Happy EFFing New Year

It’s raining, it’s cold, I have two visiting dogs under my feet but no one else, and it’s only 10:00, early enough to believe I have plenty of time to ready the house and larder for a new wave of guests arriving tomorrow. And it occurs to me that this moment is the closest I’ll come to a quiet, contemplative chunk of time before the dreaded New Year.

It may surprise you to learn that I loathe the approach of any new year almost as much as my ultimate fear, The Tidal Wave. And of course it is both comforting and heinous that in my life, new Years arrive with much more alarming frequency. I won’t bore you with my hate list; after all, there is much to love about December 31 — sequins, party hair, dangly jewels and pushed-up breasts, Prosecco, expensive cuts of rarely-enjoyed red meats, laughter, friends, family, and maybe a kiss or two.

No, this year I’ll write about the bits that remain a part of our lives no matter the date: creation, decisions, choices, beauty, ugliness, successes and failures, but always love and always seeking.

I’ve cleared the business checkbooks off the kitchen table and replaced them with possibilities — a good start to any day — a small copper substrate and my prettiest ornaments — glass, copper, ceramics . . . and a cup of tea. I finger each in turn, assessing both its beauty and its meaning, the blatant and the quiet. I’ve already chosen a name for the piece, but haven’t yet settled on the partners that will commingle to make it whole.

And then (of course, you saw it coming), I can’t help thinking how so much of life is about the choices we make — and those that are made for us — sometimes by our allowing and other times in spite of our kicking and screaming. I can’t help wondering how our choices combine to make us who we are. What would you have done, and who would you be, if life — in all its incarnations — had not interfered? Who would I be? Would I still make art if I had grown up like other little girls? Would I write if I had not been too shy to speak? Would I have danced if I had been good at kickball? Would I be a mosaicist if drawing came naturally to me? Am I a laundry list of second choices, or was I blind to truth for too many years?

Have my choices been internal or external? Of me, despite me, or not me at all? And the choices I make for 2012, now that I am old(er) and (wise)er, will my choices be more on target, or have I learned to settle? Will I wish for more of the same because my life is blessed, or does my spirit still long to blaze a trail?

I’ve never been called spontaneous, and I’m tickled pink to love what I love. I’m happy to eat the same cereal every morning, wear the same jeans, and walk the same well worn streets (of Rome).

But in the minutiae of life, I confess that I have a special affection for the unexpected — the tarnish on the bling, the twisted touching skirts with the sublime. Our time on earth is so very much NOT a one-note dance, and I love the barely-noticed reminders of LIFE where we seldom think to look. And so it’s a no-brainer that I will select at least a bit of the everyday to tell my story in mosaic.

And of course here’s the thing: I like to think that my choices in art, as my choices in life, are intensely deliberate. But 90% of the time it’s the deliberate choices that I end up tossing into the bin, and the seemingly random finds that grab my heart. It’s almost as if my presence on this earth is not only arbitrary, but completely unnecessary — as if the “I” that I so carefully cultivate is no more than a worker bee robot for someone else’s fresher ideas, clearer vision, spot-on choices.

And so I end 2011 much the same as I started it — working, dreaming, becoming, creating, loving, encouraging, choosing — and wondering how much of my life has to do with me, and how much of it could have been the guy down the street.

But I’m learning one thing, and that is that in the end, it probably doesn’t matter. Maybe being the vehicle is a cool enough ride.

Bye Bye Baby . . .

When I signed the lease on a small and buggerdly ugly space on May 20, 2008, a former friend wrote me the following: “It was a rainy day with big dark clouds and secret whispers floating throughout the air the day Pam Goode moved into her new studio space. Her head was heavy and felt full of cobwebs, and the room was not worthy of energy. It was just a smelly, dank, gross, dark, negative space with a terribly big bad vibe — and nothing could be done to save her from the frightening fate that was ahead.”

I bought a lime-scented candle and went at it.

Frightening fate, indeed. When I opened Ciel Gallery + Mosaic Studio, I had zero experience running a gallery — but I knew there were artists who needed a space to exhibit, and I knew I could provide that. I had zero experience selling art — but I knew I could speak knowledgeably about the work. I had zero experience teaching, but I knew I could share my passion. I had a very, very minimal bit of experience in social settings — but I knew I could be articulate about my love of mosaic art, even if more frivolous chit chat wasn’t my thing. I wasn’t much with a hammer, but give me a crowbar and a paintbrush and I can do wonders.

In short, it worked. And it worked because it was everything I love all rolled into 588 square feet. “Find your passion,” they say.

Frightening fate, indeed. I walked in three years and three months ago with little more than an idea, a smidgeon of unexpected cash, a perhaps ill-advised amount of energy and optimism, and an enthusiastic husband. Today, I closed the door and walked out an entirely different woman.

It all began with a fairly modest plan.  But you know how our offspring are . . . . She wanted to grow, wriggling and pushing against her baby-ness, swimming laps around the woman with one toe in the water, testing for tepid. Finally, I stood back and let her have her way with me.

A favorite mantra is that in order to bring change to your life, you must first make space for it. In this instance, the “space” was very literal and, uncharacteristically for me, more external than internal. That 588 feet changed my life, not only with her lime green floors (she insisted), but with her open-door policy and her abundant trust that everyone who stepped inside would become a friend. She was right, of course, and the “space” that we made together with several hundred artists and students was not only a gathering spot for mosaic art, but a sanctum for laughter, learning, letting go, and forging ahead.

I do think it’s possible for a place to have a smelly, dark, negative vibe. But I also believe that sometimes that smelly, dark, negative vibe is coming less from the smelly space, and more from the smeller.

It’s funny how some of us believe that nothing is possible, and others of us believe that everything is possible. Reality, of course, is surely somewhere in the middle, but as always, we tend to get what we’re looking for. Actually, we usually get a whole lot more.

The new space is perhaps more frightening than the first — crumbling floors, three layers of bad ceiling that need to be removed , uneven walls and missing plumbing. Crowbar heaven.

Old Ciel, you were my first, and I’ll never forget you. New Ciel, bring it on. Cold water, trepidation, frightening fate and all.

Bye Bye Baby — see you around.

Call to Artists: Contemporary Mosaic Art 2010

It’s that time again! Ciel Gallery is pleased to announce a Call to Artists for the 2010 edition of Contemporary Mosaic Art, an international juried exhibition celebrating the scope and artistry of mosaic art created today. A full prospectus and entry form is located at http://www.cielcharlotte.com, or you may contact me for an email version. Pictured above is last year’s winner, The Visit, by Kathy Thaden, Colorado. Entry Deadline is Monday, August 9.

Call to Mosaic Artists: Flights of Fancy

Show us your Whimsy! Bees’ knees, purple trees, humongous nests, the witch of the west, broken crockery birds or a chair made of herbs — go mythical, magical, fanciful and fabulous to give your imagination free reign on 2-D or sculptural pieces that defy the humdrum. Art in any medium, style or size, will be considered. Exhibited work is not limited to mosaic but, as always, mosaic art is especially welcome.

For a full prospectus, go here and click on Flights of Fancy. Digital submission deadline March 1. International Juried Exhibition runs April 2 – May 21, 2010 with receptions Friday, April 2 and Friday, May 7 at Ciel Gallery, Charlotte, NC.

Shown above, Jocasta, by Australian Artist Marian Shapiro, from her series of Forbidden Fruits.

Tickle our fancy. Seven weeks left to pull out the stops and splash a little whimsy across these winter blahs.

Winter Whites at Ciel Gallery

Kaye Iverson, Aspens in Winter

Kaye Iverson, Aspens in Winter

October 5 is the deadline for Ciel Gallery’s November/December juried exhibition, Winter Whites. With entries already in from Australia, Cyprus, Monaco, Canada, and the US, this show promises to rival our current Contemporary Mosaic Art 2009 in its international-ness. Primarily fine art mosaic, the exhibition will also feature textiles, watercolor, acrylic and photography. For a full prospectus, go here.

I’m avalanche-ally excited about this show. Last year’s Simply Red was a bonfire-al success. The artists loved creating the heat and visitors basked in it. This year we’ll put the chill on. With an almost total absence of color, Winter Whites will be a textural banquet, and a deliciously apt follow-up to our neighbor Charlotte Art League’s October exhibit, Art Beyond Sight — that which tickles the four less used senses rather than the rods and cones of our retinas.

I am an unabashed color slut, but these Winter Whites are tickling my fancies big time.

Submit; Partake; Revel; Glean; Go Forth.

Art: Not (Just) a Pretty Picture

Ciel Gallery’s exhibition entitled The War Against Peace presents the responses of artists across the nation as they ponder the question of why we continue to cry for peace and simultaneously continue to wage war. Best of Show winner Janet Kozachek, whose Fallen Floyd is pictured above, illustrates the emotional and physical torture of war in stone and handmade ceramic. Phil Fung‘s War and Peace depicts a hundred or so maniacal Continue reading

Mosaic Howl

Okay, random things first. In between my too-many pursuits, I finally finished Howl, my mosaic protest piece, just in time for the opening of The War Against Peace Exhibition at Ciel Gallery. I chose to work this piece in a folk-art style, because it is so often the “child” within us that reacts most instinctively to the atrocities around us. The image depicts a Peace Angel howling in anguish over the current state of Man and Earth. Alphabet Millefiori spell out her howls as she flies over the land surveying our lives below. This piece uses vitreous, smalti, millefiori, glass beads, and shell. Click on the image to enlarge and read the messages.

Community Mosaic Project Gluefest 1

The great thing about mosaic artists is that they just never want to put down the nippers. So what starts out as “just finishing this one little section” ends up with you staring zombie-like across a cup of steaming tea while a Dear One utters words that sound oddly like, “What happened to you? You never came to bed last night?” Hence the Premier Gluefest of Charlotte Art League’s Community Mosaic Project was a howling success, Continue reading

Mosaic Maestro Giulio Menossi to Jury Contemporary Mosaic Art

I am such a huge fan of Master Mosaicist Giulio Menossi, that I would consider it the highest honor to be plastered with smalti and embedded into one of his wholly fantastical three-dimensional works, just to have the honor of hanging about in his studio and watching this genius at work. Continue reading

Mosaic Art Deadline August 4

Entries for the Contemporary Mosaic Art Juried Exhibition must be received by digital submission by August 4, 2008. A full prospectus is available here. Questions can be asked and answered here. The exhibition will feature artists working in mosaic from across the globe, both 2-D and 3-D, showcasing a wide variety of materials. Show dates will be September 5 – 26, and will include several receptions. Best of Show Award is $500, sponsored by MosaicSmalti.com. Artists’ Reception and Cocktail Salon will be held Saturday, September 6, sponsored by ArtfulCrafter.com. More information on Ciel Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina is available here. Mosaic Art featured on the postcard shown above by (clockwise from upper left) Virginia Gardner: Secrets; Valerie Fuqua: Dangerous Curves; Marian Shapiro (inset): Lolita; Kathleen Jones: Un Moment de Paix, and Pamela Goode: The Happiest House.