In the Meantime …

It has been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been in a funk; I knew this would happen eventually. Though I still believe closing the gallery was the right decision, I miss my customers/friends, and I miss spending my days playing with art.  (Okay, I miss having an income, too–small though it was.)

I’ve been trying to embrace the space between, but it doesn’t come easily to me. Every attempt at creativity (i.e. knitting, felting, writing) has been a struggle.  When all else fails, I read, only to reminded why I am not a novelist as much as I have always wanted to be one.  I can set a scene, create a mood, develop a character … but I can’t tell a story.

Right now I’m reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  This novel has surprised and delighted me on so many levels.  It is the story of an old(ish) man who decides to walk the length of England to visit a former colleague, who is in hospice.  He believes that as long as he keeps walking, she won’t die.  When I first heard about this book, I thought,” How do people come up with stuff like this?  My brain just doesn’t work that way!” Come to think of it, I often have that reaction to things I read.  Anyhow, as is the case in really good fiction, Harold’s physical journey is secondary to his spiritual one: the plot is simply the vehicle for self-realization and social criticism. 86.Rachel Joyce-The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

I say “simply,” but it’s not simple at all.  Plot is what keeps us reading.  Without it you’re driving with a flat tire. Spinning your wheels, going nowhere. Writing poems comes naturally to me; writing fiction does not.  I can’t make myself a novelist any more than I can make myself a painter or pianist.

I used to say I opened the gallery because I am an artist “wannabe” and it was the next best thing.  It was probably the same impulse that motivated me to open a bookstore before that, and get a doctorate in English literature before that.  I’m a novelist wannabe.  At some point (um, age 54?) we have to acknowledge that some things are just not in the cards or part of the pilgrimage.  We have to accept our limitations and let go.  I think that is what this past month has been about, for me. Time to quit forcing the plot and just turn the page.

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On Buying Original Art

Glenn Quist, "Morandi's House"

Glenn Quist, “Morandi’s House”

My first Glenn Quist painting, “Morandi’s House,” was give to me by Glenn himself after we’d been working together about a year.  I had no idea who Morandi was and thought he must be one of Glenn’s friends or neighbors (seriously).  It didn’t really matter because I loved the piece.  At some point Glenn must have mentioned that Morandi was an Italian painter.  Normally I would have gone rushing off to my good buddy Wikipedia to learn more, but I must not have in this case because it wasn’t until recently that this painting took on a whole new level of meaning for me.

I was perusing the clearance table at Anthropologie after Christmas and was delighted to find a stack of “coffee table” books at 75% off.  One of these was The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robinson (London: Ryland, Peters & Small, 2014).  It’s a pretty book on the art of display, comprised mainly of photos that don’t resemble the homes of anyone I know.  However, in the first section she mentions Giorgio Morandi, who apparently was known for obsessively and repeatedly arranging a collection of vessels until he came up with a still life that he thought worthy of painting.  Whoa.  Further on, I read that he was known as a “master of the tertiary color palette,”  to which Quist also pays homage.  Suddenly I was looking at my painting with different eyes and an enriched sense of appreciation and interpretation.

This is the wondrous thing about owning original art.  Even if you don’t have “aha! moments,” an original work will continue to surprise and delight you.  It’s much like rereading a good book: you notice subtleties and complexities the second or third time around that previously eluded you. And no, I don’t believe reproductions have the same magic.  With an original there is only one degree of separation between you and the artist, revealed in the piece itself.  The artist’s sensibilities have traveled right through his hands into the work in front of you.  It’s a direct–and endless–communication.  A print of the same image, while perhaps just as aesthetically pleasing, is further removed from the artist’s soul and completely removed from the physical act of creation.  To put it simply: it just feels different.

Have you ever been in a beautiful home that for some reason left you cold?  My guess is that there was little or no original art in that house, even if there were lots of lovely things and the owners had impeccable taste.  Right now you might be thinking, “That’s all well and good for the rich and famous, but who can afford originals? Not me!” Or you might be thinking, “I don’t know anything about art.  I wouldn’t know where to begin.”  This is the best part: you don’t have to know anything except what you like!  And expensive? Not necessarily.  One of my favorite pieces is a pastel drawing of flowers and bees by Joe Tjaden.  My son.  When he was about 6 years old.  He’s 24 now and that piece is still hanging in my house.  And if there are no little kids in your life that you can commission work from, go to art fairs and student shows.  Not long ago I went to a student show/sale at a local community college and was astonished by the wealth of talent I found there.  For a pittance.  Remember, everyone starts somewhere.

Support artists and enrich your life.  It’s a no-brainer.

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Filed under Art, Krista Artista

The Grace of Age

One dark winter’s night, not long ago, I was driving home listening to classical music on MPR.  It’s about all I can stand anymore, radio in the Twin Cities having been reduced to a deplorable collection of pop, talk, oldies, and tuneless alternative music that I don’t understand.  It was sometime after 6:00 and The Writer’s Almanac came on.  I was lulled by the sounds of the road and by Garrison’s soothing, hypnotic voice when I realized he was talking about someone I once knew: another English major from Gustavus, class of ’83.  Thirty–or even twenty–years ago, hearing a poem by one of my classmates on a national radio segment would have made me feel jealous and vaguely depressed.  Instead, I felt nothing but happiness for her. (I later searched her out online and shared this story.) The poem was from her recently published collection, Cloves and Honey: Love Poems*, and is dedicated to her husband (“mi alma, mi vida”) who was also a classmate.athena

One of my favorite quotes is by Isabel Allende (found on a greeting card, though I’ve also read her novels): “After 50, most of the bullshit is gone.” If there are any young folks out there reading this, know that the day will come when you are released from the burdens of competition and achievement, when you stop endlessly comparing yourself to others and coming up short.

Back in my bookstore-owner days, I remember standing at the counter and having a conversation with a woman in her early 50’s.  She told me how much she loved this stage of life, that she finally felt comfortable in her own skin.  I was in my late 30’s at the time and thought to be be over 50 was to have one foot in the grave.  But obviously her words made an impression.  Now that I’m there, I know just what she meant.

I also believe that the older we get, the more we realize “that heaven is all around us, not just a blue line at the top of the page” (remember how you drew the sky when you were a little kid?).  We find grace and beauty more readily because we slow down and pay attention.

Here is a poem for today, from Krista’s almanac:

Divinity

It could be something simple:

your hand resting on my hip

while you sleep.

I wake, thinking

there is as much of God in this

as in other things I love:

cathedrals of birch,

the incense of woodsmoke,

a kyrie of wind off the lake.

All our lives we try

to reach for the sky.

The grace of age is seeing,

finally, that heaven is all around us–

not just a blue line

at the top of the page.


*I would love to share a poem from Athena’s book, but I suspect I need permission to reprint.

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Filed under Books, Poetry

When one door closes …

DSCF2820Today I turned in my keys to the space formerly known as Krista Artista Gallery.  I am still waiting for another door to open, but I admit I haven’t been knocking very hard.  In the month since my last day as a shopkeeper I’ve taken a wee vacation, read lots of books, binge-watched some good TV, tied up loose ends, and worked on this #@%& website.  I’ve also tried out a new career: German farm wife. For now, that just means I’m doing more of the cooking around here, although I do admit to doing some research on goats and chickens.  (This last part is to see if my husband actually reads this, tee-hee!)  I have also resurrected a novel that I started writing some years ago.  One of the drawbacks of being a compulsive reader–okay, a book snob–is that I’m my own worst critic.  For now, I’m treating my novel as a writing exercise rather than a potential publication.  My instincts say this isn’t “productive,” but I am trying to embrace the process and the mess.  (If you know me well, you’re laughing your head off right now.)

I really don’t want this blog to be about me, though.  I’m hoping it will be a “gallery” of musings on art and books and nature and other things that make life worthwhile.  The part of owning a shop that I already know I will miss most is the sense of community, so I hope you’ll follow and comment and share!

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Books

Guidebook_lr (1)Yesterday I met a friend at Barnes & Noble for coffee.  I had been looking forward to it, in part because bookstores have always made me giddy.  Apparently I had temporarily lost sight of the fact that bookstores (i.e. those that remain) aren’t what they used to be.  I have such fond memories of taking my kids to B & N, twenty-plus years ago, and spending an hour or more perusing books while sitting in those overstuffed chairs until we narrowed it down to a book apiece.

Today’s Barnes & Noble is part toy store, part coffeehouse, part gift shop.  There are still books, of course, but if you’re looking for anythings on writing or art or poetry you’ll need to find some obscure corner of the store and check the bottom shelves.  Ten years ago the gardening section was massive; now cookbooks have apparently taken over.  I was also surprised to see an entire wall devoted to “Christian Life,” which made me wonder who own Barnes & Noble (though not enough to find out).  Anyhow, I had a gift certificate left from Christmas and was hard-pressed to find anything I really wanted to buy.  Nowadays when I want a book I usually download one to my Kindle or order via Amazon Prime (free shipping! So easy!), having long ago gotten over the fact that Amazon, more than anything else, is responsible for the demise of independent bookstores (including the one I owned back in the late 1990’s).  I ended up with 3 gardening magazines and Annie Lennox’s new cd (they still make those?)–which is amazing, by the way.

Driving home, I thought about all of the happy hours I’ve spent in libraries and bookstores over the last forty-some years.  Admittedly impatient, I love the immediacy of the Internet, but an ebook is just not the same, nor is the process of discovery.  I like the heft of a book, the promise of its cover art and jacket, the feel of paper under my fingers.  I used to love the hunt, too, before the days of “recommended for you” notifications based on browsing history and past purchases.

I’ve always said that books (and dogs*) keep me sane.  I once estimated that I’ve read somewhere around four thousand books over the course of my life.  Yes, it takes a lot to keep me sane! How other people get by, I have no clue.

*Another story for another day …

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Welcome to the new home of Krista Artista (Gallery)!

If you were looking for the shop in downtown Anoka, I’m sorry to say that we closed our doors in January.  This new site is a “gallery” of musings on art, literature, nature, and wherever else we find beauty in this crazy world.  At this point I really have no idea what shape this blog will take.  I don’t really envision an online store, but I do see a place where I’ll share info about artists, including those artists that I represented in my bricks-and-mortar shop for over ten years.  It’s a new journey (and I don’t have any idea where it will lead), but I hope you’ll follow along!

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