Never Goodbye; Hello World!

What Are You Waiting For? Pamela GoodeI’ve always been a believer in signs and wonders. Sure the signs are written in cryptic scribbles and wonders are all-too-often mirage-like. I know I saw this yesterday . . . didn’t I? Or was that the day I had three desserts for lunch? Nevertheless I work to recognize them, roll them around in my consciousness, and act … always the hard part. But the universe tends to take care of our reluctances and procrastination as well, usually by giving us first multiple signs, then several open doors, and finally a whack over the head. And honestly, don’t we sometimes need it?

In the early spring of 2006, my mother died after an all-too-brief and wholly-unexpected illness. She left me some money, also wholly unexpected, and over the next couple of weeks, a small studio in the arts district of Charlotte became available. It was a mess, and therefore a blank slate, and of course as it follows, completely irresistible. I had never considered running an art gallery, but there it was, and I happened to know all too well that mosaic art was often overlooked and in dire need of exposure. Ciel Gallery was born of an intersection of fate, opportunity, and need. Taking that unanticipated step, a step that had never once wandered around in my what-to-do-with-this-life wallowings, changed my life. And it changed me.

I’ve always reveled in behind the scenes work, creating in the low digit hours after midnight, wordsmithing the minutiae of contracts, or divining the exact intersection of visual and mental in graphic design. I’m the worker horse, never the face. Opening a business, and a cutting edge business at that, demanded more of me than I ever considered giving, and skills I would have been quite happy never to develop. But I did it, and it wasn’t as scary, in the end, as all that.

In 2008 I opened a gallery called Ciel, and I grew as a person and artist by leaps and bounds. In 2011, Ciel grew to include five partners and a brilliant new space, bringing in an all-star cast of visiting artists for workshops, hosting critically acclaimed exhibitions such as the Emma Biggs-curated Pattern Now, and coordinating the 52-artist mosaic mural Unfurled with Lin Schorr. I don’t care what others think about Ciel’s run — it knocks my socks off.

In true Pam fashion, I gave a lot of thought to the next step, but when it came, again it was universe-orchestrated. As of March 2014, Ciel Gallery + Mosaic Studio will become Ciel Gallery, A Fine Art Collective, with seven Member Partners, thirteen Member Artists, and a handful of consigners from North and South Carolina. Our new partner base is hugely talented in a variety of media, excited, generous, brimming with ideas, YOUNG and energetic.

Ciel Gallery Charlotte

Lease Signing Ciel #1; Guts and Glory Ciel #2; Lease Signing Ciel #3

I am thrilled and excited for a new venture. Of course it’s been bittersweet, and not without lingering moments of the unsettledness that bleeds from giving up your identity and wondering if there is a “next.” I know Ciel will thrive. I know the mosaic community now has ample opportunities for exhibition, and that I have had a part in that expansion. I know the Charlotte community and visitors will revel in greater access to local artists, and the art-hungry will thrill to offerings from new teachers. We’ll still feature mosaics of course, and we’ll still bring in visiting artists, but mosaic will no longer be isolated from other artforms. A good thing.

I worry about losing touch with the artists who’ve become close friends over the years, and who have, in so many ways, created Ciel right along with me. I feel angst about deserting a community that has made me who I am today, but at the same time, I’ve watched you all become superstars, and I’m excited to have new conversations about design and technique, or Gaudi and zellige instead of pixels and tracking numbers. And speaking of tracking numbers . . . NO MORE TRACKING NUMBERS! No more Box Room! No more trips to Office Depot for 50 more rolls of packing tape!

Instead of packing boxes and the daily details of gallery-running, I’m giddy at the idea of more art and more writing in my life. I’m thrilled with the growth of Mosaic Art Retreats and upcoming mosaic travel to Barcelona, Morocco, Costa Rica, France, Italy, and Greece. And over the moon with the beauty of Unfurled, my first and hopefully only-the-beginning collaborative public art project with Lin Schorr and 52 fabulous participating artists.

I’ll still be at the gallery weekly, still educating art lovers about the fabulous art of mosaics, still planning and hanging exhibitions and dreaming up new ways to infuse the universe with art. I’ll also be actually making art, spending time with my dad, cooking a bit, and maybe even jumping in the car for an impromptu visit to Asheville (or Creemore or Michigan or Sedona) with my guy.

So you’ll still know where to find me. What neither of us knows is exactly who I’ll be next time, because the universe may have a few more unexpected paths lying in wait. And I will walk them. With bells on.

Endless love to all who have supported Ciel (and me) through all our incarnations. Please stay with us for the rest of the ride. Paths diverge and reconnect. Never goodbye.

23

Mosaic Portrait by Pamela GoodeHaving just finished a self portrait from a photograph taken when I was 23, I’m rather enamored. She’s hanging on the wall across from me and, flaws aside, I like her. I like who she was — timid, too quiet, gentle and reticent — and I like who she’s become — brash, passionate, level-hearted, and wild for life. I like looking at her and knowing that she’s okay now, and that I am too. I like considering the deepness of her eyes so young, and knowing that I made her, moment by moment, each of 21,020 days now, give or take a few leap years. I like looking at her as she is, unaware of the intervening decades, and as I am now, aware and more or less okay with them. And I wonder, if she had peeked out the window in 1978 and caught a glimpse of us at 57, what would she say to this older self?

Would she be surprised at the friends I still hold close? And those I’ve let go?

Would she be surprised that I still sew, that I still read Faulkner, Eliot, and Nabokov, that I still write, that I’m still slow to speak?

Would she wonder how I found the nerve to travel alone, to open a business, to finally crack in the face of inequities and speak out, make waves, lose friends?

How disappointed would she be over my first marriage? How angry that it took me so long to learn to speak? How devastated over the too-many-times that I kept my mouth shut?

How much in awe at knowing our children, so like her and yet so not?

How stunned to realize that they are both older now than she is?

Our mother died six years ago, and missing her has changed my view of aging — a bit. I used to surprise myself by seeing her in the mirror now and then, and finding her skin across my legs and arms. Sometimes I scan the road ahead of my car, and I know I’m looking through my mother’s eyes, seeing with her hazel irises and interpreting my view in that funny way she had. For so long, I didn’t like these intrusions of age, but now I welcome them as a little more time spent with the woman who gave me life and shared it with me longer than anyone I know.

And when I glance across the room to 23 now, I’ve got that motherly thing going on. I want to protect her, to encourage her, to give her a fear of not living, to make sure she wrings every drop of life out of her years. In a way, I’m re-mothering myself, and she’s re-childing me.

Here’s what I miss most about those early years: knowing what you love and believing you’ll never, ever let go of it, for any reason; the certainty that everything is possible; being an impetus for change rather than fearing it; sharing a comfortable relationship with time; believing you’ll always be beautiful.

So yeah, she’s staying on the wall right in front of me. I suggest you post an image of yourself on the wall too — it’s quite the kickstarter.

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.

Promises to Keep

I am, these days, a poster child for depression: unwashed, unclothed, unkempt, unmotivated. But strangely not depressed. Well, maybe a little, but it’s more an easing, an inching, a cautious seepage toward the new, the unknown (and frankly unwanted).

Change in the New Year is, of course, so largely mythical. And yet sometimes change doesn’t need to be tangible to be real. The symbolism alone can be crippling.

I don’t do change well. I don’t go to bed well. I don’t get up well. Don’t like to get in the shower; don’t like to get out of the shower. I love life, but the segue between episodes can throw me into a dither.

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow./I learn by going where I have to go.” Theodore Roethke’s tenuous broachings became a mantra when I traveled through Greece alone for three weeks, knowing no one, not speaking the language. I was forty-two, coming out of a dark place in the midst of a charmed life, and those words have worked magic on me ever since.

And so you will find me at the start of every new year, poised for the weeks-long morning of pajamas, tea and fire, short of words but long on the silent questioning dance with whomever lives inside me.

And it will lead me along the long road home, toward those promises I keep . . . but slowly. Have patience.

And yet, as changes go, this year will bring some of the largest for me: the marriage of my firstborn, the college graduation and home-leaving of my baby, the declining health of my sole remaining parent, the impending cross-country move of my son, two very grand art achievements, the tearful closing of Ciel Gallery, an intense two-year labor of love, and decisions about my path from here. Pajamas and tea, indeed.

I recognize, of course, that change, even dreaded change, often brings unexpected blessings, and even less blessed changes help us evolve, most often for the better, kicking and screaming attendant. But evolution requires action, a meeting head-on and toe to toe with our hearts on our sleeves and our brains ready to verbalize and vocalize.  Backs straightened, eyes peeled, belts tightened, no shields. I like being a warrior, but I can get pretty whiny when the battle isn’t on my own terms.

But the promises I’ve made will rouse me, stumbling toward Saturday classes, weekend workshops, dinners and swim meets, deadlines, and the occasional requisite cleaning. Every smile will help me loosen the grip on the shield, step into the future, open the heart a bit more. But the goodbyes will never flow as easily as the tears, and I suppose that saline cleansing is part of the plan. So bring it on Life. Almost ready.

“This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.”

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

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