Showing posts from October, 2009

Make Room for You Know Who

My teenage daughter goes to Alabama School of Fine Arts, a very competitive magnate school in Birmingham. All the students are hand-picked gifted children with very artsy leanings, and I sometimes worry that her exposure to different types of people is way too limited. An opportunity came up in which a certain boy from a local "regular" public school wanted to ask her to the homecoming dance. I informed her of this fact, and even though she likes the boy, she replied, "Well, I don't know."
Keep in mind that ASFA dances are notoriously wild and crazy. There is a high population of gay and lesbian students so everyone dances with everyone. The place resembles a crazy free-for-all with loud outrageous music, strobe lights and disco balls, kids in wacky get-ups, and teachers hiding and cringing in the corners.
Annabelle explained her reluctance to go to the "normal" dance. "Mom! At those dances if you get too close to your dance partner the teacher …

So Last Year

I just asked my kid's art class about popularity at school.
1.) Preel Patel says that you're popular if you play softball. Also if you're a smarty pants. And if you wear brand name clothes like Abercrombie and Hollister. Popular people say, "I'm rich, you're not. You're weird, I'm not."
2.) Gerard Doyle says you're popular if you can throw, catch, add, and subtract. You know, do stuff.
3.) Emily Toole says popular kids are really stuck up. They say, "You are so last year." You have to look good. All popular girls have to have boyfriends or have a crush.
Things haven't changed much. Modern popular kids are "so last century."

Silence is Golden?

I went on a silent retreat at a monastery this past weekend. I do it every spring and fall. For 48 hours I don’t talk, read, write or hear a word. It is one of the happiest things I do. I go to the Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center at the Sacred Heart Monastery, and it isn’t just for Catholics. People of many different faiths attend the silent weekend—Buddhists, yogis, Jews, and plenty of Protestants. The most asked question I get concerning the silent weekend is, “What do you do?” The answer is, “mostly, nothing.” I take walks around the beautiful grounds, sit in the sunshine or stand in the rain, take a nap, do yoga and meditate, eat the three meals prepared by the sisters, but no matter how many simple activities I come up with, there is still plenty of time for “nothing.” That means lying and looking at the texture on the ceiling, picking a blade of grass and playing with it, closing your eyes and listening to the complete silence in one of the few places you can find it these da…

Deep Fried Kudzu

I'm a little late in reporting this, but the blog "Deep Fried Kudzu" had a nice post with pictures of Red Dot Gallery's Sierra Club Alabama Wild and Rural exhibit. Check out the October 8 entry at
For those of you Yankees who don't know what Kudzu is: it is an invasive vine from Asia that basically covers big areas of the South now. It grows super fast and destroys whole forests if not stopped. At one time it was revered as an amazing erosion controller, but once people became aware its unstoppability they realized they had propagated a big mistake in the American South.

Accidental Art Thieves

Last weekend Scott and I went to Troy, Alabama for the opening reception of "The Nature of Being Southern: Celebrating Contemporary Art in Alabama." The exhibit highlights some of the artists who have received an Alabama Council for the Arts fellowship over the years. I've got a few pieces in the show. Apparently I'm an official southerner now, since I am considered worthy to present visual commentary on the nature of being such. Here's the link:
In the morning after the show, we took a walk around the Troy University campus. Our first tourist sight was encountered next to a non-descript parking lot by the football stadium. A very official historical marker (the kind you only see next to something George Washington touched, or on the site of a battle that happened 150 years ago) was a tribute to the guy who introduced football game tailgating to Troy in the early 1990s. I guess since it happened…

Birds That Get Eaten

In art class yesterday my 7 year old student, Madison, was doing a rubbing of a reproduction of Egyptian heiroglyphics.
"Do you know how to read ancient texts?" she said. "Well, not really, but I think if you see a picture of a bird, it might mean something like 'I killed a bird and ate it today'," I said. She thought for a moment and said, "Did a cat write it?" I tried not to laugh, and said, "Well, humans kill and eat birds, too. Haven't you ever eaten chicken?" She was quiet for a good minute and then asked, "Is popcorn shrimp a bird?"

For the World to See

I just posted the cover of My Steamboat on Facebook. Each step of the process that gets closer to the release of the book feels a little more tingly--scary and exciting. I have a sense of dread that comes and goes. All the work of promotion is ahead of me, and the criticism, and the feeling that it's out there now. No taking it back. It's at this time in the book process that I say, "I'm never writing a book again." I'm sick and tired of edits, re-writes, thinking up ways to market it, explaining it to everyone instead of handing them a copy. Then, a day later, an idea for a new book comes into my head. Later, much later, I tell myself. For now, this one big day is good enough. It's on Facebook.

Author I Like

If you haven't read any books by Bill Bryson, you should. He is funny, a fantastic writer, and always throws in a little social commentary. I'm reading Notes From a Small Island, a travel memoir about England, his adopted country. (He's originally from the U.S.) I haven't read a book by him that I didn't like, but my favorite is probably The Adventures of the Thunderbolt Kid, another memoir, about growing up in Iowa in the 1950s. He could write about masking tape and make it fascinating and hilarious.

Red Dot is 5

September 11 of this year marks the 5th anniversary of the opening of Red Dot Gallery. (The date is also remembered for an infamous event of great proportions: the birthdate of my husband, Scott.) We didn't celebrate our big day then, but we are planning a holiday exhibition called "Red Dot is 5" to open on November 20, 2009. Mary Kay Culpepper, longtime editor of Cooking Light magazine, is helping with the preparations, and her vast connections and expertise at, well, just about everything, will be of great help to us bedraggled Red Dot owners. Our classes are overflowing, my book comes out in December, and (more challenging than all of that put together) I have a teenage daughter.

Cover of My Steamboat Done!

The cover of My Steamboat is completed. Scott and I did it ourselves, using Buddy Bair’s wonderful photo. We did a mock-up and I held it in my hand. After 8 years of working on this book, I am really ready to see it in print. I’ve made a lot of paintings in my day, and seeing them finished feels good, but my books take many years, and finally having a product to show for it is something to celebrate. But not yet…