Saturday, October 31, 2009

A welcome change of scenery

[Ed Clark of SUNY Potsdam doing joomchi action on colored hanji from Wonju, Korea.] I taught a paper felting class today using hanji that I had a friend in Seoul select and ship over at the Saint Lawrence County Arts Council. Good times! I had been so cranky about it b/c I just wanted to sleep in but it ended up being a really nice group, and it was nice to get off base with Ben (who joined class, too).

This is Susan's first piece; I'll post a shot from her 3rd that I really love, later. She had some serious skills. No one used scissors, which I loved.

Velma did amazing things w/my scraps and Hilary was so happy to be pounding the crap out of the paper. I should have made a video just to get the sound effects of everyone slamming the table at the same time. Hilary, Velma, Ben, and I went out afterwards for a warm lunch and very decadent series of desserts.

Ben and I even got to hit the food co-op and Asian market! We drove through a very, very red sunset - lovely, since we never experience sunset together, and eerie b/c of how it turned huge patches of trees red. It almost all faded by the time we got through the gate at the base, so I wasn't able to shoot good pics (I was too busy gawking beforehand to remember to grab my camera. And some roads on base are not very smooth). I was talking to Ching-In and she asked if we were going to have trick-or-treaters and I said, I doubt that parents would want their children coming near the homes of unaccompanied soldiers! I wish that wasn't the case, but at least we saw a bunch of them on Route 11 while driving home. Plus a parade in Potsdam during lunch! That's about as much Halloween as I ever get, so I'm pretty content. On top of that, we saw an inordinate amount of animals while driving: SO MANY cows, a good deal of horses, and even a huge flock of sheep!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A little work here, a little there

[The postcard for my next show in Lake George.] I keep getting sidetracked by knitting, weaving, or undoing both. But I'm slowly making headway. The piece inspired by Jami's book is done; I just need to get some decent lighting so I can get a snapshot of it and send that to her.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The clouds win today

This is the war memorial across the street from the Everson in Syracuse. I don't understand it at all, the words on the outside (sports music arts science) juxtaposed with a war memorial. I mean, I do, but it's still weird to me.

This was near where all the kids were skateboarding next to the museum. I managed today to keep plowing through things, which always feels good. Plus, Ben came up with some kind of ingenious and mysterious way to get up in the morning and go to work w/o waking me up. For the first time in a while, I was undisturbed by military time!

I talked today to the gallery for my next show in a few weeks, which felt good - the director is really solid, and she gets what artists need and that you can't just ask them to do things for free. Also, the postcard looks great! I'll post that later. For now, I need to hide things from myself (like endless weaving projects) so that I am forced to prioritize.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Syracuse scenes

All I want to eat anymore is soup. Which also explains why I am still in bed: it's too cold to get out! I'm recovering from a long, full weekend. Yesterday, I got up early to drive to Syracuse to meet Helena at the bus/train station. We then drove with no destination in mind (she is a remarkable navigator - the best one I've ever had sit by my side) and ended up walking around a cemetery.

She had said, who would have imagined, Seoul to Syracuse! We had met in Korea - she was a Fulbright senior scholar in peace studies - and it turns out that her husband's family is from Syracuse. So we've now met in Seoul, NYC, and Syracuse. Hopefully we will meet again in Belfast when I am at the Flax residency next spring. She has a great deal of travel ahead of her (one destination being Korea, no less! I am jealous. In my jealousy, I had dreams last night about Katherine packing up her things, getting ready to return to the US).

After I dropped Helena back at the depot, I headed to downtown Syracuse to visit the Everson, the Y, the bank, and a coffeeshop. It was fairly dead but at least the weather was nice and the sun was out. I had to kill about six hours before Ben arrived at the airport, so I did the inevitable: go to the mall. Just walking around made me feel ill, so I laid down in the car for a while in the parking lot. Despite all of that, I was actually late getting to the airport b/c I am so skilled in wasting time. I also drove in circles for most of my solo driving (either looking for parking or looking for the highway - serious detours are in place and signs direct you in all sorts of circles), listened to a great Sarah Jones talk on NPR, and at one point had to get out of the car to move a barrier during one of my wrong turns.

After three trips to the gas station in the last three days, hours upon hours in the car, lots of Jay-Z, and too many multigrain chips, I'm back on base. What I've learned this weekend is that this is not a good place for me to be. I'm doing the best I can, but I'm turning into a dull pencil. I get deadened, so it's hard to do my thing. I loved what Helena said about how we do work that uses the back of our head so much that we can't clutter up the front of our brains. I just have to push myself hard to get through the next two shows, get some family time (but not with my family) for turkey day, and then hit Miami. After that, serious negotiation will be in order as to where I end up living.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The antidote for many an ailment

Last night, I drove back north to visit Velma. She treated me to a fabulous dinner at Blackbird, where we had a pumpkin bisque that was like pumpkin pie as a soup. YU-UM. We stayed up late talking in the living room as I spilled tea all over myself, and eventually I got to sleep in her daughter's lovely bedroom, where I had my first really solid, non-stressful sleep since I've arrived north.

Velma fed me three very satisfying meals today, and when I arrived last night, there was a bar of hazelnut dark chocolate for me next to a lit beeswax candle that made everything smell delicious. She is SO GOOD at taking care of people! Outrageously so. We spent the whole day inside at her work table, talking, showing each other spinning tricks, comparing notes, sharing work, and having a really great time. I needed this SO badly, and feel super lucky to have her as a friend.

What I find so crazy is that she is so solid in all of her work and her skills, but hidden away in the wide world! She has spent her whole life seeking out the things that she cares about and is curious about and actually goes and learns things constantly. It's pretty amazing how many teachers she has had and students she has taught and places she has been. Like I said this summer, her home and studio is a dream playpen for artists. Take a look.

The funniest thing was that we were indoors, shivering all day, only to find when I left to get into the car that it was totally warm and lovely! We were fooled by the storm clouds.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Lecture went well! I got to have warm goat cheese salad and warm chocolate cake with Velma and her daughter! And got birthday gifts! I ESCAPED THE BASE! As much as I like to think I can live through this just fine, in the end, it is what it is: isolation. And there's no getting around that. I'm not immune, so it was really nice to get out and interact with non-military people, drive the car, and get far away from Whiteface (the building, not the mountain!). Tomorrow after I drop Ben at the Syracuse airport, I head back to rest at home and pack a bit before hitting the road again for a weekend play date with Velma. Hooray!

And the best news of the day: I got a residency for next year - two months in Belfast! Hooray!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A momentary dip

An artichoke is in the steamer and I can't wait to get to its heart. Today and last night, I was startled awake by bad dreams, and perturbed by how consistently stressful they have been for a while now. Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon untying this piece that I started in CT. I thought that the number of ties would be in the low 100s, but it was closer to 1,000. AGH. Then I tried to knit it together. No good, so I tried again. By the end of the night, I was stumped and laid in bed realizing I had to dismantle it even further - unwind all the cords and start weaving. Which was the WHOLE POINT of learning how to weave in the first place! But I had been avoiding it b/c of the intense labor involved. I'm a few inches started on what will most likely be a giant potholder. My sister reminded me last night that we all have to kill our darlings, but this one has been a long, drawn-out murder.

To avoid the frustration of being totally stuck with two solo shows scheduled w/in days of each other coming up in less than three weeks, I worked on this tiny book. It wasn't meant to be tiny, but I am really challenged when it comes to photos and resolution and knowing when things are big or small enough for print. It's a dummy, and not at all the way I envisioned it, but it is soothing to work on b/c it's not mine (the content is all Chela's) - yet no one is telling me how to do it - and b/c it's pure fun. I loved her project and I wanted to organize it, since I get off on organizing other people's stuff.

Today was my first day of wondering if I am depressed (though I think the return of grey and gloom was a major culprit). I think the isolation is getting to me. Along with waking up to a pre-6am alarm and then trying to get back to sleep once Ben leaves for work. Which is why it's VERY GOOD that I am lecturing tomorrow night in Potsdam at the arts council there, 6:30pm. I get to dine w/Velma prior, and meet new people, and yammer on about things that I really care about. Well, one thing: hanji. Yay!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ultra-green mulch

I took my first long walk today since I got back from Miami. Wait, I think this is only my second long walk here, period. Anyhow, it's hard to find things to shoot b/c it's either depressing or I'm afraid someone will come out and yell at me, but I liked this best on my way home, as I was trying to figure out how to get back through a residential area where everything looks the same: houses, fences, roads, everything.

I tried to go down a trail today but wasn't able to get past a sea of ferns and a trailing off of the path, so instead I walked along the back of everyone's fencing and later wandered around the homes that all look the same with Halloween decorations that all look the same. Before that, I saw this sign. There were a bunch of them along the path.

Funny, since when I saw these things from a distance, I thought maybe it was a park, with outdoor sculpture! But it's probably some kind of military fencing that I don't know about. I was confused by the signs b/c I couldn't tell if the space behind the jacks was off limits or the path itself. So I walked down the path anyhow.

To find more railroad tracks! They have these all over, I think, to transport things to other far-off military places. The sad thing about wandering around is that there are so many wooded and grassy areas, but no matter how far you get from buildings, you always hear rumbling of something. At one point, coming out of the "off limits" area, I was startled by a generator that started up as soon as I came out of the woods. But the noise is usually construction, which seems never ending - I went the back way b/c the road in front is being torn up and re-done. Like Korea, only more ominous.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A home weekend

I ingested A LOT this weekend. Not just all the treats Ben brought home on Friday, but yesterday, too: we went to Syracuse for Korean food. And later, good groceries. I think my crowning achievement for the weekend was making a gorgeous salad and dressing it. Which means, hopefully, that the coming week will be full of WORK.

I wanted to share Wesley's great pics of his trip to Korea this summer. Some Andong paper mill pics are tucked in the middle of the set, starting here: I love the shots he got. Seeing them, I realized how much easier it is to get great images when 1. you have a great camera 2. you are not doing research or translation 3. you're simply at a place to learn and enjoy and take things in. Luxurious opportunities!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Venturing out

Aside from taking out the trash and checking the mail, I don't think I've walked out the front door since I got back from Miami. So today after my combined workout/trashy TV session (part of the bday indulgences), I went outside, got a fun bday card from lil sis, and then walked in the grass just next to the major construction outdoors and found my way to the arts and crafts center.

[Crossed these on the way.] Studio rental is $1/hour and $4/day here. Ridiculously huge and amazing facilities: wood shop, ceramics, quilting, stained glass, framing, etc. Not necessarily something I can access but it attests to the seriousness of military benefits. Yesterday, we found out that Ben is not going to Iraq in January. That's all we know. I love that they get orders saying only the negation of what their orders said a few months back, but not saying what will really happen. I think the very obvious, easy, and not cool answer is Afghanistan in early 2010. Which means more wrenches in my plans; I had only intended to stay up here until xmas.

On the bright side, I got lots of nice feedback from my Korean contacts and lots of love and wishes and hugs sent my way. I also booked my Dec flight and hotel to Miami. It's really happening, again! Velma also gave me the heads up on a nice little plug [about 3/4 of the way in] by Hilary Oak, the ED of the Saint Lawrence County Arts Council, who is hosting my lecture and class on hanji (the talk is Thurs, Oct 22 and the class is Sat, Oct 31: Halloween!). [One correction: hanji is the actual paper, and jiseung is paper weaving.]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A full office day

I am amazed by how much administrative work I just did today. I remember these tasks from when I used to work in offices for the man: mailings and emails and contact updates and figuring out whom to contact and how, but it took an entire half day to get through it because it was all in Korean. I'm still in that stage where I'm just good enough, but not good enough, so it's really difficult to slog through so many emails. I like the ones to family and friends where I can be casual and they will simply laugh at my spelling and grammar errors. I hate the ones to people higher in the hierarchy. But I am glad to say that it is, for the most part, done. All that's left are the handwritten notes to people who don't have email.

I will do that pronto, and then I can feel free to turn a year older tomorrow, be done w/promoting this Miami show for the time being, and focus on the next batch of work: a lecture, a class, and two more shows.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Images galore: the Miami artwork

Ivan is always fun to have around, except in the ocean b/c he splashes relentlessly and I hate salt water and sunblock in my eyes. This was before the artist talk when we were trying to color correct the projection.

I have spent all morning doing more updates, so here are the images of the new work in Miami, on my website.

And, a mini-tutorial on joomchi, Korean paper felting. I was too busy to set up the tripod so there are no bodies/hands in the pics, but hopefully it makes sense!

Monday, October 12, 2009


[At the pool at our hotel yesterday - we hung there until our flight, and then got to bed past 2am.] There's way more work that got backlogged while I was away than I expected! Today was a mix of rest and work and tomorrow I hope to make a good dent in admin so I can get into the groove for the next solo.

The midnight update: I've finally uploaded pics!

1. The exhibit install and gallery shots.
2. The opening and artist talk (two separate days).
3. Vacation shots.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

That's a wrap

Ah, Florida. It has treated me well. I finally made it to the beach and into the water today!! So lovely.

The talk went really well; Rosie was back in town to host, and my NY visitors were all impressed, which meant a lot to me. This is Ivan, Cindy, me, and Ben, in front of the biggest piece in the show.

We went out for Argentinian food tonight for dinner while watching the Peru-Argentina soccer game on TV.

Then it was total crashing time. The gallery let me take the night off, which was super generous, and tomorrow I have most of the day before Ben and I fly back to the North Country. I'm not looking forward to being back in winter and army land, but feel good about the work I did here.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pictures! Press!

This made my afternoon.

Morning after

Well, now it's the afternoon but I took a slow morning. This is the main gallery after the install.

Alejandro built me a beautiful shelf for my book! Totally gorgeous.

This piece is in the smaller gallery space. The opening was lovely and we had a great turnout. I rambled during my speech that was supposed to be short, but I always ramble, and more so when I'm tired. I met lots of interesting characters and felt really supported by the DV community.

Gordon even got a 3-piece jazz band to play live, which was such a treat. We went out for a little bit after the opening but I only lasted until probably about midnight or 1am before turning in. Juan just came by for the photo shoot at the gallery and now I get to meet the loved ones in Miami Beach! Tomorrow I'll be back for the talk.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sailing thru the install

This is one of the views from the hotel suite. I slept like a princess w/at least six pillows.

This was the start of the day after Gordon dropped me off at the gallery. Alejandro is such a whiz! We started after 10am and were pretty much done before 5pm. I'm very happy w/the pace. Tomorrow we'll do finishing touches and then I think we're set for the opening at 7pm.

Leandro met us at the gallery to help, and it was like magic. They are a perfect team, and both of them totally understood what needed to happen w/my work, and then they make it happen. I would turn around and things would be hung! I LOVE working in environments like these. Today was all about fishing line for me, which I have a love/hate with, but everything came together.

The main gallery is pretty much done and lit; Alejandro will build a shelf for a large book and a platform for a floor piece tonight and then I think the worst is over. I need to figure out if and how I will do a rope install and then I need to do some prep for my Saturday talk - I'll have to clean up some video footage from Korea and design the talk, so that will be tonight's work.

I am totally spending all my time indoors or inside of cars, but I did step out for lunch today. Scorching. I'm soooo waiting until the loved ones arrive before spending any significant time outside. Otherwise, everything is going great!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

If only

The art made it!! I was so ready w/all sorts of arguments and even braced myself for the possibility of having to cry at the ticket counter if they tried to charge me extra for this box, but it was fine. TSA told me they'd open it, which I was very unhappy about, but despite two flights and rain and getting sliced open, everything made it to Miami just fine.

I loved this bear cloud on the Philly to Miami leg. Getting up at 2:45am was awful and Ben was a total sport to do the drive both ways (70 min each way, then crazy work - he's in the field or on the range or whatever for the next few days for a live fire so he doesn't even get to go home and sleep normally) and we even had a scare on 81 w/a huge deer that he swerved to miss. I amazingly slept a whole bunch in the airport during my 3-hour layover and even on the 2nd flight. Gordon, who co-directs the gallery, got me from the airport, drove me around the city a little, and got me a huge and yummy sandwich before we headed to the gallery to meet Rosie, the curator and director.

I also met Patricia, who does all the admin, and Alejandro, who I can already tell will be the best installer I've had yet. This team is seriously great. It's going to be a lot of work, but we mapped out the space, I'm already freaked out about not having enough artwork, and I am settling into my lovely digs. Dinner in 10 w/Rosie, then the evening to chill and regroup before a big day tomorrow: full-on install. Though, honestly, I live for this work.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Time management

[On the phone w/Ching-In.] This is so much harder than I could have imagined, but we are finally in a decent place: enough floor space in the 2nd bedroom for me to lay all my stuff out to roll and build a box for so I can fly on Tuesday. We have to leave at around 3:30am to get to the airport on time, but I guess this is what life outside of major metropolitan areas is like (living far from airports and not having a great selection for flight times). I have to put finishing touches on six more pieces, do a serious inventory, and then do hardcore packing tomorrow. I still can't believe it's almost time. Everyone else is excited, since they just hit Miami and party, but I'm feeling the heat.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Weekend antics

I never noticed this in the entryway until today as I struggled to haul in about 30 dowels plus groceries and more storage solutions for Ben. Velma gave me the inside scoop on Whiteface, which is indeed a mountain. Her nephew Rich used to collect clouds on it to do tests for acid rain in the 80s. The NYT covered it back then, but her explanation was more elegant:
The mountain is accessible by toll road several months of the year, and there's a weather station there. Rich would drop what he was doing when weather moved in "cloud events" and go to the mountain and "collect clouds." He kept his skis there, and would tele ski down the "slides," the places that once held vegetation and now are bare rock faces because they are steep and the earth sloughed off them during heavy weather. So Rich, the wild man, would ski on the slides because they were icy, and no one else except the crazy guys skied them, and they were free. Also very dangerous (though not as much as avalanche fields). He was on the mountain all hours ... His data was a major part of the acid rain research done before it was "a problem." Actually before it was even acknowledged.

I survived the mom visit, but did not escape yet another insane retail shopping day. Hopefully this will be the end of it for a good long while. The weather was beautiful, and then suddenly started raining, but then cleared up again.

In honor of the cloud collecting story, I took lots of cloud pics out the car window. My question of the evening is, why are dowel rods always sold w/the bar codes on the stickiest, tackiest labels?! And then I will get back to, why am I still not feeling prepared for Miami?