End of the Year

    Well folks, here is my end of the year round up. We had the most hectic and successful year to date. In 2020, we swore that we would never return to our overwhelming schedule. We had tasted solitude and liked it. Balance became the word we worshiped. 
    And then 2022's ambitions kicked us into high gear and our good intentions faded away. Now, Andy and I are writing a book, and the art festivals were bonkers. People wanted new work. Our barns are getting redone, the prairie restoration will start, the days fill up so fast. 
    Our spirits were dampened when we lost Andy's grandma, Lenore in August. They were as close as could be, talking every day. She added a depth to our lives that only a loving, wise yet humble 90+ year German Lutheran could. We spent every holiday with her. I was privileged to cook in her kitchen. I had to pass many a test to gain proper entry. She had designed it approx 79 years ago and had been living alone since the mid 1960's. So it was HER kitchen. But in the last few years, I cooked huge special meals in it, using her 75 year old gas stove while she perched on her red chair and watched. I even made a giant steamed steak and kidney pudding in some of her stoneware. One of my favorite memories is passing her the mixing bowl to lick after I made some brownies. I snapped a picture of her puffy white hair tucked into the bowls opening. She looked like a kid.
    Below are some of my favorite pieces that I created over the last 12 months. 
'Sins Not Yet Forgiven' was made for the Birds in Art show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson  Art Museum in Wausau Wisconsin. I made it to reflect the division in our country due to the fact that we are so dug into our positions. It was the first time I wrote a very direct and passionate artist statement to accompany a painting and it felt AMAZING.
Here it is: 

"Don’t you think now would be a good time to admit that perhaps you were wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness? After all, can you honestly say that you played no part in just how strange things have become? Not even a small one? Pride gets in the way of so many potentially meaningful moments. We cling to the thinnest threads of it to keep from admitting our mistakes, lest we open ourselves up to criticism; Criticism that would force us to actually contemplate making a change. But a change is needed because this can’t keep happening over and over and over. It may only get worse. Everyone must agree to lay their swords down on the ground and back away slowly at roughly the same time. Only then can we look one another in the eye, take a breath and start over. Maybe you should consider going first."

I had to shoot a few pigeons this year. They refused, REFUSED to leave the barn once it was repaired. I tried everything to make them miserable first so that they would leave on their own accord, but 3 were too stubborn. Let it be known I am a terrible marksman and put many a pellet in the tall timbers of our barn. Here is one of them, right on my table. That's how the sausage is made folks. I've never shot anything before this. Actually I planned on eating it but after painting it for hours, took a pass.

I just loved this composition. I finished it on Easter and  titled it so. Death and rebirth are so real in it. The church uses butterflies as a symbol of Christ emerging from the tomb. It's sold.

This one is called 'Butt-first, the news'. I was listening to NPR when the top of the hour news came around. They actually said, "But first, the news" and I laughed so hard. Meanwhile I had these little mice already painted with no idea of where to take the piece. Then it all clicked into place. I remember holding up in front of my face when Andy walked into my studio and saying "Butt-first, the NEWS!", in my best radio voice and thinking how hilarious I was. It's sold.

'Making a Wish'. Some of my favorite paintings are struggles. They start with one idea and then come to a dead end. For this one, I found the duck head by the Mississippi River. An eagle had eaten most of it. Just the head and wings clung to the skeletal frame. I took a hedge clippers and cut through the neck. I had the head laid out on my painting table at the cabin when our neighbor, Big Dave, came by to check in. He didn't even blink an eye at the grotesque scene. Of course, the viewer sees none of this. What is left is a peaceful looking duck. I strung along the Scilla blooms like thought bubbles, melodies, secrets and then wishes - the invisible made visible.
'The Annual Vole' Every year I get one lone vole at the cabin. It always winds up in a mouse trap in December. Why only one? I didn't sell this painting until nearly the last show. I was rooting for it the whole time, it's so quirky.

'Owl Dream' I worked on this painting for nearly three years and sold it at the first art show of the year to a woman who just bought a house. She didn't have a stick of furniture but had to get this painting to go above the mantel. I was so incredibly touched and sad. I was hoping to show a lot more people this piece. I told her I'd write her a letter explaining the whole behind the scenes story on it and I still haven't done it yet. It weighs on me. I will. I promise. I'm a good letter writer.

This is a sneak peak of something in the works..................

And Finally, our granary is getting insulated and resided. It is at least 120 years old and is super solid. We hope to make it an apartment/crash pad/ spare studio.... maybe for future students.

One more picture of our Lenore wearing a hat that Andy got her.
'Under this hat is one hellava Grandma'


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