …when you can walk from the docks, along India Street, and experience the immigrant history of Portland.

In that moment, I was focused on immigrants of the past and how their story mirrored the underpinnings of my exhibit. http://portlandlandmarks.org/blog/event/a-neighborhood-in-transition-immigration-and-the-india-street-neighborhood/

FOUR: Retrieving the ‘Carpet’

A 50’ x 8’ ‘Persian carpet’ made of roofing rubber and stenciled with images of seaweed and compass roses requires a 50’ floor on which to design, paint and polyurethane. This 200+ lb. piece of art needs a space in which to reside until delivered to the museum. The Colby College Art Department  https://www.colby.edu provided a space in which to work until the carpet was completed. (The room measured only 40’ long so requiring continuous rolling, folding, unrolling.)

IMG_2767The maintenance staff monitored my progress and occasionally conducted a critique. They were mostly favorable. (Although they did wonder why the room smelled like the ocean. It was the bucket of seaweed I was using to make stencils.  I commuted back and forth to Waterville applying the final coat of polyurethane the night before the pick up.IMG_2957

Murphy Challenge #5: Elevator

The rolled carpet was too long to fit in the elevator. 200+ lbs. is very heavy. Two of us could not heft it. We tried. Several times. I set out to find some students. There were none to be found. I returned to find the maintenance women carrying the rolled carpet down 2 flights of stairs to the delivery truck. (I hope you are both reading this. Thank you, again.)

THREE: Installing the Tent

A year ago, the tent installation team designed a hanging system based on an idea in my head. The actual production and installation proved to be more challenging.IMG_2783

Murphy Challenge #6: No Tentmaker

Although I had received donated yarns, collaborated with volunteer spinners, and engaged citizen weavers, there were only 275 square feet of woven tent panels. The weaving was spearheaded by Jane Herbert https://www.facebook.com/Westbrook-Fiberarts-411482502345348/     However, I needed 500 square feet. (Not to mention, that I had no idea how to make an actual tent.)

IMG_2659At the final Journey Loom weaving event,  I met Melodi Hackett. A weaver in her own right, she wove and warped looms throughout the 2 day event. and then she asked:

What kind of help do you still need?

I need a tent maker.

With a straight face, Melodi responded: I make tents. She had worked as an exhibit tent designer. (Yes – another beshart moment. I told you to bookmark that page.)

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A week before the installation, the tent makers began production. Measure, cut, serge, sew. Measure, cut, serge, sew.

Melodie at machine
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When I started kayak lessons 4 years ago, I did not ask my instructor if his mother was a weaver and if he knew the difference between warp and weft. As it turned out, the answer to both questions was ‘Yes.” (I know, I know – beshart.)

IMG_2840I envisioned the ‘tent’ as an ocean – ‘mirroring the movement of waves.’ And Gregg Bolton https://gbolton.smugmug.com was able to translate my idiosyncratic aesthetic into a physical reality. After 12+ hours of balancing on ladders and planks, occasional invectives (mine not his) and of course, donuts, the tent was installed.IMG_2931

IMG_2944 IMG_2935 IMG_2947 

 

 

 

 

TWO: Installing the Journey Loom Weavings

Respite from the heat came as a result of hanging the community weavings in the air conditioned Community Room. IMG_2909

No Murphy Here. –

Well, OK. Murphy took up residence in this room for 8 weeks. Every time a community group needed to use the room for a meeting, Murphy re-arranged the furniture.IMG_3236 IMG_3235

 

 

 

 

ONE:             Hanging Aprons

Seven women, seven aprons, seven tallit bags,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallit seven genealogies and a series of invented postcards that highlight their efforts on behalf of the immigrants of the 1920’s comprised Sarah’s GenerosityIMG_9697

Carefully arranged and meticulously measured, the aprons were installed outside the Sanctuary.IMG_9710

 

 

ZERO:

  • Set up reception
  • Set out guestbook
  • Create Artist Binder
  • Fold 250 brochures
  • Find somewhere to shower
  • Comb hair
  • Set up sound system
  • Check toilet paper in bathrooms
  • Prepare Artist Talk
  • Hope people come (They did. More than 150 at the opening. 100 at First Friday. And more.)

Murphy Challenge #7Seriously Hot

Neither Velcro nor double-sided tape adheres to plaster walls when the temperature exceeds 85.

  • Re – hang Aprons !!! Use nails.

Where’s the Cab?IMG_2769

 My ad hoc interviews with a taxi driver from Burundi and an Iraqi prisoner-of-war were intertwined with the story of Bela Gross read by a recent Russian asylum seeker and recorded for play back on the sound system of a Crown Vic cab donated by ASAP Cab. http://www.asaptaxi.net IMG_2988

Exhibit attenders would sit in the cab and listen to their stories. Upon ‘arrival,”they received a receipt with links to the current immigration, asylum, refugee laws and stats.

 

Exhibit – ING

 September 3 – October 25, 2015.

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/04/exhibition-at-maine-jewish-museum-examines-portland-immigration-then-and-now/

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ER

Abraham’s Tent, Sarah’s Generosity, Habeas Corpus QRs are posted on:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz7MUQKodiZXQUb7tcog17A

 

Connect – ING

Community Events were held during the month of October. IMG_3104

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Weaving Workshop – Cheryl Holbert

 

 

Color of CommunityIMG_3142

Reading and Book Signing – I’m New Here http://www.annesibleyobrien.comIMG_3160

IMG_3180World Music – Casco Bay Tummlers http://www.cascobaytummlers.com and Burundi Batimbo Beats

 

 

 

‘When Jews were New Mainers’ symposium with Colby CollegeIMG_3211IMG_3202

 

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Clos-ING

14 days to install; 7 to remove. I realize the world only took 6 days and there was a day of rest at the end – but the resting will have to wait.

For now, there will be tear-filled goodbyes, sanding, spackling and painting, crating and storing of the exhibit, more tear-filled goodbyes and then a 14 hour drive back to Maryland.

There is no way to know if this exhibit will have any lasting impact within the community. But as I prepare to leave, the following editorial appeared written by Arthur Fink: A Real Community Has No Strangers

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/20/maine-voices-a-real-community-has-no-stranger/

….Do see this exhibit, ask how we welcome strangers (or don’t) and let yourself be transformed…

 ..I left the exhibit asking myself, “Who are our ‘strangers’ today? And how can we welcome them with grace, acceptance, dignity and genuine openness?”

…We can open our hearts, connect with those who may appear to be “different” and forge a more inclusive, caring and compassionate community. I hope and pray that we will!

 

PS from Murphy:IMG_3237

The bathrooms are finally done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-ING Part 3 (a)

1st Law of Motion – Law of Inertia

Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

There’s no stopping us now… Supremes

Weav – ING

I thought continuously changing designs and altering plans were endemic only to site-specific installation artists.

However, writers change their story lines, musicians re-write their compositions, dancers revise their choreography; the second mark on a canvas may change the trajectory of the work and a crack in the stone releases a new image.

Eighteen months ago, I proposed the Welcoming the Stranger exhibition. Based on the mandate in the Quran, the Bible, and the Torah to ‘welcome the stranger’ – the exhibit would compare the treatment of immigrants of the 1920’s in Portland, Maine with that of “New Mainers” today.  There would be 3 components of the show: Abraham’s Tent, Sarah’s Generosity, Habeas Corpus.

The community would participate in a dialogue about immigration – past and present. The form of that community involvement was still to be determined*.

Twelve months passed in which I conducted research into the lives of the National Council of Women who assisted immigrants arriving in the 1920’s at the House Island Quarantine and Immigration station.

I initiated the campaign to prevent the development of House Island. The City of Portland designated House Island, the “Ellis Island of the North,” as an historic district. The remaining structures from the quarantine and immigration station would be retained. http://www.pressherald.com/2015/01/05/portland-council-grants-protection-for-historic-house-island/

Six months ago, I arrived in the city of my birth – a stranger – and was welcomed and supported and encouraged by the city of today. Creating community involvement – with organizations, religious institutions, schools, artists, individuals, and businesses – became the focus of my work for 3 months.

IMG_2573Anyone and everyone can weave – over and under, under and over.

(Think paper placemats in school or potholders at camp.)IMG_2523

I loaded and unloaded the Journey Loom onto my truck, attached a banner to the tailgate, and set up weavings throughout the city.
Using donated fabric, “citizen weavers” at First Friday Art Walks, World Refugee Day, Portland High School, The Children’s Museum, Levey Day School, Anderson Street Mosque, Tandem Coffee, Running With Scissors, Peaks Island, Root Cellar, Kennedy Park, Trinity Episcopal church and others created weavings.
2 girls

IMG_2872At each event, participants recorded ideas of how to ‘welcome a stranger.’ Their responses were posted on the welcoming the stranger art Facebook page and served as a way to continue the dialogue.

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The Journey Loom weavings – created a powerful visual symbol that captured the underlying theme of weaving together a community – a city – a country – a world. They became the 4th component of the exhibit.IMG_2659
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Journey – ING

Simultaneously, the panels for Abraham’s Tent were being woven on traditional looms using donated and hand spun yarn from around the country. Donations arrived from Ravelry.com readers.IMG_2225 The PortFiber Thursday spinning group spun, warped, wove.  http://portfiber.com IMG_2292

Between weaving events, planning with community groups, materials collection, and ‘commuting’ via the ferry from Peaks Island, I created the remaining components of the installation:

At Running with Scissors: artist studios and community http://www.rwsartstudios.com

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My studio space was headquarters for the project, storage for the looms and materials, apron design and genealogy research lab. I used RWS woodworking tools and the biggest light table I had ever seen for creating stencils. Kate Anker, founder, was the go to person for everything art. The resident artists provided their expertise, words of encouragement – and of course, coffee.

At Gathering of Stitches: A Making Space for Fiber and Textile People

http://agatheringofstitches.com

Samantha Hoyt Lindgren created a maker space for fiber and textile artists. You can rent a full time studio, attend classes and workshops, or arrange for time on the various machines.IMG_2801

Samantha is the most flexible person I know. I popped in weekly to revise the calendar. She would calmly erase the blocked out dates and write in the next. Eventually, we didn’t even bother writing in a date. She assured me there would be a space and place when needed.

At MECA: Maine College of Art http://www.meca.edu/

Elizabeth Jabar and I appeared on a panel at the Migrations Conference sponsored by Colby College in April. http://web.colby.edu/mainemigrations/ She is the Associate Professor of Printmaking and Foundation at MECA.IMG_2778

Her work is socially conscious and frequently community based. http://www.Futuremothers.org. Over coffee, I admitted I was terrified to print for the following reason:

I had never done ANY print making. (OK. Potato printing with my first graders.) http://www.marthastewart.com/1004012/potato-printing-craft

Elizabeth offered her studio and her expertise. On the hottest, most humid day of the summer, we mixed ink colors, printed test strips and practiced a paper lithography transfer process using gum Arabic, reversed photocopies of the 1924 map of Portland and lots of patience.IMG_2776

I now know I couldn’t be a printmaker; too many variables to analyze when it doesn’t come out the way you hoped.

 

 

At the “The Nest:” Peaks IslandIMG_0402

I have a small studio space in a boathouse called ” The Nest.”  At night, I researched Hebrew and Muslim prayers, adhesives, immigration law, transport companies, photographers, inks. I wrote scripts for audio collages, listened to hours of sound effects, conducted interviews, and produced recordings.

I photocopied and photocopied; signage; labels; brochures, letters, images.

And, I continued to meet with anyone and everyone who wanted to ‘welcome the stranger.’

Install-ING

Within the whirling dervish of my life, the underlying theme behind Welcoming the Stranger remained constant: To tell the story of the House Island Quarantine and Immigration station, the role of the National Council of Jewish Women, create an Abraham’s tent and compare the present day treatment of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees to their welcome in the 1920’s.

The Welcoming the Stranger exhibit requires a 10-day installation. (A day defined as 14+ hours.) Lack of funding means relying on the generous spirit and labor of friends and volunteers. Everyone would be paid in donuts, lots and lots of coffee and heart felt appreciation.IMG_2930

And, naturally, ‘Murphy’ would make an appearance in ways I could never have predicted.

 

http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-true.html

 

*Welcoming the Stranger (WTS): building understanding through community based art is a forum for community and arts related organizations to explore the theme of immigration, belonging and “building bridges” of appreciation and understanding with people of all backgrounds. 

 Goals include:

 To promote a sense of commonality among diverse communities;

 To provide forums to discuss how the historic issues surrounding immigration are reflected in a contemporary context;

 To honor the contributions that diverse groups of immigrants provide to the American experience.

 

 

 

 

 

-ING Part 2

Newton’s Second Law: Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object).

Travel – INGIMG_1967

This is the itinerary from March through October. This is not an exhaustive list and does not include all the #weavethetent events. I would say, however, it is an “exhaust-ING list.”

From the Firehouse Studio in Maryland to Colby College in Waterville, Maine (intermittent stop to eat some hot out of the oven bread prepared by Cheryl Hobart – a weaver and owner of Nomad Breads) http://www.nhmagazine.com/January-2015/The-International-Breads-of-Nomad-Bakery/ )

IMG_1897From Waterville to Portland, Maine (intermittent stop – Biddeford to see Mom – coffee at Elements)

From Portland to Peaks Island and back for 5 months on the ferry (DAILY stop for coffee at the Peaks Cafe) IMG_2401

From Peaks Island back to Waterville (intermittent stop – Maine Sheep and Wool Festival  http://www.fiberfrolic.com/  ( Coffee at Dunkin Donuts http://www.dunkindonuts.com/)

From Peaks Island to Union Bridge, Maryland (intermittent stop – Northfield Conference http://northfieldconference.org)  Not sure where I will find coffee…

From Union Bridge to Kennebunkport for a Kayak Self Rescue refresher class at Coastal Maine Kayak  http://www.coastalmainekayak.com  (Usually drink tea there due to being near frozen after the class.)

Kennebunkport to Peaks Island in time for July 4th!!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQUq9p7pgkc

Keeping a community-based art project that involves many people and many events moving forward requires lots of energy and of course, lots of coffee.

Consum – ING

Global consumption of caffeine has been estimated at 120,000 tons per year, making it the world’s most popular psychoactive substance. (This amounts to one serving of a caffeinated beverage for every person every day. YIKES)

‘The first coffeehouses established in Oxford, England were known as penny universities. The coffeehouses would charge a penny admission, which would include access to newspapers and conversation. In a society that placed such a high importance on class and economic status, the coffeehouses were unique because the patrons were people from all levels of society. ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffeehouse

Following the Boston Tea Party, Congress passed a resolution against tea consumption and coffee became part of the economic development of the country. Some historians believe that the introduction of coffee contributed to the overall advancement of Western society – since caffeine is a stimulant vs the consumption of alcohol – a depressant. https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/p/pendergrast-grounds.html

It seems that most of my discussions and meetings about Welcoming the Stranger (not to mention caffeine consumption) have taken place in coffee shops. It seems appropriate since the journey that coffee beans take to the U.S. often mirrors the countries represented by many of the new immigrants arriving in Maine including El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras, Guatamala, Colombia, Brazil , Ethiopia , Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda Sumatra, Sulawesi, Papua New Guinea, Timor, Java.

Like the early ‘penny universities’, my coffee shop conversations were educational – political – and critical to creating my artwork. (Tho’ no longer costing a penny for a cup.) Over a cup of coffee, I discussed with Alain Nahimana the issues confronting the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition. http://www.aclumaine.org/meet-alain-nahimana.

Our conversation was the first of many in which I became more educated about the ongoing needs of New Mainers and the politics of changing minds and hearts of Old Mainers. http://www.ilapmaine.org/advocacy.html.

I learned about how the arrival of Somali refugees (some from villages in which she had worked in 1987-8) transformed the cities of Lewiston and Auburn when I met with Catherine Besteman, Colby College Professor of Anthropology.

In a meeting held at Arabica, http://www.arabicacoffeeportland.com/ Jen Hutchins and Jess Lauren Lipton, Creative Portland invited me to hold the first Weave the Tent event as part of their series: “Integrating New Mainers into the Art Community.” https://www.facebook.com/LiveWorkPortland

IMG_1912The event took place on First Friday at the Portland Public Library where I learned of ethnic-based places of worship in Portland from a Serbian security guard who learned to weave from his grandmother.

Art in a Cup

My mom is a coffee connoisseur (or maybe she just likes the ambience – conversation and news.)

Before moving to her assisted living facility, she walked from her apartment to Hilltop where she poured a ½ cup of ‘regular’ coffee and mixed in half and half and a package of sugar. She chatted with the baristas; knew their names and listened to surrounding conversations. http://www.hilltopcoffeeshop.com/

After moving her to a Biddeford assisted living facility, I discovered Elements. It is my place of respite and a go-to place of entertainment for Mom: books, music, coffee (and beer…. ) http://www.elementsbookscoffeebeer.com/

IMG_1920 Like coffee houses of old, Elements seems to be a place to learn about local happenings. Like my mom, I talk with the baristas, learn their names and listen to surrounding conversations.

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That was how I met Tammy Ackerman of Engine  http://www.feedtheengine.org, heard about Heart of Biddeford http://www.heartofbiddeford.org, and learned about the first mosque in Maine.

 

Art in Mills

To artists, empty brick buildings signify affordable studio space; to economic development officials, artists mean the introduction of the “creative economy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_sqYD3vskc

The textile history of Maine is reflected in the abandoned mills of Biddeford. Located along the Saco River, the York and Pepperell Mills took advantage of the hydro power. By the late 1800’s, the boom in textile manufacturing required an influx of much needed workers. By 1880 almost 50% of Biddeford’s residents were foreign-born. When the mills needed fabric dye experts, they brought in Muslim Albanians. It is now believed that a room in the Pepperell Mill housed the first Mosque in America. The workers died during the 1918 flu epidemic. Their graves face east and are marked with the crescent. http://www.muslimsinamerica.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=28

Walk – ING

Since returning to Portland, I walk more. Most of my forays are along the same streets that immigrants have walked since the first ships landed at the Portland docks: Map 1914 I walk from the cottage on Peaks to the ferry; from the Casco Bay Lines terminal to my studio space. On the way, I walk along India St. past the synagogue that my great grandfather built and where I will install Welcoming the Stranger.

I continue onto Smith St. past Union Bagels (organic) and down Anderson St. towards the heart of Bayside. During the 1960’s, there was an urban renewal effort to eradicate the “slums” of Portland thereby creating a need for low-income housing. (This need is once again exacerbated – due to the gentrification currently taking place.)

My mother worked on housing issues as well as civil rights issues. Many mornings we would wake up to find neighborhood activists strategizing at our kitchen table – drinking coffee. One hard hit area was Bayside. Bayside

 

 

“Most of Bayside today was in a section of Back Cove filled with debris from the Great Fire of 1866 — which burned most of the Old Port. “Over the decades, Bayside established two identities. It was an industrial center of Maine — connected to immigrant labor and a relatively large and active rail line and seaport. It was also a burgeoning melting pot of new Americans — a diversity that is still reflected there today.

Bayside, which has also become known as West Bayside, was the industrial zone, with foundries, lumber companies, soldering shops and junkyards. East Bayside was a lower middle class neighborhood where immigrants settled. It spans from Franklin Street to Washington Avenue. The Irish were among the first to settle there, followed by Scandinavians in the 1880s, Eastern Europeans in the 1890s and more recently African and Middle East refugees.” http://www.pressherald.com/2015/03/03/portland-approves-long-planned-midtown-project-in-bayside/July Blog?

 I walk pass multi-family dwellings, children waiting for school buses, men repairing cars, young girls in hajibs. The past feels very present to me and the present feels a great deal like the past.

This once nearly abandoned area is now considered to be thriving with co-operatives, collaborative, and creatives. Euphemistically referred to as Brewside or Yeastside, Bayside is now headquarters for Welcoming the Stranger. http://www.pressherald.com/2013/12/09/bayside_poised_for_a_project

PortFiber 

Since Casey Ryder took over PortFiber, “the focus of the shop remains the same–to support and inspire the fiberarts community with quality supplies and amazing classes taught by local instructors.  Fiberarts is in our collective blood.  It’s a connection to our past, to our ancestors, to the earth and it’s fiber producing creatures.  It is the aim of PortFiber to embrace those connections and make new ones with those who share the love of wool!  “ http://www.downeast.com/fiber/IMG_2292

Casey took less than a minute to agree to be the collection site for Welcoming the Stranger yarn donations. Her weekly spinning group is weaving a panel for the exhibit using the yarn they spin at PortFiber. http://portfiber.com/calendar/2015/2/26/portspinners

Running with Scissors http://www.rwsartstudios.com IMG_2330 …is a diverse artist studio collective thriving in the industrial and eclectic East Bayside neighborhood of Portland, ME.  A dedicated work space, it serves over 50 artists working in various mediums sharing equipment, space, community, ideas, support and tools. … It is also the home of The Bayside Clay Center, a branch of RWS dedicated to clay with 11 resident members and 12 associate members.

After my first Creative Portland #weavethetent event, Kate Aker invited me to establish a studio at RWS . Everyone there has been supportive and best of all – my Journey Looms can fit through the doorways.IMG_2336

Gathering of Stitches http://www.agatheringofstitches.org

“A Gathering of Stitches is a maker space for fiber and textile artists. Its a place for those of you who like to work with your hands, with fabric and yarn, to use shared equipment and resources, learn new skills, or hone old ones, and join in a community of folks who love fiber.”

After speaking at a 2 Degrees http://www.liveworkportland.org/connect-visit/2-degrees-portland event held at A Gathering of Stitches, I met with Samantha Hoyt Lindgren and reserved a sewing machine and a table in July and August to create the installation work.IMG_2458

Bayside is also a ‘caffeine corridor.’

Coffee By Design http://www.coffeebydesign.com Coffee By Design Headquarters is located in Bayside just off the bike trail. They purchase from more than 30 growers around the world. They give back to the local community through their Rebel Blend Fund. Tadim makes great “art in a cup.”

IMG_2515 Tandem Coffee http://www.tandemcoffee.com Tandem is not only is located between Port Fiber and Running with Scissors but shares a parking lot with a local mosque. Owner Will Platt has okayed a #weavethetent event there.

 

Creat-ING

John Adams wrote: “I am a revolutionary so my son can be a farmer so his son can be a poet.

Sometimes it takes years for the disparate pieces of an idea to weave themselves into a full-fledged cohesive work of art.

Some artists are disciplined and labor daily to practice their craft – improve their skills, develop a style, master a material.

Others are driven by deadlines, available materials or a competition. Environments influence their output – large studios, large work; etc. Alma Thomas created works all the same size due to the size of her kitchen table… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma_Thomas

Some of us wait for the Flash – the aha moment.

Welcoming the Stranger appeared whole cloth – a conversation in a taxi cab, a tour of a former synagogue and kayaking around an island formed the nucleus of an exhibition and a community-based art work. But I have lots of work to do….

I have materials.

I have a space.

I have community.

I have a deadline.

And I have gratitude for all those helping me along the way.

I will continue on the stone path….as long as there is enough coffee.

 

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