Seasons Greetings! Snow in Northern Michigan:
Being home from school for the holidays is a good time to register to vote, or request an absentee ballot so you're ready for the presidential primaries on March 8th. You must register one month in advance to vote. Absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on the day of the election.
I remember working in the mail room at college and seeing all of the absentee ballots being sent back to their respective states with not enough time for them to arrive in order to be counted. Don't give anyone an excuse to say our generation is apathetic or doesn't care. And older generations, mad respect, but it's time to let us take the reigns, let us build something, run companies, organizations and innovate, we'll take care of you, because you raised us to think about others too.
Register to Vote: here
Request an Absentee Ballot: here
Absentee Ballot Deadlines: here
We arrived home a couple days ago from our 3-week stay in Thailand and I'm happily enjoying the last of the leaves, earthy smells and sunny days of Autumn in Northern Michigan.
The village of Samrit was enriching for me both personally and artistically. I took a roll of paper along with some walnut ink and charcoal (for ease and because I'm trying to break my love affair with oil paint...toxicity, environment). I was immediately struck by the plant life and foliage there...of course. It was so lush and verdant wherever you looked. Even a plant in the concrete jungle of Bangkok looked like the healthiest plant you could imagine. Also, I couldn't get enough of the patterns and attention to detail in the tile work found in the cities and villages, the variety of fences and gates (everyone had one), and the colors and overwhelming amount of advertising.
I can't read or speak the Thai language and thus could more easily overlook the nefarious nature of advertising and labeling. Or at least view it with humor. The images on billboards, signs and packaging became these visceral paintings comprised of complex symbols and shapes to me. I mostly played around with documenting plants and ornamentation while at Samrit and worked on a couple of murals - one with the other resident, Alba, from Madrid. Yet, I find myself wanting to dive in to a big palette of juicy oil paints to create some "advertisements" of my own now that I'm back home. Any recommendations fellow painters? (I haven't found a way to love acrylic yet, plus I heard it's not great stuff either).
One of the many reasons I'm hooked on travel is because it changes the way you look at your world when you get back - at least for a while. It helps me be more within the moment with family, friends and outside. Even mundane tasks like cleaning the house and doing laundry have a fresh feel. The people of Samrit gave me a deeper view on what I'm grateful for in particular.
It's true that where we were visiting is the poorest part of Thailand and that there were not many luxuries. You can't flush toilet paper down the toilet (there's a hose instead), the water is unsafe for drinking and there are bugs and lizards and rats running around in and above your accommodations. But you quickly get used to those differences, maybe find some tourist-like endearment in them... then finally realize it's like red squirrels or hard water back home. I did not have a big revelation that the people of Samrit have so much less than we do. But I did find myself thinking that they have more in a way- a strength and resilience.
Now it's true that I was seeing everything with the starry-eyed vision of someone experiencing trouncing around in the mud to catch catfish or the exhilaration of paddling in unison with 30 others in a very long, skinny and tippy boat on a foreign continent, for the first time. I'm certain the people of Samrit do not feel their lives as naively as I did. I think they probably live very hard lives. They're mostly rice farmers in an industry that's now losing the competition to export with Vietnam, another impoverished country. They're facing the challenges of a land soured by fertilizer due to a western solution to growing more food faster. The Chinese have come in and created shell corporations under Thai names and have taken over many businesses. It's very difficult to get a bank loan there, so people are forced to buy them on the black market, etc. Yet the Thai people smile a lot and are a very generous, collaborative and accepting people. Which I will remember and take with me.
Within a surprisingly short amount of time, Jordan and I felt like we were part of the community of Samrit village. Art, the Program Manager at the Artist Residency, was a great host - leading us around to authentic and interesting places, answering our endless questions, and joking around with us. We fell in love with Jin, the woman who owns the shop across the street where we ate meals, her mother, Cheun, and their family. They'd take us to their plot of land where they grow the rice we ate. And without a lot of verbal exchange I learned some things about rice farming, including that my head is certainly too oblong for the hat Jin lent me. I enjoyed getting to know Art's large group of family and friends- his fabulous mom, On and her husband Lindsay, the founders of Samrit, his brother, his wife & adorable son, the boat team, the beautiful girls who taught us some traditional Thai dancing, Paddy the dog who we're now trying to bring back here, and on and on.
It was a beautiful experience and I am thankful to all the people who made it so. I'd highly recommend the residency stay for any artist who likes adventure, a different pace of life and respectfully learning about new cultures.
Samrit is so cool, I mean it's hot, but chill. Jordan and I made a daily routine of walking around the countryside and I spend the rest of my time sketching and taking photos. We are fast friends with Jin, the woman who owns the shop across the street where we eat our meals, Art, the program director at Samrit, and Alba, the other resident artist from Madrid. Art and Jin generously invite us to do all sorts of things and are open, curious and I enjoy their sense of humor. Alba has a very tender heart and shared with me some of the community projects she works on in Spain, including mural collaborations with inmates at the prison in Madrid, and feet paintings with the students at the art school for adults with special needs, where she teaches.
We had a memorable trip to the market in Phimai and dinner with Art's large family, including an observation of 36 people training for a village on village paddling race at the end of the month. They train three months in advance for two hours every evening (in the dark as the sun sets around 5:30-6:00 p.m.). Jin took us to explore her rice paddy this morning as she and her husband flooded the field from the nearby river. We eat her rice everyday at the shop and this particular crop will be ready to harvest in November.
The pace of life here is slow and peaceful.
The last 36 hours in Thailand have been surreal. Not to sound ancient, but it is amazing that after 30 hours of being awake and traveling one can find themselves across the world riding through Bangkok in the dark - noticing things like highways fighting a battle against world foliage domination and experiencing a kind of warmth not felt before - one that keeps people sitting outside into the wee hours of night, drinking around tables, listening to music, while children play, beside shacks and gas stations and markets and stop lights.
Everything is new. (Except the signs for 7-11, Amway and Dunkin' Donuts). At this point I can only observe, smile and wonder in awe, where am I? Yet one thing that keeps popping into my blissed out and perhaps overly tired mind is: Does affording air conditioning really make a life better, happier? I'm happy to be 95 degrees warm. Beer over ice tastes so good. And my perspective on what's important here and at home is fueling some good studio time.
Details of Patterns, Colors & Textures:
I took a break from my weekly blog over the Spring, Summer and early Fall to work on a project called Limited Edition - a space for young artists, writers and makers located in Downtown Petoskey, MI. It is difficult to sum up what that experience meant to our little community of emerging creatives and to me personally in a few sentences. But if you're interested in learning more, click on the link above to our website to read all about it.
Meanwhile, here are a couple sketches and new paintings I've been working on over the last few months:
In a week I'm heading to rural Thailand for a two-week artist residency. I'll be given a room, shared studio space and a bicycle, with no other expectations or requirements. My goal is to participate in everything that I can, explore daily by foot and bicycle, sketch, teach school kids, cook with families and perhaps farm. Sam Rit is located 4 hours NE of Bangkok by car and has a population of 670. Their main source of income is agriculture - sugar, rice and tapioca. No one in the village speaks English, with the exception of one or two people who work at the residency program...and that's what I know. It's been several years since I left the country and I've never been to Asia before. This will be the most exotic place I've been - I'm excited, thankful and eager to see where my work goes as a result of this experience. Laa gawn
I'm excited to work with Zoe Marshall-Rashid of ZoeDance this summer as we offer two Art & Movement Camps in July for children ages 4-6 & 6-8. To learn more and to sign up, visit: ZoeDance. While you're there check out some of Zoe's private and group classes for adults, she is a talented dancer and teacher and Petoskey is lucky to have her.
We're excited to announce that Limited Edition was chosen as a grant recipient from the Michigan Council on Arts & Cultural Affairs for $2400! Thanks to these monies and the generous pledges from our Kickstarter Campaign we'll be able to rent a space and host some fun workshops and events throughout the Summer!
Meanwhile, we are hard at work gathering young emerging creatives to be a part of our space as we plan our schedule of workshops and happenings. I had the chance to speak to the Art and English classes at Petoskey High School, as well as the Art classes at North Central Michigan College this week. I was inspired by the creativity of the students and their teachers - we're lucky to have these passionate and engaging educators in our community and look forward to the participation of some of these students this Summer!
Stay tuned for upcoming announcements about our location, shop hours and a schedule of events by following us on Facebook: Limited Edition, on Twitter: @_limitedshop or on Instagram: @limitededitionshop.
We hope you have the chance to visit us at Limited Edition this summer to see first hand the value in supporting organizations like the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs in our beloved home state.
* A special thank you to Crooked Tree Arts Center for bringing this grant opportunity to our attention and guiding us through the process, as well as Marion Bright & Will Cronin for your advice and seriously good editing skills.
Limited Edition is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Who isn't ready for Spring. I want to go outside, feel the sun on my face and the cool breeze of 55-60 degree days.
Seasons changing always makes me want to drink, or think about a celebratory drink rather. I don't drink much really. I dislike the instant hangovers I get from two beers or more than one glass of wine. But I sure to like to imagine myself drinking tasty cocktails, paired with delicious, seasonal bites; cozy, warm whiskey drinks in the Winter, refreshing, herbaceous clear drinks in the Spring and a cold beer with citrus in the Summertime.
I want to go outside without a coat on and start working in the yard, pump up my cruiser tires and ride downtown for iced tea at Dripworks, or sit on the front porch and do absolutely, blissfully, nothing.
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
I've been trying different stuff to use my creativity to make an interesting and meaningful work life; teaching: kids, adults, summer camps...curating and hosting exhibits, working with galleries, doing commission work on etsy, chalkboard signs for businesses, grappling with the idea of starting an artist residency program, etc. Recently, I had a chance to reflect upon this and realized that none of these ideas stuck by themselves because at the core I am motivated by a need for artistic community.
I love learning and sharing what I've learned. Spending time in my studio with a crisp, white 4'x4' panel that I made is my happy place. I live for meeting artists and learning about who they are, what drives them, and their creative process. I dig working together with a group to build something, and so I feel grateful and excited to open Limited Edition this summer!
I've had something else on my mind for a while and haven't found how to write about it in a way that feels good, but I'm going to take a stab at it today:
I love living in this small town - I enjoy running into three people I know as we walk four blocks to the grain train. I like not needing a car and having woods, water, delicious coffee, beer and tacos within a walkable distance. I am excited about new potentially successful businesses opening up downtown or discovering a place that I didn't realize existed. I like being near my family and my boyfriends family. I like how supportive people are about things that matter.
There's something that frustrates me about living here too. I dislike that we're often afraid to speak openly about how something isn't working, for fear of offending the folks we see regularly that are responsible for that something. Can we talk in a respectful and objective way about how there seems to be a good ole boys mentality to some of the existing community hierarchical structures? Can we change archaic framework so as to open doors to new, innovative ideas that benefit our community instead of closing doors out of a fear of our charming town losing it's charm? Can we become comfortable with aggressive instead of accepting of passive aggressive?
For a 20-30 something, I share an interest and pride in our community. So it kills me when young people are met with condescending attitudes towards our perspective by people in positions of power. Passion and earnestness are positive qualities to embrace and lift up, just as experience based knowledge and the interest to listen are. Individual perspectives matter in a community and the perspectives of each demographic matter just as much as the next - young, middle, elderly, majority, minority. Something I've learned from being an artist is to not take rejection personally. Yet, this isn't about rejection. Life is constantly changing. Why can't we take what we've learned, combined with our values, and move forward with the times in our small town?
For everything that falls into the above, there are individuals and organizations that are fighting the good fight, advocating for their community, being honest when something doesn't add up, and listening to the needs of others, regardless of whether that person can provide them with personal gain. I love these people. I wish this was the norm.
We have 3 days left to fund our Kickstarter Campaign! We are so thankful for the donations we've received so far. In order to keep them, we'll need to reach our full $5000 goal by this Saturday!
Meanwhile, Kristen and I are meeting new young creatives in the community and talking about all of the possibilities for collaboration and engagement at Limited Edition this summer. We're excited about the exhibits, workshops, and professional development presentations we'll offer and are in full planning mode.
Last weekend, Dripworks in Petoskey hosted a fundraiser for us, with 10% of profits benefiting Limited Edition. We had a great turnout and had meaningful conversations with folks in our community. I spoke with Marty Scott, owner of Red Sky Stage in Petoskey and Dan Polleys, Boyne City Teacher and Leader at Red Cedar Writing Project, and am thrilled to begin brainstorming with them. We have an opportunity to connect the young creative community we're building with the existing organizations and more established creatives in our area.
Here is a sneak peak at some of the mentors we'll hear from this summer:
- Ken Winter, Writing Instructor NCMC & MSU, Former Editor & Publisher Petoskey News-Review
- Shanna Robinson, Textile Artist & Professor of Art, NCMC
- Jordan Breighner, V.C. & founder of Coolhouse Labs: 'Art as Entrepreneurship'
- Margaret Tvedten, Artist & Owner Tvedten Gallery, Harbor Springs
And...some of the workshops we'll offer, from our young creatives:
- Sun Printing with Kristen Koehler, Photographer
- Block printing & Linocuts with Laurie Hunt, Printmaker
- Make your own oil paint with Jon Anthony, Painter
- Build your own Loom & Loom Weaving with Jasmine Lace, Textile Artist
- Stencils & Spray painting with Katie Brines, Painter
Thank you to those who've given us advice, guidance and helped to spread the word about our Kickstarter Fundraiser.
And thank you Crooked Tree for bringing the MCACA grant opportunity to our attention and providing insight into the process of grant writing. We'll hear back about our application mid-April, and regardless of the outcome, we're excited to make Limited Edition happen this summer, thanks to some good ole hard work and teamwork.
Kristen Koehler, a talented photographer, glass blowing apprentice, and recent NMU grad, and I are working hard to create a hub for young artists, writers and makers to gather in Petoskey, MI this summer. Our space will be open between June through August and will provide:
Semi-Annual shows w/ an opening
Monthly performance readings
Professional Development Opportunities
I recently asked Kristen, Limited Edition's co-creator and Events Coordinator, to speak a little bit about why she's passionate about this project:
KK: As a young artist I am so excited for the opportunity to have creative freedom in a communal space. Pop-up galleries are so unique because it gives artists the chance to collaborate with one another; it is up to the young artists in the space to create exhibitions, promote the exhibitions, teach workshops and share their art with others. Limited Edition is for young artists and by young artists. There is not anything in Northern Michigan like this. I know there are a lot of young people who are extremely motivated to get involved in the arts scene within our small community but simply do not have a platform to do so.
One of the great aspects of this space is that it forces artists to not only be involved with the art side of a studio/gallery space but also learn about marketing & promotion of the workshops, exhibitions and the space itself. It’s huge opportunity to make connections within the community and to explore the different avenues for young artists within a small town.
KB: Do you think small towns are good places for creative innovation?
KK: Small towns are great place for creative innovation. What makes living in a small community so special is the accessibility of resources… established by forming relationships with local artists, business owners and the public. People living in small towns are very open to supporting one another in order to better the community. It is important for young people to have a voice in small towns like Petoskey, so that the community can continue to progress and appeal to a younger demographic. Limited Edition would be an innovative and unique asset to the arts and culture of Petoskey.
Kristen really sums up what this project means to us. Her positivity, passion and drive are inspiring and really represent why this project is vital.
So, how are we making this happen?
We've applied for a $4000 grant from the New Leaders Arts Council of Michigan, which requires a 1:1 match in funding. While applying for this grant, Kristen and I sat down and mapped out our budget for the summer - realistically, we need to raise $6000 in addition to any grant funding we receive.
This money will be used to rent our own space in downtown Petoskey, with the remaining funds earmarked for marketing and promotion, supplies, and compensating space staff. We've launched a kickstarter campaign to crowd fund $5000 and have until March 12th to raise the entirety of our goal in order to receive any of the donations we raise through kickstarter. Crowd funding felt like a natural choice for us - this website is specifically tailored to "kickstart" creative projects, giving the public an opportunity to support a project through $10+ donations.
If you'd like to donate to Limited Edition and check out some of our great rewards, visit our kickstarter campaign here: Limited Edition: a space for young artists, writers & makers.
The bottom line: We aim to empower young creatives to build the framework for sustainable lives up north. The success of Limited Edition relies on community engagement. Folks are stepping forward, voicing their support of our idea, and offering guidance, advice and donations. We are humbled by their generosity and willingness to support us. I read something interesting on creativemany.org that puts this project and creative projects in general into a relevant context:
Michigan’s resurgence depends on a commitment to invest in the unique assets that make it competitive. Increasing the state’s investment in the creative community would result in a growth in jobs, private investment in the arts and audience participation all generating dollars to the state that would contribute beyond the initial investment.
Arts and cultural organizations are magnetic hubs of activity for communities, driving local economies, while offering enrichment, education and entertainment. Whether in a major city or rural town, creating the places people want to live often begins with the creative industry, including walkable communities; vibrant, cultural downtowns; green-conscious initiatives; competitive education; resource-rich landscapes; and entrepreneurial innovation.
Strong partnerships, dedicated leadership and support from both public and private sectors, position the creative sector to drive spending in local economies and private investment, while attracting new businesses and talent throughout Michigan – making it a contributing force in our state’s reinvention.
Young professionals seek places to live and work that offer a rich array of performing and visual arts amenities. Employers and their families look for locations in which local school districts have strong arts programs, which teach children the cooperation, collaboration, discipline and problem solving skills needed to become the next generation of innovators. We also know that where arts education is available, graduation rates increase significantly.
The creative industries a necessary component advancing the brainpower Michigan and the country’s future leaders need to develop the creative solutions to driving our future. Vibrant arts and cultural centers are a key ingredient to attracting and harnessing the new energy Michigan needs. The creative community has proven time and again it can deliver on such a promise. - creative many
Support us in our goal of developing creative community in Northern Michigan: Limited Edition.
Follow us on Facebook & @limitededitionshop on Instagram
I went to a gathering yesterday in Traverse City hosted by Crooked Tree, our local arts center, in which they invited artists and posed this question: In what ways can CTAC help support artists?
Recently Crooked Tree merged with Traverse City Arts Center, meaning Crooked Tree will now serve all of Northwest Northern Michigan.
It was a healthy discussion that could happen in any small community around the country with the constant theme of: how do we sustain ourselves as artists?
There are clear trends in what artists needs are. The first is quality space to show our work. We asked the CTAC to think of ways to support artists by providing unique and exciting spaces to show our work. In particular, there are some interesting industrial spaces in TC, such as the factory near the old Northern Michigan Asylum. In Petoskey - where I live - there are empty store fronts that have been for rent for several years that we could transform into incredible pop-up galleries and exhibition space with a focus on showcasing local artists.
Next, affordable space in which to make work and feel a sense of community amongst artists. At the meeting, there was an artist who pointed out that there are a good amount of artists in NoMi. We are important to the fabric and identity of the community. We are in a sense a public good. We are like the lake, people expect us to be here, expect us to provide, be available, without considering what it takes to be an artist anywhere. It takes dedication to a craft and the profession of art. In my mind, a building full of artists working in their studios, hosting events, and opening up those studios to the public (during certain times) would be a great way for us to engage with the community while at the same time letting them see our profession in action.
Community studio space ties into this last issue we face: artists as entrepreneurs - We need help figuring out how to support ourselves and how to engage the public. Specifically, learning how to find a market for our work even if we have to export our art outside of the community.
I think these are challenges artists and entrepreneurs everywhere face.
I find myself trying to reconcile the idea of artists as entrepreneurs this week. On the one hand, treating your work as a business is necessary to be able to afford yourself the time to continue making art. Yet on the other hand treating you work as a business can stunt the very core of your business; your work and it's evolution.
Can I be an artist and an entrepreneur at the same time?
It feels great to be back in the studio again! Here are a few images of the paintings I've been working on.
If you're interested in owning an original, don't be afraid to inquire - I have a variety of sizes and price points, as well as works on paper.
I wrote a blog post today about discipline, getting advice/taking advice/disregarding advice and finding a balance between what's natural to you and what you have to do to push yourself towards growth. But then I stepped away from my computer to bake a delicious flourless chocolate birthday cake for my nephew, only to return to my computer with no blog post in sight. So instead I will say a few words about saving stuff...before I say f it and go outside on this brisk, sunny winter day to walk my dogs, whitewash our floors, and celebrate three years of Milo with family and friends.
There is so much stuff in the world. I know I've written about this before, but it's something I think about regularly. Maybe it's because I was raised in a thrifty family or from my experiences observing giant piles of trash in the ocean while sailing through the beautiful Caribbean or because I have mainly afforded only what I really need, but it's on my mind. There is way more stuff than anyone in this country needs or could possibly use - giant warehouses full of perfectly packaged stuff enshrouded in plastic and cardboard, constructed in an alluring choose me 4-year university student loans packaging degree type of way. Yet there are a lot of people whose basic needs are not being fulfilled; you know, food, clean water, shelter. I don't know, it doesn't add up. Don't get me wrong, I secretly buy twix candy bars while browsing through fashion magazines, savoring the salty, caramel, and fake chocolate-like substance between my uninsured molars. Yet I find myself wondering why does it seem like only the really wealthy are afforded the luxury of being ethical consumers? Is this just another scheme to get people to buy things we don't need, to keep consuming more than the world can sustain? Amen for the thrift shores and local farmers markets.
As we find ourselves down the rabbit hole of a home remodel the days seem to blend together - each one a mixture of sanding plaster, cleaning, sealing, and painting as we try to finish the walls of our 1880's cottage. I'm elated to say we are entering the home stretch of this endeavor. At least, there aren't any big, gaping holes in the floor and the walls no longer look like a human nervous system. It's been two months since we started this process and we're both looking forward to living in the space we've worked so hard to make our own. Of course, there will be many more months of trim work and attending to the finer details over the winter. Yet a welcome balance between working on art and living life is in sight!
Here are some visual updates of our progress:
In a media-driven, technological world we are inundated with a stream of images, with "art" at every corner. About once a week I see an article on my facebook stream asking questions like; Is there anything left to paint? Why aren't artists making work reflective of the time we live in? When did art become more about marketing and less about the quality of the work itself?
These articles make interesting points, some of which I agree with and some I don't. For example, there are many works recreating the style of a time past; sometimes skillfully, sometimes ironically, and sometimes badly. And I've definitely encountered that person who takes self-promotion to the next level, shifting all conversations to themselves and their successes, dressing the part as if a caricature of an artist, meanwhile selling lots of bad art to the susceptible customer.
So you've probably surmised that I think there is good and bad art. My definition of bad art is pretty simple. It has nothing to do with my preferences in terms of a style of art. I make abstract paintings myself and that process feels right to me. But I love to view all types of art and have great respect for innovation, skill, vision, personal point of view, authenticity, humor, beauty, emotion, an intentional lack of emotion, etc. But what makes art bad is when it has lost all of the aforementioned and there are no longer remnants of the soul of the person who created the work in the work itself. The reasons for this vary, but perhaps this involves a process being done solely for money, acknowledgement or to satisfy someone else's vision. Whatever the cause, I bet it's reversible.
There are ways of learning to discern between good and bad art. One of the simplest ways to do so is to start looking at more art - going to museums when you're traveling, attending art openings, concerts, performances, and independent films. Try to expose yourself to a variety of styles and genres, not just the ones you already know you like. Often this means stepping out of your comfort zone and attending events you may feel you don't get or understand. If you find yourself at something that is foreign to you, just remember all you have to do is look. Allow yourself to be present in the experience. After all art is a visual experience...or auditory, or kinesthetic, etc. You can read about the artists intentions, inspirations or motivations after you look, but it's nice to not let it shape what you see initially. Learning to look is the first step in recognizing good art. And by learning to look I do not mean learning to see something real in a piece of art that is not representational (art is not always an optical illusion puzzle). Realistic and representational art are just a couple of styles out there - Though these styles may be more accessible to someone who is just beginning to learn about art.
I find it can be difficult for adults to be in positions where they don't know about something. While children tend to be unselfconscious learners and ask really wonderful, curious questions. May we all channel our inner child and be a little bit more brave and curious about the world around us. Everyone has an equally valid point of view and learning is cool.