rushing toward stimuli

Preparing chicken soup today I was chopping onions with the inevitable result of teary eyes. I mentioned this to my grandsons and they both rushed over, one with the scientific explanation of why that was happening and the other eager to chop onions so that he could cry too. We all ended up with wet cheeks and sniffling noses.

cloud_tree_PaulaKovarik.jpg

Rushing toward stimuli.

It's a trait that is tempered with age. Caution sets in. Doubt and preconceived ideas define our comfort map. We stop, look and listen. We teach our kids about the incautious moments of our lives so that they won't have to sustain the shock, hurt or disappointments that we did. We put up fences, set up passwords and require more IDs. We box in the acceptable and fence out the challenging.

I'm glad that kids often dismiss what adults say, preferring to experience the thrill of discovery themselves. I once read that to stay young you must remain curious. You must let the onions make you cry.

I will learn from these boys. Oh yes, I will. Pass me some tissue.

I sneezed

Redwood , Johann Feilacher at Laumier Sculpture park in St. Louis is 34 feet tall and standing in a wooded area waiting to be discovered by trail walkers.

Redwood, Johann Feilacher at Laumier Sculpture park in St. Louis is 34 feet tall and standing in a wooded area waiting to be discovered by trail walkers.

In the presence of the master. The Man of Confusion, Paul Klee at the St. Louis Art Museum.

Tony Tasset,  Eye  (detail). Tasset's eye stood as a sculpture at the Laumier Sculpture park in St. Louis. This detail reminds me of those scans the eye doctor does for my pre-glaucoma condition. Such a nest of data at the central point. A good map for stitching.

Tony Tasset, Eye (detail). Tasset's eye stood as a sculpture at the Laumier Sculpture park in St. Louis. This detail reminds me of those scans the eye doctor does for my pre-glaucoma condition. Such a nest of data at the central point. A good map for stitching.

For now, I will nurse this back, drink plenty of fluids and dream the day away.

I just don't feel like myself.

A sneeze, That's all it took to turn things upside down. My lower back went to a lower dimension forcing me to the ground and making my thigh muscles the engine for reversal. Prone is best, no sitting, no stretching, no moving toward new delights. Ibuprofen is my friend. Hot water bottle strapped to my back like a turtle shell.

We were on the road enjoying museums in Kansas City, and St. Louis. Luckily the sneeze was after the meetings with Miro, Picasso, Klee, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Bronzino, Paine, Moore, et al. Fuel for the next time zone. Sustenance and wonder for my next explorations.

Women at Sunrise , Miro, need I say more?

Women at Sunrise, Miro, need I say more?

We also visited the World War I museum in Kansas City where we saw this disturbing display of hand grenades hanging like Christmas ornaments in a case.

We also visited the World War I museum in Kansas City where we saw this disturbing display of hand grenades hanging like Christmas ornaments in a case.

Unmapped, Paula Kovarik

Bonus! a book list!

What a list. Thank you, readers, for this great selection of books to read. These should keep me busy for quite a while. And, if you think of any others, or wish to comment on any on this list, or share the list in any way, please do.

Suggested Reading

Same Kind of Different as Me, Ron Hall
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
The Wanderers, Meg Howrey
H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald
The Unknown Matisse and Matisse the Master by Hilary Spurling
The Curve of Time, Wylie Blanchet
Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala
Some Luck, Jane Smiley
Hild: A Novel, Nicola Griffith
A Constellation of Vial Phenomena, Anthony Marra
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
Commonwealth and State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
The Devil’s Teeth, Susan Casey
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
Bad Feminist: Essays, Roxane Gay
The Shepherd’s Life, James Rebanks
So Long a Letter, Mariama Ba
Just Kids, Patti Smith
The Homegoing, Yaa Ygasi
The Nix, Nathan Hill
The Portable Veblen: A Novel, Elizabeth Mckenzie
Stormy Weather, Paulette Jiles
The Clay Girl, Heather Tucker
In the Darkness, Susan Faludi
The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy
The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
Arcadia, Lauren Goff
The Enchanted, Rene Tenfold
They Take our Jobs and 20 Other Myths About Immigration, Aviva Chomsky
Hope in the Dark, Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, Rebecca Solnit
The Orchardist, Amanda Collin
The Keeper of Lost Things, Rugh Hogan

A treasury of images

I have this lovely book on my desk. I spent two hours paging through it yesterday. I've done this several times since it came in the mail. Each time I find yet another page I want to tag and remember. Each time I end with a feeling of awe and inspiration. These artists are GREAT. And this book shows them off with gusto. There are 126 artists in the book — colorists, story-tellers, modernists, painters, quilters, dye-masters, fearless truth-tellers and emotionally vocal ARTISTS. That's Artists a big A.

This worthy book of art quilts written and curated by Martha Sielman is a must have. That cover image is from Pat Pauly, a master of dyed and printed fabric.

The curator and author of the book, Martha Sielman, is a tireless advocate for this art form. She is the executive director of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), an international organization of artists working in this medium. Her efforts spotlight 29 artists in more detail while also compiling a set of galleries that expand her narrative.  I am profiled in the book and know that it was a significant honor to be included.

There are 300 full-color, full-throttle, full-frontal images that will take your breath away.

I spend most of my time talking to myself while I work. It's a conversation that can be non-linear and confusing on some days and on point and frenzied on others. The work follows my thoughts up alleys and down valleys. Sometimes I come up with something that might make sense to others. Emerging from my cocoon of conversation I am energized by other artists. Especially artists who work in cloth and thread.

Martha has given us a way to see other artist journeys through this work. It's the next best thing to a round table discussion. I recommend it to all seekers. If you purchase the book through the SAQA website you will receive 5 notecards featuring works by SAQA juried members and 45% of the proceeds will support the organization.

What could be better? Order your copy now.  Click here.

I'd love to bring my favorite artists together for a discussion on why we do this work.

I'd love to bring my favorite artists together for a discussion on why we do this work.

thugs

Today marks the beginning of the arduous task of bringing people together regardless of beliefs, regardless of prejudices. The task now is to speak truth to power, recognize that government can be a force for good and also a tool for disaster. We live in a country of laws, checks and balances, and citizens who care.  I recognize that my truth may not be your truth. I will listen. And I will not be silent.

Here are my feelings: malaise, worry, trepidation, confusion. Is this what it feels like when black turns to white, lies become truth, thugs become leaders? It is a dark day. A day when all I can hope for is that bureaucracy forestalls disaster. Dark days beget dark thoughts. Looming edifices of oligarchs and predators march in to offices that purport to protect the meek, the under-served, and the threatened. I'm going to get this darkness out of my system soon but for now I wallow in it. I sink in disbelief. I am sad.

Thugs , work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik

Thugs, work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik

Alternative hairstyles for the center figure: blockhead, firebrand, flipper.

Next in the series?

Liar, liar, a work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik