Art Openings and Armadillos

The weather has been so nice and cool lately. It has inspired me to do some hanging out at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. What did I find? Armadillos. These are usually nocturnal creatures so I could not pass up the chance to talk to one of them. The Nature Center will tell you that conditions have been dry and that the cute little critters are just looking for insects, but I suspect they just wanted to see what all the humans were up to. I kept my distance while taking some pictures and as I walked away I could swear I heard the ‘Dillo say, “Have a nice day and come back soon!”

Yes, I did. I really heard that. The Armadillo spoke to me, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. If I see him again, I will ask his name.

When I am not conversing with my forest friends, I am getting ready for the WiVLA Art Exhibition. The opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, December 3rd, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. the theme for the exhibition is “Reflection”. Here is the card being distributed to advertise the event:

Both visual and literary artists paired up to submit collaborative artwork pieces and literary writings to the exhibition. I paired up with two separate artists; which means that I have two literary pieces in the show. Wonderful artist Marie Casamayor-Harvey painted a wonderful picture to go along with my story entitled, Lorelei.  Here’s a hint for appreciating this collaboration: We both like the color red.

My second piece of fiction writing was done in collaboration with artist, writer and sister RoadBroad, Fernanda Brady. She developed an intense collage piece while I wrote about Different Women; Different Paths. Both collaborations are different and both are inspiring. Working with other such talented people really ups my level of creative energy.

This is all happening at Lee College , in the PAC Art Gallery. The address is 801 West Texas Avenue, Baytown, Texas. Believe me, it’s worth the drive to see all the amazing creative results.

I hope that you will be able to join us on December 3rd or make it out to the exhibition sometime before February 7, 2023.

Until next time.….

Preparations for Fall and Halloween

Just because Halloween isn’t here yet, that doesn’t mean we aren’t getting ready. And by that I mean not only humans. I was visited this past week by a group of skeletons fleeing the rising waters in other parts of the country. Also, they wanted a warm, dry spot where they could gather and catch up on their studies. Apparently now there is an invisible sign over my home that reads, “Ellen’s Skeleton Hostel and Tea House”. Of course, that sign may change if other creatures need to find respite to prepare for the upcoming holidays.

I am getting no end of inspiration from them for the haunted reading that I am preparing. On November 5th there will be a Haunted Holidays reading that is being sponsored by the Brazos Bookstore, the Houston Writers Guild and the Women in the Visual and Literary Arts. This year the reading event will take place inside the store. We are making plans for decorations and costumes. Having this event in November covers all holidays from Halloween, El Dia De Los Muertos, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Eve and everything else in between. Several folks have joked that they wanted to include the election. This should be very interesting. I’ll provide more details as I have them.

Now, back to my skeleton visitors. As you can see they all gathered together for a long study session the other evening. They brushed up on spells, potions, magic brews and sorcery. There is a Book of Fright and a Book of Charms. All in all it’s a lot to cover, but they’ll have it all down by All Hallows Eve. Right now everyone is practicing and studying here in my home. Around the middle of September it will be time for them to move outside and practice their magic skills on the balcony and around the neighborhood.

Sometimes one of the older skeletons will work on a special project and have one of the younger crew assist him. That is what is going on here with the typewriter and extra books that are being closely studied. You may not have realized that in addition to magical skills, there are some skeletons that have impressive intellectual skills. They write the books for other creatures like themselves to learn from. Just like any science, there is always more to know. They have visited several black holes and are very impressed with the amount of knowledge humans are gathering on that topic. The skeletons can’t wait until you learn some more.

Of course after a long day of studying, writing, and practicing, all good skeletons deserve a little time to rest and refresh. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit back and chat with friends. They listen to music, but really don’t have much use for television. In their invisible state they can go to the movies and theater. Just the other day they went to the Symphony and heard their favorite piece, Danse Macabre.

At other times, the older skeletons will “belly up to the bar”, pardon me, I know they don’t actually have any bellies, but you get my drift. They can enjoy a refreshing beverage. How do they do that you might ask? They don’t drink as you and I do, but they love aromas. Chamomile relaxes them and coffee wakes them up. Any kind of alcohol makes them tipsy so they tend to avoid it.

Until next time.……

Pandemic Road: On Planet Earth and Beyond

I don’t know about you, but I have been watching the news lately. There are a couple of stories I am following, but still too much of the serious stuff is not good for my mental health. So, this week I have taken the time to enjoy all of the great pictures that are coming from the Webb Telescope. More and more of them keep getting shared on the internet. I hope you have enjoyed them as well. Folks are having lots of fun with them on Facebook. This is one of my favorites. It really helps me put all of my earthly worries into perspective.

I also like this other picture. I have suggested to Fern Brady that there is a dragon in there. Think about how much fun science fiction writers can have with a dragon that flies around from one universe to another. Maybe this is the reincarnation of Puff the Magic Dragon of the song that was released by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963. I’ll just bet Puff lives on a planet called Honah Lee. Excuse me if you are not old enough to get the reference. Check out the song on Google or YouTube. I promise you will be enchanted.

So much for my musings. I have finished my June Writing Workshop and am now busy catching up on all things literary. I just wrote a small piece for the virtual anthology that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Archway Gallery. Additionally, Archway Readings, which have been held on zoom for so long, is finally returning to in-person live readings this month. I can’t wait. I am also working on The WiVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts) Collaboration that will exhibit in December. I have paired up with two different visual artists for two different entries. I will share more about this collaboration when the time draws near.

Last, but not least, Haunted Holidays will happen on November 5th this year. It will be a joint effort between Brazos Bookstore, WiVLA and the Houston Writers Guild. Last year the event was conducted on zoom. We are hoping that we will all meet in-person at the Brazos Bookstore! Again, more details to come as the date draws nearer.

Yikes, I’m busy!

Until next time.….

Pandemic Road: A Place To Park Art

Inside Pavilion at Smither ParkLast Saturday I spent a good bit of time outside, which was surprising since the weather has turned quite warm. However, I met up with some of my WiVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts) sisters in the pavilion located at Smither Park on Munger Street. This park is an ongoing living, breathing and growing art installation. WiVLA has been working on a design for a small part of the wall. We hope to design in the summer and actually create it in the fall (hopefully with cooler temperatures). All materials used in the creation of artistic pieces in this Park are made with recycled and found materials.

Below are some samples of different sections of the Art Wall:

Art Wall at Smither Park

Art in Smither ParkThere are also 3‑D and life sized pieces of art to enjoy. Rumor has it if you sit down at this table, the nice couple will actually talk to you while you enjoy a refreshing beverage. While we were there enjoying the scenery, a couple of artists were working on some on-going projects. I can’t wait to see what WiVLA comes up with for their section of the wall. In the warehouse next to Smither Park, I think I saw some folks working on an Art Car for next year’s Art Car Parade. So much color and so much creativity.

I even managed to get a selfie of sorts while I studied my reflection in a large mirror. This is located in a second pavilion where music plays and if you stand in the right spot you can hear echos. How do I look? I feel quite Picassoesque. If you look closely you can actually see my feet and maybe a hand. My face is there somewhere. See if you can find it.

Right next to Smither Park is the Houston art institution known as the Orange show. It was actually began by a local mail carrier in a lot near his home. As the name implies, oranges were his favorite fruit so expect to see a lot of the color orange while you visit there. Again, there are many pieces of art that utilize recycled and found pieces.

Art from the Orange Show

Between both of these art installations, there’s plenty of shade, so it is easy to visit even during the summer. Just take some water and plan on spending a few hours strolling the grounds on Munger Street.

The same Art Patrons that keep these two locations open and growing also manage the historic Beer Can House. But that is located in another part of Houston and will be the topic for a future blog.

Thanks to Margo Toombs and WiVLA for coordinating this Saturday morning in the park!

Until next time.……

Pandemic Road: Second Halloween in Coronaville

I was sitting around with some of my friends discussing the state of things. In particular we talked about how we were enjoying our second Halloween in the middle of a global pandemic. Since I now work from home and so many of my friends are skeletons, I am happy to report that we are faring very well during these difficult and quick-changing times.

We have also enjoyed sitting around while reading and telling each other scary ghost stories. Now that the temperatures are finally cooling down here in Houston and the days are getting shorter, haunting stories are oh so much more fun.

In case you’re interested, I have two flash fiction stories online right now until the end of the month. Here’s a link to the WiVLA Virtual Gallery . As I said earlier, I have two short stories up and am sharing the space with some very talented visual artists. Check it out and let me know what you think!

While walking around the streets of Houston, I notice that I am not the only one focusing on skeletons this year. As a matter of fact, in my neighborhood alone we have quite a gathering of the skeletal critters. I am assuming that they are all being very protective and guarding the neighborhood against and gremlins that would engage in some routine Halloween mischief. I am guessing that while most humans are in bed asleep at night, these friends are gathering together for local neighborhood watch meetings. Also, I am guessing they gossip about the mortals that live in the houses and apartments around here.

As you can see, some skeletons prefer to live alone while others live in pairs or packs. They make me feel comfy and safe during this holiday where the veils between the worlds are thinnest. I will keep you up to date as the big day draws nearer.

Pandemic Road: New Year and New Roads

Do you see the blue sky in this picture? I took this picture on January 1st. New Year’s Day. Not a cloud in the sky. I felt very relaxed on that day. I took the clear skies as a good omen for the new year. I survived 2020 with only a few more grey hairs and a few more miles on the body. Overall health is good and I have many creative projects I’m working on. So after a few days of this new year, I am still in good health and continuing to add on additional miles on a daily basis. However, Covid-19 is still running amok and don’t even get me started on Washington D.C.

However, I refuse to be swallowed up in gloom and doom. I am determined to forge a peaceful, happy and healthy pathway through 2021.

One thing I am going to do is continue on with the RoadBroads Blog. Yes, currently there is only one RoadBroad, but I continue to bond with Broads everywhere who hit the road in search of beauty and creativity. Of course, with the pandemic still raging in this country, I am not going as far as I used to on the road. I still do not travel and I still do not eat out in restaurants. But, I do get curbside take out at some of my favorite local restaurants. Yes, with my illustrious cooking skills, I would starve if it weren’t for ready made meals in the grocery stores and curbside pick up. Also, I drive and walk all over the city.

About a month ago I picked up the book, 111 Places in Houston That You Must Not Miss. I purchased my copy at the Brazos Bookstore which is my favorite independent bookstore here in Houston. Last fall I heard the book’s authors, Dana Duterroil and Joni Fincham, speak at a monthly meeting of the Women in the Visual and Literary Arts (WiVLA). Their presentation was very interesting and they spoke about many places in Houston I had already seen, but also discussed many places I hadn’t seen yet. This will be my new “Road” for 2021.

For the next year or so, I will visit as many of the sites as I can during pandemic conditions and tell you all about them. For instance, it may be a while before I can go down to Market Square and sip on a cool refreshment at La Carafe (it’s haunted!). However, I can visit places like the Menil Collection and Discovery Green. Wherever I go, I promise to take lots of pictures and take lots of notes. It’s almost like I have lined up a whole year’s worth of “artist dates” a la Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way among other books).

I can’t wait to start this next leg of my journey. Many thanks to Melanie who worked with me on this blog for the past 3 years. I wish her the best of luck in her future journeys. But I am not ready to settle down yet. I hope all of you will continue to travel with me. If you are yourself a RoadBroad, let me know and we can talk about guest blogging.

I hope you are as determined as I am to make 2021 a good year. Let’s take this journey together and see where we land.

Until next week.….

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.….

New Roads, New Skills, New Creativity

It’s true! You’re never too old to learn. By default that means that I am not too old to learn. What I have noticed is that the older I get, the more interesting stuff I can learn and experience.

For starters last Sunday I went to Murder By The Book bookstore and attended a meeting of the Houston Sisters In Crime. You guessed it. This is a group of women who enjoy writing murder mysteries and the like. There was a panel presentation from women who have been writing for a while and have had many experiences with getting published.

That’s Fern Brady on the left in blue. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Inklings Publishing and a dandy fine writer. You can check out the website at inklingspublishing.com.

At the March meeting for the Houston Sisters in Crime, the speaker will be someone known as “The Poison Lady”. For those writing a murder mystery and have a character that will die from some type of poisoning, this speaker will tell us how to write the scene realistically and convincingly. What fun! There is just no end to the exciting topics you can research when you call yourself a writer.

Then this past Tuesday I attended a meeting for Women In The Visual and Literary Arts (WIVLA). There I heard two speakers talk about Zines! What fun! What is a zine, you may ask? Well, I found out they are physical printed self published creations that can consist of a single sheet of paper or more. They are made for the love of creating and rarely makes a profit.

Well, sign me up! After the meeting I checked out some information through Google and YouTube and have started planning on making a few of these to see how it all works. The first thing I discovered is that I may have to practice a bit of coordination to make the paper booklet that is so common to zines. After watching several YouTube videos, I just might actually be able to pull this off. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how is goes.

What topics will I cover in my Zines? Who knows. The possibilities are endless and I’m feeling creative! And in November there will be a Houston Zine Fest! It’s already on my calendar.

There are a lot of writing adventures coming up in March including some very exciting writing classes at the Spectrum Center Writers Guild! More on that soon!

Until next week.……

When The Road Becomes A Roller Coaster

First the good news!

I had two photographs juried into a gallery show sponsored by Women In The Visual and Literary Arts (WIVLA). Here are the details:

I initially joined WIVLA because I am a writer. However, every so often I dabble in the visual arts. Photography is one of my many creative loves and the topic of “Midsummer Light” intrigued me. I hope you can come by on Thursday, June 13th for the opening reception. If not, go downtown to have lunch at Treebeards (located in the Christ Church Cathedral) and stroll through the Cloister Gallery.

During the same time that I experienced the good fortune of having my pictures juried into a show, I did not have such good luck with my writing. I had one personal essay and one short story rejected for publication. Sigh. I was bummed. Of course anyone who is a writer knows that you have to get at least one hundred rejections when you are starting out. So far I have experienced about four rejections to one acceptance for publication. Again…sigh. Throw in the technical computer problems I experienced last week and life can be very frustrating for a creative type. The roller coaster goes up and the roller coaster goes down.

What do I do when rejected? Although my first reaction involves burying my head, eating green worms, etc., I don’t. I try to remember that JK Rowling received 12 rejections for her first Harry Potter book. Steven King received 30 rejection letters for Carrie. It happens to the best of us and is a part of the process.

Also I remember that I write because I love to write. I take pictures because I love seeing a slice of life and translating it through a camera lens. It’s great when art work is accepted and writing is published. However, I have to admit that I would do these things anyway.

It’s just really nice from time to time to receive some recognition for doing something I love.

So I keep going. This past weekend I attended Writefest here in Houston that was hosted by WriteSpace. Not only did I attend some interesting panel talks, but I also had the opportunity to pitch a book idea to some agents and editors. I made exactly two pitches and both resulted in me being asked to submit sample chapters. And the roller coaster takes off once again!

One of the panel discussions that I listened to revolved around the idea of being a “Southern Writer”. Is that what I am? I am from the South, I live in the South and much of my writing revolves around living either in Memphis, Tennessee or Houston, Texas. I had never defined myself as a “Southern Writer” before. Yet, I guess I am. Based on the discussion I heard I am still processing exactly what that means for me and my work.

I hope to see you on Thursday, June 13th, for Midsummer Light.

Otherwise, until next week.….

Election Day Art Stroll

On election day while so many people were standing in line waiting to vote or working at the polls or watching the election news on television, I decided to take an Art Stroll. I had already voted and done everything I could do as far as campaign efforts. Watching the news was just making me nervous and stressed. I needed some self-care and relaxation. As always, one of the best ways for me to stay calm and centered is to surround myself with art.

Lucky for me Wivla (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts) had an exhibition called Shape at the Downtown Houston Library. Visual art was combined with the written word. Artists and writers combined forces give their impressions of Space via paintings, poems, collage, short essays, and mixed media. I believe this exhibition will be on display through December.

As it turns out I recognized the names of several women writers and artists who were a part of this exhibition. Here is a mixed media piece by Sharon Bippus. Her piece deals with Space as it pertains to family and generations of relatives.

I took the following picture of a group of works in this exhibition. When I looked at it later I noticed that I had included the painting in the upper right corner that was created by artist, Josena Arquieta, who has a studio in the Silos at Sawyer Yards. She is a very talented artist I met in the Women in Art class I have been taking at the Glassell School of Art. I look forward to seeing more of her work during one of the upcoming Second Saturdays at Sawyer Yards.

After strolling through this exhibit at the Houston Library, I traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts. I wanted to see the exhibit of the British Royal Family. I especially enjoyed the following pictures.

I loved this one of Queen Elizabeth with Ann Richards who was the Governor of Texas in the early 1990s. The Governor was hosting a party for the Queen here in Houston at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Ann Richards was always self-assured and projected a strong independent persona whenever she was in public. She also had a great sense of humor.

Of course the Queen remains a very powerful woman herself. Throughout the exhibit it was interesting to see how the various portraits of her have shown her over the years.

I especially liked this picture of Queen Elizabeth. It’s not the typical portrait where she is sitting down looking elegantly regal. There is a real strength in this picture that is not always shown in her day to day duties.

This exhibit will remain on display until late January 2019, I enjoyed it so much that I strolled through it twice and may go back again.

By the time I had made my way through all of the works by local women artists and the pictures of strong women rulers and leaders, it was time travel home. I was in a much better frame of mind and ready to take however the election results turned out.

Until next week.….….…..