Sunday, October 25, 2009

Send Obama your support of the Public Option image! is currently asking people to print out a sign they provide, and show it in a photo we take of ourselves with us in our Obama tee shirts, etc. And then upload it to them, for MoveOn to show to President Obama, in support of the Public Option. (There are now five million of us MoveOn members!)

The sign comes as a PDF file that says: "President Obama, I'm counting on you to fight for the Public Option. NO TRIGGERS!" Go here to print out your sign, make your photo, and send it to MoveOn now!

This is in response to the strong rumor tonight that Obama is backing away from the public option, in favor of the trigger for the health care reform bill, so that Sen. Olympia Snowe will support the bill. Polls show that most Americans support a public option, though many of us really wanted a single payer health care bill. The public option is not as strong a service to the people as what most developed countries in the world have, but it's way better than what we have now. The trigger means the insurance companies would have several years to improve their business behavior, and if they didn't, the government could try to fix things again. The trigger is a stalling device, at best. Probably it's really how they plan to do nothing to change their ways.

Anyhow, it's time to act! Here's the picture Jimmy just took for me just now, and which I just sent to MoveOn. It reallly didn't take very long to do. I'm standing in front of my "First Lady" piece, a 93" x 83" quilted painting about Michelle Obama and the First Family. You can read all about it on my website.

Power to the People! Come on, President Obama! We need YOU to push the Public Option through Congress and make health care really serve all Americans. That's what government is for: serving the People, not aiding and abetting the incredibly rich health insurance companies that have abused us for so long! Remember that you told us you want us all to follow the sayings "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper." Fighting to bring us REAL health care in the US is one of the ways to do that, in a big way. Please keep the faith!!!! We're counting on you! Make health care in America the best in the world for all of us, instead of America rating 37th in the world, like it does now.

Thanks, everybody! Send your own Public Option images to MoveOn NOW! Peace, Susan

PS. My next blog was going to be about Turtle Art Camp Oct 14 - 20 and Eva's birthday party, which was today. I'll be working on that later this week. This Obama thing with the Public Option just needed attention right now. It was my patriotic duty, seriously. Yes, We Can!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Livin' it up at Arrowmont

This blog entry is long, but what else is new. It's about my class at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Oct 4 - 9, 2009, Jimmy's fishing in the park while I was teaching, and the other adventures we had on the trip down and back

On our way down to Gatlinburg, Jimmy and I spent the night in Lexington, Kentucky, where we hole up at a nice little Microtel, each time I teach at Arrowmont. This time we got to spend the evening with our friend Stephanie Pevec, who had moved to Lexington a couple of years ago. She had been the assistant director of our arts center in Wooster, and is now moving and shaking the arts scene in her new town. We sadly missed seeing Kim and Josh, but got to enjoy their lovely new home in Kentucky. Thanks for the wonderful dinner and your kind hospitality, SteVerne!

On Sunday, October 4, we made the second, last leg of our trip down to Arrowmont. When you're in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, it's very hard to find Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts the first time or two, because there are tons and tons of shops along Parkway, the main drag. But Arrowmont's only street presence is the little sign shown here, to the left of the last car on the left. You miss that turn, buddy, and you head right into the thck of the tourist crud! Er, I mean the main attractions of this fair city.

Anyhow, Arrowmont is a real enclave of peace and quiet, and once you find it, you'd never guess it's in Tennessee's biggest tourist destination. Well, maybe Pigeon Forge has more tourists now, thanks to Dollywood and more parking. But Gatlinburg is still the prettiest of the two towns by far. It's at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which is a pristine wonderland of mountains, forests, and raging rivers. And those rivers find their way down into Gatlinburg, still making great water noises all the way through the town. So you can kinda forgive the city for its overkill of shopping attractions, because mingled in with them is the Little Pigeon River and its smaller pals.

Here's the welcoming front door of the main building at Arrowmont. Right inside is the office and Artist Outfitters, the Arrowmont supply and book store. This wonderful, rambling building also includes the library (Resource Center), several of the studio classrooms (including the fiber studio), the fifties-funky student lounge, and the large gallery. All the floors are cement, and the spaces are architecturally modern and thoughtful with high cathedral ceilings, and the whole thing is accessible with long ramps.

Here's the Staff House, where there are about 10 faculty bedrooms, two staff apartments, a great group living room, a super screen porch, lots of bathrooms, and the campus dining room and kitchen. Made in a craftsman style, I think, this place feels like a cozy old home to us, and we're always happy to be there. Lots of interesting artwork that's been donated to the school is displayed throughout the house.

Jimmy's standing in the parking lot of the staff house, with the big main building behind him. They put a really cool metal roof on it a few years back, which glows silvery in the sunlight. I know that kind of upkeep takes a lot of money, and I'm all for all of us who care about Arrowmont doing our part to keep it going. Add to this the issue that the Pi Beta Phi fraternity almost sold Arrowmont last year, so now we have HUGE reasons to do what we can, to make sure that Arrowmont stays strong and kept up, no matter if it can stay where it is, or if it has to eventually move to a new space. In my book, it's the best craft school in the country, and we need it to be there! Arrowmont has a page to read, if you want to keep up with the status of the school's property sale issues.

I'm sorry I didn't think to take pictures of the wonderful staff at Arrowmont: David Willard, the director; Bill Griffith, the assistant director; Chuck McMahon, the studios coordinator; Steve Reilly, the services coordinator; Karen Green, the gallery coordinator; Robyn Rainwater, the graphic designer and web mistress; Ethel, the librarian; Nancy James and the office staff; Angela and the supply store staff; Virginia in development; Patsy and the kitchen staff, the housekeeping staff, and many more. Thanks to all of them, as they run Arrowmont like a tight ship, and we can always count on them to make our time there comfortable, efficient, interesting, and exciting. There is a fellowship at Arrowmont that sticks with you all the time, when you're there and when you're back home.

I also wish I'd taken pictures of the resident artists at Arrowmont this year. There are four emerging artists, who live full time on the campus and work together in the Residents Studios building. This year we have Victoria Altepeter in Metals; Thaddeus Erhahl in Ceramics; Martina Lantin in Ceramics, and Kent Perdue in Wood. All of them have completed graduate programs in their fields, and their presence on campus is highly inspiring and enriching for all of us who pass through Arrowmont, in our various disciplines. I think that having their serious art endeavors going on at the school lifts up the spirit of art for everyone there. Follow their activities on their new blog and visit their profiles and see their awesome artwork.

We had a small group for my class at Arrowmont, but we were a powerful lot! From left, we are Janice Kagermeier, Viveka von Rosen, me, Peggy Solomon, Heather Radley, and Janice Paine Dawes. We're standing in front of my partly written-on painting for my commission for Jack Walsh, which I'll soon be back to work on, full time.

This was my usual class for this time in my life: drawing with marker on fabric, hand painting the piece with brush and fabric paint, writing on it with airpen and fabric paint, and quilting it in my funky grid machine quilted method, with a self-border from the backing. This class doesn't include airbrush, which is what I draw and paint my large pieces with, and which I only teach about at my home studio classes.

Soon I'll be teaching drawing for beginners, as another offering besides my diary paintings for quilts class. Stay tuned, call, or email me about having me teach either drawing or painting or both for your group.

The first class field trip we took on Monday, Oct 5, was to No Way José's Cantina, across the street and across the river from Arrowmont. I had promised to buy someone a margarita there, if they'd sign up for my class and save it from being cancelled. (We needed five students to keep the class going.) The student whose signup took us over the top was Janice Paine Dawes. Yea! So I decided to buy margaritas for my whole class, as I was so thrilled that my class was a go! And that was the first day that Viola Spells came into our class and went along with us to the little bar, where we drank and voted in our theme for the next day's work.

No Way José sits right at the edge of the Little Pigeon River, with its other side slammed up against the sidewalk. The river is noisy and beautiful, as it dashes down from the mountains in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, into Gatlinburg, and sitting there at this kooky cantina, you feel a bit like you could be in Venice. I've never been in Venice, so it's easy to pretend. The margaritas are kinda weak and sweet, but it's worth it, to be there by the river, watching ducks and tourists go by. Life is good in Gatlinburg!

Jimmy's best friend, Doug Hall, who's a well known bamboo rod maker and teacher, came up from Atlanta to spend a few days bamboo fly fishing with Jimmy in the park. They couldn't have done anything else to make themselves happier, and they'd breeze into my classroom, telling us tales of the bears they'd seen, the fish they'd seen, the rivers and fall leaves they'd been immersed in. And the new and old friends they'd met on the river or in the fly shops. Here they're standing with one of the beautiful photo pieces by Robert Batey in the Arrowmont Gallery show of Photography of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, celebrating the park's 75th anniversary. This artist made elaborate frames of natural materials from the park, as a beautiful frame around each of his photographs, and we were all amazed by the unique and beautiful results.

Here Jimmy and I posed with the biggest bear ever seen in these parts. :) The picture is one of the photographs in the Arrowmont show.

Every morning of my classes, I start the day with "library time, " in which we sit quietly and draw and write in our sketchbooks for just 10 minutes, in order to get centered into our own bodies and minds. On Wednesday, October 7, what popped into my mind was to draw the Little Pigeon River, which my student and new friend Janice Kagermeier and I walked past for almost an hour each morning, while we were there. Starting with Monday, when it was raining pretty hard, we left Arrowmont in the dark at 6:45 each day, and walked past the aquarium, up the hill on River Road, enjoying conversation and the rush of the water, and then turned around and came back. Sometimes other students and friends would walk with us, but in the end, it was just the two of us again. We both now really miss having each other's company for our hour of early morning exercise, and hope we can do it again sometime. :)

Here's Janice Paine Dawes, having her first experience in using my airpen. The sad part about having only five students is that the school doesen't make enough money. But the cool part is that I could spend a lot more time with each student, so that the airpen one-on-one lessons were longer, like they are when you take one of my Turtle Art Camps at our home. We also could really sprawl in the fiber studio, being a small class, and our show and tell sessions allowed more time for each of us to talk each day. (But let's hope the economy turns around soon, and that Arrowmont classes all get up to the big 15 student roster we used to have!)

Note that we had two Janices in this class. They both ended up being referred to as Other Janice, or O Janice. Some kinda sick sense of humor produced that logic, I suppose.

Viveka, who was the ONLY Viveka in our class, smiles away, as she does her first loading of the paint cartridge for the airpen. It takes about 15 minutes to clean out the newly emptied cartridge and then scrub that paint down through the paint strainer, into the cartridge, but the process breaks up the thicker paint particles, and keeps them flowing through the tiny 23 gauge needle. And did I mention: you have to keep the thing clean, clean, clean. These are the main secrets of keeping your airpen working well with fabric paint. You must submit to its demands, so that it'll give you luscious, rich lines of archival pigment paint. The things we do for looks!

Heather's working hard to paint in her piece for our Saints theme, which she's given a lot of detail to, in her initial drawing. This woman owns 25 pair of Converse high top sneakers, and that's what the saint is for.

Peggy takes a little break, while working on her piece for the Aprons theme. She put the aprons she could remember loving in her life, on a clothesline. I love this idea!

Viveka gets a bang out of working on her saints piece, telling the story of when she got separated from her mother in a shopping mall, when she was a little girl. When her mom found her, the precocious child grumbled about being "losted."

One of the highlights of my week was a surprise visit from Edith Mitchell and Walter, friends of ours through the Art Quilt Network, who now live in Crosby, TN, not far from Gatlinburg. Edith used to work at Arrowmont, but is footloose and fancy free now. Still making her quilts, too. We reminisced about old friends from AQN and I showed them some of my art. They're avid Obama Democrats, so we talked politics, too. Jimmy was very sad to have missed their visit, but then, he was off fishing, having his own good time.

Haunted Fudge! I TOLD you there was a fudge place called Haunted Fudge! I first saw it in 1995, when Jimmy and I first taught at Arrowmont. Now keep in mind that Parkway, the main drag in Gatlinburg, is literally plastered with tourist shops. It's like a carnival or a county fair gone crazy. Fudge shops seem to be a big hit here with the tourists. And this one has ghostly moaning sounds and spooky figures all around it.

But the truth is that Haunted Fudge is really called The Fudge Shoppe. (Free samples!) BUT there's an odd little place next to this shop, called Hauntings. And it's open year round, which I only know, because it was here every year, when we'd teach in the Spring. It seems logical now, with Halloween coming, and with all the shops sporting big corn shocks and pumpkins, out by the sidewalk. But no, Hauntings is here year round, for all your spooked out, scare-me-now needs. It's beside The Fudge Shoppe and also apparently above it, as the second floor, above the fudge place has ghosties and gargoyles decorating the windows. Oooouuuuuuus and Ahhhhhhhhhhs are the constant sound effects as you order your fudge and smell its sweet chocolaty glory.

This kind of weirdness delights me. I love off beat stuff, in case you haven't noticed, and Gatlinburg guarantees to satisfy your yen for bizarreness. :)

Heather shows us her piece about the Moon theme, after having quilted it in my Lucky School of Quilting machine method, with the self-border of the backing fabric wrapped around to the front and the crazy grid unmarked quilting.

One day and night, Jimmy came into the studio several times, to work on and try to save this sewing machine. I'd never seen anyone tear down a machine so far, it had three shrouds off at once. I didn't even know, before, that there was a way to get UNDER the part where the bobbin is. Well, at least on this Janome Magnolia (named after me??), there is. After three hours, Jimmy had this baby humming along like new (after the part where when he turned it on, it sewed backwards!) I felt like it was a miricale, when he next got it to sew beautifully, forwards! I love him so much!

Here's the happy little Janome Magnolia. I have two Janomes right now at home, plus my 1990 Pfaff, which I also love. But I may get myself another Janome, like this one, for the studio here at home. If you want to sell one, give me a call or email. Let's talk. (I also need to buy a walking foot, over what this one already has.) After all, my husband already knows what ALL makes this machine tick, so I know he can fix the one I get!

This is Other Janice (Paine Dawes') piece for the saints theme: Saint Elsewhere, who prefers going out into beautiful natural spaces. I love this painting!

Other Janice (Kagermeier) talks about her work, which is on the wall behind her. Everyone got a LOT of work done in this class!!!! LOVE that apron piece!

Here's Peggy's Moon themed piece, about a night blooming flower, which we all agreed was just amazing. Peggy kept dreaming about going to see Rose Renee, the South's #1 Psychic, there in Gatlinburg, but we kept pulling Miss Peggy back to what we thought was reality. :) Maybe there's a trip to see Rose Renee together in Peggy and my future though!

O Janice (K) made this piece about her grandmother, who seemed really big to her, as a small child. Grandmother taught O Janice how to cook.

Jimmy gave the class a show and tell of his own art: his leather cases for fly fishing.

Jimmy explains how he makes each case as a custom order, starting with tanned leather hides, using his own patterns and molds, and doing all the work by hand, with no stamps or machine sewing. It's all hand carved imagery, which he then hand paints. He airbrushes his backgrounds with leather dyes. He's famous in the world of fly fishing, as he's the only person in the world doing what he does, and his work fits so well with the finesse and attention to detail and fine craft in bamboo fly fishing.

He's holding a clamshell-style fly case, and on the table are a round reel case and a rod case.

I was talking with Viola Spells on our last morning at Arrowmont at breakfast. I'd really loved having her stop in and join our class here and there, between times when she was doing work-study in the kitchen. She'd taken her Arrowmont class the week before and was free to hang out this week, when not working. She's a jewelry artist in Asheville.

And here's some of Viola's art, spread out in our classroom. She's crocheting wire and including beads and shells in her bracelets and other jewelry. I think it's very unique, and we bought some lovely pieces.

This is my piece for our very first theme of the class, the weirdest theme I've ever heard offered up by a student. Other Janice K couldn't sleep the first night at Arrowmont, for an odd noise in the heat pipes, which she thought of as creatures in the pipes. Lo and behold, they voted in the theme: Creatures in the Pipes.

My only recollection of such a thing was when our cat Midnight fell down a clay drainage tile next to our front porch, when I was about 12 years old. After we all cried a lot, or we girls did anyhow, Mom figured out to lower a big length of fabric down into the pipe, and Midnight climbed right up it. Dad put a brick over the open tile, and our cats were all safe. That was a scary day, with a very sweet ending to it.

I wrote that story on the piece, as well as a little political news commentary and some observations about what was going on there in Gatlinburg, including the aforementioned fascination of Peggy's with Miss Rose Renee, the Number One Psychic in the South, as proclaimed by the same on her business flyer. Rose Renee's flyer quotes are recorded here, praising her talents. But we never did get around to walking back down to see her, after the class's failed first walk in the rain on Monday night, when Rose Renee was closed. (Apparently not psychically picking up that certain women might ask to have their fortunes told that evening.)

We'd heard good stories from Other Janice (PD) about her husband during the class, so wee delighted when he came to get her on the last class day. They'd driven a midsized RV to Gatlinburg for her to take the class, and he'd gone out to enjoy the park, like Jimmy, all week. I still wish we coulda gone to see that RV, as I've always been in awe of camping vans and trailers. Always target them at the Fair, always love watching programs on TV about RVs. Wish I could drive!

Viveka came to Arrowmont to take my class, because her mother, Delores wanted her to come along this time. It was Viveka's first time here, but about the fifth time for Delores. Sometimes the two of them walked with us in the morning, with Viveka wearing the new shoes that really have springs on the bottoms of the heels, that she bought in Gatlinburg at Gigglin' George's and paid a fortune for, but they were still cheaper than at home, she said. This Parkway Wonderland is just so full of unexpected amazements!

Jimmy developed a nice friendship with Joyce, who's a nurse from Georgia, who's done research on the Irish me and their Cherokee brides, several generations back and recognized this heritage in Jimmy's face. They talked about how three of Jimmy's great grandfathers from Ireland took their Cherokee brides with them to the Ozarks, but later ditched them for Irish brides, newly arrived from home. And how this left many of our generation unable to trace their true bloodlines. Joyce is trying to unscramble the mysteries.

On the last morning of class, Friday, October 9, I went into the library to do my email before class and found out that Barack Obama had just received the Nobel Peace Prize. I was so happy and proud of him and knew exactly why he deserves it now! He has turned the United States back into a friend and ally to the rest of the world, and is steering us toward real world peace, gently and persistently, by being humble and willing to negotiate with those with whom we disagree. The rest of the world understands the sea change that he's brought about in the world, and they appreciate that the US has come back from its eight years of hostility and bullying of the rest of the world.

So I started this piece, which I'll donate to Arrowmont, for its auction fundraising, when it's done. I had made a piece in 2004, called "Pot Pies over Arrowmont," which was bought last year by Mary Ann Hruska, an avid Arrowmont supporter from California, (also a Pi.) I'm calling this piece "Pot Pies over Arrowmont #2." It includes Obama, the Dalai Lama, the Arrowmont mountain and Pi logo, and some pot pies for peace. I'm sure I'll show it to you again, when I finish writing on it and quilt it.

This is as far as I got on this piece, by the end of class. Next step is to write all over with the airpen and black fabric paint.

This is our trusty and helpful, ever efficient studio assistant Josh Hebbert, who was responsible for helping several of the classes at once, while also taking the ceramics class of Fong Choo's. Thank you, Josh! Good luck with the next phase of your post-graduate life as a professional artist!

Here are Theresa and Cynthia, working in the Arrowmont office on Saturday morning, just before we left. Thanks for all your help, ladies!

Good bye, Arrowmont! Take good care of yourself, til we get to come back and see you again!

When we left Arrowmont on Saturday morning, Oct 10, we went straight to the Smoky Mountain Angler shop, which Jimmy had visited several times during the week, and which I first met Nancy Thompson at in April, 2008. She has a yarn shop in her husband Harold's fishing store. Nancy's a person I felt comfy with, right from when I first met her, and when I came back, it felt like we'd seen each other just a few days before.

And she had lost 60 pounds since I'd met her! All from diet and hula hooping. She demonstrated her hooping skills for me, and I was thrilled. Not your childhood hula hoop, these things are big and heavy, and you work out a lot, using them. Nancy makes and sells them now, so I bought this one and brought it home. It's going to be a while til I can do the rodeo-looking moves she does, kind of a cross between the head majorette and a champion steer roper. But I'm gonna work hard at it! You can read all about hooping at I think that's it!

After saying goodbye to Nancy and her husband, we went up into the park, where Jimmy drove me around to some of the fishing spots he'd been at a lot, while I was teaching down at Arrowmont. He loves the babbling mountain rivers, where the little Brook Trout (Brookies) hide. He says they're the smartest trout, hardest to catch. And of course, he gently puts them back, after they recover. Mostly he just loves being there.

Here's Jimmy, admiring a big bend in the river ...

And here I'm sneaking up on him! :)

Here's a spot he showed me that I may put on my desktop, as the picture on our Mac. Only I don't want to remove the one I have there of Eva and me, and our first-ever sewing lesson together, when we made the bunny skirt for her.

After our couple-of-hours morning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we drove up to our Lexington, KY Microtel again for the night, and drove up to Ohio on Sunday morning, Oct 11. We went into Columbus, to see the ODC (Ohio Designer Craftsmen) show "Conversations in Fabric," which I have a piece in. This show was curated by Linda Fowler and Tracy Rieger, and is at the Ohio Craft Museum. My piece is the illustration for the show invitation, but we had missed the opening last month, when we had a plumbing crisis at home.

When we walked into the gallery, a woman came over to me, all excited. She was in the process of buying a small painting I'd donated to ODC earlier this year, and was surprised that I was suddenly there, at the same time. Judy Knox is a quilter from Marion, Ohio, the Marion County coordinator of the national organization Project Linus, which makes and provides blankets to children in need. Above are her and me with her purchase and my piece in the show.

This is "Apple Pie #2," an 11 x 8.5" painting on cloth. Thank you, Judy, for buying this piece and helping Ohio Designer Craftsmen.

After Judy and her husband left the museum, Shelley Baird came in with two friends, and we all looked at the show together. Jimmy's between Mary, who's from Edmonton, Alberta (who took my class there this April) and Shelley. Yes, Shelley's giving Jimmy devil horns. :)

Quilts in "Conversations in Fabric."

More quilts in "Conversations in Fabric."

"Dream City," by Marlene Ferrell-Parillo.

Detail of "Dream City," by Marlene Ferrell-Parillo.

"The Sky is Falling," by Catherine Jeffers.

"Original Sin," by Ginny Smith.

"Yes / No," by Patricia Owoc.

"Joined Lakes," by Dorothy Caldwell.

"Magic Lama," by Susan Shie.

I just wanted to throw in a couple of my recent drawings in my sketchbook, made with Bic pens. this one is Eva, my granddaughter, when GEM was at our house on September 13. She'd found some little plastic dogs, sent to me with Mac computer orders from Small Dog Electronics, my fave Apple store. She'd found little super balls in the same drawer, and she was sitting quietly, moving the dogs and balls around a big sketchbook. She said they were playing Doggie Soccer. Thanks for holding so still, Possum!

These are my new hiking boots - the ones my YaYa friend Barb Lamb gave me at my lecture, at the Front Range Contemporary Quilters meeting on Sept. 21 in Denver. I love the boots. I love Barb, and I loved drawing my boots. I'm going to send these images to Tweetie, I mean, Kathy Malkasian, to illustrate my drawing class for Valley Ridge Art Studio for next Fall. It's Oct 26 - 28, with me teaching a cloth diary bookmaking class Oct 29 - 31.

When we finally got to Wooster from Arrowmont, on Sunday, October 11, we pulled off the street, so I could take a picture of Freedlanders. It's the last hometown department store in the country, they say, and it's being torn down this week. The next morning we came into town, and they'd built a blockade all along the front of the building, to protect everyone from debris, during the teardown. A whole bunch of small buildings are planned to be built in the place of Freedlanders, but most of us are very sad about the demise of an era, of the loss of this major symbol of our childhoods. We understand and all, but it's still very sad.

I guess it's a lesson in appreciating what you have, while you have it. How much in our lives do we take for granted? A lot, I believe. Nothing stays the same. But let's hope we're moving toward better things, as things we love fall away.

I'm teaching one of my Turtle Art Camps right now, so have taken a while to create this blog entry. I hope you like it.

Pray for peace and the public option! Love, Lucky Magnolia (Susan)