Michiganders! Please join me for the opening of ALIVE, a solo show, on Sept 17, 2022 4-6:30 pm at Barickuda Gallery, TrustArt Studios off Jackson Road. A panel discussion about our love/hate relationship with our STUFF at the gallery on Oct 8 at 3 pm with Rosie Sharp and Katie Schulman, followed by a Stuff Swap for registered Attendees.
It’s August! I’m on vacation! How are you? No really, how are you?
That’s the kind of question I like to ask myself and those around me this month. Below, I have seven prompts for you, to reflect on your experience in the past year, and looking forward to the next.
August is an enjoyable and slightly disorienting month for me for the past five years, as I am away for the whole month, just as the dhalias start coming up in my backyard. This year I was in Vermont with a wonderful group of artists on residency for a week, and now I’m in Maine for two weeks seeing family and ocean - my saltwater fix for the year!
Being away from studio and home, and sitting down with family and friends I haven't seen for awhile, brings existential perspective on what’s happened and what’s upcoming - as far as I know - when I return home. In Maine I like to check in with myself and when I can with my birthday mate Riley (24 years my junior, my cousins son). By sheer luck, we happened to meet early morning on our birthday on a beautiful dock this year. Riley was going back to his job in NYC that day, and we got in an impromptu birthday check in. We asked one another ‘What the heck happened this year? What did you like about it?’ And ‘How would you like this coming year to go?’ Another way of asking that last question is: ‘Returning here next year, what would you like to be thankful for, amazed by, thrilled about?’ I ask these kinds of questions the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and I ask them in August too.
While I know I do not drive the bus of life, I have found that knowing ‘what’ is in my heart is essential to inviting the universe to collaborate with me in the ‘how’ - I actually never know how any of it will come about, or if it will, but at least I can focus on what would be joyful as far as I can imagine.
This month I wax existential, lie about, float in water, and I spend many long hours comparing rest areas along interstate 90.
Here's some of what's on my list:
I am grateful that this year I got to develop some new projects and to share them in new ways.
I am grateful that so many of you have expressed a desire to make your own End Papers books, or to have me make them for you.
I am grateful to be having a solo exhibition on Sept 17, in a beautiful white space on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, and for all of the work ready to share.
to feel clearer than I’ve been perhaps ever, on how to best value, prioritize and engage in the creative and personal relationships that make life worth living, and art worth making.
What I would love to see happen in the new year - the one that started mid August on my birthday - is
to see the birth of my new book Field Guide to Ambiguity come forth next year
to see the project Stand In take on a larger scale, site specific version of itself
to see the continued creation and sale of new paintings and works on paper
to have a lovely, intimate and successful course for End Papers, in person and online.
a love the calendar print, for those special VIPs that love it, coming out this fall
and to continue the fruitful collaborations, friendships and professional relationships that bubble forth
All while working at a very human, kind pace, with lots of space for staring at trees and wandering down paths in various kinds of weather.
And for the winter to feel cozy but also energizing and interesting.
Now, for your own reflection, if you so choose, before the fall begins in earnest:
here are some similar, modified questions. Feel free to respond in the comments below!
‘What the heck happened for you this year?’
What are you grateful for?
What challenged you?
How did you rise to those challenges?
What would work better in the next twelve months (or any interval of time you’d like to focus on)
What would you love to see continue, to flourish and grow?
‘How would you like this coming year to go?’ Another way of asking that last question is:
‘In a year what would you like to be thankful for, amazed by, thrilled about?’
If you get stuck in 'How the heck could this actually happen?, stop yourself.
‘How’ is none of your business. That’s *’s job, or, the universe’s business, not yours.
The ‘What’ in your heart is what these questions are designed for.
If you like these writing prompts, see what it’s like to have me ask you this kind of question in the space of a coaching call, with a focus on whatever is most in focus for you, right now.
Hope to see you for the opening in September!!
Here's a bulletin style update on the pink tub! I first wrote about the Pink Tub in studio objects, and since then the pink tub has had a change because well, it began to smell really bad. It might have been when I threw some tea in there and so there was more biological matter than just pigment and water. When things started to smell skunky I put it outside, and put some boards and a big rock on it. Now it's just to the left of my side door of the studio, it doesn't smell anymore as far as I can tell. I put the boards there so that creatures wouldn't get in and drink anything, but left openings for evaporation.
The idea of the pink tub is that it keeps the watershed clean by not pouring anything down the drain and it evaporates over time by being outside. I want to point out that I like that it looks really more like a Japanese thing now. Do you see it? Anyway, that's all. The pouring mechanism isn't in my studio directly so it's a little cumbersome, but it keeps the airwaves clean and the actual skunks in our yard guessing.
Here are some things I love about Michigan in the summer. That you can float down a river in a kayak, innertube, paddleboard, even with a twelve pack of beer, right through the middle of town like its the seventies, and no one bothers you. (This is certainly a two sided coin especially as I'm sober since 2011!). The state grows excellent fruit - all manner of berries, stone fruits and apples. There are several fruit trees I hadn't encountered: The unusual sour cherry, the serviceberry, chokeberry, mulberry, and blackberries growing everywhere right about this time.
And the fireflies. The fireflies (also known as glowbugs or lightening bugs) are more of a phenomena here than I remember them being in Massachusetts. Look out over a field or lawn at dusk and you see these tiny, silent, unassuming points of light rising by the hundreds.
Tonight, I walked deliberately to a park near our house with a big field just as night was falling because I could see that fireflies were starting to rise out of the grass on our own lawn. I wanted to really experience this in the otherwise darkening space of evening.
Here's the thing about that: In order to see fireflies, you can't actually focus. You have to look with a wide open view. It's a kind of peripheral seeing.
What amazes me about fireflies is that they don't just happen for a couple of days, or in rare locations. They are this magic thing, and yet they happen all summer long as far as I know, and they are simply embedded in lawns and grasses. When they do happen, it's like they're normal. It's like: Oh, it's nighttime and the fireflies are out.
If you think about it, fireflies are magic. You can't see them if you look for them. They are under your feet when you walk. They are silent and individually a small beetle-like bug. You have to rest your eyes to receive their light show. When received, it's hard to deny that certain magic is ordinary. Shooting stars require this peripheral vision too.
Lately I've been thinking about how I work, about how I go about a day. More and more it makes sense to approach my entire life that same way, with a kind of peripheral openness and a receiving of experience, rather than thinking that I'm actually doing the things that are happening. When there's a difficult conversation, when there's a good piece of news, when something like a project or a task completes, there's a tendency to think "I did it" I focused, I made it happen, I did it. To an extent that's true, but on the other hand, there's a way that we simply receive a flow of experience that doesn't cease.
Over the fourth, we see the explosions in the sky, amazing and awe inspiring. Fireworks have their magic, but in a kind of focal stage area in the sky, and unlike the complete brilliant silence of firefly and the shooting star, they are a loud, hard to ignore and being explosives, both a simulation of and a by product of human war. It's really nice to have this softer, natural phenomenal happening all throughout, asking nothing of me.
Where is there magic right under your feet? Is it in what you are tasting, what amazing things your hands can do like grab six awkward things to take upstairs? A bird in flight, singing. A cat purring on your chest. A flower opening along a fence. A child saying your name. Please let's expand the list! Comment below and add your own...
And where would you like to rest and receive versus go out and get?
Here are some related pages from my last book, the 2021 Edition of Contemporary Prayers to Whatever Works:
THIS IS HOME
May 27 - June 26
Gallery B in Castine, ME
A four woman exhibition opening Feb 3 2023 at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Curated by Thea Eck.
Janice Charach Gallery
West Bloomfield MI
Jan 15-Mar 1 2023
Works of pure abstraction by 18 artists including five new puffies!
Make your own hand sewn book from the papers left by a loved one.
If you feel overwhelmed, confused or just plain excited by what's afoot in your life, and would like some excellent clarifying space and tools, try a session with Hannah! She's been a coach for 15 years. First 30 minutes is just to see what it's like...
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.