A Change of Scenery

 I'll be the first to say that the past 16 months have not all been time well spent, but I have learned a few new skills and I have reached a better understanding of how I fit and don't fit in the big wide world of art. Oh, and I moved to Arizona, so there's that. 

Last winter/spring, after a series of disappointing exhibits that left me asking WTF, I hung up my weaving shuttles, put away my power tools, sat in my studio, and did a lot of introspection. A reasonable person might have called this effort "working through depression." I'm a reasonable person, so, yes, that's what it was: a long, difficult slog through the depression landfill. For those of you who don't know what that's like, here's a solid explanation, with pictures. The pictures, by Allie Brosh, say it all. 

But I got through it. Six months later. In October. At which point I decided it was time to flee the upcoming dreaded Missouri winter and move across the country to the land of the 32nd parallel, where sunshine reigns. It took me a few months to box up all of the art supplies and then rethink and donate a lot of what I'd boxed up, and then it took a few more months for the stars to align so that someone could help me by driving the truck that would carry all of the art supplies (and my little stack of boxes of personal items), but it happened. In April. 

And now I'm in Tucson, where I've lived previously for short stints. Now, though, I plan to make this city my permanent home, so the learning curve is a bit steeper. And I will have to rely on some of the things I already know to lessen that curve.

I learned a lot in Kansas City about the way the artist community operates. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it wasn't. I learned a lot about people -- probably more than I'll ever need to know. I learned a lot about support and friendship in the artist community, and that means a lot. I also learned the meaning of the word "transactional" as it applies to a lot of the people in the artist community. It may also apply here; I'll have to figure that out. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself. 

During my hiatus, I picked up a paint brush for the first time in at least five decades and made weird paintings with watercolors and acrylics. I set aside the feelings of guilt that had co-existed in my studio and donated a lot of Things that I hadn't wanted or needed or would ever have a use for. I started to use the Marie Kondo method of organizing, but the expectation of joy seemed too broad. Instead, I asked this question over and over and over, "Will you live long enough to use this up?" If the answer was no, then I donated it. For example, someone in 2022 gave me about 500 pounds of yarn. I gave away and  sold about 100 pounds of it soon after I received it, but there was still about 400 pounds of it in the studio. Added to my yarn stash, there was about 500 pounds of yarn in 12 giant plastic tubs in the studio. I am in my seventies, so the likelihood that I will live long enough to use 500 pounds of yarn for normal yarn purposes was pretty slim. So I sorted through it and donated about 250 pounds of it to a local nonprofit organization that could sell it to raise money to help the homeless and support art education. Two hundred fifty pounds of yarn is a lot of yarn.  In fact, I donated about 350 pounds of yarn and fabric and basket-weaving reeds to this organization. Now it's in their hands. And I am a better person for it. 

Other Things were donated to other people and businesses and organizations. It was easy to do once I started doing it, once I understood that the memories remained even after the stuff was gone. And soon enough, there were only about 80 boxes of stuff to load into the truck.... They were loaded, the truck was driven, the boxes were unloaded into a storage unit in Tucson, I went to my short-term rental, and here we are, trying to get back into living mode. 

Stay tuned.