An Old Public School

Saturday I had the opportunity to volunteer on clean up duty at an old abandoned school in my neighborhood; Annie Lytle Public School #4.  It’s been in a sad and slow downward spiral for close to 40 years.  The Annie Lytle Preservation Group has been working hard to try to save the school.  It’s an incredible piece of Jacksonville history, established in 1917- the structure is still relatively sound and has some beautiful architectural assets to offer.  As I walked around with the group of volunteers on a tour before we began working, I was astounded by the beauty that remains.

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Out with the new, in with the new

2017 was full of new adventures and in a lot of ways, I’m sad to see it go.  I started a new business, met some new friends and networked a great deal.  I took a lot of really good photos and taught myself how to make them better through editing.  I traveled as much and for as long as I wanted to (no time constraints).  I spent more time with Moses my cat and also with friends and family.  I actually started to socialize again after a lot of years doing the opposite.  I enjoyed myself tremendously for the most part with the support of my  very encouraging husband (he really didn’t sign up for this wild ride my life has become!).  I also turned 60 last year, which rocked my world a bit until I realized celebrating it was much more fun than being depressed over it.  I have a lifetime of experience to share and a long time left to do it in.

I’m looking forward to a more than interesting 2018 with more new adventures ahead.  My first juried Art Show in the Spring, more opportunities for community Pop-Ups that will get me in front of new art lovers, more of the same great steady venues that provided me with just enough income to pay for supplies.

As far as challenges in 2018; doing my first taxes as a small business owner, finding new and exciting venues to present my art, honing my skills with both the camera and the computer (editing) and finding new subjects.  I do know that I need to stay fresh, and so will be doing more camera work locally and everywhere else we go.

All in all, I have so much to be thankful for and I feel so blessed today to be healthy and happy going into this new year.  img_0881.jpg

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A new chapter. Welcome Graham Hickling to Still Life with Cat Studio!

Graham Hickling is trained as a Wildlife Biologist in New Zealand before moving to the United States in 2002.  He lived in Michigan for several years before moving to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he teaches at the University of Tennessee. Throughout his career he has combined his interests in photography and videography with his wildlife research activities.  His primary interests are nature photography and macrophotography, however his eye for the quirks of humanity in the Southern landscape has led to a growing enthusiasm for street photography.

I’m looking forward to sharing his passion for photography with you soon as we grow his new collection.

G reflectionsSpringfield House

Beauty in destruction

Hurricane Irma left so much devastation in my city.  More than we have experienced in over a century.  Yet in the midst of all the destruction, there is still beauty.  The power that water holds over us mortals is felt in a visceral way when we see what it can do.  These images are from a city park near my home.  I have been walking to and around this park for almost 14 years.  I have seen the park and it’s central winged statue at all times of the day and have photographed it often in many different settings and light.  In many ways the statue (called Life) is an integral part of my life as an artist.  I sell more art photos of this statue than any other local icons.  So when I heard the park had flooded, and that the seawall had breached, I was devastated.

The worst of the storm had passed and the storm surge was beginning to recede when I walked down to see what was left.  The following photos were taken within the first 48 hours of the storm passing.  The most beautiful dawn light comes after a hurricane and I did my best to capture it and the power of the water still crashing into the 100 year old balustrade surrounding the statue.

Memorial Park Jacksonville

Sunrise of Life after IrmaLife with chessmen WMbalustrade sunrise2 WMChess pieces vibrant WMBroken Dreams WMChess pieces sunrise best WMSunrise WV BW WMBroken wall of Life WMRiverside Avondale Preservation

The good news is that the park will be restored.  the city has already begun some work and the Memorial Park Association and the Riverside Avondale Preservation group is also involved.  Many of the marble pieces have been salvaged for restoration and many of the balustrade “chessmen” are now in safe keeping for the day they rebuild the sea wall.  The statue itself was not damaged, in spite of being up to his ankles in crashing waves at one point.

Why am I so nervous and excited?

About a month ago, I signed up for an evening market.  I’ve been to this one before so it was easy to participate again.  I then stopped thinking about it until last week when the event coordinators started the usual round of social media advertising.  The normal music/food/market was being sponsored by a group called the 22nd Annual ChinaCat Sunflower Festival.  How did I miss all that?  It turns out to be a full fledged Jerry Garcia tribute evening complete with a Drum Circle at 4:20 pm.

I started planning for it yesterday!  Ye Gods- not enough time.  I created a limited edition art piece and almost ran out of ink printing it today.  The miracle of the ink cartridge occurred and I only ran out of a color I had a replacement for.  No last minute stressful trips to Office Depot.

Now I’m about ready.  I went through my jewelry and found my Smiley Face Mood Ring.  I have my Unicorn ring, my copper bear fetish earrings and a huge sun/moon/shooting star pendant.  I wish I knew where my denim cap was but it’s too hot to wear it anyway.

 

Its almost exactly a month to my 60th birthday and here I am acting like a kid going to her first concert (which was the Dead by the way).

I hope the bands are good, but even if they aren’t I’m going to have a blast!ChinaCat

Back in Italy

It feels so strange to be back in Verona. Almost a year has passed since we moved back to the US with our cat after living here for seven months. Coming back as “visitors” has been harder than I expected. 

To start, we could not find an apartment in our preferred neighborhood, so we are wayyyyy up the hill in Veronetta. It’s quite pretty and very old ( being the first settlement of Verona in the 600’s). But it’s a serious hike from the city center. Uphill both ways! At least it feels that way.   Next up we are visitors again, not residents. Being treated like tourists rankles a bit in our town!

The bright side is how many people we have seen who remember and have missed us.  Nadia and Laura at the fruit and veg store. The cranky guy at the liquor store. The lady who rescues cats and her two dogs. The woman who owns the market and many restaurant owners and servers. All “felice di vederti” (happy to see you!) It’s just a little bittersweet. 

The weather has been spectacularly gorgeous. Rain at night has kept the skies clear during the day. It’s been 70-80 and still cool at night.  The Jasmine is just starting to bloom, roses are in full glory and the peonies are about finished. Strawberries are incredible, cherries just coming on. Last night we had fresh shelled sweet peas and mushrooms with our pork cutlets. Cooking here again made me so happy!!!

About people in the art world

I am so amazed and uplifted by the people I have met in the last few months.  As new as I am to this online and market business of selling art, I can already count many new friends and a few mentors.  Nicole Butler was one of the first people I met at a pop up event in November held at The Honeycomb Salon (Nancy the owner has been a huge artistic support).  Nicole has become a go to business mentor and a great friend (and you really must try her Mother Fudgin’ Mask).  She makes vegan bath and body products that are amazing.  She has sent me leads for markets and consignment shops, answered really stupid questions and just generally been a great contact.  Kat Bush (she is on Etsy as KatBushdesigns)  is another new artist in the markets I go to.  We have been helping each other out as we go along and will be sharing a space at The Makers Market in Jacksonville April 29 and 30th.  She is a super talented water color artist and I am proud to say I own one of her pieces!

There have been so many stories already that will be lifelong memories.  Like the dead snake in front of my booth two weeks ago that another vendor kindly removed for me.  Or the day the wind was so strong the vendor next to me was helping me chase my art down the aisle.  Or the couple selling jewelry at the art walk who would not leave until I was packed up at a night market when I was the last one still working.

There are so many things in this world today that don’t seem right anymore.  I can tell you the market culture is not one of them.