Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Women of Influence

I flew home yesterday, both literally and figuratively from my first experience at being a part of a museum show. The Women of Influence show opened last Friday at the Fresno Art Museum. I missed the opening because of my Visionary Art Museum class on Saturday, but flew to California on Sunday to meet up with the other participants, Sandy Sapienza and Christine Adams), to team teach a journal workshop on Monday. It was a great way to spend the day, especially with the 112 degree heat in Fresno!

The museum has several concurrent show focusing on women - one of them being Jean Ray Laury's retrospective show. Have I ever told you the back story on me and Jean Ray Laury? (That's Jean next to me in the photo, wearing her favorite color - yellow, Sandy on the left, Christine on the right.) Jean and I go all the WAY back to the 70s, although Jean didn't even know I existed until we started the journal project in 2002. You see, Jean wrote a book in 1975, The Creative Woman's Guide to Getting It All Together at Home Handbook. I was a very young mother and quilter trying to find my way and this book became my bible. It profiled other quilters and artists and how they balanced art, family and housework. It was revolutionary in it's time because we were in the midst of the Feminist movement and women were just beginning to realize that there was more to life than diapers and cooking. There was no Internet, no Art & Soul, no Quilting Arts or Cloth Paper Scissors. Although I lived in a metropolitan area, I felt very isolated and being shy, did not easily find other like-minded souls. So Jean's book was my connection to the world. I knew there were other women out there who understood me and my passion for fabric and creating.

I finally met Jean about two years ago when I went to teach for the Fresno Fiber Arts Guild, which has been in existence since 1972. Jean was one of the founding members. Going back to Fresno for the museum show and dining at Jean's home Sunday night has made me feel that my life has come full circle. Opening the pages of Jean's book back in 1975 was the beginning of my journey. I read those words and wanted to be just like her, inspiring and encouraging other women to be creative. I have always wanted to give inspiration and encouragement to others in the same way that so many women have given these gifts to me, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Sandy is part of my journey too. She gave me my first teaching opportunity in 1996 at her We Folk of Cloth Doll Conference. And Christine is the local friend that I was looking for all of those years. Also a mother of six, Christine has spent a lifetime balancing her art and family. Her encouragement and support have been invaluable. Each one has had a major influence on my life and I don't really think they are truly aware of how much they have contributed to my life. Thank you, Jean. Thank you, Sandy. Thank you, Christine. And thank all of you who have come into my life, through classes, my art or my writing. We are all women of influence.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Kathryn Elizabeth Riley
7:37 pm, June 22, 2006
7 lbs 13 oz, 19"

Proud grandmother is off to California this weekend (alas, not Boston, where Kathryn is...she didn't consult my schedule before arriving) for the opening of the Women of Influence show at the Fresno Art Museum. There's a journal making class at the museum on Monday. I hope you can stop in to see the show, or even take the class. Hopefully I'll be so busy I won't feel bad about not being with Kathryn. I must remind myself we have many, many years ahead of us to snuggle, tell stories, sing, dance and make art together.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Two Today, Three Tomorrow

Today I have two granddaughters, tomorrow there will be three. This I know because of modern technology and advancements in maternal care and childbirth. The sonogram told us months ago that it was a little girl and that she was perfect by all indicators. We know she will enter the world tomorrow because her delivery will be induced. My son, Brian, now works here in MD and they have not yet sold their house in Massachusetts and moved to MD, so the delivery has been scheduled so he can be present, rather than let nature take her course. If all goes according to plan, Kathryn Elizabeth Riley will join the family tomorrow.

I won't be there and that saddens me. The other set of grandparents, Amy's parents, will be there and I am happy for them. I was at the hospital when Emma was born on June 30, 8 short years ago. And I know there will be many more grandchildren born into this family. I think I can wait to meet Kathryn, to hold her in my arms, smell that sweet baby smell and feel that delicate body, warm and close to mine.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Saturday after class I threaded through horrible beltway traffic to get to my sister's house for my Dad's 85th birthday party. 85 and still going strong, Dad is the Executive Director of the American Ex-POWs. Dad was one of 130,201 soldiers captured and held prisoner during WWII. He was in Stalag 17, the one depicted in the Hogan's Heros TV show - although it wasn't fun and games like the show depicted. During the party we had a few photo ops. My daughter, Sara, is flying to California on Wednesday for one of her childhood best friends wedding and wanted to take recent photos of everyone with her, so I played papparazzi at the party.
My daughters love to pose, so I have lots of them and none of my son - just future sons-in-law.

I slept long and hard that night. I'm just not used to all that activity. But there was more! Sunday was the baseball game - Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies. Jeff got some great seats for us 10 rows back behind 1st base. And after the game, there was a picnic on the field. I'm not a big baseball fan, but I am a fan of family fun time and this was it. Clearly making memories. I remarked to my husband that the players really looked like boys - and he said, "They are." Another sign that I'm growing older. But better, in my opinion!
We turn not older with years, but newer every day. ~ Emily Dickinson

Sunday, June 11, 2006

G Street Fabrics

This weekend was non-stop activity. For someone who enjoys being a homebody, I had so much fun this weekend that I didn't miss my weekend art time (well not much). Friday evening I went to a bridal shower for my nephew's future wife ~ only to realize that I'm one of the old aunts now...when did I get old? Then Saturday was a full day of teaching at G Street Fabrics, the local fabric store that I grew up in. It was a wonderful (and talented) group that included not only the current education director, but the past education director. I felt honored! While everyone produced well thought out and beautiful quilts, I was lax in taking photos of them all. I did manage to get my camera out for those students who lingered late. Here is the quilt Kay made. Kay recently gave up practicing law to be a full time fiber artist ~ she has a promising career ahead of her.
Suzanne has a cool business too. She recycles old hats into purses. I didn't get to see any, but I just got an email from her with her website address. I can tell by the piece she made in class that they are funky and fun - just like her.
The last quilt is by the G Street Education director, Donna. She says she has a dream job. I think she's a dream ~ her work is great too! She already has me scheduled to teach there next April.

My G Street days have come full circle. I started as a wide-eyed fabric shopper back in the 70s when it actually was located on G Street in downtown Washington, DC. I have taken many classes at the store's Rockville, MD location, and now I have taught there. It will take me a lot of teaching to ever come close to the amount of time and money I've spent there over the past 30 years. I did spy a table full of dupioni silks as I left the store. Guess I'll be back soon. Stay tuned for the rest of the weekend events.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June Bug

I've got the June Bug. It's what you get before the hazy, lazy days of summer. A sort of unwinding and mellowing. I spent Thursday and Friday at the MD Art Expo,, sponsored by Artist's Magazine. It was their first time on the east coast and while I was more than thrilled for them to finally be here, the rest of the east coast wasn't all that excited, because attendance was really low. Some teachers only had 2 students in their class. I took a painting class with Betsy Dillard Stroud. I wanted to do something new and outside of my comfort zone. We used another brand of fluid acrylics to paint a sheet of 300 lb watercolor paper and then cut it up to collage. It was fun but I missed my Goldens. The next day was a class with the Golden Paint working artist, Patti Brady. I learned so much! Even Patti can't keep up with all the paints and mediums Golden has, but she gave us a great overview and I discovered a lot of cool things I can use in my work and share in my classes. The Art Play piece is one of the projects we did, working with fluid acrylics, tar gel and absorbant ground. So I'm happy that I'll be home most of the month and can play in my studio. I have two local teaching jobs and will go to the Fresno Art Museum at the end of the month for the opening of our Women of Influence show. Maybe you remember the 6 part series about the journal collaboration in Cloth Paper Scissors a couple of years ago.

Now, as we all know, a large part of summer is READING. I love it but it really cuts into my art time. These new books are trying to draw my attention away from making art: A Woman's Path, A Weekend to Change Your Life, as well as Sarah Ban Breathnach's new one, Moving On. Reading her first book, Simple Abundance, was really a turning point in my life when it came out about 10 years ago and I was starting on my art journey.

When I don't have time for a book, I also have the juicy new issues of Quilting Arts, Raw Vision, and American Artist to peruse. I must run now - it's the Greenwich Forest Annual Picnic - and it's right in front of my house, so I best get out there.