Pandemic Road: Art and Compassion

Back in the good old days.….by which I mean the days before Covid 19.…I had two creative works accepted into different exhibitions around Houston. Originally there were going to be opening receptions with wine and hors d’oeuvres, patrons of the arts and various creative types. Alas, that was not to be. However, in this new day of virtual gatherings, the receptions and the exhibitions have been moved online.

The first of these is Compassion, a collaboration between Women in the Visual and Literary Arts (WiVLA) and the Holocaust Museum Houston. In this project pairs of visual artists and writers teamed up to bring forth their vision of compassion. I was chosen as one of the writers and I worked with visual artist, Josena Arquieta. Her painting is called Listen, which is a companion to my essay, It’s Time To Listen. The picture you see here is the exhibition book. You can see this exhibit by going to WiVLA.org and clicking on the exhibit link. If you want to see our work or purchase the book, you can go either to WiVLA.org or you can go to the website for the Holocaust Museum Houston. The online exhibition doesn’t always give the full text of the poems or essays. For the full literary version, you need to purchase one of the books.

My other exhibition, titled The Art of Attention, was a juried exhibition of art produced by students and teachers at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. This is a work of art that I made while taking a class in collage from instructor Ellen Orseck. You can see the entire virtual exhibit at https://glasscock.rice.edu/sites/default/files/F20_CLE_Student_Art_Exhibit.pdf

Meanwhile, back here in my private oasis known as Halloweensville, my good friend Skellington has come to visit for a few days. He’s pictured below in his black traveling cloak. We’ve had several leisurely dinners out on the patio, because the weather has finally started feeling ever so slightly like fall. He travels the neighborhood at night to visit the other skeletons in the neighborhood. Below is a picture of one of my neighbors who likes to wave at people and other skeletons.

Between all of the virtual art and Halloween, I love this time of year!

Until next week.….

The Mindfulness Road

First the good news! Save the date! Reception, March 26th from 5:00 p.m. — 6:30 p.m. at the Anderson-Clarke Center at Rice University. I will have a collage piece in the Instructor-Student exhibition at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. I took a class in collage art last fall that was taught by local artist, Ellen Orseck. The piece that was just accepted for the exhibition was completed during that class. I will share more details as soon as I have them.

Now for this week’s blog:

Last weekend I drove to the Ruah Spirituality Center for a weekend of silent meditation and mindfulness. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and left on Sunday morning.

Have you ever gone on a silent retreat? Previously I have attended one day mindfulness retreats where I spent the day in silent meditation. This was the first time I actually spent the night.….much less three nights.….at a silent retreat.

Micki Fine, of Mindful Living (livingmindfully.org), holds one of these retreats every year. After checking into the Ruah Center on Thursday afternoon, I walked around some of the 70 acres of beautiful land with trees, trails, squirrels and butterflies. Just being in that space at the Villa de Matel is relaxing. I could literally feel my heart beat slow down. My breathing came deeper and easier.

Our time of silence began Thursday evening. Oh my! Everything was so quiet. I actually had trouble falling asleep that first night. The next morning at 7:30 a.m. I was in a meeting room taking part in some stretching exercises before breakfast. All day Friday and Saturday I bounced between sitting meditations, walking meditations, and mindful stretching. I continued to walk the grounds and I even took the opportunity to hug a few trees.

The pictures of flowers you see in this blog were taken with my phone as I was leaving the retreat. While I was there, my phone was turned off. I saw no television, radio, tablet, computer or anything else that required either an electrical cord or WiFi connection. The quiet and silence was wonderful. However, I was amazed at how much noise continued in my head even without conversing with any other humans. When walking, I would catch myself whistling songs that popped into my head from nowhere (or my subconscious, whichever comes first). While focused on my breathing and meditating, thoughts would appear in my head. Where did they come from? I pretended they were clouds and let them float across the sky in my mind.

Also, I was instructed not to engage in either reading or writing while I was going through this experience. I am a writer. Yet, I was asked to go for over two days without writing. That was, I believe, the hardest part of the entire experience.

Will I do this again? You bet! Thanks, Micki!

Until next week.….….

The Road Around Art Class

I have had so much fun these past few weeks taking The Art of Collage at the Glasscock School at Rice University. We had our final critique this past Tuesday and it was great seeing all of the creativity of my classmates. Again, many thanks to Ellen Orseck who taught the class. I learned so much.

Since you couldn’t be there, I have chosen a few pictures of all of the collage work for you to see. Here they are in no particular order:

It is interesting to note that some of the students in this class had taken any number of art classes before. However, some of the students were taking an art class for the first time. So, if your creativity is looking for an outlet, then check out the class offerings at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies!

I look forward to seeing you there!

Until next week.…..

There’s Always Another Art Road

This past Tuesday, I walked into the Anderson-Clarke Center on the Rice University campus pulling a cart filled with collage supplies. This building is home to the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies where I am enjoying taking a course on collage art. I am learning quite a bit from instructor and artist Ellen Orseck. I got on the elevator and thought about the day’s assignment on the way up to the second floor. However, as soon as the elevator doors opened, I saw a group of people working on an art installation. Actually there were two different works of art being installed. I quickly learned that this was part of The Sol LeWitt Project. This particular piece is called “Wall Drawing #869A.” I found out that the people working on this line drawing include both Rice University students and faculty, as well as Glasscock students and faculty. Also contributors to this piece on the second floor will include Susanne Glasscock among other patrons. I heard that this is the first time this particular work has been installed anywhere in the world.

After leaving my supplies in the classroom, I returned to the ground floor, where I observed draftspeople working on another Sol LeWitt piece, “Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color”. While the line drawing is scheduled to be completed this week: the larger circle mural will be completed by the middle of November. The artists who are reproducing both of these conceptual creations are following detailed instructions left posthumously by Sol LeWitt so that others can continue to enjoy his work. Except for the fact that both of these works are going up on white walls, the process involved in each is quite different.

Returning to the second floor, I looked down at the work space being shared by the the draftspeople. Very organized and very well laid out.

Observing from this vantage point, one could almost reach out and touch the draftspeople; however, there are signs asking you not to do that. Take pictures and observe all you want, but don’t interrupt creativity in process.

As my collage class began, Ellen Orseck explained the project to us and told us about the conceptual artist, Sol LeWitt. We even walked down to look at the processes involved. Ellen explained that later that evening she would take her turn working on the line drawing.

She also has a painting in the lobby of the second floor. It is included in a collection of art works by instructors for the Glasscock School.

It is a real treat to take an art class in this building. I get inspired just walking through to get to my classroom.

The Wall Drawings Installation Opening Reception is scheduled for November 18th, 5:30 — 7:30. I can’t wait to see it. To learn more about the Sol LeWitt Project you can go to glasscock.rice.edu/lewitt. Or you can visit the Anderson-Clarke Center and see it for yourself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Until next week.…..