“The Lord will bless you for being kind to people.” ~ Reva Hubbard
Last night as I was pouring over Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, relishing the ancient art of vinyl album covers, something caught my eye. Tusk is an elaborate vinyl package, even among double albums. There are slips inside slips inside the outside cover. Of particular interest were the outer (or middle) slips. Instantly, it was 1979 and I was back in my tiny bedroom, sitting on the floor in front of a second-hand stereo, where I scoured the intricate collages for hours. Now, they reminded me of Peter Beard‘s work. In 1993, I came across a book called “The Adventures and Misadventures of Peter Beard in Africa” by Jon Bowermaster. It captured my attention for two reasons: 1. Beard is a fascinating artist known primarily for his collage diaries (he sometimes uses his own blood to draw on them) and 2. I’ve loved Africa since early childhood, particularly Kenya where Beard has a home called The Hog Ranch. As Tusk continued to spin its quirky pop tunes, I pulled out my copy of the book. I rifled through the pages, memories flying back to me; Beard’s friendship with Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen who wrote the autobiographic Out of Africa, one of my all-time favorite books), the sheer beauty of Africa, the shame of big game killers, the privileged life that afforded Beard such an adventure that most people, certainly most artists, could never have. And then I saw it: a photo from one of the Tusk collages. Beard made the collages for Tusk. I knew about Peter Beard before the Bowermaster book. He’s listed on Tusk’s credits. As someone who used to absorb every piece of information from albums, the connection between Beard and Tusk had been buried in my brain all these decades, subconsciously rolling around, waiting to resurface. It was a beautiful moment to reconnect with these two things I loved so much when I was younger. I hope one day I’ll have the opportunity to go to Kenya and Tanzania, roam the Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve, and wake up “at the foot of the Ngong Hills.” What a blessing that would be, but it certainly doesn’t diminish the blessings Tusk and Peter Beard have given me for decades. I’m lucky that they’ve come back home.
“Never deny or waste an opportunity to be kind to others, even if some people have been unkind to you.
The two are not related.” ~ Unknown
This is no ordinary outhouse. This is a Tom Whitaker outhouse; one of the finest Appalachian artists ever. And it’s not just any old Tom Whitaker outhouse print, but a gift from my old friend Tony Adkins. I’ve known Tony my whole life. He was my Uncle Ralph Paul’s best friend. He lives just down the road from mom and dad. He has really been a blessing to them, and to me, over the years. Little did I know he’d been following the outhouse until one day this appeared at my house, matted and framed (hence the reflection on the print). I’ve wanted a Tom Whitaker print for years, and suddenly there it was: an outhouse from Tony. I must be living right.
“Please be kind to one another and all creatures. I’m asking this of you and of myself.”
~ Lori-Lyn Hurley
My goodness, what a gorgeous sunset we were blessed with this evening in the Bluegrass. I had a rare opportunity to see it because I’m in the UK Albert B. “Happy” Chandler Medical Center. I’ve sort of mentioned being here for the last couple of days. Here’s why: Aunt Janet fell and broke her hip on Tuesday. She had a partial replacement yesterday. She’s on the mend now, and doing great. She’s a tough ‘ol bird, let me tell ya! The new section of the med center (below) is beautiful and full of art as I’ve mentioned before. It’s really nice to be in a pretty place like this. I mean, if you’ve gotta spend this much time in the hospital, it’s uplifting to be surrounded by beauty. But let’s not overlook the true beauty of this place. UK Med has the most incredible staff I’ve ever met. From the young man that brings the food, to the surgeon, the nurses, the attendants, right down to the guy that mops the floor: they’re all as beautiful as the art. What a blessing to have such a fantastic facility. And to call these people neighbors is icing on the cake. We’re a lucky family.
“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist,
or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~ Denis Waitley
Sometimes you just have a bad day. So far, every day this week has been pretty crappy in my little corner of the universe. And by crappy I mean everything from income to election to hospital to fleas-on-the-dog crappy. This is the kind of week where finding the cheery side has taken some work, but ya know what? I’m human, and it’s okay to have a bad time of things. I’m hardly alone in this. I still find things to be grateful for, and that is, after all, my goal every day. For example, UK’s Chandler Medical Center has great art, like this permanent installation by Louis Zoellar Bickett called The Kentucky Dirt Project: 120 Counties. It’s just beside the dining facility. You wouldn’t necessarily understand what you’re looking at if you didn’t really stop to look. Kentucky has more counties than any other state its size except for Texas. But then, Texas is three times bigger so… In any case, it’s amazing to see the different hues of dirt from one end of this state to the other. I found it a good antidote for a post-election hangover. I love the state of my birth; the state of my ancestors – up to seven generations in some cases, and I really appreciate Louis’ poetic artwork that pays tribute to it.
“Be yourself. People don’t have to like you, and you don’t have to care.” ~ Unknown
You met Ron Gevedon back in 2013 at the first Pickin in the Park festival at Cannel City (photographed here with his work at Market in the Park earlier this month). Ronnie and I played Army many an hour in the Cannel City schoolyard with Larry Scott Evans II. They were soldiers. I was the nurse, taking up arms when it was necessary to defend our position. Ron’s “Bird of Prey” statuette below (I’m not sure its real title) reminded me a great deal of Larry Scott. I guess because Larry is a large man (he was large boy) towering over most mortals, and, as Ronnie said, he would likely see himself as a bird of prey. That might sound like a bad thing, but really, neither Ron nor Larry have a bad bone in their bodies. They’re artists with distinct styles and ideas of and about art that, for the region we grew up in, are a bit off the norm. That’s just one reason why I love them both so much, that and the fact that they don’t have a bad bone in their bodies. Plus, I was the only girl they seemed to include in their circle of playmates. That made me feel special as a kid. In our senior yearbook there’s a great picture of the three of us in Larry Adams’ art class. I treasure that picture. It captured us at our very best together. I look forward to seeing Ron next month at the next Pickin’ in the Park event at Cannel City. I wish Larry could be with us so we could recreate that picture from 33 years ago. That would be pretty fun!
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.
~ Nido Qubein
Today was the much anticipated Kentucky Field Trip with our IFLA guests. We wanted to give them a good overview of how beautiful and awesome The Bluegrass State can be. What better way than Keeneland and Buffalo Trace Distillery? Bright and early we loaded up the UK bus (with our awesome driver, Sarah) and off to Keeneland we went. Becky Ryder, Director of the Keeneland Library and local committee member, met us there (as did Ruth Bryan, Kazuko Hioki, and Michael Lütgen who drove themselves). She treated our guests to a delicious Kentucky style breakfast. Judy Sackett even tried gravy and biscuits for the first time…and she liked it! Our guests were then treated to a tour of the track, the grounds, and the sales pavilion. It was a beautiful thing to see their eyes light up watching the horses train, and the excitement when one of the outriders stopped by for a chat was just so special. My heart swelled with pride. Except for the oppressive humidity, it was as close to perfect weather as we could ever hope for.
We could have spent a lot more time at Keeneland. The tour guides were incredibly engaging and the ladies especially loved the gift shop, but Buffalo Trace was waiting on us, so we loaded up the bus and off we went again. This is where the story gets good. My contacts up to this point were not the people who met me at the visitor center as expected. Instead, the Distillery Archivist (whose name I have sadly forgotten) and a man named Art met me at the door. When I asked for my contacts, Art simply said, “I’ll be doing your tour.” It was a bit odd, but I was okay with it because I could tell right away he was a cool dude. We soon found out how lucky we were that Art was our tour guide. He was the most entertaining tour guide I’ve ever had. We had a ton of laughs – and that was before the samples – but we learned a great deal, too, not just about bourbon but the general history of the area. I might also add that the now-forgotten-named archivist was great as well.
Art really showed off our Kentuckian sense of humor to our guests (a point of personal pride for me). Truly, he was a load of fun, and when it came time for the samples, he shared with us their White Dog brand. It’s essentially alcohol (something ridiculous like 170 proof) before it’s aged to become bourbon. He poured some in their hands mostly to smell, although a few did taste it. Their reactions ranged from “that’s not so bad,” to, “Oh my God, I tasted it!” followed by a contorted face. In any case, a gentle rubbing of the hands produced the smell of bread caused by a chemical reaction of the alcohol on skin and oxygen (I think). Everyone then had a chance to sample a couple of their more popular brands, as well as root beer and bourbon chocolate made by Ruth Hunt Candies, another Kentucky staple. By the time we left Buffalo Trace, everyone was tired but completely happy. We could not have planned a better representation of the Commonwealth. My heart was bursting with pride and joy.
That brings me back to where the story gets good. This is Art with IFLA participant and US Government Docs librarian Cynthia Etkin from Virginia. I had the pleasure of getting to know Cindy yesterday when we lunched with Reinette Jones. She’s a warm hearted, open soul who was so happy to be with us and learn about all the good – and troubling – things going on in the world of news media preservation. She had lived and worked in Kentucky for many years some time ago, both at WKU and EKU. It was at the latter where she met Art. Oh yes, they knew each other before today. On the way back to the hotel we learned that she not only knew him, but she dated him… for thirteen years! They never married (at least not each other), but you could tell they remained close after all this time. Cindy had told Art she was coming to Kentucky and would be on the tour. Art, in turn, insisted he be our tour guide. It all made sense why my contacts did not meet me when we arrived. Theirs was one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard, and learning their history together was the perfect way to wrap up our shared adventures. Every second of this week as been worth the sweat and sleeplessness. I made new friends, connected with old friends, shared time with mentors, and smart men and women from all over the world. We might solve this preservation dilemma yet. I continue to be the luckiest woman alive.
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” ~ Woodrow Wilson
I’ve spent my day piecing together footage, images, and audio from last week’s gathering with Lori-Lyn Hurley while bouncing back and forth to more March Madness basketball. I’ve learned a lot today about doing two camera shoots and audio from a third source doesn’t match one camera. I’m still not sure if that’s due to echo or a difference in film speed versus audio speed (somebody smarter than me knows, I’m sure). It’s all very strange, but I don’t think I’ve ever learned anything worth learning that was easy. In the end, I think we’ll have something presentable. Hopefully there will be some funny bits, too. Gotta keep it light I always say. Otherwise, people just get bored (usually me). I chalk this up to a good day.
“Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.” ~ Unknown
I had the opportunity to go to KY Crafted: The Market. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I met Annie Bassoni at the venue and off we went a-lookin’ at glorious art. For three hours we went a-lookin’, and along the way we ran into lots of friends, old and new. David Campbell (above) finally found a way to elude my lens, although it took hiding behind the black curtain to do it. I love David and Rebecca so much. This was her first year at The Market and she won KAC’s Accessibility Award. David also pointed out something really special about this year’s event. “There are three artists here from Morgan County. You’re in the exhibit, Dean Hill is down the other aisle, and here we are. I texted Pam (Oldfield Meade) and told her next year she has to be involved so Morgan County can just take over the whole thing!” Speaking of Dean Hill, he took home a purchase award from the Chamber of Commerce. Rebecca and Dean, way to represent Morgan County! I’m awfully proud to be among such gifted artists from Morgan County, and the Commonwealth overall. There’s just so much good in this state that I have to pinch myself sometimes to remember that I’m here, too, and I’m part of it. Pictured below are just some of the wonderful people I saw today: 1. Judy Sackett and Nancy Lewis 2. Deb Chenault and Annie Bassoni 3. Rebecca Miller Campbell and her beautiful creations.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” MLK Jr.
It’s been quite some time since my whole day was consumed by meetings, but that’s what I had today. It was good, necessary work that I’m proud of even though it plum tuckered me out. Then, at dinnertime, I learned my Uncle Roger had passed away from a massive heart attack. He was married to my dad’s youngest sister, Charlene, and by my opinion he was young; maybe 65. Meanwhile, in Little Rock tonight, my sweet friend Ellen Fagala is saying goodbye to her special man Danny Owen. He also died from a massive heart attack. He was only 44: way too young by anybody’s estimation. These deaths and busy days serve to remind me of just how short and fragile life is. We mustn’t take for granted this time we’ve been given. Love your people. Love yourself. Love your neighbors. Love your enemies; they need it the most. Be good to one another. And when you wake up in the morning be thankful for it. Then go out and do good.
“One of the greatest lessons in life is learning to be happy
without the things we cannot or should not have.” ~ Richard L. Evans
It started with a completely out-of-this-world foggy/frosty morning drive to the little hamlet of Ewing, Kentucky. There, at a small gallery called Soul Mates, Stacy Yelton and I attended an extraordinary artist discussion by Lori-Lyn Hurley (above with her soul mate, the equally awesome and talented Tracy Hawkins).
Lori-Lyn is able to talk about art and her journey with it, and through it, with such eloquence. The story of how she broke open her creative shell; I’ve never had a story speak to me the way Lori-Lyn’s story spoke to me. The reclamation of her creative self was eerily similar to my own. She said so many valuable things about the connection between art and spirituality. The one that stood out to me, (I’m paraphrasing here) is that we are made in the Creators image, and as such, we are each Creators. We are bound to create whether through painting, photography, words, cooking, what have you. The mere act of creating brings us closer to our truth. Lori-Lyn was incredibly open, vulnerable really, about how she has come to focus her vision on the sacred feminine, and how it has transformed her life in all manner of ways. I just find her inspired and inspiring. I can’t say enough about how much I love her as a person, and how I value her work. She, and it, are important in this world. Tracy was so right when he said (again with the paraphrase) that this morning’s drive in the fog was the perfect metaphor for art: you’re driving through fog looking for your place, your meaning, and then – boom – there it is.
It was an extraordinary morning filled with good friends, new friends, glorious art, and the sharing of a delicious homemade meal by the incredible Amy Maupin. And that drive through the frosty fog? Heaven on Earth. I couldn’t ask for more.