I did have an exhibit the following June, deciding on an easy setup at a local Borders book store. I would have the walls in the cafe for all of June, setting up early morning on June 1. I focused on the new art I would do, even measured the walls, and started with the ones I most wanted to do.
But it wasn’t to be as I’d planned. My brother continued traveling through the system after his brain trauma ending up in a nursing home though he was ambulatory and able to care for himself; he had years of healing ahead and needed a safe place that would care for him after seizures and with piles of medications. But through the months, as I drove our mother to visit him, I noticed she was changing somehow…and I knew something was wrong. After pestering her doctor we began blood tests and x-rays and discovered she had lung cancer, and in May 2001 she had surgery, had complications and nearly died, moving from hospital to a critical care facility. I decided to go through with the exhibit, not knowing how her health would turn out. I was self-employed, this was my income and I’d taken so much time away already I felt I had to follow through.
I hadn’t done most of the art I’d wanted to do, but I had done a few, including “Birches 1: Autumn Showers” and “Birches 2: Radiance”, two pieces where I’d experimented with new styles and media as I’d intended the exhibit to be all about experimentation, but that was good enough along with a few smaller sketches. I did cull through the art I had on hand, much of which had been in my exhibit in 2000, and chose the pieces I thought worked together in color and style, and still mixed the content.
“Pepper in Bowl” was a sketch I’d done of just that, a pepper that somehow was left in the enamel bowl on the deck after I’d washed them. Why not sketch it? I designed the post cards to be printed on my own color printer, on photo paper gloss-coated on one side I’d won in a contest, and I had to use big margins because my printer was just that way. But it was still fun, and people liked the theme.
It all cheered me up too. I also printed out the program on paper at home on my laser printer; the front is above, here is the art list and the back page.
I met some wonderful people during that exhibit, even while managing my mother’s and brother’s health. I sold a dozen works, important for my income in the slower months of the year, and still keep in touch with some of those customers today. My mother recovered and went home at the end of the summer, though she ended up in personal care, very much weakened. My brother slowly recovered and I found a program that could help him rehabilitate over the long term.
I decided an annual exhibit was an important way for me to encourage myself to focus on creating new work, experimenting with different media whether new or familiar, and finding out where my aesthetic senses were at that point so I wouldn’t stagnate. I missed 2003, but I did have solo exhibits of some sort each year in all the other years since I’ve been working at home: “Winter White”, February 2004; in 2005 I had a little shop and had monthly exhibits of new works; “Wild Inspirations” in February 2006 and also “100 West Busway” in July; 2007 through 2014, excepting 2012, I held my annual poetry readings with an exhibit of my latest artwork at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall; in 2009 I did my two photo exhibits at ACFL&MH, “Carnegie Photographed” and “Of Harps and Fig Leaves”; and “Sun, Shadow, Ice & Snow: Seasons on the Panhandle Trail” in August 2014. You can find links to all the shows on the main Exhibits page.