Monday, March 13, 2017

A Little Bit Ranty Today

feeling a bit ranty today.

Sunday was spent with two of my siblings,
visiting a charming town that’s filled with antique stores, galleries and restaurants.
It was a lovely day…
except for the part of the afternoon 
when I allowed myself to feel irritated 
by an exchange I overheard in one of the shops.

This particular shop was filled with lots of wonderful, handcrafted items, 
some by local artists whose work I recognized. 
We were in the shop for around 25 minutes, 
and one of the salespersons kept busy with another customer for the entire time. 
I was impressed with the employee’s professional dedication 
as she worked with a customer 
who appeared to be interested in making a purchase 
but was seized with indecisiveness.

The employee and customer were by the checkout area 
when my sister was making her purchase, 
and I watched as different pieces of original, framed art 
were hung on the wall for the customer’s consideration. 
She was clearly interested in one of the pieces 
and asked if there was any 
‘wiggle room’ 
with the price.

That’s when my internal voice said, 
“Oh, please. Really?!”

Moments like this can bring out my judgmental side, 
and I freely admit to assessing the Prada baby stroller she was pushing, 
tricked out with a nice assortment of accessories 
and the lovely clothing she was wearing. 
I know, I know….
I’m making assumptions, 
but this woman did not present a picture 
of someone living a life of financial struggle.

I am acquainted with quite a few people 
who dedicate their lives to creative pursuits. 
While I can’t speak to other’s motivations, 
I feel like I’m wired to create. 
I’m a maker. 
The financial rewards are limited, 
and I appreciate that is the trade-off 
for the powerful satisfaction I can feel 
when my hands take raw materials and turn them into jewelry 
or when I translate an emotion into a painting.

Decades of learning, exploring, failing and growing 
go into each piece that I create. 
Assigning a price to each of those pieces is quite humbling; 
it is done very thoughtfully. 
In most retail settings, 
the artist gets 50% of the selling price. 
That percentage will sometimes be 40% 
when the arrangement is by consignment. 
I know they exist, 
but I do not personally know any artist 
who is getting rich off of his or her art. 
My guess is that most of them would say that’s fine, 
but I would also guess 
that most of them want to do more than just barely survive.

I have no doubt 
that the artist whose paintings were being considered yesterday 
worked hard to create the pieces that were matted and framed. 
I know that the store owners and employees 
were working hard 
to create a wonderfully curated selection of items 
in a beautiful setting. 
When someone asks if there’s ‘wiggle room’ in the price, 
that wiggle means less money for the artist or the shop, 
or both. 

I could feel a twitch developing in my left eye 
as I fought the urge to turn to the customer and say, 
“Just pay the price, already!”

I do know how to behave in public.

I remained quiet until we left the shop, 
and I turned to my sister and said, 
“Oh, please! Really?!”

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lansdowne Theater Project Part I

Before moving to our current home,
my family lived in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
I enjoyed living there 
and continue to have a fondness for the community.
There is a wonderful diversity among the residents, 
and many are actively engaged in local politics 
as well as community activities and events.

During our 9 years in Lansdowne,
 I did the design for Sycamore Park
when the Borough secured the property to
protect one of the oldest trees, 
estimated to date to the mid 1600's, 
in Pennsylvania.

My family also took part in projects 
that improved the site designs 
of the Borough library 
and two war memorials that honor local veterans.

When you get involved in your community, 
you tend to meet some really wonderful people,
and we met the Schultz family, 
Matt and Judie and their daughter Helen.
A lifelong resident, 
Matt is committed to improving the community
and is the driving force behind the 
renovation of
the Lansdowne Theater.
photo by Brian Mengini
As Chief Executive Officer of the
Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation,
Matt has been using his organizational talents
to bring this jewel of a building back to life.

To learn more about this exciting project, 
please visit the 
Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation

Several months ago,
Matt suggested a possible collaborative effort.
Would I consider creating original artwork
that might hopefully support and promote
the ongoing restoration of the
Lansdowne Theater?

My response...
"Let me think about it."
I'm aware of my strengths,
and maybe more significantly,
of my weaknesses.
I didn't want to commit to a project
unless I thought I could do proper justice to the mission.

Matt let me have access to the theater
so I could gather images
that would hopefully provide the necessary inspiration.

During my visit,
I took part in one of the fundraising efforts
and made a donation 
to have a message installed on the theater's marquee.
My message, 
went up shortly after my photo gathering visit.

My initial sketches and painting studies 
left me underwhelmed 
as I struggled to find the right note.
I found myself thinking of the beautiful work by local artist,
Nancy Barch
Liberty 1 by Nancy Barch
and thought some of the techniques she has developed
might work nicely for my project.
As I reviewed Nancy's work online,
I realized she was offering a workshop at
Perfect timing....
and what an opportunity
to learn from a mixed media/collage master!

After the two days of the workshop, 
I now know a wide variety of techniques
that can be applied to the Lansdowne Theater project.
Feeling confident that I've found the right note,
I have numerous pieces in progress,
using images from my photo shooting visit
and of my
marquee message.

Part II of this project to come soon.

Visit Nancy Barch's web site to find information about upcoming workshops.