Art Where Weird is Normal: Asheville

This is another double dip from my Instagram takeover.

If you’ve never been to Asheville, North Carolina, go now! Given things may have changed, but at least in 2007 the motto I kept coming across on t-shirts was “Asheville, where weird is normal.” Hello, Mothership!

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Just trying to follow the motto. 2007

Asheville was a stop on a tour that started at Graceland to visit Elvis (I need a vintage velvet Elvis),

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Leopard print and gold lame seemed like a Graceland requirement.

headed for the Smoky Mountains and ended at the beach. Back before my BFF and eternal Adventure Buddy had kids, we did a lot of extended road trips.

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Downtown Asheville features a two story Woolworth converted into a collective of local artists. I picked up prints by Sarah Faulkner, and photographs on barn wood by Rebecca Tolk  at Woolworth Walk. However my bank breaking , original piece that I picked up was at the Southern Highland Craft Guild on the outskirts of town. I splurged on Greg Magruder’s stained glass piece, feeling a little broke after buying it.

IMG_E7017It’s okay to buy big every once in a while. I feel like so much of my collecting reflects where I was financially in life. I have a lot of “it was affordable” pieces; they are small but mighty and still bring joy.

  • Artist: Greg Magruder
  • Title/year: untitled (Because I can’t remember it!) 2007
  • Materials/size: stained glass and metal,  9 -1/2 x 18

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I believe the title – if I could unearth it- had something to do with sunrise, but when I look at this window,  I see a reflective orange moon rising through the trees. Those tree silhouettes remind me that I’d rather be hiking and breathing in the smell of pine. The blue glass makes an amazing dark stripe across the room in the early afternoons which, of course, my super model felines position themselves in.

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Art & Procrastination: New Orleans

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Our introductory selfie for the takeover as is right and proper. Earrings by LinesNShapesJewelry over at Etsy.com

This past week I was guest host on an Instagram account called @columbus_collects. It asks locals to share their art collections and what drew them to the various pieces. The goal is to “demystify collecting”; collecting art does not have to be an expensive or high brow endeavor. I love adding new pieces to my home. I’m not particularly looking for any deeper meaning other than I was attracted to it—oooohh pretty, must have now—-, and it makes me happy to look at this piece in my house. Kind of like the characters in Portlandia, if you “put a bird on it,” a moon or some other natural element, I’m typically in favor of it.

I volunteered to take over back at the end of June which means I should have started writing and photographing things then because I was full of ideas and had complete sentences rattling around in my head. As established though, I am an expert at procrastination and basically waited until August 30, to start writing. Thank goodness, I had made some organizational notes in June. This lead to some late nights this week, digging up artist information and trying to find and remember dates. There was this feeling that I was going to disappoint, on so many levels, the woman who runs the account; many of the guest hosts seem to have way cooler photographs of their art and know more about it beyond “hey, pretty!”

Despite procrastination and performance anxiety, I got positive feedback and made some artists happy to have their work talked about and shared. I also realized that I spent a lot of time writing so, dagnabbit, I’m going to double dip here! (Forgive me.)

I chose to organize the beginning of my feed with stories about collecting while traveling since we were just coming off a long weekend and people are still in that “what did you do this summer?” mode. Being on an adventure and finding a piece  of art along the way only makes that piece more special.

New Orleans: In 2012, three Adventure Buddies and I headed to New Orleans for a long weekend. We did not have the drunken stereotypical “girls trip” that every movie suggests. Puking is not fun. Instead we ate well, toured everything we could, listened to music, and looked at the local art. (I could spend ALL my time in New Orleans eating and looking at/buying art.)

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We spent a good part of an afternoon in Jackson Square looking at what the local artists had to offer. One friend was looking for “swamp art” but at this point I don’t remember what that meant.

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Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jackson Square is where I found Laura Welter’s fabric nudes on display. The majority were all from behind or slightly profiled with the same twist at the waist and cocked hip. Twenty years and 50 pounds ago, I was a much more naked person, so I have a certain appreciation for a naked, confident, sassy ass. I could also appreciate Welter’s use of fabric remnants to paint on. Both of my grandmas were quilters, so playing with leftover bits and pieces of material was something that I grew up around and still feel driven to do. The large flower print seemed like something straight out of one of their sewing boxes. Plus she’s got a flower growing out of her bum! I love it! To do the takeover, I tracked down Laura’s current version of her nudes; they have evolved since 2012. I would happily return for more of them.

  • Artist: Laura Welter @welterarts
  • Title/year: untitled 2012
  • Materials/size: fabric and paint, 9×20

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Our second morning in New Orleans found us at Surrey’s Cafe and Juice bar on the edge of the Garden District, getting breakfast before heading to Jazzfest. We were seated at a table where, according to the photo on the wall, Matthew McConaughey had once sat. We were the luckiest little girls in the world.

Also on the wall was a magnificent display of brightly colored, crooked, quirky little houses. They were modeled after the shotgun style houses in New Orleans. Based on what I could dig up, Fortenberry used mirror shards scavenged after Hurricane Katrina to create the windows. There seem to be a few NOLA artists who make these, but I found that my tiny house and others attributed to Fortenberry have a raised, but hard to read maker’s mark on the front stoop. This is an example of me being attracted to a piece because of its surroundings. I too wanted a wall full of tiny houses! I often run into this problem with small pieces clustered together. Do I love it because of the context of all the pieces around it? Will I feel the same if I take it as a solo piece? No worries, my tiny lavender house found a space with other “small art” and has a happy home.

  • Artist: Casey King Fortenberry (?)
  • Title/year: untitled 2012
  • Materials/size: plaster, acrylic, broken mirrors 3 -1/2 x 5

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I almost included the water meter covers designed by Edwin Ford in the 1920’s  in my takeover. We mostly saw these in the Garden District and were told by our guide that there were so few because people stole them due to the design. However local artists have used the design in jewelry, and prints. I purchased a t-shirt with the design. It really is the prettiest meter cover I’ve ever seen.

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“When life gives you lemons…throw them.” Yoga and Axes

 I’ve done a lot of “yoga and…”

Yoga and:

In keeping with my own trends and those trending culturally, I can now add yoga and axes.

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I’ve thrown an axe unsuccessfully before under the vague tutelage of a viking horde at Lilyfest. Viking Advice: Hit the target.

During this session, I got just a little more guidance. We did an hour of yoga on the indoor turf of the football bowling field…somehow my mat migrated a foot to the left during the class. GoYoga provided an excellent, bendy start to the day.

Fully flexible, our Throw Nation hostess, gave us a quick tutorial on throwing form.

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Turns out, form helps. However, I did much better when I didn’t overthink it. Nothing like axe throwing to make you really look at your butt.

What you’re not seeing are the 20 million tiny video clips of me completely missing everything.

Adventure Buddy and I agreed that we could see the appeal; there was the impulse to keep throwing again and again to try to get it right. However, we only used about 45 minutes of our allotted throwing hour and much of that was spent standing around wondering why on Earth anyone would add alcohol to this environment. Yes, to ideally be on trend you’re supposed to add drinking to the “and axe throwing.” Alcohol fueled competitiveness, and coordination plus deadly weapons. Bingo.

Part of the standing around in a  state of “meh” was also due to our hostess. She didn’t want the dozen of us to touch any of the other throwing lanes which meant lots of waiting, and was not inclined to organize any games. Basically, she seemed unprepared for the event, and kept saying things like “there’s not a manager here today” and “mmmmm yea that game is not open right now.” But OMIGOD she is going back to college this week! Squeeeee!

So we threw axes. It was okay. We are badasses….in theory.

Check mark. No major need to repeat this adventure.

 

 

Miles Got Jesus

I’m not a terribly religious person. Too often, we seem to use religion as an excuse to berate, hate, stereotype, shut down, and exclude, but that’s a whole other conversation…or a presidential tweet, whatever.

With that in mind, I, unfortunately, hesitated to take Paint By Numbers Jesus when my sister and I went on the last raid of Gpa and Gma’s house before the auction. We were in the middle of Great Grandma’s room, the spare bedroom now, surrounded by open boxes waiting for bidders. I held the painting which was so much bigger than I remembered it being when it was on the wall, with the frame it measures 35 x 18 inches or about two Miles long, and tried to visualize where it could go in my house. I didn’t know why I wanted it other than Gma had painted it, and the kitsch value was off the charts. The mythology of Paint By Numbers Jesus says that Gma spent hours and hours meticulously working on filling in those numbers. There was no cell service to debate it with MomBert and my sister was hesitant to give a firm “yes.” We were both certain there was a smaller painting somewhere, but only found a velvet clown that clearly belonged in someone else’s house, not ours!

So I bypassed Paint By Numbers Jesus in favor of smaller sewing implements, some play dress-up jewelry, a pocket knife, and a cast iron weiner dog that was always at the front door.

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Miles has a lot to consider here.

Gpa passed in August of 2017, but it took his children another year to argue about paperwork, possessions, and land before the auction was set for the house, contents, and a section of property. (Advice to those thinking about their descendants and what you want to have happen after you die, do not put faith in the “better natures” of your survivors and their willingness to “do the right thing.” Verbalized wishes mean squat, put it in the will. The end.)

When our father asked us if there was anything we wanted post auction, I inquired about Jesus. Miraculously, Paint By Numbers Jesus survived the auction! Not sure about the clown. I graciously suggested that he put a bow on Jesus and hand it to me at Christmas. I thought this was a no-brainer because it would be free and zero effort on his part, things he loves.

I did not get Jesus at Christmas. Whole bunch of fucking irony there.

Since there were no offers to just go get Jesus from wherever he was being stored- presumably NOT in a climate controlled, art friendly environment- I reiterated that I would like Jesus and, hey, my birthday was just around the corner! Alas the Amazon gift card I received could not purchase Paint By Numbers Jesus.

This is how it goes with our father. Things that you thought you agreed to, things that should be simple or straightforward, things that seem to be standard in other people’s relationships, become negotiations, traps, hostage situations with moments of begging layered with a coating of bullshit  because you want something that he has whether it’s informational, material, or Paint By Numbers Jesus forbid monetary. The newest fun game every visit is to ask us what we want to inherit while our stepmother chants from the sidelines that we don’t need to worry, that all the paperwork will be in place, and us kids (which includes her children as well) will be equally taken care of! No matter what we respond to him with, whether serious or sarcastic (with that tiny grain of truth), he laughs. During the latest round of this, I said I wanted Jesus. Dad went with his standard ploy of “not remembering” where the thing I wanted was, but relaying how many hours Gma spent working on it.

However about an hour and one trap later, I was invited to meet him to pick up Jesus. He literally waited until I left his house, and was driving out of town to call my cell and suggest this hand off. Jesus was hanging off a wagon handle in a large storage barn along with the other unsold items….and the dirt, mice, birds, weather, and mud daubers that were building tubed nests on EVERYTHING. It was exactly the environment where I expected to find Jesus eight months after hesitating to carry him away.

Paint By Numbers Jesus was my co-pilot home. Those in the know applauded the “I got Jesus!” text messages. Miles was more concerned than thrilled. When I told him the name of the painting, he was like “LAST SUPPER! WTF?! That’s no good!” His concerns for food outweigh concerns for relationships, art, and religion.

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Little Adventures: Tourist for a Day

Summer plans started with a book, a list, ana pamphlet this year. The book is Secret Columbus: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure by Anietria Hamper. It’s a collection of two-page spreads that use a mix of history and sightseeing to make a reader want to start wandering the city a little bit more which is where the list came in. The list trustingly titled “KStew and [Adventure Buddy’s] Best Summer Break Ever!!!!!” is a collection we started of “Hey, we should do that sometime” type of stuff. Adventure Buddy was just bored/motivated enough to put it all in a calendar complete with links. One of those sometime things was the Columbus Coffee Trail. We got the pamphlet in our Craftin’ Outlaws swag bag; and if we visit four of the coffee shops, we get t-shirts! We seem to be driven by tangible rewards at the end of ridiculous tasks- see the entire winter hike series.

Want to start your day drinking a honey latte in a blue velvet alcove surrounded by a wall of live plants? Yes, please.

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Well-caffeinated and slightly disoriented by multiple trips to the underground parking garage, we took off to walking points of interest.

While The Peanut Shoppe was not on our list of stops (it probably should have been we passed it like three times), it is included in the book and features the original neon from the 1930s (Hamper 32-33).

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Our first “tourist” destination was the Rhodes State Office Tower  which has “the best open-air view of Columbus” (Hamper 28-29). According to the book, there are views from all four sides of the 40th floor which is open to public visitors. This works if you count the view of the LeVeque Tower and Vets Memorial from the tiny window across from the elevator; this side is otherwise taken up by offices.

We checked in with our driver’s licenses in the main lobby, got i.d. stickers to wear, and were escorted up 40 floors in a very swift, but shaky elevator by security personnel Andre. Andre gave us a few stats, pointed out the set up, tried to gawk at window washers with us, and basically said that if we weren’t down in 20 minutes, someone would come looking for us. We are suspicious characters.

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The view kind of looked like this:

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This is coming out really small on my screen. I hope it is view-able.

Fortunately, there were signs at each window clearly labeling what the heck we were looking at because for the most part I was clueless. We made sure to find Adventure Buddy’s husband’s building and obnoxiously text and wave at him.

It seemed to be raining much harder outside the 40th floor than it had been at ground level and the wires for the window washer platforms kept swaying. This is high on the list of jobs I never want to try. We must not have outstayed our welcome because Andre did not come looking for us.

Back at ground level, we took time to look at the portraits and read the profiles for the displayed Faces of Addiction project which is on tour. It is terrifying how easily people can slip in to lives fed by addiction and how daunting get out is.

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Re-orienting for our next locale, we had our mouths set for a Reuben at Katzinger’s in German Village, but on the way back to the car, I saw a sign. An “AH-HA” clouds parting sign from another page in the book.

I was certain that I had read about the Ringside Cafe, oldest bar in Columbus (Hamper 70-71). Goodbye, Katzinger’s.June20193

It was hidden away off Pearl Alley. Tiny, dark inside and we had it to ourselves! (I assure you it had filled up a bit by the time we left. That seems important.)

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Because we are gluttons for punishment…or just gluttons, we ordered the Buster Douglas. Even split, it is a monster! Thankfully, the kitchen cut it in half for our sharing needs. I have never paid $28 for a hamburger. I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed or blase.

We also replaced one of the two order of fries it comes with with an order of onion rings. The onion rings were perfect. That ridiculous thing where the entire onion slice slides out of the ring of breading on the first bite never happened. They were all crispy little rings of joy!

Adventure Buddy said this was my look of determination before I went all wrinkly nosed, wild animal on it. Not sure what’s up with my tongue. Limbering up I guess.

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Our server said we “won that round” which I think translates to “you have consumed several thousand fatty calories that you don’t need and should walk to your next destination.” So we did.IMG_5325

I had never visited either the downtown branch of the public library which was mercifully quiet like libraries should be, or the topiary garden in the park behind it. The garden was another item on the list and a spread in the book. It has “fifty-four life-size topiary figures” recreating a Seurat painting (Hamper 74).

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The topiary garden was a peaceful little pocket in the middle of construction and busy roads. I think some of the people needed a trim, but it was an impressive endeavor to capture all the details.

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We wrapped our day by transitioning back to the Coffee Trail and ended up at Pistacia Vera in German Village where I was reminded that macarons seem like a brilliant idea until I bite into them. There’s a weird texture thing there for me, but the flavors are delicious and their ham croissant is yummmmmm.

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Blogger fail: Forgot to take a tasteful before photo.

I would recommend all of today’s experiences. We had a flexible plan, logged a lot of steps, ate good food, and saw cool stuff. Nobody almost died.

Look an MLA citation! My students act like this is an impossible task even though there are a billion websites who will create the citation for them; don’t get them started on the impossibilities of in-text citations. Eye roll. I used to have how to write this shit memorized!

Hamper, Anietra. Secret Columbus: a Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure. Reedy Press, LLC, 2018.

I don’t see an expiration date

My extensive artistic works, spanning decades.

While I was home visiting during spring break, MomBert guilted me in to going through two huge tubs of crap which mostly dated from my high school experience. I have no urges to revisit high school, but apparently I don’t rate unlimited storage in her closet. I did make a dent, but only got it down to a crate and a half. Based on the contents of my gigantic scrapbooks, I might have some hoarding tendencies. I saved it all! I think asking why would require a whole other post,and a therapist’s assistance.

However I did discover two amazing things that had me laughing. After graduation, I went on one of those pre-planned educational tours –much like the one several of my students are on this week-with my French teacher and several classmates. In among every brochure I never needed to save from the trip, was the handwritten note from MomBert giving me permission to drink! (It was 1992! This is a no-no today.)

There’s no expiration date so I’m taking this as permission for life! Thanks, Mom. Did that!

I also discovered that as a toddler I had the sight, but only in regards to cheesy 70’s art. There was a small spiral notebook filled with cut out and pasted magazine images that must have appealed to little me. MomBert said we spent a lot of time cutting and pasting. There were plenty of cats and outdoors pictures including a classy cigarette ad of guys smoking while roughhousing with colts. However the page that got me yelling across the house featured an embroidery owl that hangs in my kitchen from our latest antiques road trip last summer.

Do not doubt my powers!

Dog Day. Done.

During last year’s hikes, we learned that “Dog Day” at Battelle Darby was the climactic finale! That means hotdogs not canines although there were a fair number of those at this hike. I think a lot of that knowledge was acquired by being sucked into conversations with old dudes who were excited for the meal ahead. Each park has a standard menu that repeat hikers have come to anticipate. For me, the Highbanks pancakes were a great surprise, but the chicken and noodles with a biscuit at Blendon Woods were amazing!

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Battelle Darby Dog Day

The day of our last hike was dreary, but it wasn’t raining. At about 40 degrees, I was able to forgo my hiking snuggie and put on a slightly lighter coat. Compared to the previous hilly and snow covered hikes, this trail was delightfully too easy: flat, wide, and muddy. Admittedly we only did the 2 mile option when we could have chosen 4 or 6 miles.

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I think I take a picture of this oak tree every time I’m here.

These winter hikes are  good motivators to get outside, but the Ohio winter palette of gray on gray on blaaaahhhhh is brutal. I don’t know what time of day it is half the time because it always looks like evening.

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There was a certain celebratory air to this hike, at least in my mind. The hiking was casual, there was a hot chocolate station and fire at the 2 mile point, and a mounted officer from the sheriff’s department was there. We celebrated seeing a horsie!

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I surmised that the officer was there to monitor the crowds gathering to observe the buffalo just in case anyone decided to be a jackass. We discussed the “nerdy” buffalo “haircuts” and tried to find the boy buffalo in the herd. There is usually one male, but we did not find any buffalo balls.

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The real celebration was back at the starting point, cashing in our hole punched hike cards to select a stick! We had no idea that there would be such a variety to choose from. The sticks were different lengths and weights, but also different woods: oak, hickory, cherry , plum, persimmon, and elm among others. I chose a hefty hickory stick.

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We were also able to purchase that year’s metal medallion and have it attached on the spot. Ironically, the medallion featured the  Clear Creek park which was the worst hike for me this year. My map app decided that I need a tour of unplowed, unsalted, slick, narrow country back roads which had me in anxiety based tears by the time I made it to the park.

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WE GOT STICKS! Part of me is like “Mission accomplished. We never have to do this again.” It really was a huge weekend time commitment which then led to a number of naps and my Saturdays, sometimes Sundays would disappear. Plus if you missed a weekend hike, you were supposed to make it up another day on your own….without soup.

However another part of me, the part that likes the thrill of the hunt and collecting is like “This stick could use another medallion.

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Adventure Buddy got her stick!