Friday, October 5, 2018

Electric Desert and a break in

Most of my time these days is spent doing this. Mask making starts to spin out of control this time of year as Halloween approaches. Also my teaching schedule has been pretty intense, so I've been going non stop. I was really looking forward to a break.

Not this kind of break though. Unfortunately on Tuesday, during a dry spell in the storm,(Yes! A storm from Mexico hit us...It was fantastic!). We made the mistake of leaving our GPS visible from the car window and someone stole it again. The worst part about getting robbed, other than the inconvenience and glass EVERYWHERE, is the reaction of people you tell. You shouldn't leave things in your car, you should insure everything, blah, blah, blah. I can't afford to insure everything I own. I do insure my car, but like always with insurance this isn't covered.  Anyway it turns out some people have never been robbed, which is strange. The only place I haven't been robbed or ripped off is when I lived on a mountain in the Catskills of New York, 45 minutes from anything (even a grocery store). Of course, then we had bear troubles, which is a whole other problem.

The break I was looking forward to is this. We went to the"Electric Desert" event at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

The lights on the cacti was stunning.

The light shows were incredible. Especially the music and light on the mountains around the gardens, but most of our photos are as clear as this one.

I did get this nice shot of Mike drawing on the interactive mural though. This was actually painted and designed by my friend Kyllan Maney, who is an excellent local artist.

It was a pretty spectacular night and great to get away from my pile of mask orders!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Mike's 47 and a surprise from Morocco

This week started out very hot, like it usually is in Phoenix this time of year, topping 105ºF (40ºC) most days. After months of this, all of us in the valley start to drag ourselves through the motions of the day, spending much of the time in an unpleasant sweaty state. Anyway it all changed on Wednesday, which also happened to be Mike's birthday!

It was cloudy and rainy and a balmy 87ºF (30.5ºC)!!  We were so excited! We headed over to the Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the American West. An amazing art museum just over in Scottsdale.

This is a sculpture in the entrance.

This is a blurry shot of Naomi as she raced off into the exhibit about movie westerns. This is the last we saw of her for about an hour.

A more "in focus" picture of me in the same spot.

This is a recreation of sculptor and painter, Joe Beeler's studio.

This is a collection of saddles, guns of many sizes and even cowboy boots.

The museum was MUCH larger than I realized it would be.

Upstairs was this painting by NC Wyeth, one of my favorite artists of all time, and tragically it's an awful picture of this amazing painting. (I guess you'll have to go to Scottsdale!)

This statue is from the sculpture garden and was so realistic it was spooky.

Mike walking through the sculpture garden (in the rain!!)

I have to say this museum was well worth a visit. We'll be coming back. 
After this we wandered through downtown Scottsdale and found some dinner.

Then we came home and enjoyed some delicious cake. The weather on Thursday was not as great (back around 100ºF), but all week my students, and everyone I spoke to, remembered fondly the day of rained, always with a look of wonder and magic, like if they'd seen a unicorn walking on a rainbow.

This week I've been working on masks pretty constantly, but every once in a while I get an exciting custom order like this.

And this.  They're masks from Maurice Sendack's "Where The Wild Things are".

I shipped them off yesterday, but they were a blast to make!

On Friday I received an incredible surprise from Tétouan. The school in Morocco, Jacnito Benavente, that installed my sculpture (Night Over Tétouan), sent me an honorary diploma! I'm so excited. How cool is that?!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A school report

To follow up on Chloe's many struggles arriving at school in Scotland, she finally got her luggage!! (That only took 8 days!) She had to return on the train to Edinburgh and go back to the hotel she had initially stayed at. They had kindly secured her luggage. It took all day, but she had just made some friends at her dorm and they were up for an adventure!

Chloe also sent me some photos of her time in Paris.and Scotland.

Here she is by the River Seine.

Goofing off.

On a brewery tour in Glasgow

An incredible mural near the school.

And here she is with her new friend Sam.

In other news Phoebe's been busy at school in California. Last week her class went into San Francisco to visit the MOMA

Outside the building


Phoebe's bus selfie

And they walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was windy.

She also has been sharing with me many school adventures. She and some friends found a wood and went exploring in their free time. Apparently they found a treasure chest, but had run out of time and needed to race back to school! (There's got to be more to that story, but I think she's holding out on me. ) Anyway she took this great photo of a hot air balloon flying over her school last weekend...

Now that they're both settled at school they seem to be enjoying themselves. Here in Phoenix, Naomi is busy with school, and friends and Mike and I are teaching and making art. Of course, the Halloween orders have begun. Here's an eyeball mask I made last week...

And the mask orders just keep coming.... Have a restful Sunday.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sometimes everything goes wrong

"Paris is always a good idea"- Audrey Hepburn

Saying goodbye at before going through security

On Monday it started pretty well. We all woke up early, and Chloe was ready with all her luggage and paperwork and off we went to the airport. She was coughing. She had a chest cold and was already tired and her journey to Scotland for her semester at The University of Glasgow had barely begun.

An hour after dropping her off and 20 minutes before her first flight even left Phoenix the drama unfolded. Her flight was delayed an hour and a half. Then two hours. Then it was four hours and she had to find two new connecting flights after Chicago. She called just before boarding to say that they were directing her through Ireland now.
"But you can't go through Ireland! The school said not to."
"What should I do? I have to board!"
"Go, just go."
"Okay, bye Mom."

One sleepless night later she contacted us again. She made it to Edinburgh, and to the hotel on her own. Because of the delays she missed meeting the other students at the airport, but her luggage was missing and somehow, because she came through Dublin she entered the UK without going through customs.  She said she filled out the proper forms for her luggage at the airport so all we could do was wait.

The next morning I was woken by a missed call. Someone left a broken message for us that they had her luggage. So we began a search for her bags. Chloe's phone didn't work there and she didn't have a chance yet to buy a new one, so she'd left our number. Eventually we learned her bags were out for delivery.

Then on Thursday more things fell apart. Her luggage was finally delivered 10 minutes after the group left Edinburgh to go to the school in Glasgow, and Chloe learned that she had to re enter the country as she's there illegally and can't stay at the school unless she does. They told her to go to Paris. So next, we were back to scheduling flights and a hostel. I was also still calling the airline to try and reroute her luggage to her new address. It's not easy managing things from thousands of miles away on such short notice.

I did it though. She went and bought some clothes and a phone, and I had booked her a flight for Saturday. I also got in touch with the hotel that had her bags and they said they were scheduled to be picked up... So it all seemed better... Until her new phone didn't work and she couldn't call a cab to go back to the airport... We sent her links to skype, which didn't work and she tried to book one online, also a bust. Then she dropped out of contact for several hours. Finally a lone message popped up on my computer. "I'm waiting at my gate". I still don't know how she got there, but she figured it out.

Paris at Sunset (source)

So then she was in Paris. She wandered around the city, got scammed in the square for €20, but she also took a bus tour, saw the Eiffel Tower and fell in love with the place. The hostel was nice, she figured out the underground and had a good time. It was such a relief that she was finally enjoying herself!

Tonight she's back in Glasgow. She's got her visa and has entered legally, but her luggage is still missing. The airline has reopened the case, but she's sounded exhausted and frustrated and I think she's still sick.  School starts next week, I just hope it's a better week than this was.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Airport runs and school news

I love kids. Anything at all can and does happen. - Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park)

So here she is.... Phoebe! Busy running round Napa with her suite mates. She was competing in a scavenger hunt, where each team had to trade up from a penny to see what they could get. Her team ended with a giant wine bottle worth over $100. This was one of many orientation activities. She calls me and tells me so much that's going on in rapid succession that I almost can't keep up!

She's also sending me pictures like this of her lovely meals. These are NOT your average school lunches. It's a great place and she loves it, but still I miss her.

This week was Naomi's 15th birthday, which we wound up celebrating with just the three of us, since she kept changing her mind on what she wanted to do until the last minute. She made her own fabulous cake and we went to see a movie called "Eight Grade". An amazing movie that I'm not sure anyone with even low levels of social anxiety can handle watching. It was a bit painful for me.

Naomi is in 9th grade online again this term and is back on swim team this semester. Her coach likes and hates her. She's good, but has things to learn and for some reason this causes a rollercoaster of attitude from the coach.

I picked up Chloe from the airport yesterday. She just flew in from Missouri and will be leaving for her semester abroad in Scotland on Monday!! She's quite excited. I took a picture, not because it's so uncommon to be at the airport, quite the opposite. This was the 6th airport run for us since we came back from Ireland (7 weeks ago). I think I'd go bonkers if the airport wasn't 12 minutes away!

Yesterday Mike went in for dental work, and because he said he had anxiety they gave him all the drugs. He was zonked all day and mostly slept after I picked him up. We're getting all our dental work done because Mike has been moved from his full time position at the Academy of Art University to part time and our dental will end at the end of September.

Yes, this is actually real and in Iceland
Because of this and many other things (like all these extra school expenses this semester), we're cancelling our plans to travel to Iceland for an art residency next summer. Even though we pay for these things with grants and things like my professional development fund from my employer, it still costs us in local travel, incidentals, and of course loss of income while we're away. Honestly I'm forever grateful that we had the opportunity to do the residencies we've done, so for now, Iceland will stay a dream. Have a magical weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A journey to Napa

So the day snuck up on me. The day I had to collect Phoebe and bring her to The Oxbow School in Napa, California.

Waiting at Sky Harbor in Phoenix

The day was off to an excellent start! We got up on time and hustled over to the airport at 8:35am for our 10:30am flight. Once at the airport things went downhill fast. First they couldn't find our reservation because they spelled our name wrong, then when we finally got through that there was a chaotic line in security.  If that was everything I'd say it all went smoothly but, then there was the first delay. We had to wait till 12:30pm they said because there's fog in San Francisco! Then we had to wait till 1pm, then 2:30pm, and then we finally left around 3:15pm!! So only a five hour delay.

And here we are, finally on board. When we arrived in San Francisco at rush hour we picked up the rental car (Phoebe chose neon blue so we could always find it in a parking lot), and started driving. It was pretty foggy I admit.  After a night in the hotel (I woke up at 5:30am. How do people sleep in hotels?) we headed over to the school for orientation.

The entrance to the Oxbow school, which is close to the downtown in Napa.

Phoebe goofing off by the river that runs next to the school grounds.

The school is actually in a beautiful setting.

I spent some time helping her unpack and set up.

She seemed pretty happy that she was finally at the school.

Here she is with her new roommate who flew in from Minneapolis on her own. I think they hit it off. Anyway, I know she's going to do well, and we're super proud of this kid for getting the scholarship to this school, but boy was it hard to leave without her. Now I'm moping around the airport missing this kid!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Finishing the mural and Back to school

On Saturday we worked nearly all day on the dragon mural at Desert Ridge Mall. I was in a bit of a panic because I was so far behind schedule.

I worked hard trying to get the dragon looking good because a photographer for a local paper was coming that night to photograph it and me while I worked. Mike came along because Phoebe couldn't make it and we made A LOT of progress.

By 3pm it started looking a lot better, so I decided to go home and clean up before the media people showed up. That night both Mike and Phoebe came along and a lot more was done in a short time!

Here's Mike helping me again on Sunday. I love this man, he had 10,000 things to do and took this time to help me. After this we went to the airport and he flew to San Francisco to shoot drawing demonstration videos for The Academy of Art University (which is where he is now).

And here's a picture Phoebe took of me on Sunday evening, as I finished up. 

Here it is almost finished. There was a pillar in the way, so it was hard to step back and get a good picture. I'm glad I got to do this though, it was like the culmination of my project that I did in Ireland! Also it's amazing to see the entrance gate of Shankill Castle painted here on a building in Phoenix.

That evening we had a little mini celebration for Chloe's birthday a well. Her present from us though is that she's flying back to Missouri to visit her boyfriend before she leaves for Scotland next semester. She flies on Wednesday and Mike is home on Thursday, so I'll be driving back and forth to the airport a lot.

The last few days I've been trying to catch up on mask making and both Naomi and I are "Back to School". Her online classes have started and I'm back teaching after school art at the local elementary schools. It's been a bit hectic (and hot, very hot).

"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut


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