Grant-Related Activities, August 26 to September 1

What a week! On Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. the roofers arrived to replace my roof. Since a tropical depression was predicted to hit St Petersburg with rains starting around two p.m., it was nerve-wracking to watch my roof being removed, A crew of workers slaved away in the hot Florida sun until finally, at shortly after six, the rains came and they packed up their gear. I was surprised to see them back on Wednesday morning to complete the job in the pouring rain. The tropical depression has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Hermine, the full impact of which Florida will feel on Thursday, so the roof was completed in the nick of time. I'm relieved to finally have a brand new roof that, hopefully, will weather storms for years to come. (While replacing my roof isn't a grant-related activity, it's a reminder, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, that artists too, have to maintain the roof over their head, sometimes literally!)

This drama has certainly eaten into my work time. It's been difficult to concentrate over the constant din of thumps, bumps and hammering. I sympathize with Ms Tigger, my cat, who fears loud noises, and who retreated under the back deck during the roofing process, both on Tuesday and Wednesday, in spite of Wednesday's heavy rains.

I did, however, accomplish one thing over the past week: I finalized plans for an exhibition (through Galleries On the Go) at Ruth Eckerd Hall for my Morean Arts Center students and me. The exhibition will open on January 16 (just ten days after my residency at the Sanskriti Foundation in India ends) and will be up for two months. The date of the artists' reception is to be decided. I have, in the past, organized a number of exhibitions for my Morean Arts Center students: several group and solo shows at Everything Dolce, a now defunct coffee shop that was on St Petersburg's Central Avenue. Also a couple of exhibitions at Art du Monde, a gallery that was in Central Avenue Edge District until a few years ago and, two years ago, a group exhibition at the spacious Gallery 221, Hillsborough Community College, Dale Mabry Campus.  

The first session of the fall courses starts next week at the Morean Arts Center. My six week Beginning/Intermediate Painting Course, in which students can explore oils, acrylics, water colors and mixed media, is on Tuesday evenings, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Or, for those who prefer a day-time class, I teach the same course on Thursday mornings from 9:30 until noon. Those interested in learning more about this, and the many other Morean Arts Center course offerings, can explore the Education pages on the Morean's web site. There is an option of signing up for just three of the six classes.  

As my trip to the Sanskriti Foundation draws closer, I'm beginning to experience both the excitement and the trepidation of a residency: there's an internal pressure to create.  After all, with such a major investment of time and resources, something good MUST come out of it, I tend to tell myself. This, combined with the challenges of traveling alone to a foreign country where English is not the mother tongue, and to which I have never been, sometimes feels intimidating. Then I remind myself that India is the place from whence the practices and the philosophy of yoga originate; I have studied and practiced these for many years, including yoga asanas (poses), scriptures, chanting and meditation. Attachment and ego have no place in yoga. I am, I tell myself, preparing to visit my spiritual home. The sage Jnaneshwar Maharaj said that the person "whose mind is not agitated in misfortune, whose desire for pleasure has disappeared, whose passion, fear and anger have departed, and whose meditation is steady is said to be a sage ... of steady wisdom."  I have a long way to go to reach this lofty state! 

I'm including some images from artists' retreats at which I've had residencies. These photographs bring back fond memories of long, uninterrupted hours spent making art in a variety of studios in beautiful, rural settings. Also of meals spent in the company of Fellows (visual artists, writers and composers from the world over), an occasional evening sharing our creative output, swimming in icy mountain streams or lakes surrounded by nature (including, on one occasion, a pair of mating snapping turtles), and hiking hilly (sometimes mountainous) trails, experiencing the unique gifts of the seasons. This is not something one can do in Florida with its year-round summer sunshine, interrupted by a few cold days and, of course, it's tropical storms. 

 A waterproof barrier is added to my roof before the rains come.

A waterproof barrier is added to my roof before the rains come.

 A view from the main gate of the  Virginia Center for the Creative Arts  located on the campus of Sweet Briar College in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was employed as a part-time arts administrator here and had a studio in the barn--a converted dairy barn where visual artists, writers and composers had studios. I returned to the VCCA several years ago as a Fellow and was able to enjoy working in my studio without the interruptions of administrative work (such as being called upon to remove a huge black snake from an Irish writer's studio!). 

A view from the main gate of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts located on the campus of Sweet Briar College in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was employed as a part-time arts administrator here and had a studio in the barn--a converted dairy barn where visual artists, writers and composers had studios. I returned to the VCCA several years ago as a Fellow and was able to enjoy working in my studio without the interruptions of administrative work (such as being called upon to remove a huge black snake from an Irish writer's studio!). 

 The VCCA barn. My studio was to the left of the cupola. The art gallery was under the cupola and this is where, in 1999, we exhibited  Art from Mt Saint Angelo: Pleasants, Prins and Two Monks.   

The VCCA barn. My studio was to the left of the cupola. The art gallery was under the cupola and this is where, in 1999, we exhibited Art from Mt Saint Angelo: Pleasants, Prins and Two Monks. 

 The Rock House at the  Hambidge Center   near R  abun Gap  in the mountains of North Georgia.  

The Rock House at the Hambidge Center near Rabun Gap in the mountains of North Georgia.  

 I have had several residencies at the Hambidge Center since the early 2000s. This was the view from my studio window during my most recent residency.

I have had several residencies at the Hambidge Center since the early 2000s. This was the view from my studio window during my most recent residency.

 Above: A secluded spot on the lawn outside the Rock House at the Hambidge Center.  Below:  The Mary Anderson Center  on the property of a monastery in Southern Indiana. This is where I had a residency for a month prior to moving to Florida. I found a treasure or two in the silo that were incorporated into my art during my residency. Later, as you can see in the middle image, the silo was torn down. The photograph on the right is of the lake where, because of insurance regulations, Fellows could only swim with a monk. Thus my monk friend became "the swimming monk," since he was the only monk I could find who liked to swim in the lake.  

Above: A secluded spot on the lawn outside the Rock House at the Hambidge Center.

Below: The Mary Anderson Center on the property of a monastery in Southern Indiana. This is where I had a residency for a month prior to moving to Florida. I found a treasure or two in the silo that were incorporated into my art during my residency. Later, as you can see in the middle image, the silo was torn down. The photograph on the right is of the lake where, because of insurance regulations, Fellows could only swim with a monk. Thus my monk friend became "the swimming monk," since he was the only monk I could find who liked to swim in the lake.  

  Peace with Virginia Leaf,  Sumi Ink on handmade paper, 32" x 40", from a series of drawings  created during my residency at the VCCA. 

Peace with Virginia Leaf, Sumi Ink on handmade paper, 32" x 40", from a series of drawings  created during my residency at the VCCA. 

 A solo exhibition at the Mahaffey Theater in St Petersburg in 2013 showing  Planetary Movement  (on the right), mixed media on canvas, 56" x 89", made from a weathered canvas tarp I found in the silo during my residency at the Mary Anderson Center.

A solo exhibition at the Mahaffey Theater in St Petersburg in 2013 showing Planetary Movement (on the right), mixed media on canvas, 56" x 89", made from a weathered canvas tarp I found in the silo during my residency at the Mary Anderson Center.

  Dark Cross Redeemed,  resin, latex and mixed media on canvas, 38" x 36". Completed during a residency at the Hambidge Center. In the collection of Sal and Dee Perconti.

Dark Cross Redeemed, resin, latex and mixed media on canvas, 38" x 36". Completed during a residency at the Hambidge Center. In the collection of Sal and Dee Perconti.

  Chiti's Play,  tar and mixed media on canvas, 75" x 72" created during a residency at the Hambidge Center. In the Collection of Rob Holley.  

Chiti's Play, tar and mixed media on canvas, 75" x 72" created during a residency at the Hambidge Center. In the Collection of Rob Holley.