Yesterday two young girls came into Albright Art. It was the end of a quiet day at the gallery and I was feeling a bit lonely. The sound of excited chatter, giggles and feet clumping down the stairs signaled their arrival. It was like sunshine suddenly filled the room! They had seen the window display of art supplies and came clamoring down clutching each other. The sight of those wondrous 8th grade girls filled my heart. The first thing they said as they looked at all the art supplies was " Oh, we have to find our art teacher, she would love this store." One girl reminded me of a humming bird in a field of bright red flowers. She exclaimed to her friend "Oh look at this, maybe I should get this for my mother, my mother loves pens, she's an artist." Excited exclamations came out of her almost faster than she could form the words. After a few minutes she decided to buy her mum a parallel pen and the other girl bought a small sketch pad that she would do a sketch of Concord in before she gave it to her mother.
When I inquired they proudly told me they were from " a very small girls school in Williamsburg, Virginia and the school's philosophy is modeled on the Transcendentalist movement." They had just been to the Alcott House and we talked about May Alcott, the wonderful artist in the family whose brilliant work was sadly overshadowed by the attention that her sister and father got. Every year the school does a spring field trip with their 8th grade girls to the Boston/Concord area to learn first hand about the Transcendentalists that lived here.
Seeing those girls made me miss my freshman Fundamental of Art class; there was a gaggle of them that would come spilling into my art room each morning full of giggles and promise asking " What are we doing today Mrs. Litwin? " There is nothing better than being around people who are so full of wonder and life. Thank you to those two bright spirits who lifted mine yesterday. I will keep you in my heart.
Yesterday we went to see the movie "Greenberg" with Ben Stiller. It was directed by the same fellow who did " The Squid and the Whale ". The film was a bit slow at first but it built gradually into a film that stood out in a dark, honest and quirky way. There were moments that were brilliant in their nakedness and it was was a bold and real look at male friendships. In the end there was a riveting scene where he " breaks up " with his best friend Ivan and tells him things that "other people say about him", things Ivan doesn't want to know about. That was the most meaningful moment in the film for me. It was about perceptions, past choices and disappointments; it was raw and quite painful. The writing and dialogue in the film was brilliant. It was not a happy film, rather it was dark, very, with a glimmer of hope at the end as she listens to her phone message, a " letter " as he puts it. I will say no more.....
I have always loved the idea of " getting out of dodge " for a midwinter reprieve. New England has a way of testing one's metal and the endless rains of March sorely tested mine. I have always cast my vote for a February or April vacation in a warm, tropical place. Most of the time I am in the minority in a 3 to 1 family vote in favor of a cold and hopefully snowy place to ski. Don't get me wrong, I am an enthusiastic winter girl and a pretty decent skier but around March I am ready to move on to sand between my toes and the kiss of sunshine on my face.
Thanks to Paul's brother and his wife we were treated to the most blissful 5 days in Naples, Florida. There is nothing better than family time in a perfectly beautiful place. Everyone works hard, whether it's the kids at school or the grownups at life and work. Being able to put all that aside and just be in the lap of luxury and love is, as Stevie said, " the greatest gift ".
It is 5 am, the birds woke me with their gentle, rhythmic chirping; or was it my excited mind? Yesterday I had a meeting with Szifra Burke, a marketing consultant I met while working at Albright Art+ Craft Gallery in Concord. Szifra is helping me with Robin's Nest Studio, the fine art card and print business I am starting. My passion for making cards began many years ago when my dear friend and colleague Annie Carroll was diagnosed with lymphoma. A few years ago my student teacher Ruth Rieffanaugh was diagnosed with breast cancer just as she was taking over the teaching of my mixed media classes. All the students were so devastated by the news I decided our next unit would be designing and creating greeting cards. ( see photos under "the power to heal " post, you may need to go to bottom of blog page and hit "older posts" )
Ruth was bombarded with cards. Many students had never sent anything through the post much less made a card. A few were at a complete loss at things I assumed they knew; questions came at me like, "Mrs. Litwin, where does the stamp go?" or " Where do I put the address? " It was wild, it was wooly but most of all it helped everyone. Ruth's spirit lifted with each handmade card and we all felt like what we were doing made a difference.
Once again , the power of art was like a neon sign on a dark night with a spotlight on it. Just over a month ago I posted my driftwood painting of a sailboat on Namequoit Point as part of a blog entry on rejection. The Concord Art Association had not selected it and I wrote about artists putting themselves out there. Little did I know my best friend would call right after I sent her a card of that image and said she wanted to order fifty. I said " fifty, as in five 0? " She said "yes". Since then I have sold another 225! So now I think the universe is trying to tell me something and I am listening.
I plan to market these so a percentage of the proceeds go to charitable foundations such as Cancer research and The Anne Carroll Scholarship Fund. Any brilliant suggestions relating to my venture ie vendors, volunteers or retailers are welcome. Thanks in advance.
In my post " Rain, rain and more rain " my friend Nancy commented " John and I keep wondering who is building the ark? " Well Nance, I found one but thankfully the sun is shining, it's 70+ degrees here and I don't think we'll need it. Yippee!!!
I think about time everyday and measure it in weird ways. The frozen ice photo was taken 3 weeks ago. I remember because it was the first Saturday of Alex's spring vacation. The crocus was 2 weeks ago when I was in Chatham dealing with the roof damage to our beloved house. Our dogs are ten years old: we got them shortly after my mother died. 1978 is the year my father died. How is it possible he died thirty two years ago? How is it possible that Mum was my age when her husband died?
I thought about mortality a lot more when my husband Paul was diagnosed last May with a chronic auto immune disease called ITP. Suddenly this total curve ball came crashing through our living room window at 9pm on a Thursday night in May. The boys were home and we were all happily chatting in the living room. The phone rang and 10 minutes later we were in the car on the way to the Beth Israel Hospital emergency room. Life is like that. It can change in a nanosecond. Paul is much better now and we are grateful that he is in a 6 month remission thanks to his brilliant doctor at M.G.H. and all the amazing people working in medical science to cure these diseases.
I am not one to take anything for granted. Not my health, not my family and friends and not tomorrow. This put me in an even more grateful, mindful and present place. I try to live like my favorite quote " Today is a gift, that is why we call it the present."