Transit

March 1, 2015

Inside HANG ART gallery...

Inside the gallery…

How does an exhibit come to life?  For an upcoming solo show at HANG ART gallery in San Francisco, it’s a complex process starting from inspiration to installation.  It’s not about what is available or finished in the studio.  It’s about creating works that commemorate a specific moment of time.  A piece can’t be mass-produced or recreated.  Art is unique and one-of-a-kind whether loved or hated.

JBI.3.15.11287 created for the Transit exhibit.

JBI.3.15.11287, 12x8x7 inches, acrylic installation.

Once given the opportunity, a clear focus related to my current concept and motivation emerged.  The mission statement: “Transit was derived from the observation of movement patterns in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Working ambidextrously, I’m fascinated by the research of binary relationships such as the simple and complex, beautiful and grotesque, micro and macro perspectives, and natural and manmade environments.  Some works were inspired from the reflections of The Bay Lights on the water, the speed of information technology, a cluster of coastal redwood trees, the city’s skyline, and the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge.  My goal is to capture a moment or visualize an abstract concept through the use of lines, marks, and forms.”

JBD.3.15.71013 inspired by The Bay Lights.

JBD.3.15.71013 pays tribute to The Bay Lights.

Acrylic installations and drawings will dominate the space.  The acrylic pieces range from 12x8x7 inches to a large freestanding sculpture that is 75x64x25 inches.  The sizable artwork investigates how the San Francisco skyline rises from the Pacific Ocean’s waters.  Light reflects off the surfaces of its skyscrapers showcasing shadows that change throughout the day.  JBI.3.15.1647525 recreates this experience by encouraging a sense of place and peace within an urban environment.

Filling time and space...

Filling time and space.

The drawings range from 19×24 inches to 44×60 inches framed.  One pen and ink explores how the San Francisco Bay Area rests on a series of fault lines resulting in seismic activity between the Pacific and North American plates.  I wanted to visualize the pattern of this natural occurrence.  JBD.3.15.22435 maps this movement through the use of linear repetition and aesthetic illusion.

Will JBD.3.15.22435 find a home?

Will JBD.3.15.22435 find a home?

Folded neatly in an envelope, a short writing that details inspiration accompanies each piece.  It’s the final step of a ritual before releasing the artwork into the world.  Descriptions won’t be displayed but given to its final owner if sold.  If not, the words stay with me forever.  It builds the framework for the future and beyond…

Words do matter.

Words do matter.

BALIemailer

Transit, HANG ART Gallery, 567 Sutter Street, San Francisco, March 1-15th 2015.

The links:

www.jennyebalisle.com

www.hangart.com

http://www.hangart.com/portfolio.php?id=110736

 

SS Red Oak Victory

February 22, 2015

A part of our history in our backyard...

A story to be told in our backyard…

Other parts of the country are experiencing unthinkable cold weather while the San Francisco Bay Area has been the hottest ever recorded.  Taking advantage of global warming while wishing for rain, decided to visit the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond.  The ship is now a museum and located in the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

Beautiful day on the Bay.

Not to take for granted.

The drive to the SS Red Oak Victory is an odd but familiar one.  Passing a large parking lot of new vehicles in a desolate port seems somewhat strange in a busy urban setting.  However, the backdrop of the glistening Bay against a tall skyline makes up for the mass marketing.

Heading in the right direction.

Heading in the right direction.

The story behind the SS Red Oak Victory is quite amazing.  According to the National Park Service website: “The Victory ship SS Red Oak Victory was built in Richmond Kaiser Shipyard # 1, and launched on November 9, 1944.  It was one of 414 Victories built during World War II, but one of only a few of these ships to be transferred from the Merchant Marine to the U.S. Navy.  The Red Oak Victory served as an ammunition ship in the South Pacific during WWII.  The ship was named for the town of Red Oak, Iowa, which suffered the highest per capita casualty rate of any American community during World War II.”

View from the top deck.

View from the top deck.

Upon arrival, a tour guide was ready to share facts and details for a nominal fee.  All proceeds go to ongoing restoration and maintenance.  Well worth every dollar!  I was able to see different sections including the kitchen, medical, engine, cargo, captain’s quarters, and much more.  In addition, was shown historical maps and photos of its location during World War II.

A guide is worth the time and knowledge.

Worth the time and knowledge!

Looking down into the engine.

Looking down into the engine.

Is the ship balanced or not?

Are we balanced or not?

Various knots exhibit.

Various knots exhibit.

Women and minorities were given the opportunity to work and proved that the job could be equally done.  For example, some were referred to as Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder to encourage recruitment.  The tour guide shared that females were better at physical detailed work than the males.

Looking outside inside.

Observing outside inside.

A visitor feels transported into a different time and experience.  It must have been hot and miserable as it moved through turbulent waters and war.  Imagine the SS Red Oak Victory rocking back and forth across the ocean during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War.  A slice of history is always worth revisiting.  It helps one respect the sacrifice of others and that freedom and peace are worth fighting for.

A child's artwork on the ship from 1955 looking into the future?

A child’s artwork on the ship from 1955 looking into the future…

The links:

http://richmondmuseum.org/

http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wwiibayarea/red.HTM

http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/rosie-the-riveter

Karma and a Box

February 15, 2015

Award

It’s official!

On Friday February 6th, a big rainstorm hit the Bay area.  It’s needed due to a severe drought.  However, I had two evening openings at the same time: one in Oakland and the other in South San Francisco.  Traffic and weather don’t mix.  As a result, came up with a strategy to visit both places.  This was a good problem!

Entry into Pro Arts...

First stop.

Made my way to PRO ARTS gallery in Oakland in the early afternoon.  It’s a treat to view the gallery without the crowd of an opening.  I was able to engage and enjoy the art.  Friends with Karma has an interesting premise, from their website: “Juried via a peer review process, this exhibition explores the processes by which artists support, sustain and participate in the launch of each other’s work.  The top ranking submissions will form a group exhibition at Pro Arts, presenting a survey of contemporary art arrived at through a community process.  The program allows insight into review processes, while encouraging artists to think critically about their own work within the scope of Bay Area art.”  To be picked by my peers, is a true honor.

Balisle

Guess who?

Highlights included artists Jermiah Jenkins, Maggie Preston, and Carlo Fantin.  Jenkins’ Gathering of sticks, wood, and twine played with idea of commercialism and its role in the natural world.  Preston’s Jones at Sutter, an archival pigment print on rag, makes the viewer look when otherwise told not to do so.  The hand cut paper artwork titled Instaddiction by Carlo Fantin is the ultimate “selfie” that uses your mind without a battery.

Jenkins

Jenkins amazing sculpture.

Preston...

More than fifty shades of grey by Maggie Preston.

Hand cut paper by Carlo Fantin.

Hand cut paper by Carlo Fantin.

After a terrific tour at Pro Arts, onwards to South San Francisco for the 2014 Utility Box Mural Project Artists award ceremony.  Walking into the Municipal Services Building courtyard, there were families, a buffet with delicious treats, a General Art & Sculpture Show, and a rotating video presentation.  The energy was positive and welcoming!

Ceremony...

Award celebration!

Met with artists...

Artists at large…

Patterns public art.

Patterns in public.

The ceremony was heartfelt and meaningful.  Met other utility box artists and conversed about the experience.  When the evening concluded, my husband and I journeyed our way back to Richmond through a tough storm.  It was a day well-spent.  The acknowledgement from both sides of the Bay was appreciated.  Rain or shine.

The links:

http://www.proartsgallery.org

http://proartsgallery.org/callforentry/2015_members.php

http://www.ssf.net

http://www.ssf.net/1571/Current-Opportunities-for-Artists

https://factorxx.wordpress.com/2014/10/

http://jeremiahjenkins.com/

http://www.maggiepreston.com/

http://www.carlofantin.squarespace.com/

 

White Elephant Sale

February 8, 2015

This building holds treasures and more.

This building holds everything and more.

Early afternoon, trying to find parking around a large 96,000 square feet Oakland warehouse can be quite the challenge.  The Jingletown neighborhood consists of mix-use residencies, upscale townhouses, and run-down housing.  At 333 Lancaster Street, an amazing 56-year tradition continues to attract a diverse group of people.  The White Elephant Sale is the must stop to find treasures from baseball bats to fine art.  Since its inception in 1955, the event has raised over $20 million dollars to support the Oakland Museum of California.

Mural outside of the warehouse.

Mural outside of warehouse.

Welcome to the WES.

Welcome to the WES.

The Women’s Board in charge of this grand undertaking has perfected the art of organization like a well-oiled machine.  With over 1000 volunteers and 17 meticulous departments, visitors are spoiled from the impressive display of hard work.  The “sale” is March 7th and 8th but is now open for preview during limited hours.  I go before the “official” date to avoid the mass pandemonium and hysteria of eager shoppers like myself.

This makes the Container Store jealous.

Making The Container Store jealous.

Being an educator, first stop is the book section.  A volunteer disclosed that the Oakland Museum of California was in the process of disposing of an extensive library.  When one finds a good deal, creative accidents such as paint smudges on pages feel less painful emotionally and financially.  This year, I discovered a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art book, Sotheby’s catalog, and Gottfried Helnwein exhibition survey.

Got art?

Got art?

Something for every taste.

Something for everyone.

The art department is vast in selection.  With some patience and diligent digging, one can find that hidden gem.  Every year, great works have become a part of my family’s collection.  This trip was no exception with a piece from James Aarons and two from William Wareham.  Aarons works from clay and has exhibited in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Santa Fe, and San Francisco.  Wareham’s experience is extensive including a national Endowment for the Arts, Djerassi Resident Artist residency, Oakland Museum exhibit, and being an assistant to Peter Volkos and Mark Di Suvero.  To be surrounded by art makes me a better artist.

James Aaron's little ceramic painting.

James Aaron’s little ceramic painting.

A W no belongs to me.

A William Wareham rests in my home.

Another wonderful Wareham.

A perched Wareham.

The White Elephant Sale never disappoints.  It’s respecting the environment while supporting a worthy cause.  Annually, it has become a ritual.  Who knows what I’ll find in the future.  That is part of the adventure, white elephant or not.

The links:

http://whiteelephantsale.org/

http://museumca.org/

http://www.sfmoma.org/

http://www.sothebys.com/en.html

http://www.modernisminc.com/artists/Gottfried_HELNWEIN/

http://www.jamesaarons.com/

http://www.thespiritoftheman.com/william-wareham/

http://www.williamwareham.com/about/

@Large

February 1, 2015

This is what 41 looks like!

This is what 41 looks like!

On January 17th, proudly turned 41.  The day was spent with fabulous Academy of Art University alumni.  I was granted a limited amount of vouchers after applying for the Ai Wei Wei: @Large Alcatraz Community Discounted Tickets program through the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.  $30 to pay for a ferry to view art can make access unobtainable.  However, the reality is that everything has a cost similar to the exhibition’s theme.

Great group to tour Alcatraz!

Best tour group ever!

According to the FOR-SITE website: “The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is internationally renowned for work that defies the distinction between art and activism.  In this exhibition of new works created specifically for Alcatraz, Ai responds to the island’s layered legacy as a 19th-century military fortress, a notorious federal penitentiary, a site of Native American heritage and protest, and now one of America’s most visited national parks.  Revealing new perspectives on Alcatraz, the exhibition raises questions about freedom of expression and human rights that resonate far beyond this particular place.”

Part of the application process included answering a series of questions such as: Why would you/your group like to visit Alcatraz and/or the @Large exhibit?  How will you share your experience with your larger community (i.e. participants who weren’t able to attend the fieldtrip)?

The visit to Alcatraz to see the Ai Weiwei exhibit would be a special and unique experience.  I wanted artists to be exposed to an accomplished individual who has dedicated his life to art.  This might inspire one to not settle for less but to strive to be better individually and as a global citizen.  As a Richmond Arts & Culture Commissioner, this exhibit could influence an arts community to work on strategies that broaden the dialogue and expand public projects.  The unique opportunity delivered and more!

On our way...

On our way…

My husband and I rode a Golden Gate pedicab up the Embarcadero to meet former students at Pier 33.  Then we huddled together in line and made our way across the Bay to Alcatraz.  Once there, we met ranger Wendy who took us on a personal tour to highlight the island’s history from inhumane prisoner treatment to the Native American occupation.

Ranger Wendy tells all.

Ranger Wendy tells all!

Brick patterns.

Brick patterns.

Return to owner.

Return to owner.

After the tour, we entered the New Industries Building where Ai Weiwei’s With Wind dragon shaped installation of multicolored kites with quotes greets visitors.  In the next room, 175 political prisoner Lego portraits adorn the floor.  It’s shocking, disturbing, and effective in its message.

Human rights are not a child's play.

Human rights are not a child’s play.

In the hospital’s Psychiatric Observation Cells, an artwork titled Illumination of recordings from Hopi prisoners and Buddhist chants reverberate.  This was my favorite piece.  I felt the pain and silence that stain the empty room.  Exiting, Weiwei’s Blossom of tiny ceramic flowers burst out of every edifice that held water.

Can you hear the chanting?

Can you hear the chanting?

No words needed.

No words needed.

Can beauty be found here?

Beauty in despair.

I was happy, sad, and angry after viewing the exhibit.  Happy for the chance to visit with a great group.  Sad to see the injustice in the world.  Angry the lack of tolerance or freedom of expression that exists today.  I left with questions and a heavy heart.

Visitors are given the opportunity to write to a political prisoner.

Visitors are given the opportunity to write to a political prisoner.

The view from Alcatraz is stunning despite its ugly history.  Since the exhibit’s opening, 9 political prisoners have been freed.  Awareness can provoke positive change.  Ai Weiwei: “Freedom is a pretty strange thing.  Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart, and no one can take it away.  Then, as an individual, you can be more powerful than a whole country.”  Yes, indeed.

Visitors are given the opportunity to write to a political prisoner.

A view without freedom for some.

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz on view from September 27, 2014 – April 26, 2015.

The links:

http://aiweiwei.com/

http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/website/ai-weiwei.aspx

http://www.for-site.org/project/ai-weiwei-alcatraz/

http://www.pbs.org/itvs/alcatrazisnotanisland/activism.html

http://observer.com/2014/09/your-guide-to-ai-weiweis-alcatraz-island-exhibition/

*Today’s blog is the last of four chronicling the journey from Tucson to Santa Fe to Kearney to Madison with my father: an adventure of self-discovery, awareness, acknowledgment, and acceptance.

 

A time warp...

Time.

Today would be the final day of our cross-country driving adventure.  We stayed at the Ramada Inn in Kearny, Nebraska, which reminded my father of a “mid-fifties, Midwestern convention center.”  Early in the morning, the motel chef enthusiastically greeted barely awake visitors for custom-made omelets.  It was a positive start at the crack of dawn.

When leaving, the roads were still a challenge and plow trucks dominated the landscape.  Traveling slowly on Highway 80, we encountered patrol blocking the right of way.  Unfortunately, it was shutdown near the Clay Center exit.  Nebraska police closed the on/off ramp gates due to a fatal car crash caused by challenging weather conditions.  Went to Love’s truck stop and picked up coffee, tea, Reece’s peanut butter cups, and a rainbow colored scarf to commemorate the occasion.

Loves in Nebraska.

This is what love looks like in Nebraska.

Navigating on country roads to avoid and bypass the accident, we listened to National Public Radio highlight Robert Bly’s poem Three Kinds of Pleasures:

Sometimes, riding in a car, in Wisconsin

Or Illinois, you notice those dark telephone poles

One by one lift themselves out of the fence line

And slowly leap on the gray sky—

And past them, the snowy fields.

 

The darkness drifts down like snow on the picked cornfields

In Wisconsin: and on these black trees

Scattered, one by one,

Through the winter fields—

We see stiff weeds and brownish stubble,

And white snow left now only in the wheeltracks of the combine.

 

It is a pleasure, also, to be driving

Toward Chicago, near dark,

And see the lights in the barns.

The bare trees more dignified than ever,

Like a fierce man on his deathbed,

And the ditches along the road half full of a private snow.

 

My father recounted that he was a “levitator of other person’s possessions” or commonly known as a “furniture mover with a master degree in English” for 14 years.  This career decision “was self imposed.”  He shared these memories while entering Iowa with its welcome sign that proudly states the “Field of Opportunities.”

Iowa in Winter.

“Through the winter fields-“

In addition, wind turbines like commercial billboards hailed drivers.  From the Iowa Wind Energy Association website: “During 2012, Iowa produced a national record of almost 25% of all the electricity generated in the state from wind turbines…Iowa was also the first state in the nation to exceed 20% of total generation coming from wind energy.”  This was impressive to witness during our excursion.

A wind turbines holding hands with a tree.

A wind turbine holding hands with a tree.

Side by side.

Side by side.

Nightfall was quickly approaching as we were entered the Wisconsin border with rain.  Reflecting, common connections such as Dollar Stores, churches, casinos, truck stops, and nature’s beauty appeared in desolate and urban communities.  Differences were minor in a landscape of constant humanity.

Close to the Wisconsin border in Dubuque, Iowa.

Close to the Wisconsin border in Dubuque, Iowa.

Reaching Madison, an overwhelming sense of emotion came over me: I truly loved every minute with my father.  I’m left with memory photos for life and the true gift of time.

Picking up my dad's dogs at the kennel.

Picking up my dad’s dogs at the kennel.

The journey started in Tucson, Arizona where my grandfather resides.  He would like to be buried right next to his younger sibling in Oklahoma who drowned as a child in a frozen pond.  My grandpa witnessed the incident from a school bus and tried saving him with a broken tree limb.  His brother always looked to him for protection and would say: “don’t ever leave me.”  My father and I will make that road trip.  I traveled only 2675 miles for this one.  It doesn’t matter the distance or challenges.  I’ll be there now, forever, and in spirit.

Quality time is the best time.

Quality time is the best time.

The links:

http://www.clay-center.net

http://www.loves.com

http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=1998/12/09

http://www.robertbly.com

http://www.iowawindenergy.org

http://www.iowawindenergy.org/whywind.php

 

*Today’s blog is the third of four chronicling the journey from Tucson to Santa Fe to Kearney to Madison with my father: an adventure of self-discovery, awareness, acknowledgment, and acceptance.

Leaving Santa Fe at sunrise.

Leaving Santa Fe at sunrise.

On December 22nd 2014, waking up at 5:00 am in Santa Fe felt good yet familiar.  I was excited and anxious to hit the road.  One of my favorite times of the day is sunrise.  It’s the tipping point to the day’s demeanor.  Will it be good or bad, don’t know.  But let’s just live another day to see.

My father and I packed the pickup truck with caffeinated beverages in hand and traveled on Highway 68 onwards to Taos.  The morning sunrise was the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen.  Took a permanent memory photo that will linger forever.  This might be the place to retire and reconnect.

On the way to Taos...

On the way to Taos…

We saw a bald eagle flying over the Rio Grande’s waters.  The highway runs adjacent to the river scattered with wineries, breweries, poverty, and jagged rocks.  Arriving in Taos, we stopped at the World Cup Café for organic scones, coffee, and tea.  A mature gentleman named Dave and his falcon Questa offered friendly conversation.  He knew of Frances Hamerstrom, who my father had spent time with in Wisconsin.  She was a renowned ornithologist, naturalist, author, and famous for her bird research.

The Rio Grande is grand.

The Rio Grande is grand.

Never gets old looking at...

Majestic in both directions.

Dave and Questa in Taos.

Dave and Questa in Taos.

Went to the Taos shopping square looking for a leather belt for my nephew but left with a handmade scarf and turquoise earrings.  Found a fly fishing shop, and the guide working had family roots to my hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  Bought a hat, shirt, and guidebook for my husband to plant a revisit seed.  This truly is small world.

On Highway 64 is Cimmaron Canyon State Park, where it started to lightly snow.  In the small village of Angel Fire, it opened into a vast meadow of clouds and heaven.  Eventually, we drove upon a group of Antelope grazing in tall grasses.  We were about to greet tough road conditions.  White, heavy, and billowing winter clouds camouflaged the approaching mountains.

Clouds and open fields...

Clouds and open fields…

An antelope blends into the landscape.

An antelope blends into the landscape.

Big storm ahead.

Big weather ahead.

East of the high plains in Limon, Colorado, a buffalo prairie is now a source of wind energy.  At nightfall, the wind turbines looked like an alien or apocalyptic landscape with cattle grazing underneath.  It was wonderful to see alternative energy at work but strange amidst an evening winter storm.

Wind turbines on planet Earth?

Wind turbines on planet Earth?

Darkness arrived and we wanted to make our final stop in Kearney, Nebraska.  Found our hotel via icy roads and were welcomed with friendly service.  A hot shower at midnight was the perfect remedy to plot the final leg of our journey to Madison, Wisconsin.  Onwards!

The links:

http://www.harwoodmuseum.org

http://www.taosartmuseum.org

http://www.nps.gov/rigr/planyourvisit/wildscenic.htm

http://taos.org

http://www.wchf.org/inductees/hamerstroms.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/07/us/frances-hamerstrom-author-and-biologist-is-dead-at-90.html

http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/cimarroncanyonstatepark.html

http://www.angelfirenm.gov

http://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/home/index.shtml

 

*Today’s blog is the second of four chronicling the journey from Tucson to Santa Fe to Kearney to Madison with my father: an adventure of self-discovery, awareness, acknowledgment, and acceptance.

R.I.P. Juanita Lee Baker Gibbens.

R.I.P. Juanita Lee Baker Gibbens.

With pastries picked up from the farmers market adjacent to my grandmother’s resting spot, my father and I hit the road out of Tucson, Arizona.  We are early birds so no sleeping in late, had to see the sunrise over the desert to not miss a minute of daylight traveling.  The land was calling.

Leaving Tucson early in the morning...

Leaving Tucson early in the morning…

We took Highway 10 East and turned off towards Wilcox to reach US Highway 191.  The “goal” was to arrive at Canyon de Chelly National Monument before dark.  Drove through Gila National Forest, Turkey Park, and Apache National Forest.  Big horn sheep, white tail deer, mule deer, coyote, Rio Grande Turkey, wild horses, and road runners greeted us.  Highway 191 is similar to the Black Hills or mountain regions in the West dense with Pine and Juniper trees.  There were plenty of fallen rocks on the road with snow at elevations of 8,550 feet.  We stopped at beautiful and rustic Hannagan Meadow’s lodge at 9,100 feet for gas but were out of luck.

Hitting the "high" way in Arizona.

Hitting the “high” way in Arizona.

Hitting higher elevation.

With elevation comes beauty.

Snow in the...

Snow in heaven.

Expansive view of

Expansive view thanks to Highway 191.

Hannagan Meadows.

Hannagan Meadows.

Driving through the town of St. Johns, an elderly man donning a grey suit with a large Santa belly stood next to a car with a flat tire.  He had his thumb out hitching for a ride not looking like the typical serial killer.  Because of the long journey ahead, karma would punish us if assistance wasn’t provided.  As a result, turned the truck around and gave him a ride home past a rundown gun shop.  He thanked us profusely and wished us a Merry Christmas.

Our drive to Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, AZ was supposed to be 6 hours but nature, conversation, and good deeds became positive delays.  However, this was nothing new to my father.  He had hitchhiked across the country four times trading books of poetry for places to stay or food.  Possessions included a sleeping bag, fishing pole, bag of apples, water jug, and warm wool clothes.  “Pertinent information” needed for any future exploration.

Prior to arriving at Canyon de Chelly, poverty inhabits the Navajo Indian Reservation.  Stray, fluffy ranch dogs highlight the landscape with dilapidated trailers.  It is the opposite of any suburban mall in America.  Such beautiful landscape framed by depressed inequality creates an unfortunate reality.

My father and I drove the South Rim of Canyon de Chelly via the advice of a Park Ranger and stopped at numerous overlooks including Tunnel, White House, and Face Rock.  Some had individuals selling trinkets aggressively.  We wanted to see beauty without the sales pitch.  However, this would not be the case.

Canyon de Chelly.

Canyon de Chelly.

Canyon de Chelly at dusk.

Shadows falling…

Leaving Canyon de Chelly, we were completely off the grid: no radio, cell phone service, gas stations, and signs of life.  This was opposite of my reality driving through rush hour traffic over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.  Nighttime was quickly approaching.  Our plan was to make it to Taos, New Mexico but exhaustion took over.  As a result, we drove into Santa Fe, checked into a hotel, and collapsed.

A 'dead zone" that is alive.

A ‘dead zone” that is alive.

What would happen the next day was unknown.  That was ok.  Our eyes and minds were tired due to a visual overdose.  Moving forward was key and that’s what we did the next morning…

The links:

http://www.nps.gov/cach/index.htm

http://www.hannaganmeadow.com

http://navajonationparks.org/htm/canyondechelly.htm

Door to church where my grandmother is buried in Tucson.

Door of church where my grandmother is buried in Tucson.

Miles traveled create memories.  Cherished ones that can’t be replicated or replaced.  I was given the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime road trip with my father prior to Christmas.  As a 40-year-old woman, it was an adult child getting that chance that won’t most likely occur anytime soon.

Our relationship was complicated from early to a young adult due to divorce, miscommunication, and my immaturity.  However, today the bond is authentic and natural.  Twenty years ago, could have never predicted today’s outcome and how grateful I am.  As a result, flew from San Francisco to Tucson where my grandfather resides to start the journey on the road with my father to Madison.

Grandpa and me...

Grandpa and me…

My 84-year-old grandfather Tom likes his routine: McDonalds by 7:00 am, run errands, pay bills, watch MSNBC/CNN/sports, eat, nap, and repeat.  He’s worked hard all his life and scarified much.  His mother was Choctaw and he grew up in Oklahoma.  He watched his brother die at the age of eight in a cold river during Winter.  My father and I provided company during the holidays.

While in Tucson, visited the University of Arizona Museum of Art to supplement the routine.  The venue had an impressive collection of artworks including a Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and a missing William de Kooning.  According to the wall text: “In the early morning of November 29, 1985, the painting was taken from its home on the west wall of the second floor at the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson Arizona.  On that morning a man and women enter the UAMA shortly after the museum opened.  The couple proceeded upstairs and carefully out William de Kooning’s Woman-Ochre from its frame.  Wearing coats, the man and woman managed to hide the 30 x 40 inch painting under their clothing as they walked out of the building.  The painting has never been found.  Witnesses say that the painting was taken by the couple who were seen leaving the museum in a rust colored sports car.”

University of Arizona Museum of Art.

University of Arizona Museum of Art.

Mark Rothko, Green on Blue (Earth-Green and White), Oil on Canvas.

Mark Rothko, Green on Blue (Earth-Green and White), Oil on Canvas.

Jackson Pollock, Number 20, Oil on Masonite game board.

Jackson Pollock, Number 20, Oil on Masonite game board.

Willen de Kooning, Woman-Ochre, Oil on canvas.

Missing Willen de Kooning’s Woman-Ochre, Oil on canvas.

My father and I spent the rest of the visit, looking at maps and deciphering electronic devices plotting the route for the upcoming trip.  The excursion in Tucson would be a short 72 hours.  We had guides but weren’t worried how to move East or the weather conditions driving to Madison, Wisconsin.  We just wanted to see beautiful country.  It didn’t matter how long it would take.

Grandfather Tom Balisle and father Mike Balisle.

Grandfather Tom  and father Mike.

At 6:00 am on December 21st, my father and I loaded up his truck with luggage, snacks, caffeine, and started our journey.  Prior to sunrise, said goodbye to my grandfather and good morning to the road.  The adventure ahead-seemed familiar yet new.  We were searching for an unknown that was comforting.  It took me 903 miles to get to Tucson and it would be another 1772 miles to our final destination.

*This blog will be the first of four chronicling a journey from Tucson to Santa Fe to Kearney to Madison with my father: an adventure of self-discovery, awareness, acknowledgment, and acceptance.

The links:

http://www.tucsonaz.gov

http://www.choctawnation.com

http://www.artmuseum.arizona.edu/exhibitions/current-exhibitions

http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue2/1994/08/19/167086-tucson-s-top-unsolved-crimes/

This is what 2015 will look like...

This is what 2015 will look like…

In Chinese culture, 2014 is the year of the horse.  For me, it’s complicated.  It was the year of almost winning a.k.a. the “near-win.”  When one comes very close to obtaining a goal and not getting it, the glass half empty or full question appears.  My answer is FULL.

Being productive as an artist is no problem for me.  Suffer no creative block.  In fact, will most likely die before completing all the projects in my head.  However, conceiving a biological baby is a different story.  After five long and agonizing years of infertility treatments, it is no longer a possibility.  In 2015, how will my family define “family”?

Protect beauty.

Protect beauty.

For the last three years, my Richmond community has worked long and hard protecting the General Plan advocating for responsible development.  I’ve watched personally how neighbors have built lasting relationships in the goal of protecting positive standards for the city we love.  It’s been quite beautiful actually.  However, a developer won an important City Council vote that will have lasting future consequences.  In 2015, how will my community define “community”?

Line extension study for Guy Place Mini Park in San Francisco.

Line extension study for the Guy Place Mini Park public art opportunity in San Francisco.

Last summer, I was given the opportunity to be finalist for a San Francisco Public Arts Commission project.  Out of the competitive pre-qualified artist pool, only three individuals were selected.  The two other artists were amazing females with extensive years of public art experience.  Spent countless hours researching, creating, organizing, and prepping for the big presentation.  This is what I love and live for in my art practice!  However, I lost by only one point.  It was an honor and the experience was transformative.  My feedback was to keep doing what I was doing, there was nothing else that could have done, and it will happen eventually.  In 2015, how will “opportunity” be defined?

This is home.

Right on target almost.

On the last day of my Composition for Art class at the Academy of Art University, I shared art historian Sarah Lewis’ TED Talks where she discusses the “near-win.”  From the website: “Studies on Olympic athletes reveal the motivating power of the near-win, she says.  While a bronze medalist often feels lucky to have made the podium at all, the silver medalist has a special fire because they didn’t win—but came so close.  Lewis says it’s these silver medalists whose focus stays fixed on the next competition.”

What is a “near-win”?  I learned that family can extend through community and that opportunity is everywhere.  2015 is the year of the sheep.  Baa!  To me, it will be a time of new and open possibilities.  Sarah Lewis: “Success motivates us, but a near-win can compel us in an ongoing quest.”  Yes indeed.  The pursuit is the focus.  The goal will follow.

Links:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/chinese-new-year-2014-what-the-year-of-the-horse-means-for-you-9096775.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/chinese-couples-rush-to-get-pregnant-before-dreaded-year-of-the-sheep/2014/05/08/e9f4adbc-d529-11e3-8a78-8fe50322a72c_story.html

http://www.sfartscommission.org

http://sarahelizabethlewis.com

http://blog.ted.com/2014/03/20/how-to-embrace-the-near-win-sarah-lewis-at-ted2014/

 

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