Monday, March 30, 2009

Know Where You Are and Who you are.

Walking the beach in Costa Rica, leaving footprints searching for inspiring sea shells.
Photo by Susan Lyons

I called a business meeting at Brookside Pottery for everyone who works there today. Well, that means I talked to myself about the business. It was a quiet day and I listened carefully.
After attending the Luna Women's Short Film Festival, I began to think about the different way I want the pottery to be now.
I survived the move and the giant scale down. I have tried to slow down and enjoy life and make my one of a kind pieces again taking more time and care. I have tried not to bring to the new environment the problems of the old environment.
And now I think I see the ideas I need for the third section of my pottery book. It involves being conscious of where you are, why you are there, and who you are. Thanks to over caffeinating myself, I came to several conclusions as well as having much more to think about.

I have never had to write a mission statement or bylaws or try and figure out what I want from life. Art. It is always about art.
I have always been able to survive as an artist and go with the flow to some degree and make my own way at times as well.
As Field of Dreams movie said something like, "Just make it and they will come."

I have a very supportive family. My husband understands my need for a certain amount of independence and a lot of need for time to get my work done. And, after all, it works well because he is a writer and needs his time too. My children have benefited and found a way to continue in the arts as well. Art became their way of life as well.

What made me think after going to the film festival? First, I noticed a camaraderie with the women organizing the festival and that reminded me of the good old days, the days when I began my studio/galleries, in Tulsa and in Virginia. I like the youthful enthusiasm and energy. I am not that young woman any more. The energy is there in another form, slower and more thoughtful in a way.

I watched one of the short films that had two older sisters talking about their lives as seamstresses. One wanted to be a dancer and tried to live that life as she imagined wearing the dance costumes she sewed. They talked about what was important to them in life and one conclusion was art. Art was the most important thing above everything, including failed romances etc. They reminded me if I want to do something do it now.

I bought an interesting copper scrap drain box from a metal recycling center today. It has great potential as a base for sculpture or part of a fountain. I don't think I should wait 10 years to do this project. I looked over my tables and saw a couple of old light fixtures purchased from the same place about 10 years ago. I think it is time to get with some of these smoldering ideas. In ten years I will be 67 and that is 3 away from 70 and that is 10 away from 80 and....better get with it, now.

Also, at the movie, I saw one of my favorite customers from the past 18 years and realized she probably does not know where my new studio is. That was a good realization as I am hearing more and more that people don't know where I moved or where I am or what I am doing. Yikes.

So the plan is to do a giant mail out with announcements in publications and have a "rebirth kind of show." Here is where I am and here is what I am doing. I should not have assumed people would find me even though I am about 10 feet from the back door of my old shop.

Change always happens. Is life really a giant vibration? Quantum physics? It has taken awhile to hold still and create again in my new environment. I am reclaiming my space and work time. I have to appreciate the wisdom of the insecurity of the new studio. In other words, work while I can and worry about the next move some other time. The next time I move will once again offer new opportunities and I will make the best of it. Less is more.

Maybe I will drink less caffeine tomorrow or I will have to hold another business meeting with 100% attendance.

I will just enjoy making new art for myself and those special orders for others and hope the economy improves soon and my customers find me. More tomorrow about the "new plan."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stawberry Pie in Shreveport-Don't Miss it!

Several years ago we were passing through Shreveport LA on our way to New Orleans and happened across a restaurant across from Centenary College. The painted sign on top of their building (if I remember correctly after all these years) read something like "Best Strawberry Pie...." and we noticed it got a favorable review in Southern Living magazine.
And, it is still there and the pie is still fine! It is good enough to pull off interstate 49 and go find it.
And, if you want to stretch you legs on a trip, walk around the antique store next door. It is full of reasonably priced old stuff. WalMart stuff has not hit their shelves yet. I saw a tobacco press, a wooden butter fish mold, silver, dishware and more things to poke.
Until a little over year ago there was also a fantastic used bookstore there as well. Now the formere book store owner has remaining books in one of the booths in the antique store.

I bet you will lick your plate for the remaining real whipping cream in the pie.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

See you later New Orleans

Time to hang up the Mardi Gras beads and get back to making art.

What a fun trip. Great food, great environment and an incredibly friendly place to visit.

I don't know if it is because the community came together in crisis and got their priorities straight or if it has always been full of southern hospitality. The whole four days we were there I only ran into one cranky local. Everyone else went out of their way to be friendly and seemed to have a good pace of life. They eat such great food and hear such wonderful music I guess it would be hard to stay in a bad mood.

I saw cigars being made and pressed into wooden molds in New Orleans cigar shops. Later in Louisiana I saw antique the same molds for sale. Never would have known what they were otherwise.
We saw the French Quarter and how it survived the traumatic hurricane, an incrideble embarrassment for this country. We drove around several of the poorer neighborhoods and saw how they still need a lot of help just to get back to the poverty level they were on before. My husband suggested we send ex President Bush down there with a work crew. Good idea. How did that all happen? How did it get out of control? Why could they not get food and water dropped into the communities?

It was also great to just get away and get warm again. Now I want to get back to work!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Best Meal in New Orleans, Adolpho's Italian/Creole

All wine $5 with one house wine, 3 reds to choose from.

Drink a draft for $3 while you wait to go upstairs.

Shrimp with Alfredo sauce on homemade pasta

Cannelloni with crabmeat and sweet corn.

We were only there a few days and we don't like to stuff ourselves on a regular basis. It is hard to get hungry enough to try a lot of restaurants in New Orleans in four days. But, here is what we found on limited time and limited budget.

The very best meal we had was at Adolpho's on Frenchmen. It is a very unusual restaurant in the community the locals frequent. I was recommended to us a few times by different people and finally we took time to try it and we were delighted.

We heard it was started by man like to cook and make good food. The kitchen is tiny! The cuisine is affordable, cheap my New Orleans standards. It is sort of Italian/Creole.

The pasta is homemade and the wine is $5. What could be better? The house salad and bread were fine as well. The waitress was friendly and when we asked her if we could split our meal which we love to do, she said. "I don't care." Good news for us! And, they did not charge us extra to do so.

We had to wait in the Apple Barrel bar below until our turn. It is located up some creaky stairs above the bar and you will miss it if you don't look hard for it. You can usually see customers sitting in the open windows above.

More about other favorites tomorrow.

Daydreaming on a Street in New Orleans

Ever since I was a little girl I would pass by abandoned building and dream about what kind of art center could be there. Anything bigger than a outhouse was fair game. I am still not over those fantasies.

While in New Orleans, walking to the Historical New Orleans Collection everyday, we passed by this lovely building for sale.It was around the corner from our B&B 1870 Banana Courtyard where we stayed. It was just down the street from another beautiful B&B where lots of famous people stay, like Oprah and Brad Pitt. I know nothing about it except after peeking in a Realtors window downtown, I can only guess it costs a couple million or so. This building appears to be enormous and majestic I noticed, just walking by.

Isn't it time for another artistic utopia? Here is my fantasy. The artists responsibility would be to produce art they want to produce and not worry about money during that time.

We build a new art center that is all inclusive. It is non profit (that part is easy, I know someone who has one and is looking for a good project and want to know what artist in Oklahoma want).
Well, we want a place to go and work in one of the most exotic cities in the United States.

The center is for all types of artists. Potters, writers, painters, woodworkers, actors and play writers, sculptors, weavers, musicians, film makers, chefs or want to be chefs. Any kind of "art"you can think of. The only requirement is that it be used by creative, ambitious positive thinkers with lots of ideas and the enthusiasm to make it happen.

It is for all level of artists where information can be exchanged, passed on and discovered. There would be all kind of information exchanged between the arts. Everything inclusive and communication encouraged. Art/business workshops could be held to help artists return to the real world.

There would be absolutely no discrimination of any type. Old, young, all races, all countries, all levels of all arts. Except for negative nellies. No whining out loud, no dumping on others without there permission.

There would be an incredible art library. Books, videos, computer access and an assistant to help you figure out how to find the info and maintain it. That person would also be a community resource person to tell you what is going on in the community now and also a historian who knows the history of artists of all types who have lived and produced in New Orleans.

The food would be fantastic, leaning on local chefs, giving them a chance to enjoy cooking and be paid and teach a bit as well. Emphasis would be on healthy food with occasional gluttonous desserts and or fine wines and cheeses. Again, part of our zest for life, learning and living well.

Yoga, stretching and meditation available and encouraged once a day or more.

Community outreach would also be necessary. Local kids who don't know about art could come and learn with us on a regular basis. Mentors, just a few at a time. And, artists doing a payback going out to the poorest of schools in New Orleans with big cans of paint and lots of canvas. Or clay or food to cook. Or all the above.

Workshops of course in every area scheduled continuously. Writers of all sorts. All arts areas, all levels. And all possible financially for artists to afford, either by in kind service or grants or if you have it, cash.

We could make this a refuge for artist in Oklahoma. We need the inspiration and the freedom and the colors you feel when you come to New Orleans. The place looked big enough to house lots of people at once and what a great escape it could be in the winter and lovely sweat time in the summer.

I always wanted to participate as have many in art experiences like the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had. In college, hanging out in the art departments and with creative writing students I expected this to happen eventually. Well, you have kids and jobs and no trust fund and you give yourself to your art life and make a little cash, enough to get by and then time flies. If we don't dream of these things they will never happen and I am getting old as dirt, said the potter.

I have had many wonderful art experiences and I want more. I love the connections between the visual arts and literature. I would also encourage art groups to come and work at the art refuge. People could work individually or as groups or both. There could be time for quiet thinking and time for the group interdisciplinary ideas as well.

I have many more ideas out this lovely building and there is not room for by laws at the moment or mission statements or any of that stuff. It is just dreams, day dreams, visions and positive thinking.
I guess you gotta start small and I will go back to my funny little garage in the ally and work with my friends and students and hang some mardi gras beads outside my front door and paint the pick nick table in some really wild colors and make more art.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Stink Eye in New Orleans

Ken at 50 in Drag, "Not that there is anything wrong with that."

Scooters are a great way to get around in New Orleans and the boa is a lovely touch
"Precious" looks out her window. Just another day at home in New Orleans.

"Precious" lives in a southern mansion, by the way.

Additions to the sign, "This means you gutter punks." (Stink eye)

Both eyes open and forward. No stink eye here.

Our B&B entrance at Banana Courtyard, fun and funky but they could use of few of my planters

The lovely hallway entrance. Eclectic and wonderful.

I like this place. There is very little stink eye in New Orleans. Overall it is a very accepting society.
So many stories. Can i remember just a few?

So many pretty people and a few others as well are everywhere. And everybody seems to get along.

We started with breakfast in our B&B. A very handsome young man from Lafayette shared our table. He spent the night here after casting call for an independent film here at Tulane. He has already been in 80 or so independent films. He is only 19 and said he may start college again in Tokyo or Thailand. He pointed out that Louisiana is 49th in education, only ahead of Mississippi and his first college experience was too easy. Dark hair and eyes and certainly a charming young man as well to have breakfast with.

Next, one of the most handsome young man I have ever seen joined the table. He was from Trinidad. A college senior, with a lovely accent, I am sure most girls would love to keep his company. He had wonderful manners as well.

After a bit of interesting conversation, unlike the super 8 hotel experience, we headed off to the center of the French Quarter. There is a lot of walking here if you let it happen. We have not been in our car for a few days. I have never seen so many 3 wheel bicycles with baskets actually being ridden as normal transportation. It makes my biking to work seem normal as well.

We rubber necked our way to the Historical Center of New Orleans for John to do his research. But alas, before I got there, we spotted a foot massage spa or reflexology with free samples. Of course, I had to try that and soon found myself paying for the full works and an arm/neck massage as well. John went on in his responsible way to the historical center and I turned into a piece of toast.

I finally made my ever so limber way to the research center where we dug deeper into the files of Alfred Waud. Fantastic artist that he was, illustrating for the Harper's Weekly and more we also discovered his love and lies as well. It is great material for a screenplay. More later on that one.

Then how about a not too expensive lunch at K Pal's next door? Delicious creole steak, fried cheese grits and a role. Yum. Dessert was an incredible chocolate cake and a french roast coffee.

More soon with be edited and added to tomorrow morning. I am pooped.

And of course a little about the girl with the dog who gave me the only stink eye in town! Everyone else has been fantastic!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Orleans and Having Fun

Our delicious quiche for breakfast we shared with our house sitters before we left Tulsa.

John is a terrific writer and looks for info on images and Native Americans and the Press in the 1800's

Swamp on our way to New Orleans down hi way 10

Puppeteer in the French Quarter. His puppets looked similar to some our son Ian has made.

Musicians are everywhere, walking the steets with their instruments in cases.

Who are these happy tourists and why does she have her arm resting on a horse post?

Great local hamburger spot.

Clean plate club after eating the burger and baked potatoe.
It has been a long time since we ate beef.

Laid back Pooch in New Orleans.

Cigars, handmade and in waiting.

Pope Paul visited here in 1987 and stood in this spot.

Has everyone had coffee and beignets here at some time in their life?

Local beer.

We got out of Lafayette and a Super 8 hotel and headed for the Big Easy. As we travel to our destination, we try to figure out which interstate hotel chain is upgrading and does not cost a fortune so when we get to New Orleans we can afford to stay in a nice place in the French Quarter.
Super 8 seems to be revamping at the moment and we got there late and left early.

Alas, New Orleans and the Banana Courtyard. We were instructed to call ahead so they could meet us at the gate for parking and so we did. We were led into this fantastic collection of everything under the sun and offered a glass of wine, beer, water or a soft drink. Red wine for me and beer for John. The place is like staying in a historical museum. Everywhere you look there is something interesting the owners have collected and put on display. We were handed keys, maps and had a hand held walking tour down to Borbon street. It was the most caring arrival to a B&B we have ever had. Suggestions for restaurants, local events including the St. Patricks day parade and more. The room is large and the bathroom enormous. We have a king bed, a day bed, a fainting couch dressers tables and more. Our room, the hexagon, was the waiting room the the gentlemen callers of the bordello.

We headed for the French Quarter to search for printed material by illustrator Alfred Wauld at the Historic New Orleans Collection. John's next book deals with images of native Americans and how they were portrayed in print. This is and one more example for his next book. We searched through several boxes of drawings and printed pages. I had not planned to help but could not resist going through the boxes of old drawings as well.

New Orleans is a great place to "have to do research." And I will continue to take the isolated time to work on my pottery muse book as well.

Life is ecclectic and essentric here. People let their hair down and keep it there. We had everyone from a street poet, perhaps a little crazy handing his love poems to us to read and then going on a rampage about gays and how aids gets them back and eliminates them, yikes. And another lady with quite the outfit and a can of almonds strutting around, "Why does everyone know where the parade is and no one will tell me? Why I think I will throw almonds at everyone." Whack and laugh and keep looking for that St. Pat's parade that is always starts several hours late. And that just mentions a couple of examples.

Adventures and writing. What could be more fun? Happy hour?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Be Right Back with Travels in New Orleans

Photos of the hexagonal room from the 1870 Banana Courtyard web site

Gotta get there and then I will post some new and exciting trip news, traveling in New Orleans. We are going to stay at an old Brothel now called Banana Courtyard on the edge of the French Quarter. Looks funky on line and John discovered it after listening to Splendid Table on NPR, one of our favorite shows. So, give me a few more hours in the car to get there and I will write lots of tips about New Orleans. I have not been there since Katrina hit so this could be quite interesting.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jane Fonda has a Blog and yes she really writes it.

John handed me a very interesting article about Jane Fonda and her life in the New York Times magazine. She has a fascinating life. And, it mentioned she has a blog. If you go to it will lead you to her blog. I just discovered it and guess what? Her daughter's mother in law is from Costa Rica. Interesting for me since I just spent a month in that beautiful, peace loving, and educated third world country with good friends.
It is a lovely look at her personal life. If the famous do this more often the tabloids and obnoxious and gossip sheets will lose their power and jobs. She is sharing and interesting to have insight to Jane's life. I am going to read more of her writing. She has something to say about life and her return to theater after 46 years.

I Wish I Could Smoke a Cigar and Blow Smoke Rings, kinda

How do you blow smoke rings?

I really cannot smoke this thing but I tried! Better let someone else keep it lit!

Tom's wonderful helpers have a great sense of humor and let me be one of the guys for a minute.
There is a giant cigar in my hand and they wanted to see if I could smoke it. Sorry but I gave it a try!

I loved the spirit of the people in Costa Rica and the smell of Cuban cigars. Around happy hour I would try to catch Tom's smoke rings and I even tried to smoke a cigar with no luck. Could not make the smoke happen. Here is the the Friday afternoon party and I am trying to look tough and smoke this cigar with Tom's wonderful work crew. It was fun but the cigar was too much of a challenge for me to keep it smoking. I am better at catching the smoke rings and breathing the second hand smoke. These fellow were a fine work crew, good natured and hard working!