“With our hearts filled with love, we count our blessings.” ~ David Bennett
This post marks the completion of the seventh year of the outhouse. Seven inconceivable years. I haven’t missed a single day in those seven years racking up 2,556 posts as a result. So much for a one-year project, eh? I’ve gotten much more from this little idea than I ever expected. There have been a few bumps along the way but there’s been way more good than bad. 2018 has been a tiring year for a lot of reasons, but that, too, is not a bad thing. It has caused me to reflect in ways that I might not otherwise. For those who’ve been with me from the start you might recall that after year two, having amassed over 34,000 images during that period, I changed the rules to allow images from the archives to be used in daily posts (prior to this all images had to be created the day of the post). Now, I think it’s time to expand the outhouse horizon again. It’s time to scale back on the number of posts I make – from the usual daily post to once, twice, maybe three times a week depending on happenings. This will allow me to concentrate on the depth of posts rather than the breadth offered by daily posts. Further, it will allow me to concentrate on a few other artistic outlets I’ve been entertaining, perhaps finally remodel the house (or part of it anyway), and pay some attention to my aging body. I was still 46 when the outhouse began. I’ll be 54 in a week. During this time I’ve lost and gained more weight than anyone one ought to. I’ve got more grey hair, more wrinkles, and a lot more age spots. I’ve been through natural disasters, deaths -some tragic, births – all glorious, surgeries (goodbye gallbladder), a few weddings, a divorce (maybe more), many fun travels, great food, great parties, reconnecting with dear friends, staying connected with others, wonderful family gatherings, and art. Always art. There must always be art; the act of creating something from nothing, or creating something new from something old; reimagining the world and one’s place in it; seeing God, the Great Creator, the Universe in all things and channeling that into being. This is central to my existence. I celebrate the work made by others, too. Their visions and their places in this world are important to my own sense of being. In May, I received an unusual curio cabinet. I don’t collect curios, but I do collect folk art, usually of the small variety, along with small amulets, not always worn, of great personal significance. I began to assemble all of these into the cabinet and created something more outstanding than I ever imagined. In these few images you see work by Minnie Adkins, Michelle Shute, Sandy Davis, Rebecca Miller-Campbell, Julene Jones, Joe Molinaro, Ron Gevedon, Libby Barnes, Debi Horton, and Chris Terrell among others. You also see the spirits of Lance Hughes, Angie Bliss Fanning, Mindy Gaumer Cardenas, my parents, and my beloved dog Sadie. That’s just in these photos. There’s a bottom half of the cabinet not shown here. Every single day I look at this cabinet and it glows with love, compassion, integrity, and innovation. Above all I see inspiration and hope. My wish is that you, dear reader, find as much hope and inspiration in your daily lives throughout 2019 as I find in my art life cabinet every day. Here’s to us and an improved outhouse in 2019.
I didn’t have time (or the best lens) to snap a lot of photos inside Union Terminal, but I got off a few I’d like to share. I know I keep going on about it, but it is truly an architectural wonder and I’m thrilled that Cincinnati understands its historical significance. I look forward to going back one day soon. I’m taking the right lens next time.
The mural spanning the circumference of the lobby is nothing short of amazing. The place is dripping art deco at every turn.
Today I finally got caught up with work produced since November. Yes, I’ve been that far behind. It has been an extraordinarily busy fall; unexpected, fun, hectic, enlightening, inspiring. It’s been a time of uncertainty, confusion, and all the isms that come with real growth. After a fabulous Christmas, working on these last photos from the Silent Night Opera jarred my senses about just how spectacular this year has been. Not in terms of big wows, but in those little things that far outweigh the big things. Things like health and family and friendship; safe travels, warm hugs, sweet smiles, kind words, and bottomless compassion. I have a good job. I have good insurance. I have good health. I have a house with “good bones,” as the contractors like to say. I have a dependable car, two cats, one dog, and loads of books. I’ve even got a band to play with! I’ve been surrounded by all of this and more. And then there’s Terry Keys in a 100% wool WWI uniform singing like a bird and looking like a million bucks. If that doesn’t make 2018 epic, nothing can.
I have been sick since last Thursday. I thought it was just an allergy thing making me lose my voice. I had to skip a few things along the way to try to keep from getting worse. It finally caught up with me Christmas Eve. I was in bed by dark only to wake up this morning feeling even worse. Mom and dad went to Aunt Lois’ without me for Christmas day dinner. I hated to miss the family (many of whom have this same cold so I wasn’t the only one absent today). I slept all day. The folks brought me a plate of deliciousness this evening and I soon started feeling better. My point in all this is that, despite having been sick the entire holiday, it has been one of the best Christmases we’ve ever had. We were all happy. We were all grateful. We were all present. I’ll take a cold every year if it means we’re all together and happy.
You’ve heard me talk about the enormous Abraham Lincoln sculpture in the center of the Special Collections lobby. It’s tall. It’s heavy, even though it’s hollow. It dictates virtually everything that happens in the lobby because, well, it’s huge, immobile, and just about as bland as a sculpture can be. Finally, this year, Shell Dunn was given permission to do something creative with ‘ol Abe. She made him a fashionable top hat and scarf. Not only is he now seasonal and fun, he matches the latest exhibit of holiday cards in the lobby, too. There are purists who frown upon such things claiming it defaces the artifact. I might agree if ‘ol Abe was unique. He is not. This sculpture is one of several throughout the US. What does make him unique is how his approachability engages and entertains researchers and visitors. As far as I can tell, that’s a whole lot more useful than a bland bronze head in the middle of the floor. Kudos to management for the spark of fun!
I was granted a rare privilege this evening of photographing dress rehearsal of UK’s latest opera production Silent Night. The opera “recounts a miraculous moment of peace…as Christmas Eve falls on a battle field near Belgium, soldiers in French, German, and Scottish trenches begin recalling songs of home, stepping into no-man’s-land for a spontaneous truce.” My man Terry Keys, above, has a part in the Scottish Army. It’s his operatic debut. He has done a lot of musical productions over the years but he hasn’t done opera until now. The show opens tomorrow (and runs through Sunday) at the Singletary Center for the Arts but I can’t be there. That’s basically how I came to shoot the dress rehearsal. Terry reached out to Everett McCorvey on my behalf, who immediately said yes, and I can’t thank them enough for letting me practice on them. It was great experience for me and it’s a truly beautiful production. I loved it and the audience smart enough to go is going to love it, too. Even if you’re not a fan of opera, this production transcends the stereotype. Terry is a gifted performer and Everett is a brilliant producer so you can bet anything with his fingerprint is spectacular. Silent Night is just further proof of that. If you’re in the Bluegrass region this weekend I encourage you to go. Maybe Terry will even turn his handsome face toward you, too.
This beautiful sculpture graces an entrance of Northeastern State University in downtown Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Monument to Forgiveness was created by Dutch artist Frances H. Jansen “to honor Tahlequah as the End of the Trail of Tears. ‘To inspire, evoke and encourage in all humankind the spirit of reconciliation, transformation and unity through forgiveness.'” The world could use this spirit right now.
Several months ago I bought an incredible piece of art by VL Cox. Lynette (VL) and I have been friends for a couple of decades now (courtesy Angie Bliss Fanning), and her career as an artist has skyrocketed in that time. In fact, right now, she’s riding a shooting star, getting noticed in NYC and DC and Lord knows where else. She’s doing really great, important work. So when I had a chance to buy a piece, I took it. Today, I drove out to Oklahoma and made a pit stop in Little Rock, Lynette’s home base, and picked up the painting entitled “Castile.” I met her sweet partner, Sherrie Shepherd herself an accomplished artist (see syndicated cartoon ‘Francie’), who helped facilitate the drive by art deal. You know, some people do drug deals. I do art deals. I think it’s a habit worth keeping, and if I ever have the means to buy another VL Cox, I’m doing it. A photo does not do this painting justice. It’s absolutely stunning. I win Friday.
You might remember Deb and Virgil Alcorn from when they married way back in 2013. It was one of the few weddings I agreed to shoot, and I’m so glad I did. But five years between outhouse appearances is far too long for people I love! Last Saturday, they found me tucked between two booths in the Scarefest exhibit hall trying to be incognito with my long lens (never works, by the way). We talked for a bit, then they went on their way. But I had that long lens so I could follow them without ever leaving the safety of my hidey hole. Deb finally saw me and we had a good laugh. I don’t know how I got so lucky to make such fine, fine friends, but I’m sure glad I did.