Friday, September 21, 2012

magical thinking Detroit

While driving into Detroit last night to attend my first life drawing class at the venerable Scarab Club I had the feeling that I could be friends with the city.

With emptiness all around me I declared myself capable of managing my way to those enclaves where artists are trying to make something out of nothing.  They are trying to decorate the city to make it live again.

For years now having lived in the greater Detroit area I've felt as if "the city" was a vacant and scary place.  As if the dangers lurking there were in the shadows.  I never saw people on the street unless they were in crowds scuttling off to a ball game or a concert, to rush out of the city again once the event was over.  I never had the feeling that people actually live there.  There has been much written about it and I'm not going to contribute any new prose to that which has been circling and apparent for decades.

But with last night's foray into the city I was trying to see my place in it.  In with the art establishment where you have to be present to be considered.  It seems to me that I have to win over the clusters of art intelligencia to be taken seriously.  Joing in the groups that meet in the creases of the city seem to be the way of the art scene here.
   The Scarab Club drawing sessions were lovely.  It felt comfortable to be in a squeaky old building that reminded me of home.  But outside a different reality.

Leaving for the evening, walking out to my car in its space, there was only space.  My van was gone.  Instantly my mind clicked into magical thinking, as if the van had just disappeared for a moment and would be right back.  In times of shock its funny how your mind works.  My mind was hyper aware of everything immediately around me, a leaf falling, people walking by, the kind of light and darkness the streetlights and shadows were.

The Wayne State University police were contacted and the practical necessities of filing a report and such like were welcome sanity to the surreal-ness of the scene.

My husband came to fetch me as my rescuer and champion.  On the way home I visualised everything that was in my old paint bucket of a van.  The drop cloths, work boxes and what-not that were of little value to anyone but me.

It's as if, I thought, now my van has gone walk-about with someone else against her will!  Yet, in the end and in the new light of morning with tears streaming down my face for finally feeling the loss of the thing, I'm more upset by what the theft represents than the actual loss of a thing!

It represents my reluctance to be friends with the city.  To hook my star to the possibility that it can help me advance my art in a place that needs so much more than tarted up buildings and well intentioned nonsense.

It has always been hard for me to reconcile myself to living here.  In my weaker moments I cry like a child that wants to go home.  My magical thinking helps me cope with stressful information.  It's the magical thinking of hope.  I don't see the need to decorate or admire the grit of the city.  Painting it will never change a damn thing, but hope can if I can drive my way through it savvier than the last time.  That is, when I get a car!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


It's September, the start of the change of season.  It also makes me think that in the not too distant future the warmth of the oven will be a pleasant surrounding, which means baking, which means pie!

Years ago I fancied myself a baker, perhaps because my gran was such a good one and I wanted to be as able as she.  Years ago, I was practiced, but since then I've become a paint farmer, a "one-trick-pony" where the only concocting I do is the alchemy of mixing colours in paint for making paintings or murals.

On the odd occasion when I actually bake it often times becomes an art project rather than a sweet morsel!  But for today, I can manage a simple cobbler with fresh peaches.

Turning the oven on I know that autumn is here and with it so many new things.  No matter how many years we experience the change of seasons, each change always feels new and and more colourful.

This year's events are so very different from last.  There are gallery art receptions to attend, there are fine art shows to enter.  There's a whole new prospect and outlet for the art I love to make.  And, of course, there's time to make the art.  Time, oh precious time!

The biggest prospect and the one and closest to my heart is the weekend event artist friends and I are promoting for ourselves in Northville the first weekend in Oct. (5,6&7).  We conjured it up as a means to show and sell our work and to raise money for the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

It has become a bit of an obsession for me I suppose, trying to gather artists interested in participating and navigating how to contact the media and take care of little bits of this and that that is required with learning how to self-promote.  I'm learning alot along the way.  So, although I've been out of the studio more than in it, I feel like I'm learning what it means to make paintings.

The painting pictured here was almost thrown away.  It was a bit of a scribble that kept getting added to over time with no rhyme or reason.  And in that  fiddling, what do you know, some kind of new thing.  Or at least, I think it's something.  It's certainly not pie but it visually tastes good to me!

"we make each other cry sometimes"
18"x24" orig. mixed media on canvas