Check out the new paintings by Glenn Quist!

Poet's Hill, 24 x 30 $525

Poet’s Hill, 24 x 30 $525

I have been MIA lately, mainly because I started a new job about a month ago.  While it’s not the same as owning a gallery, I am actually getting a regular paycheck, weekends off, and my commute is only 7 minutes.  Life is good!  I will continue to promote artists as much as I am able.  And don’t forget: Art in the Barn is September 19.  (John and I just filled up dumpster #2–hopefully the barn will be ready by then.  Eek!)

At long last, I am posting some NEW paintings by Glenn Quist.  (See dropdown menu on the Artists page.)  These are so worth the wait!  Please email info@kristaartistagallery.com for more information.  Enjoy!

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How (Not to) Waste Time

enlightenment

Glenn Quist, “Enlightenment” (sold)

Lately I’ve had too much time on my hands and have become somewhat addicted to Netflix.  My husband has been working out of town and I’ve been in a weird limbo professionally.  I think I have a new job, but I haven’t actually started yet.  So, on these chilly, gloomy days I binge-watch and justify it to myself in various ways:

  1. Well, at least I’m knitting while I do it.
  2. Well, I’m watching quality, well-written dramas.
  3. Well, it’s really not all that different from reading a novel.

But that’s the thing–it is different.  This morning I got up and said to myself, “Morning news with your coffee.  That’s it.  And if you’re still not ready to move your butt out of John’s recliner, you can read.”

So I started Ann Packer’s The Children’s Crusade, which I had pre-ordered and was magically delivered to my Kindle overnight.  After I was about 10 pages in, I was reminded of just how different reading is from watching.  My brain was taking words and actively creating a world, the “world” of the novel as I uniquely imagine it.  If you stop to think about it, it’s pretty amazing.  With TV, even with something as highbrow as Masterpiece on PBS, that has been done for us and all we have to do is passively sponge it up.  That passivity is self-perpetuating: the more we watch, the less motivated we feel.  Case in point: after reading less than a chapter, a switch was turned on and I was compelled to write.  So no more boob-tube for this girl until the end of the day when’s it’s time to wind down and not amp up!

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Spring Cleaning, Part II

If you’re like me, you get an urge to brighten and lighten your space at this time of year.  Spring cleaning is one way; but let’s face it, we’re talking drudgery.  So when you’re done washing windows, sweeping out the garage, hosing off the lawn furniture, etc., maybe it’s time to reward yourself with something beautiful.

You will notice that I’m now featuring some items available for purchase: specifically, paintings by Mary Opatz-Herges and Roberta Kortuem (so far).  I hope to have some new work by Glenn Quist up later this week.  If you see something that interests you, just send me an email and we’ll go from there. Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

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Spring Cleaning

Beautiful+Gallery+lrWhenever the seasons change, I like to “reset” my life a bit.  Let’s call is spring cleaning for the soul.  It typically starts with the urge to organize closets, buy a few new clothes, get my hair cut, browse a garden center, and so on.  This year, after two months off, I’m also eager to brush the dust off my work life.  As much as I like the idea of staying home and being a “German farm wife,” the reality is I am easily bored.

I struggle with this blog business, too.  As much as I enjoy writing, it seems to me that there is such a fine line between sharing and being a narcissist.  I haven’t posted much on Facebook lately for the same reason.  For example, a while back I wrote a piece on divorce and forgiveness.  As I started to type it up (I still like to write freehand first), I thought, wait a minute.  This blog is supposed to be about beauty, about the many ways it’s manifested in an imperfect world. This is personal; it’s not relevant.  Now it occurs to me that there is beauty in forgiveness. It’s a different kind of beauty, but like art, it informs the soul.    Maybe beatitude is a better word: blessedness, benediction, grace.  When it gets right down to it, I don’t have to share the details of my first marriage.  It’s enough to say that when my ex-husband was in hospice, we had the opportunity to bury the hatchet before he died.  There was beauty in that, and I carry it with me still.  If I hadn’t gone to visit him, I think I’d still be carrying around all that old junk.  Instead, it’s gone.  Wiped clean.

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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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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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