Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Winging It in Connecticut

August 7, 2015
IMG_20150720_195811498_HDR

Photo by my 7 year old son.

I know this post is way overdue. I had some issues with the blog format and needed a break, but it is now time to revisit my writing, and blog, Creating: A Life. Doing so could mean quick update or a long rambling existential reconstruction of the last several years of my life, or something in-between. There is much to contemplate on and about the various “in-betweens” we and I encounter; let’s see what happens.

My last post for Creating: A Life was on November 26, 2011. Since then my spouse, my son, and I, have settled in Connecticut. We bought an old farmhouse, with a large sunny yard, which we are slowly rehabilitating. The house was relatively well maintained; however, the yard was completely overgrown. To help me transform our property into a small food-producing homestead, I enrolled in the University of Connecticut’s Master Gardner program which has proven very helpful.

I also renovated a 24’ x 24’ saltbox style building into a studio. The building was originally an unheated workshop and garden shed. It required some structural reconstruction, new windows, rewiring, insulation, and new walls thanks to a sheetrock hanging day with extended family. Ultimately, the complete interior was transformed on my own except for the house’s electrical panel upgrade to a 200 AMP system and an instillation of a 100 AMP subpanel to the studio. I definitely needed to hire this job out. This renovation took me roughly a year and a half to complete.

While working on the studio, I took a break from my artwork, and concentrated on the Master Gardner coursework and cleaning up our property. This was a welcome change from my intense work during my 2011 McKnight Fellowship for Ceramic Artists, in Minnesota. The fellowship was very rewarding, although it did keep me away from my family for most of that year. Suffice it to say, I made a hell of allot of artwork and drank a lot of red wine. My favorite grape is Malbec – I like it for its tang!

Rat Rod with Insectual Power: Visitor Sereis 20015 Terra Cotta with Multi-Fired Surface 10.5

Rat Rod with Insectual Power: Visitor Series
20015
Terra Cotta with Multi-Fired Surface
10.5″ x 12.5″ x 4.5″

My time away from art making was a good and welcome change. I actually didn’t spend much time dwelling or thinking about my artwork. I knew once the studio was done that I would pull through any apprehension I might have about restarting my creative process. I ended up starting a new sequence, titled the “Visitor” series, and began moving back into more functional work, figuring I would need some money to support my artwork and hopefully help with our finances. So I am now working on marketing my work.

All three of us are pretty well settled in our new home and state. We are cat people and have two great feline companions. Each one of us has our own place within our shared connected paths. My spouse’s career is librarianship, she is also a wonderful mother, spouse, and photographer (when she can find the time). Our son is a fantastic kid: very creative, enthusiastic about his interests, and growing up fast. Me? Well, I am kind of “whacking-out” in that I am trying to reinvent my-self, as a stay-at-home spouse, parent, artist, handy man, mini-homesteader, and, reflective introvert with an interest in the mystical in-betweens. Maybe more later! (I still have some issues with the blog format.)

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Photo by my 7 year old son.

Oh yeah, and I am growing a beard – aiming for wizard by fifty!

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2011 McKnight Fellowship for Ceramic Artists.

July 1, 2011

Photo by Jack Hill*

For the past six years I have applied for several grants and fellowships and repeating the applications the following years. The process is time consuming, frustrating, and at times demoralizing. No one likes getting rejection letters, even when it is a common experience as it is for me and numerous other artists. I have gotten used to referring to the winter months as “Grant Writing Season,” a time when much of my energy is spent writing, editing, word-smithing, and organizing applications. After each grant writing season is over and I have received the rejection letters from the various funding foundations, I go through a period of remorse, self doubt, and am frustrated by all of the time I seemingly wasted. Time that could have been spent on other aspects of artistic career, like making more artwork and sending portfolios to galleries and workshop venues. I have often wondered how much more financial success I might have gained if I gave up on grant writing and just spent my time making and marketing my artwork.

I didn’t discontinue the grant and fellowship applications, so I will never know. But I do know that my current work the Poisoned Cocoon series is extremely time consuming. In the past two years I have made less than five pieces each year. This is in part because of other life responsibilities and interests such as stay-at-home dad, gardener, household handy man, cook, baker, and so forth. The limited time I have for studio time is well spent. The meticulous nature of my artwork also require me to price it at the higher end of the art market, which then places it into the arena of art collectors, high-end galleries, museum collections, and the amazingly enlightened people who absolutely need and value artwork in their lives. Suffice it to say these people are limited.

Well, I am happy to say that with the help of an ah-ha moment inspired by the writings of Lial A. Jones, museum director at the Crocker Art Museum, continual editing and support from my spouse, and my own bullheaded persistence, I finally landed the large and prestigious 2011 McKnight Fellowship for Ceramic Artists. This award has helped my self-esteem immensely. It has been a couple years since my art career has produced any real financial gain. The fellowship will enable me to spend more time making art, promoting the work, and participating more fully as an artist. The very first thing I am going to do is attend Charlie Cummings’ workshop, Clay: An Interdisciplinary Medium in the Digital Age, at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. For some time now, I have been interested in employing contemporary image transfer techniques in my artwork, and now I will have the opportunity to do so. I am also really looking forward to being able to spend time with other artists.

Photo by Jack Hill*

The only downside to receiving this fellowship is that I must remain in Minnesota to accept it, which I did. This normally would not be a problem, except for the fact that my spouse simultaneously was offered and accepted a position in the Northeast United States, the region of my childhood. Thus she and my son will move East and I will stay in the Mid-West until Spring 2012. This situation will be very difficult for the family and marriage. It is hard to think about not being with the two of them on a regular basis; however, in the end I am sure the distance will create a greater appreciation and love for each other. I will be racking up quite a few frequent flier miles, that’s for sure. The positive side to this situation, is that I will have quite a bit of studio time and hopefully will create a fair amount of artwork for the final fellowship exhibition at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. Then, I can take this artwork East and hopefully establish gallery representation in art-loving North East cities.

I am both excited, and apprehensive about the upcoming 2011-12 McKnight Fellowship Year. I know it will be especially hard on my son. He is only three and used to my almost continuous presence. It will be hard for him to be in preschool full-time and in a new living condition. He is at a point in his psychological and emotional development where he needs and is comforted by consistency, which will be completely and totally rearranged for him — it won’t be easy. It will also be hard on my spouse, who will be starting a new job and for all practical purposes will essentially be a single mother for the year. Along with being partners, my spouse and I are also best of friends and we will miss each other, tremendously. I am sure that I will go through some parental/spousal abandonment remorse and guilt. On the other hand, I will have a tremendous amount of time to work on my artwork and art career, I just hope I can survive the loneliness and sorrow that will come with it.

*Jack Hill Photography and Design – www.jackhillhart.com.

Mama’s Boy

May 8, 2011

Since becoming a stay-at-home dad, I have become grateful for my ease at performing domestic duties and providing emotional support, guidance, and structure for my son. He is a wonderful being, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be so intimately involved in the first years of his life. Part of my job as a stay-at-home parent is to maintain much of the household and provide a sense of order and peace. This is also necessary, so that we two parents don’t lose our minds in the chaos that is part of a child’s exuberant energy. In our society, this role has traditionally been delegated the females. However, this is changing for the better. In our situation, my spouse and I have essentially flipped the traditional gender roles, with much blurring of course. In short, she is the bread winner, I am the bread maker.

I believe, I was able to make this role reversal, in part because, it is in my nature. However, it is also the result of having excellent role models. From a very early age, my mother began to give me the tools and knowledge to actually do it. Most of my ability and comfort with domestic duties such as cooking, baking, dishes, cleaning, dishes, washing and folding cloths, dishes, preserving food, and did I mention washing dishes, I learned from my mother. She somehow managed a loving home and raised six children with my father, a very supportive husband and parent who continues to do his fair share of the dishes. She did this at a time when most of her friends and women in general were working outside of the home. I am not sure about this, but I can imagine that she might have felt some prejudice by some of her more feminist leaning peers. There were a few times in my childhood when she took college classes which may have been an attempt to obtain a footing into the time’s middle class expectations. If so, her desire to do so didn’t last long or more likely she didn’t have the time. Although, it is pretty clear that her true calling in life was to be a mother, which she does extraordinary well.

If possible, almost too well, because I have perceived and heard some joking and references to her children – her sons sons in particular – as being spoiled. Jokes from childhood friends like “does your mother still make your lunch for you?” To which, my brothers and I usually just smile and brush off, or sometimes we might reply with a similarly rude remark like “Yes, she still loves us, sorry yours doesn’t – make your lunch I mean.” The point being that we are all pretty much “Mama’s Boys” and I don’t say this in the pejorative as the phrase is generally used, but out of love and respect for our mother and matriarch. We love our Mama.

Spoiled? Really! Possibly unknowingly or not, my mother trained all of her children and I believe her sons in particular, to enter the twenty-first century with ease and fluidity. This is a time of much change and turmoil, a time where fundamentalists and social conservatives are desperately fighting to maintain their dogmas and conservative gender roles. My brothers and I have absolutely no discomfort with being equal participants in the raising of our children, sharing domestic duties, and being emotional present for our spouses and children. In fact we want to. We are all decent men and certainly not saints or poster boys for this relatively new positive social paradigm shift. However, it is one thing to be willing to make this shift, it is another thing entirely to have the skills to do so. There are numerous ways to raise children, within a positive environment. Many of the skills can be learned of course, my brothers and I began our training at a very early age so my ability to transition was not difficult. One small example, is that my brothers and I are pretty good cooks, not just hobby cooks, but everyday get down and dirty put the meal on the table kind-of-cooks. This skill we learned from our hard working, loving, humanitarian Mama.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Thanks to the Fleet: Welcome to Spring

May 6, 2011

My small family and I made it through another Minnesota winter. It is now spring, the garlic shoots are up, and the spinach I planted late last fall survived the winter. We are currently eating our first spinach greens, yum!

Besides the copious amounts of snow and negative Fahrenheit temperatures. The Mid-Western United States, and the World has seen much trouble and turmoil. Wisconsin, across the Mississippi where my spouse works, is going through tremendous political turmoil with their newly elected Tea-Party (TEA-BAGGER) and ultra conservative Republican governor, Scott Walker. Without going into much detail about the political wrangling that has occurred and will continue to occur, until he is either recalled or voted out of office, I will simply say that Wisconsin is in for a very rough and divisive future. Jememi Suri, E. Gordon Fox Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, best sums up the political situation with his blog post that compares Walker to Joseph McCarthy. I recommend you read it . http://jeremisuri.net/archives/804

During the winter and early spring 2011 we as a world population have seen and some individualizes have experienced a sea-of-change in the popular uprisings of Egypt and other middle eastern countries. The overthrow and attempts to remove dictators and their autocratic political regimes from power has been inspiring and painful to observe. My own non-logistical emotional-intellectual based political mind interprets these uprisings as a hopeful beginning of a more humanistic future world. However, on the other hand, my pessimism views the extreme exclusivity of the right wing of American politics to be extremely frightening and disturbing, to say the least.

In addition, at the end of this winter another major natural disaster devastated the country of Japan. As we know, Japan’s recent earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed lives, property, infrastructure, and caused the break down of their Fukushima nuclear power plant, which is leaking toxic nuclear radiation. Things are not good for our Japanese brothers and sisters! The radiation from this nuclear power plant is currently negatively effecting the environment, people of Japan, and the world economy. I hope that this will be a wake up call to humanity to seriously consideration establishing a greater use of renewable energy. Again and unfortunately, Americas right-wing politicians are stripping away funding for research and development of the numerous renewable energies our country and world has available. To put it lightly I am not very happy with America politics at the moment! However, I am very excited and proud of the left wing progressive groups that are rapidly organizing via small PAC’s, like Russ Fiengold’s Progressives United (link), MoveOn.org, and others. These groups are fighting hard for human rights, environmental protection, animal safety, and inclusiveness of all living beings of the world. There is hope for our one and only home, planet earth!


To end on a personal positive accomplishment, I once again avoided buying a snow blower this winter. Since living in Minnesota, I have on numerous occasions, with every large snow fall to be exact, wanted to purchase one of these space taking, gas guzzling, maintenance heavy, but very useful and effective snow displacing machines. I am happy to say that with the help of numerous shovels,The Fleet, my spouse, son, and, very awesome and generous neighbor (who has a snow blower), I once again fought the urge to purchase a snow blower!

Noodles and Milk

January 17, 2011

Yum, Noodles and Milk!

Dedicated to Dad and Uncle Gerard

When I was growing up my father would occasionally make my siblings and I, Noodles and Milk, for lunch. This happened most often on cold winter days, and often when my mother was away. Why this happened when she was not around I am not entirely sure. The fact that the meal is limited in its nutritional value, is quick and easy to make, or that he wanted to share one of his favorite childhood comfort foods with his children, could all have something to do with it.

Noodles and Milk is a Ferrari family comfort food from the paternal side. I can remember one holiday when my uncle, whom I am named after, brought us a pasta maker for Christmas. The two parents and brothers made my cousins, siblings, and I this entrée’ with home made egg noodles. I remember that day fondly, because, not only was that batch of Noodles and Milk the most flavorful I have ever tasted, but making our own noodles was exciting. Additionally, Christmas in those days was magical and full of fun, especially, when the extended family visited. So I am sure the atmosphere at the time enhanced my olfactory nerves and effected my taste buds.

The thing about Noodles and Milk, is that they are great any way you make them. The easiest way is to heat some left over noodles in milk, add a tab of butter, salt, and eat. Easy as that. However, they are absolutely out of this world if you use fresh hand made egg noodles boiled in milk. Once they are cooked, toss several tablespoons of butter in and add salt. As far as I’m concerned, there is not a more delicious meal for cold winter days. Think about it, all the essentials are there — tender chewy starch, cream, protein, and sodium — you just can’t beat it. Top them off with a hot steaming cup of freshly ground coffee and a chunk of high quality dark chocolate and you can’t go wrong, as far as I’m concerned anyway.

Give it a try. All you need is the ingredients, sauce pan, a rolling pin, a knife (sharp), and a ruler if you want relatively attractive looking noodles. See images and captions below.

My Favorite Egg Noodle Recipe:

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, 4 egg yokes
½ teaspoon salt

* The Pasta Bible, by Christian Teubner, Silvio Rizzi, and Tan Lee Leng (buy it via Amazon and you can support my art habit)

Quick Image Intro to Making Homemade Egg Noodles

Rolling and Cutting

The Process

Taste Test

Draining Cooked Noodles

Alone on the Prairie

December 14, 2010

Drawing in the StudioHomesick Blues, Angst, and My Modest Request for an Awesome Gallery Owner

Well if you read my blog in the past you might have noticed that I would generally post at least once a month, which was my goal when starting the Creating: A Life blog experiment. Well it has been since early summer since my last post and it is now early winter, we are into this year’s holiday season. I suppose there are numerous reasons for the lack of posts, the most prevalent being that I went through a period of disliking computing and also being disheartened by my artistic career. I am not sure how to think about or appreciate the new phenomena of social networking. I don’t believe I am a complete Luddite, however I am reluctantly accepting the fact that it is and will most likely be a major aspect of my life and career as an artist.

At the core of my being I am a home-body, who would rather stay relatively close to my domicile, and within close proximity to family members. However, not so close that I can’t disappear into my studio. As a stay-at-home dad with a converted garage studio, I have grown to love my domestic life. As a result of the Mid-Western winter with its negative below temperatures and numerous feet of snow, I am starting to miss my extended family. This is more prevalent this year as my wife and I decided not to travel the four-six day trek to and from my North Eastern relatives this December, its no sleigh ride!

This decision was difficult, because we both love being with family during the holiday season and we especially want our son to be with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. So that he will feel comfortable with them, especially if he ends up a single child. It pains me to think that he might be lonely in this world. Even though I know he will be, it is inevitable, loneliness seems to be major aspect of the human condition. The car trip is grueling and often filled with treacherous weather conditions and flying is not economically viable. We also need some together time. In addition, I desperately need some major studio and career building time, because, I am feeling quit a bit of angst about my artistic career.

The thing is my artwork is going quite well and I am happy with my new series, the “Poisoned Cocoons”, however, how do I effectively market them? When I was an academic, my main focus was making the work, exhibiting it, and publishing it. It was great when it sold and it did subsidize of my studio, however, selling was not as financially critical then as it is now. There are so many questions that I don’t know how to answer, when it comes to promoting my artistic career. One of the down falls of arts education in general, is the lack of promotional skills introduced, encouraged, and/or mentored by institutions higher learning. Most colleges and university art programs train pupils solely in the skills of making art, and currently graduate students are primarily trained and prepared for teaching positions. This is the path I successfully took, until my resignation from academia.

I now see how unfortunate it is that, I and many other educated artists received little or no training in the area of artistic self promotion and marketing. Especially, because I once was in a professorial position and might have been able to help artists-in-training promote their artwork. What I did gain from my education is an appreciation and knowledge of good effective art. Since, I have honed my art making skills and received some notoriety as an artist, I know that my artwork has worth to some collectors. The question is, how do I promote my artwork in such a way that it maintains its worth to more collectors, businesses, institutions, museums, and galleries, and do it on an extremely limited budget? I know that it can be done, there are people who do make their livings as fine artists, so I have hope.

I am slowly taking steps to start gearing up for an art work promotional push, but I do wish I was closer to my extended family in the east, to pull from their emotional support. And of course it wouldn’t hurt to be closer to the eastern cities and their appreciation and financial support of the arts.

So suffice it to say, I am feeling “alone on the prairie”, and some how I have to “pull myself up by the boot straps”, “kick myself in the butt” and embrace my current situation. Chances are no one is going to come along and become my patron, those day’s are pretty much gone as we artist know, especially in these woeful financial times.

Pieces and PartsHowever, I would really love a great gallery owner to fall in love with my work and believe holistically in its potential and purpose as an artistic commodity and promote it relentlessly. This is a possibility is it not!

So hello there Great Big World, I am sending you good energy and hope via electrons, the internet, social networking, asking you to please lead me to the most awesome gallery owner and/or agent the world has ever known, or at least that I have ever know, to help me promote my artwork!

Software Rabble-Rousers

March 25, 2010

When I left my academic teaching position, I also had to leave my office’s Apple desktop computer, and the institution’s technical support staff.  This was particularly hard for me because at the time most of my computing was done in my office and not on our home computer, a desktop with Windows.  Even though my spouse is very computer savvy, grew up using DOS, and is familiar with the Windows operating system, I dislike Microsoft and especially their operating system – to put it lightly. On numerous occasions, my spouse has saved our home computer and me from some pretty major computer-related meltdowns.  So it was an understatement to say that I was reluctant to return to using Microsoft Windows, its glitches and inevitable three-year crash, that Microsoft so kindly provides to its costumers.

I am slightly cyberphobic and Microsoft products create more fear and frustration than I want to deal with; I dreaded the idea working with our home computer.  I would have liked to purchase an Apple, but at the time spending several thousands of dollars for a Mac and appropriate software seemed foolish, especially since our income was going to drop to less than half.  I needed access to a computer, especially if I wanted to become a self-sufficient artist, so I didn’t know what to do.

During my last semester of teaching, the brother of one of my students started Orange Computer Solutions.  This business specializes in providing affordable computing solutions and promotes open source software.  At the time, I was vaguely aware of open source and the counter culture that exists around it.  I visited Orange Computer Solutions and was introduced to a Ubuntu: a free, open source, Linux based operating system.

I have found Ubuntu to be user friendly and intuitive.  The system provides all the needed utilities you would find on Windows or Mac OS, including a compatible office suite from OpenOffice.org, graphics programs, games, and numerous other open source software options.  As a result, for the first time in my life, I am excited about my computing potential and possibilities, and I am becoming much less cyberphobic.

This is not to say that I don’t get frustrated with my computer, I do.  My wife continues to help me with my software usage problems and issues, which is invaluable to me.  In addition, Orange Computer Solutions provides unbeatable customer service and has helped me keep my computing needs in good working order, the latest being installation of OpenOffice.org  3.2. I believe that  OpenOffice.org’s PowerPoint equivalent, Impress, will solve my presentation needs for all those artist workshops I hope to give in the future!

I also strongly believe in the grass roots nature of open source software and Ubuntu’s mission.  It seems to fit into my own life philosophy: humanitarian, socially liberal, environmentally conservative or sustainable, live creatively, and speak out.  My heroes tend to be artists, rabble-rousers, eccentrics, and, people who walk softly on the planet but loom large in character.  Ubuntu and open source organizations are electronic/software rabble-rousers.

Related Links

Open Source Defined

Ubuntu Website

Ubuntu Philosophy

Getting Started with Ubuntu 10.04 Manual Project

Orange Computer Solutions

*Open source rabble rousers, Ubuntu, OpenOffice.org, and Orange Computer Solutions did not pay me to say nice things about their products/services.

The Stolen Four

March 2, 2010

Today I found out that one of my favorite art works, Blue Bug with Tail and Graffiti, was stolen from Concordia University, in Saint Paul, MN, after the 3rd Biennial Concordia Continental Ceramics Competition.  A very good contemporary ceramic exhibition that ran from January 28th -February 19th.

How am I supposed to emotionally and intellectually deal with the thoughts and feelings that go along with such an occurrence?  Three other excellent artists’ works were also stolen. Leopold Foulem’s, the most established of the four of us, has his work in numerous public and private collections.  I would be honored to have my work in a collection alongside his, as well as with Keven Snipes and Eva Funderburg’s.  I guess I do, because whoever stole this work has a very nice collection of contemporary ceramics, valued at over $12,000.

Who and why would someone steal this work?  It is not like the average American has knowledge of the art world much less the ceramic art market.  The thief or thieves are not going to be able to take the work to local pawn shop and convince the owner to buy these artworks.  From my experience people who buy art  either have deep pockets or are willing to sacrifice much of their income to surround themselves with art — these are fine, noble, and, rare people.  So what is the motivation? Does the thief have connections to the black market? Are they just avid lovers of ceramics and willing to go to such drastic measures to surround themselves with it?  Am I honored to be in their stolen collection, I don’t know, maybe I am?

Blue Bug with Tail and Graffiti, was one of my favorite pieces.  I was keeping it for my private collection, and exhibiting it as NFS (not for sale).  I make one-of-a-kind pieces that cannot be reproduced.  I might be able to recreate a facsimile of the original, but the nuances can never be recreated.

If this pieces is not recovered, and/or not damaged,  I am sure that Concordia University will reimburse me for the insurance value of the sculpture.  I can definitively use the money, as my studio fund is slowly dwindling, and my wife and I live very close to the bone at the moment.  My new series has not been available for public viewing yet,  so I am not creating an income.  However, money comes and goes, but the artwork of  the “Stolen Four” is more important than its monetary value.  If it wasn’t, artists would not create, as most of us are rarely compensated for our creative efforts.  Art making for the most part is a labor of love and a lot of handwork and perseverance.  Most people with aspirations of making a living as an artist don’t, and many stop making art all together.  The point being, I would rather have my sculptural teapot back, safe and sound, rather than be reimbursed for its market value.  I keep a record of who owns my sculptures.  Therefore, it is very surreal and uncomfortable not knowing where my artwork is and who is taking care of it.

I have to admit, in a very strange and weird way, I feel slightly honored that someone deemed my work good enough to steel and that it is in such good company.  Farewell Blue Bug with Tail and Graffiti, I will miss you!

News Links:

http://kstp.com/news/stories/S1442408.shtml?cat=1
http://www.twincities.com/ci_14493005
http://www.twincities.com/ci_14494991

Zen Garden: Sand Messes

February 28, 2010

My son is becoming more independent. Which is wonderful, as every extra minute he occupies himself means more time to accomplish small tasks, like washing dishes, cooking, baking, sweeping, and so forth.

For the last month or so he has not been very enthusiastic about the studio playground, and has shown little interest in his sand box, trucks, blocks, toy mower, or drawing. Unfortunately, we often left the studio, my favorite place, after just a few minutes. However, lately he has developed an interest in making “messes” with sand. He will spend up to fifteen minutes or more, spreading sand over the floor, on shelves, in buckets, and in random places throughout the studio. Normally, I am annal about having a clean and orderly studio, although, when he is making “messes” I let him go, and deal with the destruction later. If I am quiet, I can draw or read while he is sand-drawing and he might not notice me for some time. This is great, because, I can actually get a little bit accomplished. Occasionally, he will want me to help him clean up one of his creations so that he can start over anew, I willingly oblige him.

The hardest part of my parental role is having patience for studio time. I have all but given up on the possibility of working on art during the day. I work at night and during the weekends when my wife can take care of our son. However, when he is creating sand messes, I refer to them as “zen gardens”, I might be able to read an article or place a few lines on a drawing. It gives me hope that one day we will be able to work independently for an extended period of time. In the mean time, I enjoy watching him experiment with his world and try to give him as much freedom to play and create as possible.

Reflections: Part 3, Right Where I Need to Be. The End.

January 25, 2010

I have an e-mail alert from The Chronicle of Higher Education that regularly sends me updates on open faculty positions. I don’t know why I keep this service, as the emails just remind me of both the positive and negative aspects of my experience in higher ed. Every time I see a job that looks interesting or one that is close to my family, I immediately start thinking, “I should apply to the job and see what happens.” Then I start to recoil from these thoughts and tell myself, “No, try this new life out, give it a chance and see where life and your art career goes.” These moments are sometimes difficult, other times it is easy to delete the e-mail.

I have more than myself to consider of course, and I have a lot a great things happening in my life at the moment. My wife and I were able to, unknowingly, set ourselves up well for this change. We have a small house with a low carbon imprint, and as a result smaller utilities bills than some households. While I was still employed, we were able to pay off some dept, and we purchased two reliable vehicles one of which is extremely efficient. In addition, we have small raised bed gardens in our backyard to help with our food budget.

Most importantly for me, I have the best studio that I have ever had. I converted a two car garage, which is insulated, rewired, warmed primarily by a pellet stove, has a kiln, and plenty of work space. I do have a habit of buying tools, as I am a tool head, and they have taken over some of the room, but hey “Tools are Cool” and useful. Nonetheless, I can walk out the back door and go to my studio and work when my other responsibilities are taken care of, or relieved by my spouse.

In addition, I have been putting blocks in place for my art career. The initial revamp of my website has been launched, with another update on the way. Being some what of a workaholic and impatient, I would like things to happen more quickly; however, I am also glad that I cannot impose my hast on new developments that might occur. I have noticed that with time, I often have a clearer idea about how to approach the future, and I am learning patience. I am grateful for the ability to reflect and study life’s nuances, and by doing so, hopefully, become a better person, spouse, father, and artist.

One of my favorite times during the holiday season when we see family, is sitting around late at night with my siblings catching up with each other. Sometimes we get into heated discussions about the state of affairs, but we also discuss what is happening in each others’ lives, play games. Most of all we just enjoy one another. This last holiday season, we were having a lively conversation — I won’t go into detail — but one of my brothers said “Gerard is no wimp, he has a hell of a lot of courage”. Upon reflection, I realized that this statement meant a tremendous amount to me. Now he might have been referring to some of the stupid things that I did in my youth, like hitchhike from New York to Kentucky in the dead of winter, but I believe he was referring to my entire being. Thanks Bro!

Anyway, the last eight months of my life have been both challenging and rewarding, and I look forward to the future. For now, I am right where I need to be, courageous or just plain stupid, it matters little. Regardless, I am glad to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad/ artist.