Today had both frenetic and soothing aspects. I had breakfast with one of our amazing poets on the bill for Friday: devorah major, poet laureate of San Francisco emerita, amazing performer and above all friend. We ate frittata in Hayes Valley before making our way to the museum. THE FOG IS HERE. It must be summer, eh? Everyone celebrate. Anyhow, breakfast meant that instead of arriving two hours early, I got to the museum at my contracted time. As a result I missed a patron who had come to see me in particular, ah well. It would be difficult, I should think, to be less than thrilled with Michael. He's a delight.
Before heading off to brekkie I was cooking: squash soup with hominy and corn bread so the house smelled of spice root and tradition while fog wove it's way by the window (YAY, summer fog). I wanted to bring lunch in to share as today was a big day. It was not so much a celebration as a bit of a sigh. Today was Michael's last. I did not know Michael except to wave and smile before this project. Now I think we have a pile of ideas, some real common ground, shared humor and I am going to miss him in the gallery in a way I can only describe as 'acutely'. In the last week one of my elders was giving me some insight into my personality (they do that sometimes, it can be amazingly unsettling). Evidently I don't make things so much as I build foundations. I think I understand that comment... although it may mean that I create work for others in a big way... In the case of this residency and my proto-friendship with Mr. Horse, yeah probably.
We were visited today by Lorraine and Malcolm Cathey, more community. They had a good solid explore through the gallery while I chatted with a museum person I'd not yet met. I suppose that most human interaction is social networking. This month has taught me that my cohort is more than willing to trek to the park to see me do what I'm always doing, only in a different setting. Well, this part of the park is nice on a slightly chilly and foggy day (Fog Fog Fog, YAY).
The buffalo hunt is up! Michael's project is finished and mounted on the wall. The mounting was far less drama than I'd predicted. Nicole and Cynthia are gems. A buffalo hide started its process mounted, as it were, on a 3-D moving around being. This is also true of my deer hides. My deer hides are thinner, cut apart and resewn and much much softer. There is a perception that the hides become flat, and to some extent they do, but not really. This is terribly clear on a salt tanned hide. Nevertheless it looks lovely on the wall there in the gallery. You must come see. It's quite stunning (also warm looking and it seems we may have fog for a bit...).
Another magical foggy day. This time with tomatoes and raspberries. Well, that and my first official day without Mr. Horse. I knew it was going to be difficult so I brought fruit. Fruit and Knopfler and Clapton... I also had Intern Extrordinaire Mlle. Megan. Bob the sitting ball was there too. Life could have been harder. Still... even with all of that and the buffalo hunt on the wall... it was slightly difficult. I'm a creature of habit.
Kids in the gallery. Lots of kids. I've been teaching for oh... over 20 years now. They sure are interesting creatures aren't they? If you come to visit and find kids everywhere... don't turn around and leave as some did today. Generally they are not around for long, generally they are ok. They do tend to sit on Bob the chair/ball which is helping him to behave. Do not fear the artcamp kids. Just step around the backpacks and parents and come on in. I'm by the window. Come talk to me. Seriously, as an artist I'm really happy that there is such a program in the museum. Without a steady stream of people learning to go view art, the continued health of such places is not assured. Art images on the internet are not the same as the actual piece. It's essential that young folk know this and feel comfortable in these spaces.
The museum was buzzing today. I find foggy days to be best for museum visits. My best friend and I spent one day a week in the de Young/Asian Art Museum for three years during high school. She used to do these amazing sculptures. I was a jewelry shop geek back then. We loved these foggy days. We'd sit for hours looking at paintings or sitting in the Tibetan collections in the Asian, then go over to the Tea Garden for Jasmine tea and rice crackers. A pair of girls came in today that reminded me acutely of Sara and myself. Then the redtail did his rounds and brought me back to practicalities of beading and interacting.
We do have a new facet in the gallery as of today. DeCoy Gallerina's fantastic Real Faces project is up on one of the screens. Come see. Come see more wing on my raven. Come tomorrow during the end-of-residency celebration. Come visit with me so I don't miss Michael so much. It's likely to be foggy....
It's been a long month and my brain is getting sluggish. Fortunately there were many people I liked around today.
I gave an interview and found out how tired I am then headed in to work. Gallery time was relatively uneventful. One lovely man from London came in to chat, as did natoyiininastumiik. The latter was wearing some of my beading, always interesting to see things after I've sent them to their lives. Good conversations were had. The man from London was very well informed, both about art and some obscure Native/Irish history that is generally... well... not known. He also did a thing which reminded me of why this residency has been a bit challenging for me personally. It's something that I forget. I understand why it happens. It does cause some friction sometimes.
People, even when I'm basically sitting under a sign with an arrow pointing at me that says 'Native Artist', look at me and see light skin, listen to me and hear my education and no matter how careful they are they tend to forget that culturally I am not always going to behave as a Euro-American. I'm not complaining, I could not be more used to this. Being around someone who assumes that even though I may look like a thing and perhaps because I don't sound like that thing, my reactions are potentially mysterious, is healing. It's affirming to have my differences given space. It's particularly wonderful at the end of a month of being 'on'. I was given some good advice tonight about accepting praise, 'Say Thank You and zip it.' It's good. It's probably culturally valid in the context that it was offered. I'll probably never take it, but I appreciate the gesture. People from mixed cultures are complicated. We tend to react to things as we were taught, just like anyone else, but it's a six/half dozen of the other situation as to which parent taught the appropriate reaction to begin with. Here's a tip if it matters, if you like my work/my performance, whatever, own your reaction. Tell me YOU liked it, I tend to respond well to that. I say the 'right' thing in that situation. If you call me a genius (it happened today) I will generally bask for a moment and then make a joke. That is who/what I am. Not likely to change at this late date. I'm getting to be an older dog you know?
There were too many folk at the reception for me to remember all of them. There were many many heavy hitting Native artists, for example. It was fun to have these folk at my party. See? I'm learning. It was my party, mine and Michael's in absentia (was that good Renee?). Part of me now wants to back off of the ownership of the party, to say that it was really a community party or that the committee should be delighted. I want social points for not doing that (grin).
Linda Noel and devorah major read amazing work. I read a few poems too.
Some of the people who came were: my sons Eddie and Morgan without whom..., Mary Jean Robertson again without whom, Reid Gomez who stopped by to be lovely at me (another hug girl), Charlene Sul came with Catherine Herrera and made me VERY happy by being there (even though Catherine WILL insist on pointing cameras). There were many others that my sluggish brain is not furnishing. It was a happy thing to see Celeste and Mamacoatl (who performed with two new friends whose names are utterly gone at the moment... I'm terrible, I apologize, one is even a fellow Okie). Kate Machi dancer and writer came by with her husband. I was well supported by my communities. I have flowers on my dining room table. I'm smiling sleepily. I'ma gonna close my eyes now people. Thank you for the party (zipping it).
Linda Noel gave me some strawberries last night at the party and between not eating before reading (it's my only pre-show ritual) and being utterly exhausted when I got home, I just stuck them in the fridge. I was sooooo happy to find them this morning. Rediscovered strawberries may well be the best.
My London friends call this being 'shattered', if I've understood properly. I'm wondering if I've managed to keep track of all of the pieces in fact. I'd been walking in to the museum every day. Today I got a lift. I wasn't entirely sure I'd make it. Fortunately most all of the visitors were pretty self-sufficient and didn't want my commentary. Who knows what I might have said? The fog was still around though. That was a good and happy thing.
One group was a very large family, their impulse was to draw. I find it difficult to discourage folk from touching the buffalo hide? it's amazingly compelling. I want to touch too. There was another group of women who either didn?t hear my offer of info or were totally content to just rumble around on their own. They thought that the group beading project was a cross stitch and that it would look great in a frame. My gran would have agreed about the frame. Not my style really, I like the evidence of it being on skin, the odd protruding bits. Certainly one way to go though.
One woman looked at what I was doing and said, "Oh, you're just beading." Absolutely. I'm just beading. I'm just breathing. I took absolutely no offense at that. I view beading like I do yoga or tai chi or chess. They are something you practice. Mastery still eludes me, but I'm kinda getting the hang of it. Just beading is exactly right. It's also not as friendly as a performed art really.
At the end of the day I walked across by the bandshell and saw a bunch of squirrels drinking from a puddle. I?m going to have to do something with squirrels one of these days. Those tails are so expressive.
Can tomorrow really be the last day?
On the way past the bandshell I noticed that the puddle the squirrels were drinking out of yesterday had dried up. Fog all gone... It's quite hot actually.
The various animals didn't come around today. There were human visitors of varying sorts. I'm embarrassed to admit the major focus of the day. It wasn't profound. Mostly just feathers.
I left the lights down when I came in, opened the blinds for light and started in on the beading: feathers and feathers.
The group project proceeds. I'm beading feathers.
I've said so many things this month about process and color and design... I'm not really sure what to say about goodbye. I consider most of my beading pieces part of a continuum. The photos of the vest will be up when it's done. I have a quick three things to finish in the next month, which will be easier by myself in my home studio. It's been an interesting trip through the month. There are a few folk who may well follow my progress going forward, I've met some fun people. I think that workwise I tend to look ahead a bit: feathers in that direction. There are feathers, a sandhill crane, a fisher, more feathers, a snakeskin to forge, leggings for the fall. The house is a total disaster. That may actually be what I do in the next few days... reclaiming space in the house.
Anyway it isn't really goodbye. There are pics and pics to share, when they can be taken. We'll all see what the feathers look like then.
Thanks to everyone for all of the interesting moments, interesting moments and feathers.
Warm weather again. I wanted ice cream. I had to go pack my stuff up at the museum.
I pack well and carefully when I'm traveling. These days you must, everything may be rummaged at random intervals by who knows what functionary. I pack excellent well when it's other people's work. My stuff got tossed into a box and two bags. Well, one bag was well packed. Those were CDs loaned for the month. Those are neat. Everything else was more or less shoved into corners.
Home with my things I tried to just relax. People who know are already laughing. The house had eroded somewhat in my general absence. Family helped but... everywhere I looked there were things that wanted adjustment. I must stress here that I am not much of a housekeeper (who's that giggling at the back?)
I spent some time carving pathways through the mess that was my room. Then I made a better mess arranging a linear chronology of projects that need doing. The results are bleak. Is art like bacteria? There seems to be an almost biotic flowering of stuff to do. Sigh.
Mostly today was carving paths and making action piles. I have a pathway to my stairs. We're going to have to call all of this a result.
One guest during my residency mentioned that he liked the larger canvas of a vest better than, say, a small pouch. I think I smiled and nodded at the time. It was towards the end and my desire to take up each and every teachable moment had waned somewhat. I've slept some now so: I don't make my work for entirely decorative reasons.
Glass beads are sexy, smoked hide has a compelling texture and smell, decorative traditions from Poland, the indigenous Western Hemisphere, cartooning, various parts of Asia but probably the Central Asian Steppes primarily, the vast histories of Africa and the British isles all come into play in the way I see the artifacts I make. The artifact isn't the art for me. I talk story. Sometimes I use words, sometimes bits of glass, sometimes I weave it and sometimes it's constructed from metal. It's the story that's important. When I'm working in beads on hide, the stories are generally personal to the intended owner. On one recent piece a single blue bead, seemingly out of place on the neck of a dove was the most important bit of the 'art' of it. It meant something very important to the woman who commissioned the piece. The dove was important too, but the ooo was in the blue bead. My brother came by during the residency, somewhere there are pics of his shoes and hair slide. There are buffalo wandering the City of SF on those pieces. There is the intended giggle of unexpected critters on city streets, ok yes. There is a very me gesture in that the things that have lights do glow in the dark (I love glowing beads these days...). There is also a complicated and lovingly chosen story that unfolds from the heel of the right shoe to the heal of the left shoe with a detour to the hair. That story is what the piece is about. The decorative details are just me showing off.
If you go to the beadwork section on my website there are pieces that are shown unfinished, there are pieces that are shown entire and there are pieces that are never shown there at all. This calculation is about how personal the story is to the end owner. You will never, for example, see the whole piece that has the catfish on it... that story isn't mine to share. Very little can be said about this function of art that doesn't sound terribly spiritual and quite high flown. I'm going to use a dominant culture reference to explain so that this isn't dismissed as Ndn superstition. Joseph Campbell said that if we want to change the world we need to change the stories (not an exact quote but close). My work is intended to reinforce the stories that get it right and to nudge the stories I want to have change. To get back to where we started this blog: the size of the canvas is pretty much immaterial to me from an artmaking perspective. I bead big and small, I write large and small poems... you get it I'm sure. Size doesn't matter if the one blue bead is in the right place. I'm trying to change the world. How arrogant is that?