Anywho, #11

Dearest g.g.-

I wish you lived closer because Tacoma is so good to me.

I would love to share its goodness with you, but, alas, you live so far, far away.

What would you experience? Well, on September 21st, myself and 9 other Tacoma based artists were honored. Yup. All of us together; everyone's artwork installed in one place at the Spaceworks Gallery.  First, we all were nominated--which was amazing--then each of us won a Foundation of Art Award from the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation! So honored. And I have to say, Gabriel Brown, of Spaceworks Tacoma, did a fantastic job hanging my stuff at the gallery. It wasn't easy! For more information about this award and the AMAZING things the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation does for our community, go here: https://www.gtcf.org/blog/gtcfs-10th-foundation-art-award-honors-10-pierce-county-artists/

The Spaceworks Gallery with my Strata Discs hung second to right in right window.

The Spaceworks Gallery with my Strata Discs hung second to right in right window.

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What stuff?

Remember when I told you that I was going to Denmark this summer? Well, I did! My dear friend, Mette, in Denmark, has been chatting with me about creating artwork for her family's home since 2006. I know, long time--over 10 years! But this year we made it THE year!

The first leg of my trip included 3 nights stay in Reykjavik, Iceland at the Reykjavík City Hostel. What did I do the most: spent daily hours at the Laugardalslaug thermal pool, just a few minutes away from the hostel. Heaven, especially the pool with geothermal ocean water.

2006 was the last time I visited Iceland. I was with 5 other Icelandic relatives and, wow, Reykjavik has changed. There was so much more tourist this time around! Almost every sign was in English along with an Icelandic version, sometimes with the English version first. I also had trouble finding hand-knitted items that were actually crafted by Icelanders. After I mentioned this to Icelandic friends they confirmed my suspicions: most of the knitting is done outside of Iceland, by non-Icelanders outfitted with patterns to follow. I'm guessing, with little doubt, that the rate of return is higher this way. After hours of meandering searches, I did find a woman with hand-knitted items in the plaza on Austurstræti and Lækjargata. We had a wonderful conversation, once I told her where some of my Icelandic ancestors lived :) She informed me there were more tourists (mostly summertime) in Iceland than Icelanders. Very concerning. And I believed her.

Next, I spent 10 glorious days experiencing Mette's life, including her life with her two lovely children in Lyngby, a northern suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark. How did we meet? I lived with Mette and her family as an exchange student in 1988-89.

Mette and I in 1988 in downtown Copenhagen.

Mette and I in 1988 in downtown Copenhagen.

Mette and I in 2017 at the Queen's Castle in Copenhagen.

Mette and I in 2017 at the Queen's Castle in Copenhagen.

On this trip, the first time back since 1989, we walked, talked, biked, swam, ate, drank, and laughed. We jumped into her car and toured through Zealand, Funen, and Jutland visiting friends, camping, picnicking, walking, morning bathing in the ocean and laughing more.

Picnic on the side of the road, next to the Nakkebølle Fjord.

Picnic on the side of the road, next to the Nakkebølle Fjord.

Car camping at the Nørre Lyngvig Campground.

Car camping at the Nørre Lyngvig Campground.

Sunset picnic on the shore of the North Sea.

Sunset picnic on the shore of the North Sea.

Mette and I on top of the Nørre Lyngvig (lighthouse).

Mette and I on top of the Nørre Lyngvig (lighthouse).

Mette took a photo of me on the way down through the lighthouse interior.

Mette took a photo of me on the way down through the lighthouse interior.

So many coinkydinks happened each day that I soon was asking Mette, 'Did you plan that?' Then we'd break down, laughing and laughing. For example, while visiting Vadehavscentret in Ribe, Queen Margrethe II walked by, only about 1 foot away from us. She was museum touring with around 6 people and if Mette had not pointed out who she was I would have thought she was just another museum visitor. I'm SURE Mette planned it! It was a gorgeous place.

Something Mette definitely planned was a visit with her long known friends in Havnbjerg. After a beautiful evening of delicious drinks and food, their daughter, Sophia, a young, inspiring artist, asked if I'd like to draw with her. She had an elaborate water-soluble color pencil set and a soft colored bouquet she designed earlier that became our perfect still-life.

I have never been around a young person with such determination, such a hunger and willingness to learn. While we drew together she asked me why I did certain things--through translations from her supportive mother--and she never lost her concentration. Blown away by this person! Enjoyed every moment with this family.

Me, Sophie, and her mom, Stine.

Me, Sophie, and her mom, Stine.

Me and Sophie quietly drawing together.

Me and Sophie quietly drawing together.

Sophie and her younger sister, Ina, pose with Sophie's gorgeous artwork. AND she gifted it to me! A treasure!

Sophie and her younger sister, Ina, pose with Sophie's gorgeous artwork. AND she gifted it to me! A treasure!

I'd love to keep writing and describe what we did every day--the new Moesgaard Museum, MOMU, was amazing and the Louisiana was still as wonderful as in 1989-- and who I saw--like Mette's family, especially her dad who I haven't seen since 1989!-- but this would belabor our main travel abjective: in exchange for a flight to Iceland and Denmark, I will send Mette 5 of my Strata Discs.

And the award, with its show at the Spaceworks Gallery, prompted me to complete 4 of the 5 discs for the installation. Some even traveled with me on this trip!

Drawing in the evening on the discs I brought with me to Denmark.

Drawing in the evening on the discs I brought with me to Denmark.

Thank you, Mette, for a beautiful trip!!!!

Back home, I worked non-stop to complete the 4 discs for the show. Each one contains specific imagery to be included within their strata, symbolizing ideas precious to her and her children.

Strata Discs, Artist Statement:

I’m fascinated by soil.
The soil we walk upon is teeming with gazillions of tiny, unseen critters, with one gram containing as much as 5,000-7,000 bacteria species.
And most people don’t even realize it.
Most of my work revolves around those critters seen or unseen and the environment surrounding them. Each completed piece becomes a decomposing, creature-filled and impermanence abiding environment soon to crumble into soil. It’s what all matter eventually becomes--layers of history.
I like to imagine what a cross-section of this strata could contain—perhaps fictional frolicking creatures, colorful minerals, objects that have been disposed of or demolished, all of them past memories embedded within deposited layer.
Adding imagery.

Adding imagery.

More lines drawn with my favorite pens, Pigma MICRON.

More lines drawn with my favorite pens, Pigma MICRON.

Almost completed discs sitting next to uncompleted discs on my studio floor.

Almost completed discs sitting next to uncompleted discs on my studio floor.

The 4 finished Strata Discs hung in the Foundation of Art Award art installation:

Sunset , acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 14" X 14"

Sunset, acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 14" X 14"

Sky,  acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 8" X 8"

Sky, acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 8" X 8"

Sunrise,  acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 6" X 6"

Sunrise, acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 6" X 6"

Sunshine , acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 10" X 10"

Sunshine, acrylic/ aluminum leaf/ dutch metal leaf/ ink, 10" X 10"

Much love and happy travels,

Mindy Jo

 

 

Anywho, #8

Dearest g.g.-

Hi, I'm back! Last June I headed home, to my beautiful birthplace of Tacoma, after a five month substitute teacher stint in Nome, Alaska. My Nome adventures culminated with a pause in a five year period of living and learning in several different cities, including, besides Nome, also Portland and Seattle.

So what adventures was I involved in between the summer of 2016 and now, summer of 2017?

Let me start with last summer. As I reached the ground in Seatac last June--after leaving the ground in Nome, AK--I, happily, had a project awaiting: I was chosen by the Cedar River Clinic (14th and Martin Luther King, Jr Way in Tacoma), through the Tacoma Murals Project, to design and complete a 16’ x 81’ mural on the exterior of their building. Out-of-my-skin excitement!!!

Cedar River Clinics offer woman-centered health care, along with LGBTQ care, and have a persistent weekly protester presence at their clinic creating neighborhood unease. Grateful for the Hilltop community’s patience, especially with the protesters, and the Hilltop's support, the clinic desired to show their appreciation through this mural.

After meeting with Cedar River Clinics, the Hilltop Business Association, the Hilltop Action Coalition, and surrounding businesses, 3 issues stood out: 1) the desire for more color in their community 2) more of the natural world represented and 3) organic shapes to soften the hard edge of urban structure.

Considering their collective thoughts regarding the mural site’s past, present and future, I designed a mural depicting colorful fabric flowing across the wall, past two sets of painted trompe l'oeil windows, breaking down the rigid lines of urban structure. Its twisting and turning bonds together the different “colors” of the Hilltop neighborhood, representing the LGBTQ community, different religions, ethnicity and gender, until eventually transforming into big, same color filled flowers.

Here is its development:

The different color options:

The final chosen design and color combination by Cedar River Clinics and the surrounding community:

The wall before painting. Photo by Teriscovkya Smith.

Jesse Peterson, my awesome assistant; he was terrific and so much fun! The Tacoma Murals Project assigned him to this project to gain his own experience of mural making.

A view of him, and also the wall after I sketched out the design, while I looked down from the scaffolding:

Scaffolding and the start of painting.

Friends visit. And pose.

Me, while painting. The mornings were cold as August and September advanced.

There are many treasured memories during my time painting this mural, wonderful friends that came to visit me and many friendships that were forged, but Henry's almost daily check-ins were golden. Here he is after giving me a hat on which he crocheted an added blue do-rag. It was even in the colors of the mural! So honored! From then on, that hat joined me on the scaffolding everyday. If you look closely, while in front of the mural, you might find his initials (HDW); I embedded them somewhere in the mural. Can you find them?

Jesse holding flags I made. One day a woman came dancing by and gave me these flags. They had a printed image I was not familiar with so I repainted them to look like my signature. They, along with Henry's hat, became our scaffolding mascots!

The final look!

Will write you with more very soon!

Much love,

mindy jo

 

Anywho, #7

Dearest g.g.-

Wow, how fast a year swings by. Hope 2016 was good to you! It was full of personal development and challenge, but also great love and understanding.

As a recap, January of last year I got on a plane and landed in Nome, Alaska to teach reading to 7th and 8th graders at Nome-Beltz Jr/Sr High School. Super steep learning curve for me, but, heck, I thought, I can hack being on the hot seat for 5 months, right? Right! I did it! It WAS hot, but as with all things uncomfortable, I learned a ton.  About myself.  About Alaska and native culture (was especially blown away by some of my student's dancing). About teaching. About 13 thru 15 year old humans. About public speaking. About how much teachers dedicate their whole lives to teaching, not just the hours they are in the school building but also through their weekends, evenings and vacations.

One such teacher is Teriscovkya Smith, aka 'Smitty', writing teach extraordinaire. I've known her since high school, I consider my sister, and is the one who got me out to Nome. She told me about Nome Beltz's heavy need for a substitute teacher to step in for a teacher going on maternity leave. She housed me, drove me around, advised me, supported me, introduced me to The Walking Dead and backed me every day. What am I trying to say? Pretty much, if she hadn't been around, I would have not climbed that curve and would probably have been burned by the heat.  Thank you, T!  

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Here she is in all her cuteness and me, well, forgive me, I was COLD! That's supposed to happen when you snowmobile for hours, right?

What was my favorite part with my students? The last two weeks of school and the art each student created for an assignment Teriscovkya designed for both her classes and mine during that time. My room was full of art supplies, left from past art classes, so I let my students experiment and come up with art pieces that illustrated what they wanted for their futures, along with writing from 'Smitty's' class about music.

Here are some of the results:

 A street in Nome:

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The 2016 Iditorod, which finishes in Nome:

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And a little photo series I call "Reclining Nome Nude" which I did with fellow teacher, I mean, model, Susanne Thomas.

This one is "Reclining Nome Nude On Pallet"

"Reclining Nome Nude On Ice"

"Reclining Nome Nude On Log"

Thank you, Nome!!!!!