Thursday, August 14, 2014

Textures and Surfaces of Avignon and Les Baux

Last September I visited southern France for the first time, part of a super family bonding trip with my mom, uncle and aunt. One of my favorite things to photograph is surfaces, in particular those that are worn by the elements and marked by time. I am drawn to walls, windows, doors, pavements, and natural elements like roots and soil. Here are some of the textures that caught my eye in Provence:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Craft and Cats and Point to Point

That's what seems to rule my photo stream these days.

Point to Point Richmond is this Saturday and we have two new pop-up guest artists who will be showing their work (Wei Lah Poh and Tony Esola).

We're also preparing a make-your-own prayer flag activity using hand-dyed samples from my textiles classes stitched to sail cloth, ready for embellishment by participants.

Here's my trusty assistant Marie sewing amid a desk full of CLUTTER.

Thankfully that desk situation is a little more under control this week. When my work environment is clear, my mind can be creative with more ease. The challenge is my process, which involves making a mess, creating different compositions, spreading materials around all over the place. Here's a new series of Mozambique Island shipwreck trade bead necklaces I made recently. I'll be debuting them at the Ali Amaro Gallery for Point to Point.

Maybe one of these guys can help me get a handle on the organizing. After all, they're good with laundry and tablecloths!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Imagens do Dia a Dia

This is what life has looked like over the past three weeks...

 Maybe it doesn't reflect in the photos, but I've been feeling really overwhelmed lately. Like I'm being suffocated by my own momentum, my own relentless organization, my own ambition. It feels very heavy and condensed. Definitely one of those "learning a lot of lessons" periods, where I'm pursuing lots of opportunities and figuring out which ones are worth the hustle and which are not. Like I said in a previous post, it's a lot of work, and I feel exhausted.

Today Rico and I made a spontaneous decision that makes me feel more balanced, less stressed about all that is currently on my plate. I will be joining him for a very, very short holiday in Brazil next month. Rico's mom is having surgery, and he will be in Rio for a bit helping her out with the recovery and logistics of it all.

Initially I was going to stay here, because I have so much going on, but today we found a ticket using miles and I thought fuck it, why not? It gives me something to look forward to, a reason to really get it in gear in terms of studio efficiency (I am working on several custom projects and it will be nice to just knock them out before I leave), a natural deadline by which I need to have certain things finished or off my plate.

The trip is also a welcome reminder that my physical presence is not necessary for the gallery to be open, for my business to move forward, for things to work out. It's okay to take some time off, especially if I am feeling burned out.

Now the hurdle is that I need a visa for the trip to Brazil. Although I'm married to a Brazilian, I'm still on a tourist visa (mine is expired, of course), and the consulate in San Francisco has at least an 8-week turnaround and no available appointments until the day I'm supposed to leave. So clearly that won't work.

Rico and I are currently figuring out how to get an expedited visa when the consulate for your jurisdiction is seemingly incapable of providing one (only Houston and Atlanta emit rush visas, according to the official sources, and you need to be a resident of those jurisdictions to qualify for that service). Looks like there will be a despachante in our future...

In the Ali Amaro Gallery: carved granite sculptures by Martin F. Rickert. They remind me of hedgehogs and pineapples, and I want a trio of them for our porch.
Mano and Nina, enjoying a nap on our messy piano.
A new series of necklaces I made with Mozambique Island trade beads. I love gradients so much.
Rico built us a bed using reclaimed wood from part of our deck that we tore out (and are replacing/expanding). It's beautiful, as are the new master bedroom and bathroom we are enjoying these days.
Wine tasting event a Brock Cellars in Berkeley, together with Tarryn and Bridget from the 4 to 9 Wine Bar (the best neighbor a gallery could ask for)
Friends from Brazil who now live in the Bay Area joined us for the event.
I've been working on a crown design...a lot of things still have to come together before it's made a reality, but I hope it happens. It's a really cool concept, as the crown will be covered with clip-on earrings from my client's nana.
And of course, let's not forget Point to Point Richmond! It's happening again this month, and Marie (my assistant!) and I are busy prepping sail cloth and hand-dyed shibori squares for a prayer flag interactive activity outside the gallery.
What's new in your world these days?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Freeflow thoughts some 6 months after opening the gallery

- I am tired. No surprise there, I knew what I was getting into. But yeah, really tired.

- I often feel like I am faking it 'till I make it, even more so than in Mozambique. I guess I got good at being a self-employed cheerleader!

- Community organizing (Point to Point Richmond) is where I put a giant part of my energy these days, along with old-school marketing. This is a surprise to me, but totally makes sense.

- I think the most effective strategy is one that involves face-to-face connections, visiting and getting to know your neighbors, doing outreach, creating a reason for people to visit, using the phone, writing a thank you letter, helping carry furniture, giving advice for free, hearing people's stories.

- Sometimes I feel reckless and irresponsible for spending so much money on my business. I am able to think of it as 'investment' and I know it's a necessary part, but it's scary nonetheless.

- Money is something I think about a lot, but it's not my main driver. I don't hope for sales, I hope for relationships.

- I cry a lot. While watching America's Got Talent, at Visa commercials, at dinner with Rico, while looking at photos. Art school brought out my feelings big time, and apparently that level of sensitivity is here to stay.

- I constantly worry about not being organized enough, not being prepared enough, not being on top of it, whatever 'it' is...even though I realize I'm one of the most organized and prepared and on top of it people I know.

- Often I don't know what to do, but my to-do list is always a mile long.

- Just buckling down and getting to work, no matter what the task, is a certain recipe for alleviating anxiety.

- I need a vacation every 6 weeks seemingly.

- I track certain things every week in my hyper-organized paper planner. I find it soothing to mark the days I exercise with a circle and the days I make it to studio with an X. I keep a weekly tally and have specific goals.

- It seems to me that no matter what the craziness at hand, if I make it to the studio 4x a week and exercise 4x a week, everything will turn out okay.

- The main thing, really, is exercise. I recently had to go two weeks without a lot of movement and it was the pits.

- There's definitely an image/appearance that comes along with the gallery. I have three "public" days per week (Thurs-Sat) and I feel it's important to dress up, wear my own jewelry, and look the part.

- Sometimes people do judge a book by its cover. Being nicely dressed with fancy jewelry definitely influences how seriously people take the gallery. It sure seems that way, at least.

- My best allies are my family, my husband, and the group of people I was in school with who I now call colleagues.

- I totally under-appreciated how much I'd come to depend on people I was in school with. They are my peers, my friends, my support system, my contract labor, my inspiration, and my motivation.

- I also really appreciate the friendships I have that are not work related at all. They are few and far between!

- There's a lot of gray area in my life (family businesses, my own business with friends, etc.) and it can be really hard to navigate.

- Not walking on eggshells is key. You just gotta say it like you feel it, and ideally as soon as possible. There is no easy way to navigate all the gray, but keeping stuff in and cultivating resentment is definitely not the answer.

- Still, it's really hard to be emotionally authentic and filter-less.

- Things are going really well, I think, but it's hard to have perspective. Sometimes it feels like failure cubed. And other times it feels like I am on the top of the world. Let's see how I feel at one year. :)