Saturday, 13 November 2010

Midwest Adventure: Ragdale (Part 2)

Friend's Studio

The two large sets of French doors on the right, and three pairs of skylights, were my home for the two weeks I stayed at Ragdale: it's a huge studio -- larger than our home! -- with a sleeping loft tucked away and accessed by a circular staircase. I slept soundly under yet another skylight, watching birds as they flew overhead, and the trees doing the watusi in the high winds we had during my first week.

Ragdale is an amazing place, and I was honoured to share it with some terrific creative artists, writers, and a composer. Dinnertime was filled with thoughtful conversations, much laughter, and exquisite food, all of which I miss now that I've returned to "civilian" life.

(Especially the food: I'm amazed by how much creative energy is sucked out of my brain, thinking about what to make for dinner. And I like to cook!)

Even though I've been back in Calgary for more than a week, I'm still sorting through everything I did and thought about there: here's the work I can photograph:


The top is the reknit of the chess board for My Past Life, a project I've quietly had hibernating for two years: I would have liked to have finished this part earlier and worked on the two reproduction Lewis chessmen that will be part of the installation, but the timing didn't work out as I hoped.

Middle panel is the sheets of paper I made at the studio of my friend Melissa Jay Craig the first afternoon I got into Chicago: click on the picture to view the details on Flickr.

And the bottom panel is one of six cyanotypes I created, thanks to a great kit I bought at American Science and Surplus (worth checking out for the incomparably bad puns in the descriptions), also in Chicago. I've got plans for these, as I'm finally organized in the studio to get back to making artist books.

Even with all of this, and three trips into Chicago to play tourist, I still had time to knit a small installation for this lovely piece of sculpture.

52.02.43 / Acorn cosy

The work I did at Ragdale that I can't illustrate well on the blog is worthy of mention as well, although it's what I'm mostly still trying to sort out.

My brain was pretty burned out after writing three major grants in the weeks before I left, and it was quickly rebooted once I had unpacked my bags and taken a walk out onto the prairie outside my door.

The chessboard, once I got past spending the first day knitting, and then frogging, a good chunk of the first corner, was reasonably mindless knitting, which allowed me to begin to formulate some plans about whether I want to continue doing art full-time, or find work that has such novel things as a regular paycheque and benefits.

I was certainly leaning towards the latter before I left Calgary, but now, I'm not so sure. Truth be told, while I wouldn't mind more money, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be happier as a 9-to-5 commuter clone than I am writing proposals and grant applications.

And, to be honest, while I sat knitting away in the studio, I let my mind wander unfettered through the collection of show submission files I had been accumulating: there were some that I was definitely lukewarm about before I left that I'm much more interested in now, so it might be interesting to see where some of them will take me, both figuratively and literally.

Stay tuned.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Cones

Midwest Adventure: Chicago (Part 1)

Longtime readers may remember my adventure to Pennsylvania in the spring of 2008, and this photo, which bore the caption "one of these days, I've got to spend more time in Chicago...."


Well, that day finally came.

From dining at the one and only Superdawg, complete with rather weird neon green relish,

Mmmm, lunch!

to checking out some of the amazing public art,

The Bean

and indulging in a visit to the original (not the franchises!) Billy Goat Tavern (the inspiration for John Belushi's classic SNL sketch) and yes, I had a cheezborgor and a beer or two.

Cheezborgor, cheezborgor, cheezborgor

I do believe that with all the walking I did, I truly can now refer to it as Sweet Home Chicago.

Sweet Home Chicago

Didn't do everything I wanted in town -- after all, I was there to have my two-week artist residency at Ragdale, and I'll have a separate post about my time and work there -- so I definitely still have a long list of places to go and things to do when I return.

And I will return....

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