I like to write, read, sew and paint!
I’m about to turn fifty and by the time I post this I will have done that.
It’s raining right now and I like it a lot. I’m in my kitchen at about nine in the morning. If it weren’t the holidays, I’d be in my classroom, teaching art.
Instead, I’m sipping coffee and my laptop is being used to reflect on time and the bag of flesh and bones that holds in whatever it is that keeps me wandering along this wild ride, instead of click-clacking away with my fingers- typing notes about the student I’d just finished my last one-to-one session with.
As well, I have some actual “newsletter” things to mention!
In February I’ll be reading with three writers who also happen to be people I like very much, Jean Vengua, Terese Garcia and Melissa Smedley at a local coffee shop in downtown Monterey that hosts interesting events.
The reading is a part of a show that Melissa Smedley has opening at the Monterey Museum of Art, with her artist collective called Critical Ground, consisting of Dora Lisa Rosenbaum, Denese Sanders, Mandy Salm, and herself called Courage Within: Women Without Shelter. Before the pandemic, they worked with unhoused women in our community, hosting workshops, making art and spending time together. The body of work that will be shown is connected to the experiences and also to actions that can be taken to try and help the complex problem of people without resources and permanent homes.
I’m working on something I consider a sort of prose-poem that comes from a letter I wrote to a homeless shelter, on behalf of my mother, after finding a nationally shared article about mental health and homelessness, and an image of and interview with my brother, with whom I’ve been estranged from for a very long time.
In any case, I’m very glad to be asked to be a part of the project, as I admire the Critical Ground collective artists, who are also my friends and creative peers here on the Monterey Peninsula. As well, it gives me a reason to use my creative writing practice to explore something that I really can’t grasp in a way that makes any sense. Hopefully I’ll be able to learn something from the process of forming and sharing and it will contribute to the intention of the artists and the exhibition.
So yeah, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to read my work again. The last time I did, it was in Seaside, California, for a group art show and event called, My Body, My Voice. My part was supposed to be more of a performance than a reading, but I have a hard time separating the two. I like my writing to be performed (by me) and I usually throw in some kind of ridiculous costume or props and try and fit in what at least I consider, a few jokes. I appreciate the “absurd,'' and laughter from an audience makes me feel like I’m not wasting anyone’s time. I feel like it might ease people through the difficult topics I sometimes write about. It could be a crutch, but it’s one I enjoy.
To stay with the theme, I chose to re-edit a story I had written and read in Los Angeles at Beyond Baroque and an event at Otis College of Art and Design; a part of my project called, The Unmet Man. The story was from the collection of stories under that title, and this one is about time traveling and finding my younger self within a situation where I was trapped- by an abuser, a patriarchal system and my own mind, by way of those other things-
Here is the reading from 2019 (They misnamed it- it’s actually titled, Time Travel Promise):
Another cool thing I’m doing is a workshop called Finding Your Inner Monster at another very cool Monterey spot called Slowfiber, where I will help people consider parts of themselves that might be gorgeously “monsterous” and create a physical, and dare I say, cuddly version of this beast. This will be in July and you can sign up here: Finding Your Inner Monster Workshop. I highly recommend you check out Jaki’s online shop and follow Slowfiber on Instagram. Her newsletter will fill you in on her mendbar activities and all the marvelous workshops from so many talented teachers, as well as bundles of things she gathers together to help us all learn to mend and create and grow- through the process of moving needle through thread (or dye through wool, or hook through yarn…). Her mission infects all that she does, and her space is super-cozy and inspiring.
Speaking of learning how to sew soft colorful things, my friend Mai who works under the name Play Full Ground has been working very hard at reaching out to the world to share inspiration and motivate people to be their best creative selves via her inspirED Youtube project and in this one, you can learn her step-by-step process of creating something she calls, Happy Monterey Sardines. Her channel is filled with many resources and I suggest you check out what she has been up to!
OTHER NEWSLETTER THINGS (speaking of inspiration)
I recently listened to the audiobook version of Viv Albertine’s To Throw Away Unopened. I had read her first memoir called Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys when that was first released and I think my interest in her started when I saw her in the film, Exhibition. It was so quiet and weird. I knew of her being in The Slits, but I didn’t grow up knowing that much about their music or important role in pop culture.
What I like about her stories and her way of expressing is how she lives an art life while sharply addressing where she came from, where she ended up (“where,” meaning situations and circumstance, as well as relationships), where she’s expected to “be”- all while noting her ways of being as a contrast to all of that. How she explores the expectations of being a woman/person/artist meeting who she uniquely is and what she feels she uniquely wants is really something I like. There is just so much to her way of expressing that I need right now. A lot of times I just can’t connect with work that explores motherhood (I’m not a mother and never wanted to be one) and daughterhood (can’t help that one), but her approach comes from a place I can slip into, in a very natural way.
Here is the video for her 2013 song, Confessions of a Milf
Also, the entire Laurie Anderson Mahindra Humanities Norton Lecture series is now on Youtube. I was able to watch the first three during my lunch breaks while teaching via Zoom during our times of lockdown and it was such a gift. I had to catch up on the others (they were offered for free as Zoom lectures) recently, since I’ve gone back to teaching in person. In my opinion, Laurie Anderson’s work is a true gift and very useful and I’m so glad to be able to share this recent series here.
Also- I loved, loved, loved the Sparks Brothers documentary. Their body of work is so inspiring and I’ve never really invested time into all that they’ve done- and it’s a lot! I also really loved their beautiful musical-film called Annette, that John Waters said is the best movie of the year in Art Forum magazine. I’m just so inspired by the way they consistently work and do (and have been doing) things their own way, despite the struggles so many of us can relate to in making and sharing our art.
I’ve been making and selling some tiny, framed artworks online at my “lil art shop” on BigCartel and so far, the two I’ve shared online have sold instantly. I’m very grateful for that. I haven’t been pushing it too hard though, for fear that I’ll jinx it or something. I’ve got two more up for sale and more small monsters (they are little monsters) to upload to replace those that have sold. Click on the lil sign below to visit the lil shop!
As well, there is a body of work I’ve been working on since just before the pandemic, involving paintings and weavings and even one soft sculpture. I think I wrote about this during my first newsletter here on Substack- I’ll most likely revisit it all once I show it. This time of thinking and making and rethinking (all while teaching full time and being a caregiver to my elderly mom) has been very good for me to let it all “talk” to me. I want this work to be in the correct space when done. I need to see it all up in one place, together. I have two local galleries I’m thinking of, but I may end up renting a shop or something, for just a month or so. It has to feel right. I’ve made so many concessions in my displays of art over the years, thinking that it’s good to work with people and spaces that make themselves available to me, and holding onto a sort of fight I have been having in my head with the expectations for artists to present works, but this time I know I need to see the stuff in a space where I hold more control.
Among all of that I’m still investigating how wearable art and the things we choose to buy or collect, to throw away or take care of, fits into my way of sharing and identifying as an artist and person living life in my own specific way- but I’ll save that for another newsletter post.
So there you go, I shared three “newsletter” things that are examples of all the things I write in my social media bios: Artist (artwork-in progress and what motivates that), Writer (writing/reading and what motivates that), and Teacher (monster workshop and day job), how about that? I didn’t really reflect on turning fifty, as I had intended, but I’ll just trust that some of that must have made it’s way in, when I wasn’t looking.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!