Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Switching Gears

I am now preparing for my next art exhibit, this time at the St. George Botanical Garden here in St. Croix on March 9-11. For this exhibit I am working on two small quilts about ferns and agave plants. This is a change from the sea life theme that's been my focus thus far. However, plants are not an entirely new subject. Here's a closeup of my first art quilt, "A Walk in the Woods":

But switching gears this time has proven more challenging than I've expected. There's a freedom of expression that I find working with sea life that I have yet to find with plant life. I know it's there, beneath the surface, but my movements thus far when working with the fabrics/colors/composition still feel rigid, almost clumsy. Maybe it's simply a matter of time, like getting reacquainted with an old friend you haven't seen in a while. I plan to spend the rest of the week at the studio lost in the world of ferns and succulents, and I know that my love for these wonderful plants will help me to find the flow again.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Whale Watching

I'm typing this while on a whale watch by my window looking out towards the water on the north shore of the island. Sometimes whales swim this way and we've developed an unofficial alert system along the north shore. When Frank from Frank's Lobster Reef spots whales from his seaside restaurant, he calls Adele at Villa Margarita, who then calls us. Other alert systems get activated because we then see boats coming out of the Salt River Marina to deeper waters to catch sight of the whales.

From Frank's sighting in La Vallee, near Cane Bay, to our spot along Salt River Bay there's about a 40 minute wait. I've kept my eye on the water and was rewarded a few minutes ago with the sight of a few hearty splashes and a glimpse of a dark torso breaking the surface of the water. I'm happy just to have seen the splashing about because there's only one word to describe the message these whales bring to me: pure joy. And what an awesome thing it is to be in such a majestic presence.

One of the boats out there got a very good show because all the splashing happened just a few hundred feet away. Here's a photo of that lucky boat and the view from our place:

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Height of High Season

Because President's Day coincides with many schools' winter breaks, and because it's hard to resist trading the dark cold winters for the perfect weather of the islands, this is the most popular week to visit St. Croix. In essence, it's the height of high season. Restaurants are crowded, hotels are fully booked, beaches are well attended, and the roads have cars with drivers trying hard to remember to stay on the left.

For locals and tourists alike, the weekends are jammed with tempting activities. Last weekend we had Friday Sunset Jazz, the Good Hope Art Exhibit, the Mardi Croix Parade, The Fur Ball to raise funds for the Animal Welfare Center, the Agricultural Fair and the play "Once Upon a Mattress." This coming weekend there will be the Sea Creatures Masquerade Ball to raise funds for the St. Croix Environmental Association, a full Crucian pig roast at Mt. Victory Camp to benefit Haiti Community Support, plus live music everywhere, including Kurt Schindler at the Domino Club.

Living here, there's only so much energy/time/money to do everything. Sometimes, a simple day on the beach is enough, but it's nice to know all of these good things are happening around us.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Good Hope Exhibit

Last Friday night we attended the opening reception for the Good Hope Art Exhibit. It was a new experience for me as this was my very first exhibit. We arrived to a line that snaked out the door, and inside the place was packed. A fellow exhibiter had told me earlier that she found it agonizing to have her art out on display for critique. "You're bearing your soul!"

For me, the experience was more abstract. I felt detached from my work. It was as if the act of hanging them up for display released any attachments I had to these pieces. What I kept was the excitement I felt when I created them; the pleasure of hours at the studio immersed in my work while listening to great music or a fine audible book.

I did receive very encouraging feedback from the audience. But for me, the most rewarding feedback was when the director of the program told me that my quilts were a big hit with the Good Hope students. I love it that the kids got it, so next year I'll be doing a demo for the kids, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it.

Here's a picture of the exhibit space:

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Big Exhale

Today I gave myself the pleasure of sleeping in, having a slow morning and cooking a hot lunch. It feels utterly luxurious to be doing this after weeks of working under pressure of a deadline, but I'm happy to say I've done it!

I finished the big quilt and everything else that I had to complete for the Good Hope School Art Exhibit. Yesterday Bob and I hung the quilts at the exhibit hall and in the afternoon I finished sewing the last of the mini wallets to be sold at the gift shop. Last night when I left the studio I declared myself on vacation.

This afternoon Olga and I will drive to the school to deliver the mini wallets and then we'll head over to Frederiksted (just a few minutes away from the school) to enjoy a celebratory drink. She's been sacrificing her own free time to help me and I'm eternally grateful for her support and her good company.

Tomorrow night is the opening reception. Bob and I will be there to celebrate. For those of you who can't join us, here's a peek at the big quilt, officially titled "Poseidon's Garden." I'll be posting more photos of the exhibit, etc. in the coming days.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

The All-Consuming Quilt

When I said that I planned to hibernate at the studio for the winter I didn't realize the extent to which this idea was going to be true. Now that our visitors are gone, I've been spending every day, all day at the studio. I've managed to squeeze in cooking dinner every night and I've kept up our daily morning walks with Bob, but there is little time or energy left for anything else. This is because the last quilt I began, the one about the corals, has turned into a massive project, both in size and scope. And I'm so excited about it that I simply cannot leave it out of the upcoming exhibit at Good Hope. So I'm working as fast as I can to finish it in time. I'm tired physically from leaning over the sewing machine for hours at a time. And the mental and emotional effort it takes to stay focused is all-consuming. I'll post pictures when it's complete. And when it is all finished (the quilt and the exhibit) I'm going to take a mini-vacation on the beach, under a palm tree, reading one of the novels from a pile currently sitting unnoticed in a corner of our apartment.

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