Wednesday, April 15, 2009

fiber fashionistas

Inspiration was all over the place last week. Marty went to the AIGA's mixer at Angela Adam's shop and studio on Congress Street in Portland. We've been Angela fans for a long time, but he came home raving about the cheerful environments, friendly folks, and visionary design plan. Leave it to an island girl to know where beauty and function meet. That's Angela (North Haven girl) in the middle above, flanked on the left by staff Lily Van der Steenhoven (Peaks Island girl) and visitor Craig Davis (island photographer) on the right.

I heard Angela speak back in the fall of 2007, at the PMA. She showed a wonderful documentary about her family and the island cast that makes the fabric of her life. Here one of her intrepid staffers leads a tour of rugs.

Angela is a lifelong doodler and loves to watch nature. Taking the time to look while arousing all the senses keeps her head filled with ideas. Her story holds incredible inspiration and a Mainer's dedication to craft and detail.

Lucky for me, Marty brought home a groovy bag that I love!

Just a few days later, we had fun at Show Us Your Wears 2009, a celebration of area fiber art talent. We went to applaud our island neighbor, Suzanne Parrott. Zero Station was the venue, a packed one at that.

In it's second year, this fashion splash showcased pieces by 35 fiber artists, culled from a field of over 100 by volunteers at Portland Fiber Gallery and Knitwit Yarn Shop.

Here are a few of my favorites, starting with Suzanne! She has a deep background in painting, which explains the rich subtleties of her felting and the luxurious blending of seascape colors and textures.

I had my daughter in my lap and couldn't seem to get a decent photo of this marvelous coat, also by Suzanne.

So here is my drawing instead, from the front. Suzanne also makes incredibly cozy fingerless gloves that perk up any outfit.

Other favorites: this sheer but vibrant sweater by Annalee Poe, who owns KnitWit.

Gotta love this one, called My Winter Garden by Patsy Meisner.

Here's another hat I loved, on model Lulu, who had the strut down. This is the Faux Feather Citron Hat by Leslie Kane.

And this dress looked fabulous on model Anna. Can't figure out whose it is!

This piece was a big hit: the "mermaid dress" paired with a baby alpaca capelet by Jamie Koo, a swingy nod to her Peruvian and Chinese heritage.

Check out the tiers of ruffles in the back. So lovely!

As a lover of collage, I thought this dress by Marina Douglas was a terrific finale!

Cheers to all involved, including the Black Parrott, the shop that provided clothing and accessories to pair with the fiber goods.

The entire event was stylish, entertaining, and educational about the fantastic artists sewing, crocheting, knitting, and felting their ideas into form. It got my daughter to haul out her knitting needles as soon as we got home!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

some bunny loves you

I spent an evening this past week making a card for Nana, alongside my daughter. Card making is a regular side-business around here. We are a family of corresponders, believers in birthdays and holidays, and snail mail stamped with love. I made the above collage with some imagery from the forthcoming Nest, Nook, and Cranny by Susan Blackaby. Did my research on jackrabbits, thank you very much. And just added some embellishments from my ever lovin' stash of paper patterns, along with some choice rubber stamping. But in a matter of moments, I was OUTDONE by my daughter, who has become adept at the Wacom.

Seriously, is this not WAAAAAY cuter? Than mine? You can be honest.

We have a tradition of coloring eggs the day before Easter. So big bunnies must demonstrate technique, even for mice.

These go in the refrigerator at night, but mysteriously are hidden around the house in the morning.

Not too hidden, since everyone is in pajamas and eager for breakfast.

Once all the eggs are found, it's on to the candy. Later in the day, we had brunch and an outdoor egg hunt at a friend's house on the island. Even though the sun was out, it never got above 40 degrees here today. While the hunters were sequestered inside, the adults hid eggs in visible but camouflaged spots.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Calling all chocolate chickadees!

Birches offer so many curly crannies.

I found this rusty relic from another era.

This was the most inspired placement.

All this activity gave us a wicked appetite. What else? Deviled eggs!

Here's to the season of Peeps: honor all that's sweet in your life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

new eyes

How did this happen already? Today I have been on Peaks Island 17 years! I take anniversaries seriously, or at least give them a moment for celebration, reflection, and a deep sigh of gratitude.

Ahhhh, island life. What a trip it's been. Marty and I traveled from San Francisco via Daly City (could barely make it out of city limits on the first day of the move), Los Angeles (thanks, Ged), Quartzite, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Old Saybrook, CT, and then...Portland. We showed up for the very first ferry at Casco Bay Lines at 5:45 AM, but no Mayflower moving van met us. Here I am watching the ferry meet the sunrise, hoping our stuff shows up. The dog is just happy not to be crammed in the back of a '80 Subaru hatchback anymore.

Fast forward 17 years through deaths, births, transitions, houseguests, Peaksfests, and backshore bonfires.

When I welcomed an old friend recently, this blur of years came forward. Kathy Mahoney has known me longer than I've known my husband. Friends like that offer such sweet perspective.

We gave her a tour around the island, lunch, a walk on the beach, and off she went. Bon voyage, Kathy!

The best part is that I still have new eyes for this place. While the rocks and waves are eternal, new insight rolls in every day. I've begun writing regularly for the Island Times, giving me opportunity to find new angles on island living, it's makers and shakers.

I interviewed Scott Nash for a piece about the Space Gallery show, Studio Walls. He was among several artists asked to exhibit a wall of their studio. Being a successful writer and illustrator, he took this literally. Brought a 4' by 4' hunk o' wall and refigured his "writing wall" from a photograph taken before deconstruction.

I found the idea for the Space show fascinating, along with the contents of Scott's assemblage of inspirations. Turns out, the blank wall back in his studio proved too unsettling for him. He had to fill it back up. He tacked up his pile of watercolor blottings, which together formed a new backdrop, like scat singing, for his current writing project.

He's just wrapped up a book called Blue Jay the Pirate, so birds land all over the place.

And next door is another story: Nancy Gibson Nash's studio is eye-boggling.

Nancy should charge admission; some of us could just sit and gaze at her walls of "saints and sages," as she calls her environment, for hours.

Doug Smith, another illustrator on Peaks, is also an avid collector. He has framed illustrations from various time periods in the room in which he works, but all over the rest of his house are fabulous groupings of cat images, pulp novels, the above set of eyeball rings, and this cache of rusty devices.

For Doug, yard sales and heavy item pick-up days are high points of the year. Years ago, one could find eccentric items at the "Merc" (the Peaks Island Mercantile), owned by Kathleen Beecher. She single-handedly brokered many a collectible for the savvy scavengers on Peaks. I made this postcard for her. It captures her zany island attitude, in a small way.

I bought a set of polka dot teacups from Kathleen that to this day offers me inspiration. This is a detail from my pastel "When life gives you lemons."

Those cups have provided plenty of polka dot cheer for countless potlucks over the years. Thanks, Kathleen!

Peaks Island is more than home now. It's my rock. Here's to many more moons, seen rising from the backshore. Love this delicate airbrush by Marty.

Meanwhile, I'll keep my eyes peeled for fresh views, salty tides, and grace. I won't have to look far.

Friday, April 3, 2009

the goddess tour

Bravo to Acorn Productions! They have pulled off another great presentation of Maine playwriting. This year's Maine Playwright Festival included seven short plays and two full-length plays. I was in the front row for The Goddess Tour, ready to applaud my island neighbor and good friend, Peg Astarita, who played Boo, one of six women gathered at an Irish inn on the Burren of County Clare. Peg is a goddess in her own right, creator of divine figures such as the one above. Thanks, Kathie Schneider, for this photo. Also in the cast was fellow islander, Stephanie Eliot, who played half of a lesbian couple determined to adopt a daughter in Beijing. Her character's righteous superiority was played with deft cunning. And another islander, Julie Goell, directed the ambitious terrain.

Here's the set at the St. Lawrence Theater.

I was in County Clare once, ages ago. Waiting for the play to begin, I wished I was arriving at an Irish inn myself. Once the drama began, I got completely sucked in to the complex web of feminine dynamics. Playwright Carolyn Gage touched on pretty deep emotional territory, such as loss, adoption, abuse, motherhood, womanhood, murder, media, racism. What didn't get covered? Fortunately, Boo provided plenty of comic relief at all the right moments.

I was primed for the goddess topic. I've been contributing to a Lunar Calendar for over 25 years, subtitled "dedicated to the goddess in all her guises." I've drawn my share of goddess representations over the years, learning crytpic bits here and there, but overall feeling a growing reverence for the Divine Feminine. My knowledge of goddess history is pretty unacademic, compared to Lorraine, who plays the PhD leader of the goddess tour. She trots out paraphenalia for a ritual to the goddess on the eve of Imbolc, to break the tension quite visible among the women gathered.

This was my first contribution to the Lunar Calendar.

Inspired by Art Deco at the time, my goddess was nubile.

I played around with collage in this piece, evocative of some dreamy divine space.

And this collage echoes the silhouette idea, which bears a connection to Peg's ceramic figures.

In fact, images of shells, birds, crescents, and the sea recur in my Lunar Calendar works. This is titled "Sacred Vessel" from the 2001 Lunar Calendar.

This is "Luna Pearl" from the 2005 cover, when the publisher, the intrepid Nancy F. W. Passmore was trying to keep her little moon boat afloat. Keep looking up, Nancy!

"Crescent Mirror", in the current calendar, accompanies a poem by Marge Piercy.
An excerpt...

Maybe you're a mirror
in which we see ourselves
ghostly, white as the sheer
curtains of my childhood
we turned into wings

This is "Cosmic Coronation" that leaps for joy in delight for the stars.

This year's cover is vivid, borrowing from Bangla reference still in my studio from illustrating Rickshaw Girl.

Based on a Hindu goddess, Prithvi is earthy, with animal instincts and multiple powers of perception.

Back on stage, The Goddess Tour brought its participants full circle in revelations of guilt, anger, humililty, and the power of forgiveness. I realized I don't have to go to Ireland and visit ancient ruins to approach the divine. There are old rocks, cosmic connections, and plenty of strong women right here!

A standing ovation for the entire cast! Only one performance left: this Saturday, April 4....
go see it.