Monday, May 24, 2010

Word for the day: Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism. Sounds like a germ doesn’t it? It can be passed along (I’m sure I got it from my mother) and it can definitely have unpleasant consequences (attic-itis…a swelling of the contents of one’s attic). This is the act of assigning feelings and humanity to inanimate objects. It has caused me to hang on to many things that I should throw away, caused my daughter to have a collection of hundreds of teddy bears, most of which talked to me and of course some that ended up talking to her, and to keep broken bits of this and that in the name of family history and sentiment.

Old buildings have been talking to me since I was 8 years old. The first building I fell in love with and talked back to me was along my walk to school. It was this wonderful brick house, with a nice front porch that had pretty wrought iron trim on either side of the porch. I could see amongst the over grown shrubs and little out-buildings that it had been a beautiful little home with a warm and welcoming back yard. I could see it in its former glory and wondered at the people who might have lived there, loved it and cared enough to make it so beautiful. I would whisper prayers for it that someone would buy it and love it back to beautiful again.

This ‘thing’ that makes me want to tangibly see and feel the beauty of the past has never left me. Reading, Pennsylvania speaks to me that way. It makes me love the city to the point It almost hurts. I see these beautiful old buildings all around me and I can imagine them restored to their former glory. I can imagine all the lives that have passed through them when they were new and loved.

I sigh over the wonderful roof lines, the turrets, the bay windows, the stained glass transoms and pretty little decorative window accents, the wrought iron trim and fencing, the miles of brick, the stone that looks like it was fire kissed…but clearly really wasn’t. And that’s just the little row homes that line most of the city streets. Stop for a minute and stand still on Penn Street. Take a look up at those old multi-storied banks and buildings. There’s some amazing detail on some of those wonderful old buildings.

Why do I share this today? Because last week we received the most delightful surprise from the city. We were selected to receive a commendation for our restoration work on 526 Washington Street, home of some things looming. She’s a sweet little row that was probably always commercial space with the owner living and working there, perhaps on the third floor where Melanie has her studios now. Tonight we will go to city hall and receive a certificate of commendation. It has been a long, but wonderful journey bringing 526 back to her former glory, with a bit of a modern twist. We hope you stop by sometime, enjoy the art, and the ambiance of our building.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Diary of a reluctant art gallery owner, Chapter 2

Mother’s day was the opening of text/textile. Wow has it turned out great. This is the first salon style show we’ve hung in the space and I think all of us were delighted that the gallery easily took the 25 or so pieces comfortably. It was really interesting because we had seen this show in another space in Philadelphia. It was beautiful there too but, pardon my prejudice, it seems even more lovely here.

And…guess what? We sold our first piece out of the gallery. I probably shouldn’t admit this (but I’ve decided to be transparent here) , I was so stunned, I didn’t really know what to do for a split second or two. Remember me? The woman who has spent the last 20 some years in a high tech software business? Thank goodness KP was there and brought me out of my momentary coma.

After that our biggest challenge was finding a red pen to put the ceremonial red dot on the exhibit tag. Whoo Hoo! That was so way cool! Nice encouragement for us and for the artist. I loved being able to write that email. And as thrilling as it is for us, it’s almost more exciting to be able to provide the venue of encouragement for these wonderfully talented individuals.

Author Elizabeth Bodien was there on Sunday to do a reading and that was really awesome too. You could have heard a pin drop as the group listening was so enthralled listening to her words. It’s fun to cross promote the arts like that. And what an encouragement she was to me. She was surprised that we could put on such a nice exhibit considering we have only been open two months. That was a great reminder. I’m sometimes a little hard on us. We really have done a lot and in a little bit of time.

The show is short running, closing on June 13th. If you are close by, stop in to see this wonderful show and say hello to the ‘reluctant’ gallery owner. (One of these days I’ll explain why the ‘reluctant’.)


Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to be unproductive at the studio...a ten step instructional program

What I thought was fatigue this weekend, turned out to be a 72 hour bug, complete with fever and chills. Tuesday, I remained home because I felt a little weary and wasted, the way one does after fighting off a virus. Yesterday, I meandered into some things looming, with the intention of accomplishing...something.

Instead, I've come up with the most effective way to waste away a full day that would have been, normally, productive.

Step one: Arrive late...but not too late

Just enough to kill a few minutes...or so... You're working for what's it matter when you get there, right?

Step two: pretend to set up shop.

This is very important. In order to appear productive, one must take the time, being sure to drag it out, to set up the scene. If it normally takes you five minutes to set up your laptop, get out your weaving tools, etc, then make sure it takes fifteen or twenty minutes. A minute wasted, is a minute of being nonproductive.

Step three: check email

People contact you, right? They need to hear back from you, right? It's important to reply expediently. It doesn't really matter if you spend a few extra minutes reading the SPAM out of morbid curiosity. Gotta clean out the SPAM folder anyway. And look...really, do I need to keep all 5,346 emails in my inbox? Maybe I should clear out a few. Oh, and while I'm at it, I'll just email Floyd, who is sitting down in the office also feigning productivity. That will help him out too. "re: looms. Here are the dimensions. I'm not sure if I measured the van right. Maybe you'd like to double check."

Step four: look for a movie on NetFlix, watch instantly, for background noise

I mean really, who can expect me to WORK without some background noise? Music is ok, I guess, but I need to download some new songs...I'm so tired of what's on my iPod...never mind there's Pandora, what do I want to "watch"...comedy? Drama? Old movie? TV show? There now...that killed another fifteen minutes.

Step five: Use interruption of loom transportation discussion to your advantage

"Maybe if we lay them down on their sides? I mean, really all of these parts can be removed..."
"That might just work"
"And that way we don't need a trailer."
"I'm liking the way that sounds."
"Me too. What time should we head out next Thursday?"
"Well I was thinking..."

Step Six: Eat Lunch

If you're really skilled at procrastination, steps one through five have successfully brought you to the luncheon hour. Be sure to keep lunch items at your studio, rather than pre-packing a sandwich. Never under-estimate the time it takes to make a wrap, or how long you can search for the ingredients. Remember to chew your food slowly, savoring each bite. Not only is it better for your digestive system, but at least another 30 minutes of your day can be frittered away. Be sure to continue the "Better loom transportation" conversation while dining. It will ensure your lunch lasts longer, as you cannot talk with a mouth full of food.

Step Seven: Drink lots of water

Lots of water = lots of potty breaks.

Need I say more?

Step Eight: Check e-mail again (someone might have written during lunch) and start NetFlix movie

It was sitting on pause all through lunch. Now the movie viewer has to be re-loaded. That will definitely cost five minutes total. Never discount the smaller time-wasters. They all add up.

Step Nine: Weave

Ok, you have to be a little bit productive to avoid the guilt of procrastination. This really is the secret to any successful "poor time management" plan. Move slower, distract yourself more often, take those potty breaks, but definitely complete a few inches of weaving.

Step Ten: Make sure your children attend a school where they don't bus the kids to or from their home.

Not only does this help with step number one, but also makes the day shorter. This is only a hindrance when actually attempting to accomplish something (which is 99% of the time). But since I'm not discussing being productive, but rather the opposite, in this case, it works in your favor.

Now, see if this easy ten step program works for you.

Individual results may vary. No Guarentees. Some persons may need to vary steps based on their own personal needs.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Diary of a reluctant art gallery owner, Chapter 1

What do I know about art? Well, I know what I like and I like most everything that is honest and surprises me on some level but that’s a most unsophisticated confession now, isn’t it? This isn’t new. I almost went to art school myself. I didn’t have the guts and took a safer road. I admire those of you who have the talent and the courage to go after your dreams.

Frankly, I’m a business woman. I’m not sure how that happened either but that’s another blog. So for the last 20 some years I’ve hung around in my husband’s business interests doing just about every job you could imagine and motivated by my desire to eat regularly. I’ve learned a lot about what it’s ‘really’ like to work for yourself (its hard) and what it really takes to be successful (lot’s of sacrifice and money if you can scrape it up). So when I ought to be seriously thinking about retiring and taking life easy, I’m “re-firing” and once again starting up a new business. And the truth here is that it’s lots of fun for me.

I love a challenge and believe me, art and business are a bit like oil and water. I’m challenged to prove that good business principles when applied to an unlikely commodity can indeed prosper. And perhaps my bigger challenge is in disciplining myself to follow those principles and not get caught up emotionally in what seems right vs analyzing the situation and planning so that the steps we take are right. Again….confessions for another day….

So here I am emotionally naked before you and intending to bare my soul as I share my prospective on our striving to realize this vision we have named, “some things looming”. I should have started blogging sooner. There have been many days where I have had to talk myself back in off the ledge wondering what I’ve bitten off here. So far I’ve managed or my partners Melanie and Floyd have managed to help me refocus and find my two feet once again safely on the ground. Anyway, you are catching me on a good day today. Don’t lose heart for those of you who enjoy that sort of voyeurism, I’m sure if you hang around long enough, you will get to experience that with me yet again. It’s a roller coaster at times. There are these wonderful moments of encouragement and then the great leaps of faith that take such incredible courage that I think I just won’t be able to find again within me…..and then…somehow I do.

Stay tuned for the ride.