This Week, I’m an Artist

9614_542728359228816_7288947357352113483_nSeemed a fabulous idea to join Shirley’s Loft at the Home & Remodeling Expo in downtown Cleveland this weekend. And I’m sure it was the right decision—that having some of my art in Booth 100 for three days will be super.

But…

Something had to give. In fact, a lot of things had to give.

Started with Darling Daughter last weekend. She vacationed in San Francisco during her spring break from college and flew into Cleveland last Friday. She is self-supporting, has taken care of herself since she left for college.

And yet, she likes when I “play mom” and cook for her, put flowers on her nightstand, wash her bedding when I know she’s coming.

Best I could do was invite her to hang out at the workshop with Shirley and I as we finished up art for this weekend. I’m sure that was not what she had in mind.

Then there’s the house. Son mostly does his own laundry, and sometimes mine. Floors aren’t mopped or vacuumed like they used to be. The house is not tidy these days—and I’m being kind in that assessment. A dog watcher (thankfully!) comes in during the day to let the dogs out, exercise them—because I’m off to work at 6:30 a.m. for my full-time job—followed by art in the workshop, track meets, and other things in the evenings.

I understand the term “starving artist” now. It isn’t because I (and I am an artist) can’t afford food. It’s because I can’t manage to get to the grocery store. Hence the children are starving. I haven’t cooked, or grocery shopped all week.

My son missed a day of school this week.  Not because he was sick. On Tuesday, my always helpful, cooperative son was absent from school most of the day. When I contacted his school, I called it an “appointment” which was a bit of a stretch…

The boy was up early, loaded the Family Hoopty with my art, then moved on to the workshop to load more equipment, art, and tools.

Hoopty (Noun); an old, worn-out car.  Often cheap, broken down, or embarrassing to drive.

In our family’s case, the Hoopty is a 1999 Chevy Tahoe that gets about 8 miles per gallon. Belongs to my father and his lovely wife and has been driven by most everybody on both sides of the family, has crisscrossed the country from New England states to Florida. It’s like driving a bus. But with comfy leather seats. And it floats down the road, a smooth ride. The rusted thru spots on the exterior are spreading and there are dings/dents. But the Hoopty is loyal and faithful; keeps running, hauling our sh@t all over the place. Lately, that includes poles my son uses for pole vault.

photo 1 (6)Anyways, my son drove the Hoopty into downtown Cleveland, between a couple of buildings, and down a ramp into the Firstmerit Cleveland Convention Center. He unloaded it—helped unload a couple of other vehicles. He also helped put down carpet, so the walls could be built.  Ironically, my son rolled back to school in time for his entrepreneurship class.

If you think about it, Tuesday was almost like a field trip—I’m sure he learned a lot, right?

Where was I during unloading and setup? At work. And I truly love my day job—but such a bummer to miss out on some of the setup. It’s fascinating to see what goes into setting up this type of event. The behind the scenes, as an enormous convention center goes from nothing to something spectacular.

At least I work nearly next door and I was able to walk over after work.

So…

Shirley’s Loft will have Booth 100 at a large show in downtown Cleveland this weekend–and it will be filled with both her art and my art. We work well together. And we’ll enjoy hanging in Booth 100 from Friday until Sunday.

But…

To make that happen, I had to forgo the parenting, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning the house. The dogs were lonesome. A nice pair of my work shoes became a dog snack. I had no time to get new tires that I ordered over a week ago put on the car. My nails should have had a manicure early this week (hoping to deal with them tomorrow) and my hair needs cut. The inside of the car resembles a garbage can. I went to work at my full-time job and I did art. That’s it.

The important thing is that the art looks lovely—and it should be a great event. Those going to the Home & Remodeling Expo—make sure to stop and say “hello” to Shirley and I.

Maybe next week, I’ll be a solid mom. Or clean the house?

The “Art” of Teamwork

“Faith” ~ Fluid Art by Shirley Slemc

I’m an artist, among other things…

In September of 2015, Judy Kean pulled together a group of local artists, and hosted It’s Cleveland! Art Gallery Show in her gorgeous new Avon studio, Creative Space Art & More. I was honored to meet Judy, to be asked to be one of those artists. Shirley Slemc, owner of Shirley’s Loft, was also part of that show.

Turned out Shirley lives and has a working studio nearly in my backyard. We traveled nearly an hour and half away from home to meet each other?

Teamwork…

Shirley is currently out of the country at CHIPSA Hospital where her sister is being treated for cancer.

When a piece of Shirley’s art sold online, she called me to see if I could get “Conflicted Desire” to its new owner. No problem. I picked up the art, packaging supplies, marketing materials, a prepaid shipping label, and a Certificate of Authenticity from Shirley’s house last Sunday.

On Monday, I bustled off to work thinking I’d hit the local post office after work. Then Tuesday, we had pot luck at work. I couldn’t possibly carry a crock pot and the Box.

Wednesday was The Day.  Had to be the day I sent “Conflicted Desire” off to California.

It was pouring rain at 6:30 a.m. I gathered everything up into a large black garbage bag and headed to work. (There is a post office in my building.)

At 7:15 a.m.,  I lugged my garbage bag through the parking garage, up a few flights of steps, down East 9th Street, and into my building. My Box, bubble, and art went through the security scanner and I endured some teasing from security. Anything for my Shirley.

Did I mention I work in the Federal Building?

At “break” time, I sat on the office floor, in professional attire. Little bits of tape stuck to my trousers and the copy machine nearby. And I was breaking a sweat getting the series of four canvases that made up one stunning piece of art all bubble wrapped and packaged.

A while later, it was time to take my Box to the post office. The box  was 25” x 16” x 7.5” which I know because I measured it.  The size of a rectangular laundry basket, but only about 8” deep—and no handles.

I hauled my Box (awkwardly) into the elevator, then down to USPS on the first floor.

USPS Lady: Isn’t ours.

Me: Huh?

USPS Lady: It’s NOT ours.

I wasn’t getting it…

USPS Lady: IT’S FEDEX!!

And I was back to security… the information desk in the first floor lobby.  Apparently, there’s a FexEx in the building. In the basement?

I tromped down another flight of stairs. And it turned out there was a basement AND sub-basement.  I’m still NOT sure which one the FedEx box was on, but there were more hallways, and elevator rides, more people giving me directions, until I finally reached FedEx, and it was a little white box for small items. I could not leave my Box there.

By now, it was going on 11:30—and I was hungry. Executive decision;  I was NOT escorting my Box on another elevator ride up to my office, only to ride back down the elevator to the Cafeteria that is below the first floor. I set off with my new “friend” to the cafeteria where I grabbed chicken tenders–and people stared.

“There ain’t no bomb in there, is there?” somebody mumbled, eyebrows raised.

And me, my chicken tenders, and my Box were back in the elevator. Headed back to work.

By the time I finished eating, I’d had it. Figured I’d just pay for USPS, even though my Box had a prepaid FedEx label on it. It would have been $50-60 to buy a new shipping label with USPS.

And I was on the computer, looking for a Kinko’s.

As luck would have it, there was a Kinko’s (with FedEx Shipping Center) a few blocks down East 9th Street. My Box and I were back in the elevator, this time with an umbrella because it was raining again.

On the first floor, I stomped out of the elevator, past a woman I’d seen earlier either in the basement? Or was it the sub-basement?

“You STILL got that thing?” she commented as I lumbered by with my Box.

Back through the lobby, out the front doors, down more steps…I marched down East 9th Street carefully keeping my Box dry under the umbrella. I almost wept with gratitude, as the FedEx Fella took the Box.

Back in the office, a co-worker noticed my Box was finally gone and assured me I’d taken VERY good care of it, “rocked it just like a baby.”

Workplace

Shirley and I…

We’re artists, we don’t complete sentences. We “see” things on a canvas that aren’t actually there yet. And if I had a sister, she might be it. We think alike. We create with similar processes, and so we understand each other in a unique way.

Often, I tell her she’s the best “teammate” I’ve ever had. I’ve played on sports teams, worked as part of teams, been grouped with teams of friends and family, etc. But until now, I’ve never had an “artist teammate” to collaborate with on website building, branding/design, planning for new art pieces, and to help pick up my slack. And it’s like a whole new world.  So when my teammate needed art shipped to California, that art was GOING to California.

It’s probably hanging happily in its new home right now. Looking gorgeous! No idea of how I bumbled about getting it there.

She in the CLE

USA-Cleveland-267x267There’s a new blogger collective in Cleveland and it’s called She in the CLE.

From the She in the CLE site: 

Welcome to She In The CLE! We are a blogger collective dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area. We provide a channel for women to engage and discuss topics at all levels from climbing the corporate ladder to sampling the best eats in the city to raising a family! Our mission isn’t about defining the conversations or topics – it’s all about creating a vibrant, virtual space that allows for networking, continual learning and storytelling.

Happily, I’ll be a contributor.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with other Cleveland women and the conversations, friendships and connections that lie ahead. Here’s a link to my first post:

From Homemaker to Single, Working Parent (sigh…)

Happy Weekend!!

I’ve Lost All Control

Today I’m sharing my secret shame.

I used to refinish furniture and home decor. Since 2012, I’ve created Beach Art on canvas, with what I find while walking on the beach. Somehow, I’ve lost all control of my rocks, sticks, beach glass, beach wire and plastic. But I always turn my finds into something. (Eventually.) I have workspace in my basement, but I never work there. I try hard to contain the mess.

And yet…

We cannot eat at the dining room table much of the time. On a good week, we’ve got use of half of it. We have to be careful to walk around the piles of vintage and antique frames neatly stacked against the dining room wall, in a corner.

Mantle Disaster

The mantle used to be attractive. It’s perpetually a mess now. I set completed pieces up there to make sure I’ve got the right colors and nothing needs added; if something is off, I eventually figure out what’s wrong by walking by it enough times. Also, propping pictures up ensures that my Beach Finds are securely attached to the canvas or canvas board. If they get loose after a few days, I fix them.

mess3

 

Lucky me! Our mantle wraps around a corner, with a bookcase below it, giving me more square footage of mantle to ruin.  We used to have family photos there.

Most people store fancy items in their china cabinets. Mine? Full of sticks, beach glass marbles, artists proofs of prints, and more projects in the works.

My desk has a triangular jug of beach glass and random stones on it most of the time.

Sticks on China Cabinet

I do have a couple of china plates in the cabinet–my mom’s china. It isn’t just beach glass that’s a problem for me. I can’t resist old glass; Carnival Glass, Early American Pattern Glass, and glass vases. I do have a few such items in the china cabinet, but it’s mainly books (I’ll spare you photos of the books stacked all over the house, that’s an “issue” for another day) and the junk I find on the beach.

Notice the branches on top of the china cabinet? Even have to walk under sticks to enter the kitchen.

photo 2 (2) giant tree

We used to have art on the walls. Quite a few of my favorites paintings are packed in bubble, being stored. We have no wall space for them. My Beach Art is on our walls now, because I don’t want anything damaged. Once completed, wired on the back, it’s safer to hang on a wall until it sells. Of course, I have my favorites–that I won’t sell. (Ugh!)

The driftwood and metal tree above the park bench is enormous, about 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall. I could have sold it too many times to count, but I won’t part with it.

The upside? 

My Beach Art sells easily, faster than I can create it. Which is why I started having prints made. Yes, signed, numbered, “fine art” prints–of sticks, rocks, and beach glass.

Almost too shameful to admit…

I keep seeing photos on Facebook of local beach cleanups going on in our area. Good stuff, kids and families getting out there and spiffing up our beaches. But what if they throw away something good? Seriously, that’s what I think when I see the photos.

It’s been suggested I play with Legos. Truth. My kids friends sidestep my mess like it’s no big deal, they’ve gotten used to it. Not too long ago, I was arranging stones, coming up with a new design, when one of my son’s buddies said, “Mrs. Lauria, you should invest in Legos. It’s kinda the same thing, right?”

This hit close to home as Legos were my favorite toy as a kid. My very favorite!  The only thing better was going outside–I rarely came inside unless it was dark out.

A new workspace?

I’ve started pinning barns on Pinterest. I’ll need to do something soon! My house is overrun…

barn

 

I dream of having a workspace outside of my home; a barn, an outbuilding, anything with a bit of wall space to hang a gallery of finished work, my stash of vintage frames. Perhaps with shelving to hold supplies. I typically use pretty clear vintage and antique glass jars/vases to hold my stones, beach glass, metal and such. Makes it easy to sort by size and see what I have. I also use ball jars for storage, and even to mix paint in.

My “mess” wouldn’t look like a mess in a workshop. It would look attractive, possibly even stunning.

For now I have a home. And my mess is anything but pretty. It’s destroying the vibe…

Interested in checking out my projects? Head over to my website.

Workspace ideas? Comment below or Contact me. In the meantime, I’ll keep pinning to my “Dream Girl Cave” page on Pinterest.