I spent most of April bike touring the Natchez Trace Parkway and adjacent communities, and life got simplified to three questions for a few weeks – where to camp, what to eat, and how far to ride. Brandon and I rode from Nashville south, and then (why not?) turned around and rode back from Natchez to Nashville.
We were lucky with weather, enjoyed good hospitality, ate lots of food a person should not generally make part of their diet, and avoided killer tornadoes by a week. It was a great chance to catch up, chase spring, and see another part of the country.
I mainly considered this a non-art trip, but I couldn’t pass up the museums in Jackson and Nashville. The art museum in Nashville is gorgeous – an art deco building that was formerly a post office – and there was a traveling exhibit on display there from the Museum of Fine Art in Boston on the influence of Japanese art on western artists. Sometimes I think I enjoy smaller regional museums more than the big ones. Less museum fatigue, frequent surprises.
We got home and both immediately jumped back into the stream of work and spring chores. I started a school residency right away at Woodriver Elementary, making another set of mosaic murals to add to the collection that we created three years ago. I’ll be there for one more day to grout and work with the kindergartens, and it has been fun to return. I wish I could engineer more repeat school visits as everything runs so smoothly the second time.
The other event that added to the fast pace of the last two weeks was the Alaska State Council on the Arts conference that is held in Anchorage every two years. I missed most of the actual conference, but for good reason. I was fortunate to be one of 25 artists selected to participate in a concurrent three-day professional development workshop put on by the New York organization Creative Capital. It was a mind-bending three days. I have still not had time to start to process the information they presented, but it was ALL so good, relevant, and timely. It was also a privilege to spend that time with other artists from across the state who are working in different fields but who face similar challenges. I think we will be able to help each other stay on track and make the most of this experience, as well as use it to help other artists. If any of you reading this have a chance to work with this group, run at it. I was somewhat apprehensive going in – but completely empowered and excited heading out. ASCA subsidized the bulk of the cost for participating artists and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to have my head opened up and stuffed full.
Now, to the farming season where I rejoin Cripple Creek Organics for a couple of days of work in the dirt each week, finishing up the pieces for my project grant from Rasmuson (above box is an example of what I’ve been doing) and onward with my show for Imogen Gallery in Astoria in August. Lots to do.
Finally, a quick plug for another artist – while we were away, fellow Fairbanks printmaker Glenna Gannon was running the dog party here and working in my studio. It was nice to have the space smell like ink rather than absence, and her new work is beautiful. Go see her June show at the Alaska House in Fairbanks if you can.