House/Home Pt. 1: Landing

April 25, 2014

I was raised in Ohio, lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for two years, and moved to Minnesota in 2000 for college. In 2004, I worked in the UK for 7 months, briefly returned to Michigan, then landed in Minneapolis in the Fall of 2005. I've been here ever since. I've lived in ten Twin Cities homes-- three of them with Ben. Whether in Uptown or Caerphilly, Wales, I've prided myself on making a home.

Frequent moving has its perks. Namely: I usually avoid accumulating shit (and I've strongly encouraged my partner in this direction). Stuff feels like 'stuff', and I don't shrug to get rid of glasses when I realize we haven't used them, or that sweater I was given as a gift that still stays in the back of my closet. I like knowing what I have, and using what I have.

We moved from a duplex that we rented from family. The perk of that was permission to make lots of changes: removing the cabinets, painting, putting in a wall shelf or two. The space was larger that we needed, but perfect for cramming people in for Small Arts or brunch parties. It was damn charming: blue and red walls, loads of sunlight, with a spiral staircase! We totally had that moment after we put the offer on our house where we looked around and reconsidered. It wasn't until we packed our stuff into boxes that we decided it wasn't that amazing after all. You know what's amazing? This strange little life. Sure, we've collected some cute shabby-chic (I just learned this was a thing) furniture over the years, and Ben likes to put up twinkle lights everywhere and paint walls bright colors. But...want to make a great home? Do great things in it. Have nice people over for brunch; plant something in your yard; bring people together for some art; cook eggs and enjoy them over coffee with your husband's hilarious, sarcasm-filled story; put your buddies' prints on the wall; get rid of the shit you don't need, and buy some of the stuff you love.

the end of the night....
the next day...
Mad King Thomas came to our home with a performance about home. They started off with a powerpoint about definitions of home, and then landed on 'home' as being about family and history. We spent the night learning about their three histories. 25 people, split into three groups, ran around our house. There was a death scene in our bed, a puzzle put together at our kitchen table, and a dance I learned in our living room, taught by DVD. At the end we ate cake in the kitchen and toasted with champagne. That day marked seven weeks of living in the house, but we hadn't had more than a handful of people over to see the space. The boxes were unpacked, and half the house painted (Ben finished my office chalkboard wall a few hours before the performance), but that night was the first time the place felt like home. Decked in streamers, balloons and wine glasses, the house never looked better. Our cats are Mad King Thomas' most loyal fans.

In the coming weeks I will write about paint colors, and maybe even that time Ben spent hours changing a light fixture. In the coming years I will tell you about the too-steep staircase, the empty lot next door that we pretend is ours, and the weird basement door. Buying a house doesn't make us grownups (I have much more grownup friends that rent), but it does force me to think twice (three times) about moving, and makes me want to know that pack of children that live on our block a little better. I've haven't made it to the two-year mark in a house since 1998. That's a while, folks. When I get itchy for a move I'm going to take a vacation, plant a tree, or get a haircut. Maybe all three. It's not about the house: it's about the life built in the house. It's pretty nice to land and focus on the life.

Oldies: Creative Business Posts

April 23, 2014

Duet with California lights: October, 2010
This blog is aging. In the beginning, Ben and I had just gotten married, and then I'd produced a show and lost my job, and was in a swirl of scintillating depression. This space has now had several names, and I've deleted a few of those first angry/morose posts. There's still plenty of cringe-worthy material, but that's part of the deal. I've been looking through old posts. Unfortunately, it's not quite like watching all of Friday Night Lights again (I'm back to Season 5; it slays me), but here is the first of several themed posts of old posts. Say that five times.

So, You Own A Creative Business (Posts)...

You'll inevitably make friends with rejection and jealousy.

Eat your broccoli.

Just do it.

Embrace the Abyss

April 17, 2014

lettering by Lisa Congdon
I know-- I'm a broken record of love for Lisa Congdon. I'm inspired by her art, her story of a later-in-life career, and her honesty when it comes to grappling with demons. Lisa recently spoke at the TYPO International Design Conference, and it's worth a couple of listens.

Also, the above Cheryl Strayed quote is worth a tattoo or two (and I shamelessly named a dance after it). The hardest times in life are those that trigger a fight or flight response-- the ones I want to forget ever happened. They are also the instances that have defined who I am, steered me towards my future self, and taught me empathy and self-love. Claiming the joyful and the difficult is a true opportunity to nurture ourselves; it's ours for the taking.


April 14, 2014

Greetings Monday!

Mad King Thomas performed at our house Saturday night, and it was just the christening our little place needed. Also, having wonderful people in your home is a serious joy enhancer. Feeling sad? You obviously need more streamers and balloons, which our house is now filled with because there was a birthday party in the performance. Now, every time the heat goes off the balloons blow into the air and the cats have instant entertainment. So do I!

It seems like you're all doing pretty fantastic things lately, and I want to take a moment to get stoked about them:
  • My awesome Laura Beth Brown got accepted on a full ride to the University of Texas at Austin to get her Masters in Printmaking! They take one printmaker a year folks, and that fabulous person is it! While I am in mourning for the long-distance course our relationship will take, I can't think of anyone more deserving.
  • The fabulous Jessica Plagens got a new full-time design job, but I'm ever more excited about her new website, and the smart things she's writing there. I love this piece on artistic failure!
  • I'm listening to podcasts while I type away at work. While I haven't yet turned to crafting (I'm sure there's potential for me to get into anything but scrapbooking), I'm enjoying this one.
  • Do you know fabulous my friend Levi (I know, sometimes this blog is just a brag-fest about my friends)? He wants to have coffee dates with awesome creative people. Who should he chat with? Probably you. Ask him to coffee. 
  • Last but not least, a shout-out to Jesse Haas of Jesse Haas Massage and Nutrition. I hadn't had a massage in a loong time (I'm embarrassed to admit, a year), and I was reminded that Jesse is, simply put, amazing. In addition to giving a kickass massage, she's such a fantastic combination of knowledge and compassion and wonderful resources. I can't recommend her enough. We all need more big-hearted, grounded health professionals in our lives. 
Have a grand week!

In Which I Reconsider Crafting

April 8, 2014

On Saturday I luxuriously read in bed. I'm still working my way through Creative Block, which isn't the kind of book I'd want to polish off in just a couple of sittings. I look at the art, I read about the maker, I think about the creative block exercise, and then I gradually meander into thinking about what I might want to make myself. Rinse and repeat for all 50 artists!

At one of our last Small Dances performances, an audience member asked me the inevitable question: what's next? I had just finished explaining how we were in the middle of a move and I was ten days into a new full-time job, but SURELY I SHOULD HAVE BEEN COOKING UP A NEW LITTLE PROJECT BEHIND THE SCENES. The truth is that right now the only thing I want to make is my bed.

Actually, I lie: I want to make a lot of things, just nothing that involves scheduling rehearsals, stress of any kind, or creating something vulnerable based on personal experience. At least for a while.

Last week I was at a Latin Dance class at the Y with the intention of working up a sweat (you'll be so pleased to hear that I did) when I started tearing up because it felt so good to be moving, especially with a room full of other humans. Without my usual handful of weekly rehearsals and creative projects, the class (supposedly just a workout) felt pretty magical. That's when I remembered that the YWCA can sometimes be enough to keep me creatively satisfied.

I make things and/or take on creative projects for different reasons:
  • For career-building purposes.
  • Because I haven't had a project in a while & I'm starting to wonder if I remember how to make things.
  • To work on my craft: to experiment, and hopefully get better at choreographing (or writing).
  • Out of loneliness: as an excuse to see people/bring people together.
  • For self-gratification: I want to make something awesome, and I want people to see it and think I'm awesome (usually in this case I have the sense to END THE PROJECT & call a therapist for council-- this never ends well).
  • For creative therapy: I need to work on something I care deeply about! I need the creative high!
  • Because it brings me JOY.
  • To make sense of the world-- or create a reality I like better than my actual one.
Usually a few of these reasons overlap. Right now I crave creative therapy, but not the kind that involves a big project. You know what sounds nice?
  • Hosting a dinner party.
  • Going on a night time bike ride with a big group of people.
  • Having enough patience to crochet a blanket.
  • Learning to letterpress, and then making a bunch of encouraging signs to mail to strangers.
  • Hosting another Small Art.
  • Continuing my 1-on-1 coaching work with creatives, helping them put the puzzle pieces together.
  • Gardening.
  • Frisbee.
  • Trying all of the Twin Cities restaurants on the list I made two years ago.
What's funny is that my 24-year-old self would just like to PUNCH my current self for not having more ambition, or trying to fill all of my time. Maybe it's that I'm just coming off of several months of crazy, or maybe it's Spring fever. Or, maybe I've just finally stopped trying to prove myself to people who probably don't actually care.

Anyway: maybe I'll learn to letterpress. What would you like to make or do next? How do you pick projects? What has you excited? Do you have Spring fever?

It's What We Make Together

April 3, 2014

One of my first assignments at the Walker was to sit down and read the book written about Open Field in 2012. The truth is that when I got hired, my real knowledge of the program was limited to what I'd read when a Walker staff member told me about the job, and a couple instances years ago where I'd happened to bike by the Walker and meander around the empty Field space. But the book sealed the deal for me that I was in the right place taking on the right project.

Open Field began in 2010, but took a year off in 2013 for outside construction. In those three years, hundreds of projects have taken place on the Walker's outdoor green space. The projects all have something in common: they exhibit a spirit of play, sharing, and social interaction. Open Field asks the question "What would you do with an Open Field?" and community members answered with the following: bullwhipping demonstrations, financial education classes, string game demonstrations, community dance, art exchanges, prompted conversations with strangers, crafting-- and a good amount of picnicing, drawing, lounging, and game playing.

I'm a sucker for art that comes from a place of inclusion-- art that anyone can participate in, and that can be found places other than galleries and traditional performances venues. (Want to read something awesome? Check out this article on buying art from a vending machine that a coworker brought to my attention yesterday.) I make things usually from a desire to bring people together, because I'm pretty familiar with how strangely isolating and lonely being alive can feel, even though we're supposedly having a million universal experiences. And I'm probably more exhausted than ever before with art that feels esoteric, academic, and exclusive; I crave art that connects.

All to say that I'm really excited about this Field thing, and I hope you'll come play. Tuesday the updated Open Field website went live, along with a programming proposal form. You dream up some kind of activity that involves participation, and I'll help you schedule it and invite people to come join you. Anything could happen, and something will happen, and I'm thrilled to discover what it might be. Find out more about what's in store for the summer over here-- including a visit from famed Fluxus artist Alison Knowles, where she will MAKE A GIANT SALAD and we will CALL IT ART!

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