Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ragdale ~ An Appointment with the Muse.

I have just returned from the most amazing 2 weeks at Ragdale in Lake Forest, an artist’s retreat. Never having participated in an artist residency, I did not know what to expect. This blog is an attempt to share some small part of the experience. (I say this because 3/4 of the artists I befriended at the residency were writers and poets, and I don’t pretend to be one.)

When I drove into the estate, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and awe. It was a beautiful fall day with the trees showing off their full glory. The environment had the feel of a monastery, with signs scattered about saying “Quiet Please, Artists At Work.” There was no person to be found but an envelope in a basket by the front door with my name on it. I quickly learned that my bedroom and studio were located in the converted barn. My studio had been the work place of Howard Van Doren Shaw, the prominent Chicago architect and owner of the Ragdale house. The Shaw properties overlook 60 acres of prairie.

I walked into my studio, a beautiful room with 3 skylights, a desk, table, cabinets and a sink. The walls revealed evidence of other artists being there by the walls pockmarked condition. On the far wall was a single leaf, spotted and folded in on itself. It was truly beautiful. I thought it was curious that the former tenant had left it behind.

After unpacking and before the sunset, I went out into the prairie. It was magnificent. The grasses swayed in the wind as I strolled by so many plants native to the Midwest. A sense of peace and calm pervaded.

It was an amazing 2 weeks. After the initial adjustment, I found myself in a continual state of creative flow. Never before have I had the luxury of 2 uninterrupted weeks to explore my art. What started as a curiosity about my environment became an obsession. I fell into a state of continual excitement as I investigated the world around me. I began my Leaf Studies series, which have been endlessly fascinating. Every time I looked deeper into the essence of a leaf, I am reminded of repetition of form between the macro and micro worlds. What resulted was a body of work that further explores my interest in life cycles and the quality of light.

The creative process needs time and space to develop. It feeds the soul in a way that nothing else can. I am so grateful to Ragdale for the two weeks in which I reconnected with the magical feeling that anything is possible.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I have been following the events in Burma/Myanmar for several weeks now. What is unfolding is so disturbing. If anyone has not seen the movie, BEYOND RANGOON, I highly suggest you will have a clearer idea of what is happening in the country today. It was one of the more beautiful and haunting countries I have visited. I seems that Amnesty International is THE organization that is trying to monitor what is going on with the reign of terror there. Please consider making a contribution or signing their petitions. The two photographs in this post were taken in Burma in 1999.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Ok, so I have been coming up to the same place in Northern Wisconsin for 33 years....always taken the same walk. How is it that today, October 7, 2007, I finally noticed this sign? It makes me wonder just how much of the world we really see. I suspect not much. And what does it mean, anyway, to be ELSEWHERE?
I suppose it means that you are not here and not there. It might mean you are no where to be that how it is?