Looking at the series of events leading to my co-planning a gallery exhibit, I see it as seemingly unrelated pieces creating a cohesive image. Life imitating art. Disparate happenstances came together to create new relationships and experiences, a broader perspective and some serious fun.
When seven exquisite works of art arrived at my house about this time last year, I immediately found a spot to hang each of them. My husband Jim, a fine artist himself, didn’t try to hide his mild to moderate jealousy over my enthusiasm. I am not particularly “artsy”. Well, I didn’t used to be anyway. If a stronger connection to particular types and works of art has taken hold in me, it is largely due to the influence of my in-house design guy.
I could easily argue that Bette Midler was the catalyst to my recent adventures with art. My deep and abiding decades-long love for the Divine Miss M took Jim and I to New York in 2013 to see her on stage in I’ll Eat You Last. We stayed in Brooklyn, downtown at a place called 3B. Guests congregated in a common area for breakfasts that included offerings like apple galette. Sharing this space while exhibiting her art in New York was Melanie Ezra, an extraordinary woman who lives in Wales (the country in the U.K., not the village in Wisconsin). We visited a bit. She and Jim shared a common art language; I was on the pleasantry exchanging end of the conversation. She left a piece of her art, a collage made from cut up photographs, as a gift for the house. Intrigued, I looked up her website when we got home, began following her on social media and became a faithful reader of her blog.
It was Melanie’s honest writing about her process, her introversion, and other aspects of her inner and outer life that drew me to her on a more personal level. Simply by doing what she did, she was instrumental in encouraging me to write my blog for a year of Tuesdays. When she posted that she’d sent a sketchbook to be included in a show in Brainerd, Minnesota, the four-hundred mile distance from home did not seem like an obstacle. Of course we’d go! We decided to take the train to Minneapolis, rent a car and drive to Brainerd, making a three-day tour of it. Reservations were made. It was winter. Our selected days, the only dates that would work with our holiday travel plans, ended up being a big dramatic show for the weather people. They went on about the dangerously cold temperatures predicted, the wind chill, blah, blah, blah… We didn’t make it.
Around the time of the Brainerd letdown, I sent Melanie a message saying that, even though I had not the first idea how to do it, I would gladly be her middle man in Wisconsin should she ever want to show here. As fate would have it, work she’d shown in New York was being stored by a friend in that state. The cost of shipping it back to herself overseas was prohibitive. Could she send it to me to hang on my walls, enjoy, and show if the opportunity presented itself? So it was that a heavily packed and taped black roller bag, reminiscent of something Mary Poppins would have sent ahead of her arrival, landed on my doorstep. I almost hyperventilated when I saw The Genteel Earth Pig (pictured in this post). I’d grown quite fond of him through the artist’s photo timeline of his creation. Each piece was familiar from photos yet brand new in its real life three-dimensional complexity. I was beyond delighted; o.k., giddy.
After a few brief attempts at finding a place to show this wonderful work, my own paralyzing procrastination, along with a lack of confidence in this area, stopped me. Eventually, with a renewed blast of determination, I contacted Margaret LeMay at Gallery Marzen. She asked me to bring those seven exquisite pieces of art in for her to see. We talked, she was interested in Melanie’s work but unsure of what would be happening next at her gallery. We met again soon after when I interviewed her for a community newspaper. At the end of that energetic conversation, Margaret mentioned that she’d just signed up for Ladies Rock Camp. That was something that had been on my radar for a while. “Well, if you’re going, so am I”, I said on my way out. A month later we were rock stars for a weekend. It was great. Soon after, we started planning what became the current show at Gallery Marzen.
In preparation for Layers: A Multi-Artist Exhibition, I helped take down the last show, did a little work on the artsy database, spackled and painted, and contributed to a press release. Oh, and as a result of rock camp, which was a result of talking to Margaret about Melanie, who I met because I wanted to see Bette’s play, now I’m taking drum lessons. You know, Melanie is in the music video production business, too. You see where I’m going with this? Let’s recap. A couple of months ago, I’d never played a musical instrument nor did I have anything more than a passing familiarity with art galleries. Now, I’ve played drums in a rock band – in public, no less – and after working in the gallery this Saturday afternoon, I’m looking forward to hosting an opening reception Friday night, December 1st. Please come and see Melanie Ezra’s work along with five Wisconsin artists whose work will grace the gallery walls until mid-January.
What’s next after all of my recent excitement? One thing’s for sure, I could not have predicted any of this, much less how satisfying and affirming it’s been for me, personally. It’s all just a result of putting one foot in front of the other while heading toward something that piqued my interest. OH! I just caught that myself – do what you like, be true to yourself and others, things will take shape in new and pleasing ways. Apparently, that’s more than just something people say to keep each other motivated. Duly noted!