Home again, Jiggity Jog

As they say, all good things must.

I got home after much airport stress (no flights into or out of Chicago).  Was I going to be stranded in O’hare?  The Boarding official in Albany said there was a tiny chance that I might make my connection.  Mirabile dictu, the connecting plane was late, and after annoying several innocent line standers and making a fool of myself, I got on the right airplane, and caught the cold of the century.

But now I am on my feet again and have put together a quartet of images which have something to do with the Black Fly.


To see any of these images at a better resolution, go to www.jandove.com/index.php/artist-made-books/quartet

Blue Mountain Center is one of those rare, extraordinary organizations that provide space and time for an artist to work unobstructed on her/his art.  They provide this as a gift, free to artists of all economic backgrounds.  Without this free gift, I would never have been able to experience BMC.

Should you be looking for a worthy non-profit 501c3 to send your end-of-the-year donation to, consider BMC.  The current economic climate has not been kind to BMC.  Your generosity will help insure that there will be a Blue  for writers, artists, community organizers, and activists of the future.

So, until the next Road Trip with Oola ….. Practice, Practice, Practice

Why do you do it?

Blue Mountain Center Main Building
The main building with Oola on the Fire Escape

Once when in grad school I was overcome with anxiety and feelings of guilt at the thought that I was leading a hedonistic life as an artist.  What right, I thought, do I have to be here in my studio making useless drawings when there is so much wrong to be righted in the world?….  That didn’t last for long.  I either liked my hedonistic ways too much to give them up, or maybe for me there was something right about being an artist.

Being here at Blue Mountain Center and surrounded by vibrant creative people from a wide range of ages, motivations, interests. All seem to be socially and environmentally aware. I began to wonder why they live this life.

So I began a really unscientific investigation with this question:  The life of the artist (creative) is one with few rewards such as we are experiencing here at Blue.  Why do you choose to live this life?

One artist replied:  because I like to make things.  I have to make things.  It keeps me sane.  I can’t not do it.  I tried.

Ginnah Howard told me she started to write later in life, but she had enjoyed drawing as a child.  She had a good experience being introduced to creative writing as an adult.   She takes pleasure in spending years creating a whole world in her novel Night Navigation of which she is working on the final book of the trilogy.  She says that writing provides her with a disciplined  way to live a life.

Another artist relates her work to playing as a child, even though sometimes the work is hard.  She also makes the point that she sees the life of the artist as a service to others, that through her work she makes the world better.

Joel Katz disputes the premise that the artist’s life is any harder than anyone else’s.  Any life can be hard.  He dislikes the romanticizing of the artist’s life.  As an educator he sees students whose lives are very hard indeed, yet who keep on plugging away at becoming educated.  He does his work because he has to.

Another artist does art because it helps her find order, making sense of a tiny piece of a chaotic world.  And, she loves the sensuality of great paper and the reflection of graphite, or the dying light in the drying ink.

I asked Oola and she says:  “Art is necessary to exorcise demons.  Like if you never took a shit, you’d die”.

On a related note, my friend, Bob Sennhauser (See https://jandove.wordpress.com/tag/bob-sennhauser/) sends this article from the BBC titled: “Creative minds ‘mimic schizophrenia’“.

The end of waiting

More waiting, but at least the Albany terminal has WiFi as a matter of hospitality.

It’s muggy-warm, unlike the San Francisco rain that I dressed for.  My body is screaming for sleep, but my brain is too excited.  Soon enough Nick arrives in his pickup and we are on our way north, both reliving our fond memories of Blue and wondering what the next few days have in promise.

The road north is generically and just merely beautiful.  So much green to my eyes, which at home in West Oakland must seek comfort in my 4 square foot patch of nasturtiums.  Horizons, glorious horizons!

But then, we get into Blue Mountain and out of the weak air conditioning of the truck.  The heavy air is aggressive with SPRING.  There are wildflowers (real WILDflowers) and swallowtails, and large, fuzzy yellow-bottomed bees, and deer, and giant ants, and black flies, and loons, and all in a frenzy singing “Natura Naturans” on this first hot day of the year. Large cumulus clouds hover over the hills of trees.

Some of the newly arrived residents jump into the lake.  Oola yells to be be let out of the camera case. I go to my assigned room….I think I will just see how the bed feels.

Off to Blue

Grades in, and we’re off on another adventure.  Oola and I are going to an artist’s retreat in beautiful Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks.

oola in a camera case
oola will travel in style in a camera case

Here you see us packing.  Oola didn’t really like being stuffed into the camera bag.  But I needed to soften potential blows, and Oola was the one.  She is still muttering something about Velcro and her hair.

We have to go by airplane this time, and everyone is a little cramped for space.