We have a wonderful art studio and gallery giving us the fortunate opportunity to earn a living doing what we love. The art world is rich and dynamic as new artists and trends are always emerging. Different kinds of people frequent our space adding to the constant stimulation. We went into this venture with great hopes expecting long-term success given our commitment and passion. I hope we have made the right move to follow our dreams. We wish the same for our blog readers. In the end, we will know.
While all kinds of interesting personalities come and go, one of the most unusual was the president of a local safety watch group who wanted to rent the gallery to host a women’s beginning level self defense class. It would be a basic introduction to the art of self protection in the interest of promoting self confidence when out alone at night. So many things can happen and there are ample sad stories that tell the tale. College women have become frequent victims and many were expected to enroll. Lainey loved the idea and agreed to their proposition with the proviso they she be allowed to attend as well.
While such a class is an unlikely use of the studio and gallery, anything that promotes improvement and safety is most welcome. This is an open-ended concept but seems to dovetail nicely with fine art in some odd way. Self defense is a means of expressing personal freedom from victimization. Art is a way of expression personal emotion of any type. Both appeal to the inner self and its vital needs, whatever they may be. A self protection course in our space is most appropriate; proof came when the attendees became awed by the surrounding artwork. They found it inspiring and motivating and responded immediately to the forms and colors. I imagine that self defense would be an interesting subject for a series of autobiographical portraits. It would be cathartic and potentially profound. There is nothing as frightening as being assaulted. It is an enormous violation of the self. If someone has ever experienced an attack, they would relate to the work in a fundamental manner. Art brings inner thoughts and feelings alive as they are embodied in paint on canvas.
The class was so popular that we agreed to let the safety watch group return again for an advanced lesson. We approve highly of educating people as to their personal rights and how they can exercise them in the face of aggression. There are numerous easy self defense moves that you can practice in your own home in varying degrees of difficulty that can help women fight back. In addition, they can carry mace, brass knuckles (now made of tough plastic), a collapsible baton, a body alarm or a stun gun. The options available give each woman a choice as to how she would deal with an assailant and what she would be comfortable doing when faced with immediate threats to her survival.
When it is time for a show, we all mobilize to get ready. It takes a good eye to decide where everything goes and what sequence of artworks looks best. It matters what you put side by side so that everything creates a harmonious whole. It is an art in itself to put together an exhibition apart from the creation of the art itself. It is my world and it encompasses a wealth of creativity and forethought. Lighting is of vital importance as it enhances and brings out the fine qualities of each work. We have all sorts of track lighting, spotlighting, etc. so that we can customize the space. When the viewers arrive, the mundane gallery is turned into a magical realm. The light leads the way.
Imagine our chagrin when one opening night a few hours before the doors were to be unlocked, a strategic lighting bulb blew out over one of the key sculptures just before the show was to be revealed. Such bad timing! Plus, we had no replacement bulks nor anywhere to get them since we ordered them from a catalog and they took a week to arrive. You don’t find gallery lighting in your nearest drugstore. Maybe the hardware store would have a good substitute but it was closed. We were in a quandary as to how to remedy this dilemma. Giving it great thought, I decided to take a stop-gap measure and in MacGyver fashion to use a LED flashlight to illuminate the sculpture rather than let it sit in the dark. Basically, I rigged the flashlight from http://www.flashlightpro.net/ to the empty bulb socket and as funky as it appeared, I don’t think anyone would notice. Unusual installations are part and parcel of the gallery scene.
After the crowd arrived, there was so much going on that virtually no one looked up to the ceiling to spot the flashlight. If they had, I would have claimed it to be part of the sculpture. What a novel concept they would have commented, but alas, it all went unnoticed. Perhaps that is better than giving the artist credit for something completely unintended. Perhaps he would even have been annoyed. But the opening went off without another hitch and the sales attested to the show’s success. It was one of the magical nights when people seemed to respond particularly well, enough to loosen their pocketbooks. It is a good thing we didn’t panic over the missing bulb since the sculpture in question was one of the most popular pieces in the exhibition. We had a great deal of interest, and by the end of the night it had sold. At least two other people were disappointed as they wanted it, but they were too late in making their decision. I wonder if any of them would have wanted the flashlight to take home to showcase their new artwork? It was a silly thought, but nonetheless it occurred to me.
Challenges come in all shapes and sizes when you deal with people. We love people, but some just aren’t very considerate. Our last artist was one of those people. We have rules set in the contract about eating, cleaning and storage, but sometimes after week one all of that seems to be forgotten and we end up with horrible situations at times. This was the case was Austin. Oh My God! He was a major snacker. He created lovely pieces, I just don’t understand how he got anything done with all of the breaks he took to eat. Anyway he moved out, but pests moved in.
We have ants everywhere. There is close to an infestation of them at this time and I want to call an exterminator, but Cameron really believes we don’t need to spend that much money on the problem. Maybe he’s right but I just think we should attack the problem full force with all of the ammunition we have and not give the bugs any chance to revitalize. Cameron told me to calm down and let’s take a trip to the department store down the street. They carry everything, even bug spray. We found the lane carrying our desired poisons and started reading all of the labels. We stood there nearly an hour reading and goofing off reenacting bug spray commercials. We picked out 5 options. We had sprays, gas bombs, traps, motels, and food.
We got back to the studio and declared all out war. It was going to get ugly, but it had to be done. We covered our special pieces first and tried to follow all instructions on the containers. We were forced to evacuate until morning. The fumes were too strong to endure.
We returned the next morning very hopeful. To our surprise, when we entered, we were greeted by a long line of ants. We were both thinking, what went wrong? We had failed miserably. Cameron wanted to go another round with bug spray and traps and the whole 9 yards, I just wanted to get rid of the ants. Watching them was making my skin crawl. It was just disgusting. I finally convinced Cameron to call an exterminator. This may have shredded every bit of pride within, but at least we would be able to reclaim our studio.
We called a popular exterminator in the area. They could not come out for a couple of days and this was frustrating. I was torn on whether to close the studio for a few days or just keep it open and hope no one gets bitten or becomes just as disgusted as I was with the presence of the pests. Cameron and I agreed to keep the doors open and just be very alert of what is going on especially when artists and potential customers come through. We managed to observe and kept a spray can nearby at all times.
The exterminator came Thursday afternoon as promised. He did an excellent job. The spray was odor free, but it worked well. When Cameron and I arrived at the studio Friday morning, we saw nothing moving. There was a bit of clean up, but well worth the effort. So far, all day, and I have seen no little creatures creeping around.
A few friends and I had planned a great little getaway. We love the outdoors and being part of nature. So since things were coming together so beautifully at the gallery I knew I could take 1 day off. It was time to hit the waters and go kayaking. This was one of my favorite passtimes.
A couple of my best friends met up at my house and we began to load up. We used my friend’s pickup truck so we would have plenty of room for all of the gear. We had to load in kayaks, paddles, and huge hiking bags. You just never know where an adventure will lead to. I was super excited since I had not been in a while. I couldn’t wait. Just before we left though, I had to check one more thing. I can’t go on any adventure without my camera. You never know where the next awesome shot will come from and experience tells me that there is always the perfect shot waiting to be taken in nature.
Finally we were off. It was only about an hour drive to the location. We arrived ready to get going. We all got our gear together, applied sunscreen, sprayed a little bug repellent and we were ready to hit the rapids. We headed back to the truck to grab an inflatable kayak. All of us took our section and headed to the water. The adventure began.
Once we were in the water, a sense of freedom and exploration pierced my soul. I couldn’t take it even a moment. I had to grab the camera. It seems like every shot caught my attention. There were the changing colors of the trees along the bank of the river. Then there were the different plants. I had to get a shot. I brought my attention to the water. It was beautiful. It was not crystal clear, yet it was so inviting. Just then, a fish leaped from the water performing acrobatics like an accomplished gymnast. I nearly toppled out of the boat trying to get a shot of a school of salmon swimming together. They were orderly and neatly lined up in rows even as they shifted slightly around to avoid the kayak. How can one not enjoy such beauty that is laid before us.
I took my gaze back up and over and there was a deer and her baby. They are such strong animals, but they appear so delicate to the lens. Perfect shot for a nature lover. Just above the deer were the most unique looking species of bird. I had to capture the very moment it was about to take flight. It didn’t stop there though. Shot after shot after shot, I captured the majesty of the bird taking to the sky and absolutely owning it.
As our kayaking venture came to an end, I was still so excited. I had something to take back with me. When I arrived back to the gallery, I couldn’t wait to get in there and find a local place to have my photos developed. I could just picture them already organized and framed. They would be strategically displayed throughout the gallery. No day is an off day when you love what you do.
Improving from the inside out. My trusty partner, Cameron is about to take care of some very necessary upgrades to the building. We both pride ourselves in setting our best foot forward in all that we do and in all that we are part of. We labored intensely to get the studio set up on the inside and have it presentable, including our major slop sink kitchen remodel. But now it’s time for some major curb appeal. It won’t require much either because the outside of the building has always been in great repair. There are only a few little things that have to be taken care of. A few touch-ups and a major bath.
Cameron decided that the building would look spectacular after it was pressure washed. Cameron took on this lone adventure to get this done and done right. First obstacle, finding a pressure washer to rent. Cameron did a Google search to first learn about the best pressure washers. So we came together and checked out some Wikipedia articles and some ehow articles. Determined to learn as much as possible, a good portion of a day went into researching the article. We learned a lot more, like proper pressure and the type of detergents to use. More important than what to learn was what not to do. This exercise was very needful.
Now Cameron was ready to start contacting vendors to rent the pressure washer and accessories. Who would have known there would be so many questions about a piece of seemingly simple equipment? There were numerous questions and the great dealers had all the right answers. Cameron finally picked up the pressure washer that would meet the needs of our building.
Outside, armed and ready; Cameron geared up for the experience of a decade. It was quite comical to watch , but I could not peel my eyes from the window. First if all, the simple assembly was not simple at all. Attaching the hoses and the spray attachments took lots of muscle. But Cameron never backed down. Finally assembled, ready, set, go!
Cameron pulled the trigger and the water spewed out with a force so great that it threw him back a few inches. Very hard to get and maintain steady footing, Cameron fought through it like a champion. After several minutes, things got easier and easier. The pressure washing was done like a professional.
Once Cameron was done, the bricks looked absolutely new. That was really all the outside needed. I am so proud and fortunate to have a great partner that cares just as much about the business as I do. The artists and the renters both compliment the new fresh look from the pressure washing. Thanks Cameron!!!!!
Cameron and I share a wonderful place that keeps us close enough to the studio to make us comfortable. We have been living in this area for a while and love it, but there always come issues with any old property. Ours include the high power bill and low amount of hot water every morning. But thanks to a great art expo, these problems are soon a thing of the past. Cameron and I have been so frustrated getting up trying to get ready at the same, perhaps washing a load of clothes also just to find, no hot water for the next shower. This ends today. We can use the proceeds from our last art expo to fund the purchase of a tankless water heater.
We are heading out to get a new tankless water heating system. We heard that they are all the rave and worth every word of it. So we are about to be part of it. They are having an awesome sale at a local store that will throw in installation for free so we had to jump on it. We went right in with our chests stuck out proud ready to move into this century with the new water heater technology. We were surprised at the seemingly simple package that the system came in. It made us wonder if we could install the system ourselves. We decided against that though since not long back a pressure washer had nearly taken Cameron out of this world.
We are so excited. We have our system and had a time set up for the installation. As a matter of fact, we have someone coming out today that will get us set up well. We are happy we didn’t try installing it ourselves. It might not be too hard for more experienced Do-It-Yourselfers, but we are new to this. We know nothing about gas and electric connections and all of that.
The installation guy has finally arrived. I ran to the door like my long lost uncle had just gotten here. It’s about to happen. In the morning I planned to intentionally start the dishwasher, the clothes washing machine and take a shower all at the same time. I am confident in our new accessory. Cameron will still be able to take a nice warm shower when I am done.
The total installation didn’t take very long. The installation technician did a great job. The walls still look really good and there are no unnecessary holes or marks left behind. This is truly one of the best decisions we have ever made togethet. The tankless water heater ranks high on the list with the studio. This was a guiltless purchase for sure. When I tried my theory, it was correct, I really could run multiple devices and we still had hot water available.
Just food for thought, I don’t recommended installing one without a professional. It really looked quite intense and like an exact science. It’s always better to get help and make sure you don’t break something and void whatever warranty that you would have had.
Nothing says progress like beautification; like nothing also screams ugly like an outdated kitchen. It was time for forward progress again with the studio. We knew when we took on our new perfect place that perfect didn’t really mean perfect. But, instead, as artist, Cameron and I had perfect vision of what a bit of a mess could become. Mostly walls, we didn’t have a great deal to fight with. We did however know that we had to bring this space up to date for future renters. We wanted things to be accessible comfortable and worthy to bring out the creative side of the tenants. As it stood, this would not be the case. The cure was, a new kitchen centered around the Slop sink.
Where do we begin? We had to first, get permission from many people about building and remodeling. We had to pay a bit just to get permits and licenses before we could start construction of any kind. This was another area that we had to just jump into and learn on the fly. We were forced to take numerous trips to the city officials to assure that we weren’t doing anything wrong by building or tearing anything apart. So we got through all of the legalities and paperwork. Now we move on to design and picking out new flooring, back splashes, decor, and appliances.
We found a great designer. She was able to capture our ideas and get them to paper. We stressed that the design must be centered around the existing slop sink that currently stood in the studio. The Slop sink was not a pretty sight, but it was the nostalgia that we were going after. We wanted the look to surround that rustic type time frame in history. We just knew that the slop sink had to stay. The designer was too willing to oblige.
We now arrived to the fun part. We get to go shopping. We have the opportunity to pick out the flooring, wall coloring, back splash material and appliances plus of course a brand new pull down kitchen faucet. It was easy to come up with the colors with the help of the designer. We were wanting to focus on the bright and vibrant colors. The atmosphere had to invite life and liveliness throughout. We saw swatches of many colors and patterns until we were satisfied.
Last, but not least, the the appliances had to be chosen. All the rave is stainless steel, but we weren’t that sure about this selection. Stainless steel may be the most popular in maintream, but not for us. Remember, it’s all about the slop sink. We searched and searched and then we came to some great conclusions. Everything came together so nicely right down to the flooring.
We are so pleased with the way things turned out. This is a project that will be forever remembered. The future tenants and any other visitors are sure to love the new ‘slop sink kitchen’.