BETHLEHEM, NH – Last Friday morning I drove 3 hours to a small rural community in Franconia National Park. Lately, New Hampshire has been in the news for the elections and the candidates who are running. The town of Franconia was also a prime spot on the campaign trail for many candidates who are running. For me, Bethlehem has as special significance as not only did I go to college in Bethlehem, PA, the famous Christmas and Steel City but I was invited to do a solo show in Bethlehem, NH. My first ever professional solo exhibition! I mean I exhibited my work in a local gift shop out near Northampton a couple of years ago, but that wasn’t nearly as professional. Coming from suburbia and city life experiencing a rural town was quite different. This trip taught me much about establishing community and bringing together what is left of a booming metropolitan. In the 1800s Bethlehem, NH was a booming metropolitan town boasting 20,000 as it was a top getaway destination for New Yokers. The town was situated right on the railroad which made an easy getaway. However after a fire that had destroyed much of the town’s hotels and establishments the town was left with 2500 people. The current residents have come together to establish a community of what was left of the town from the 1800s.
Back in June 2015, I was invited to do a solo show at 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center one of three of the remaining art centers in the town. There is a historical theater there as well the brings in performances. Being used to city life, I embraced myself for a quiet evening in the town, but the opening happened to be on labor day weekend and the residents said the town ballooned. The attendees where a nice mix of old and young and overall a great experience. One of the neat things I learned about was WREN: Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network. A community of women who have come together to help bring a sense of community to the town. The organization started in Bethlehem, NH but has branched out to help other rural communities come together. If you haven’t been to New Hampshire or anywhere where it is rural, the residents are often very spread out and it is hard to sometimes form a community. I give a shoutout to my airbnb – Rob Macintosh in Benton, NH. I will write a separate post on my experience there!
Worcester, MA – Saturday I attended the Gluten and Allergen Free expo. I was invited as a blogger to participate and network and cover the event. I’m not sure if this is coming from a non-gluten-free patient, but I found the event to be slightly disappointing. I am trying to translate some food items in my life because of my hypothyroid disease and found the information that I did get to be informative, but most of the booths are food-based which is great and all and was fun to taste the different gluten-free products out there. I was surprised by the quality of some of them and how some of them did taste like the ‘real thing’ (if you will). But there weren’t many informative booths. People I could actually come up and talk to without being swarmed by crowds of people wanting to taste the food. The people that were there where swamped with handing out samples, which made things to be very unapproachable. A few booths did have a spokesperson there but otherwise it was hard to network. Also definitely one of the smaller conventions I’ve been to. The Boston Travel Trade show was huge, but that was also more centered around sales and marketing so the people whom I wanted to talk to where right there. Here it was a bit different.
Regardless, I am glad I went as it did give me an eye-opener and how to approach switching gluten-based products to gluten-free ones. Below are a handful of pictures from the event.
Shelburne Falls, MA – Friday night I went to Shelburne Falls where they have a gem called The Bridge of Flowers. It is about 45 minutes from Northampton and while a small bridge, definitely worth a visit. From their website, “The Bridge of Flowers Committee was initiated by the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club in 1929. It is a 501 c 3 nonprofit and its gardeners and volunteer members work hard to keep the Bridge’s many flowers, plants, trees, shrubs and vines growing beautifully throughout the season“. The bridge is open from April to October with full bloom all season. It’s worth a visit for the nature inspired and those into Nature Photography. I went with another photographer and we enjoyed a nice walk down the bridge taking photos of the flowers there.
Team K has taken on Bar Harbor! My intern went to Bar Harbor last week on a family vacation and I am here this week for one of my artist receptions; Pine Needles and Rose are being exhibited at the MDI Biological Laboratory through September. So far it’s been a dream and very reminiscent of my trip to Big Sur in 2013. The coast is just as dramatic. I left Boston at 7 am and arrived on Bar Harbor Rd at 11:45. I made a few stops along the way for food and bathroom breaks but otherwise the drive was very painless. It seemed shorter than I expected.
Due to the anticipated cloudy weather tomorrow, I decided to do most of the scenic sightseeing today through drives.
Unfortunately for me it was $25 a vehicle to get into the parks of the popular places; sand beach, etc. but I was content driving along the coast. There are a few free entrances to the Wild Gardens, etc. that I will be making a visit to tomorrow before my reception. I ate at Bar Harbor Beerworks and had their mussels which were amazing! I then did a little shopping and pick up blueberry incense and jam and a couple of postcards.
A couple of weekends ago, my family and I went to the Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich, MA. Unfortunately we were a bit early to see everything in bloom, but the fragrance was so strong it was still pleasant to walk around and enjoy. I had seen the CCLF on instagram and been following them for awhile, so it was nice to finally check them out and see local Cape Cod farmers! Below are some pics from that excursion.
Tuesday of this past week, a colleague and fellow entrepreneur invited me to be her assistant for a cover shoot for a luxury magazine that she is building. The team she built was coming from New York to Stonington, CT. She had booked a mansion that was on the market (which was actually right across from Taylor Swift’s!), an up and coming pop star – Kristine Elezaj for a cover girl (who made iHeartRadio’s Top 20 Rising Star competition), fashion designers; Carmen Marcvalvo, Bibhu Mohapatra and Slyvio Kovacic. It was a great day for a shoot.
I woke up very early on Thursday for the cover shoot and drove to my colleague’s house. Then we drove to Stonington, CT for the day.
We had gorgeous weather for the shoot and it was fun to meet and network with like-minded individuals and creatives. Sometimes if you are not living in New York or LA it’s hard to network with the right crowd. I don’t have any connections in the creative industry in New York so it was great for me to network with these people but also to have this experience. I hope something will come out of it!
As an assistant of my colleague, I got to help out with the little things; a main job was to hold the reflectors for the different looks and shoots, but also to take behind the scenes pics and other miscellaneous things. I’d love to do more things like this. It’s a nice balance of contributing and being a part of a major production. Maybe something I can add to my repertoire of my visual marketing brand.
The biggest surprise and fun of it all was literally the day after the shoot, I woke up to find my instagram feed from the people I’ve followed from the shoot flooded with press buzzing about it! The photos were featured on Enquirer, OK, Star and Radar magazines.
Wednesday afternoon, I drove down to my family’s summer home in Eastham to attend an artist talk in Wellfleet later that evening. The artist – Janet Echelman, who I have admired since junior year of college when I wrote a paper about her work comparing it to a 1960s artist. Ever since then, her work has amazed me. When I came down to the reception for Truro – in July, I picked up a Provincetown Art Gallery guide and saw in the back a list of events and saw that Janet Echelman was speaking in Wellfleet. I am very glad I got to attend her talk as she spoke more about her process and journey as an artist. It was refreshing to hear her background as she thought she’d never break into the art world as a traditional artist and it got me thinking about my work and journey. It also impressed me how each design of hers, while the final outcome is the same style and technique and design she has fabricated, the original concept and research is different each time and tailored to each commission/city.
Last Week I went to Bethlehem, NH to pick up 3 pieces of artwork from The Bees Knees show. I wish I was in the country so I could’ve attended the reception because it sounded pretty cool. They had a honey tasting and the President of the Bee association came to the reception. The center tried to sell a piece to a well known photographer in the area because he was impressed with the work but it didn’t go through. Anyway, I chatted with one of the members there and took pics of the gallery because they invited me to do a solo show next September! I’m excited for it and will probably make a weekend out of it. This ride was the prettiest ride ever to pick up artwork… a drive through the green mountains in June with the flowers blooming and fields of color… September should provide lots of foliage and inspiration for the show.
I went into Florence last Saturday to do some research and shopping. My host told me about the Orto Botanical which is a botanical garden. This place was interesting in that they labeled everything in the gardens so I was able to put a name to face on some of the plants I have been working with here.
For shopping, I wanted to bring some things back that I hadn’t brought back when I was younger… and couldn’t afford… I did some research about gold before hand as my parents gave me some spending money for the trip and wanted to take a look and see if there was something I could afford. I read of a place called Oro Due “Firenze” that had decent prices and selections and it was near the bridge. But it ended up being too far for me since I stopped at a couple of places along the way, had lunch in San Macro Piazza and I ended up stopping by some stores along the way.
It started to pour while I was heading towards the other botanical garden my host recommended and decided to just hit the stores. I darted in and around the merchants trying to sell you umbrellas or ponchos (didn’t need one more thing to carry thank you very much and welcomed the cool rain) and darted into a store unknowingly that it was one I wanted to go to – Sigma … best known for the leather books and journals. I picked up and felt the journals available…. they were decent prices and some even discounted. When shopping I am cautious about the space in my luggage since I don’t have much left. Instead of a larger journal I had been fondling I took home a quill with the florentine fleur di lis on it in the turquoise color that is my home office color… and darted back out. On the way I had already stopped by Il Papiro a store of marbled paper made in Italy. I bought some clippings, a pencil holder and stickers with my initial on it.
On the way to Sigma, I passed a few gold shops and decided to poke my head in. A few were busy especially the ones that have been in existence for awhile. I spoke with a salesperson and he gave me some knowledge about buying gold in Italy. Unfortunately some of the styles that were available I didn’t particularly care for, as they didn’t look like you dropped 150 euros on it if you know what I mean… I appreciated the design but it was definitely a tourist trap as it had a reproduction of the florino (the coin of the florence empire) on it… a thin band for 150 euros!! No thanks. I found a design I liked in another shop, but it was a bit more than what I was willing to pay for and not to mention that rings have a higher potential to be lost…
I went on a walk today. Not too far away, just in the general area. One of the other artists here told me about an abandoned church that was not too far down the road. Having a vague interest in abandoned buildings I was intrigued. Since I didn’t have anything planned today, today was a good day to do some walking.
I ended up almost missing the church because the original path was overgrown with grass and pine needles and dirt. I started my way back up the road until I spotted a overgrown stone stair case and thought that was peculiar, but also thought it was kind of religious looking. I walked up the stairs and down a path that had grapes growing on either side of the pathway. I followed the pathway all the way up into a wooded area and a small towering church came into view. I had found it!
There was two stone benches attached to the church outside and I decided to take a break and cool off a bit. It was very peaceful as it sat back from the road a bit and you could barely hear the traffic that drove by. I got up and walked over to the front of the church. Unfortunately the doors were bolted shut so I couldn’t go in but I noticed some roses growing out of the masonry work of the church and snapped a few photos.
While I was sitting down, I thought about recently how people were leaving the Catholic faith in droves and here is an abandoned church. I thought about my own spirituality and concluded that they weren’t necessarily leaving religion altogether, but perhaps leaving organized religion and focusing on a more personal journey.
The above image was taken just before I walked down the pathway. My artwork is hugely centered around place/the environment as well as loss. At the beginning of this residency, I ran across an article from Orion Magazine by British author Robert MacFarlane and fell in love with the way he spoke about landscape. How his interest in landscape came from something called “landspeak”… describing one’s surroundings using singular words and sometimes phrases. He also mentioned the botanist, Oliver Rackham and wrote this passage about Rackham’s book, In the History of the Countryside.
“[…], the great botanist Oliver Rackham describes four ways in which “landscape is lost”: through the loss of beauty, the loss of freedom, the loss of wildlife and vegetation, and the loss of meaning. I admire the way that aesthetics, human experience, ecology, and semantics are given parity in his list. Of these losses the last is hardest to measure.”
It was interesting to me that this botanist saw that landscape is lost and he describes this loss through beauty, freedom, wildlife and vegetation and meaning. It made me think of my own healing journey from the loss of my job, a close friendship and relationship and more all in the span of two years. It was as if I was loosing myself and regenerating a new self from going through this pain and healing. I am certainly a different person than I was two years ago. I love the above image as it captures the sense of loss I think that MacFarlane was speaking about. Things change and move around and things get lost in the process. I have felt that this residency was the pinnacle of a turning point in my life. I had nothing but work and sleep for 6-9 months and I made enough money to take a month off and live in Italy to work on my artwork. I definitely sense change is coming and something new will come out of this loss. I had been thinking a lot about this close friendship whom I lost this past year and I definitely caught myself missing him.
Monday and Tuesday of this week I worked with the film crew in Florenza. Tuesday I made an appearance in the movie… Monday I worked behind the scenes and most of my free time earlier this week was taken up by them. It was awesome working on a movie in a different culture and the story is interesting as well. Click the above image to see more photos on the K Glyphics facebook page.
On Sunday evening, I will be leaving America to head to my first stop! London! I am so excited that this is finally happening! God bless the universe for being kind to me in terms of money, after working hard these past 6-9 months on my graphic design work, I’ve made enough to be able to attend this residency. And I definitely need a break! My last “vacation” was in September when I went to Canada for the week and I got sick… so it wasn’t really a vacation lol. Then I will be heading to Greve in Chianti for the month of May and Paris the first week of June to celebrate my parents’ anniversary.
I’m excited to be creating more artwork. The last time I created work was around this time last year when I was still in Longmeadow.
This past Tuesday I drove 2.5 hours up to Bethlehem, NH to drop off my artwork in the mountains! My pieces, Pine Needles, Pine Needles #2 and Seaweed were accepted into a really cool exhibit called the Bees Knees. The exhibition was focused on bringing awareness to the Bee depopulation and supporting locally organic products and honey. I really wish I could attend the reception because it sounded really interesting, but it is on the first day I am going to be in Italy so I won’t be in the country.
The drive up to Bethlehem, NH was interesting – although long… – it was fun to drive through the Franconcia National Park and see the mountains and valleys and gorges, etc. I hope the weather would be a bit better for pickup day because I would be interested in stopping by some of the sites in that park – it was raining when I drove up to drop them off. I’m sure there will be a formal press release out next week.
Today I went to Lincoln Woods Park in Rhode Island and did a photoshoot with a lovely model named Morgan. The shoot really came together and I LOVE how the photos came out! These will be used on the website and printed materials for the shanty (and future opportunities) this summer. Stay tuned for the edited versions in a few weeks! I have a set edited already which you may see a preview of on instagram, but I am not quite sold on it.
Last Wednesday my parents and I left Wellesley, MA and drove the 4.5 hours or so to NYC for my reception in Brookly, NY. This reception was one of the more humbling experiences. It mirrored the experience I felt when I exhibited my work in Provincetown, MA for the first time. NYC, has had a prominent place in my childhood. I started to come to NYC as a scout and continued throughout high school and ended up going to a college that placed an emphasis on going into NYC. By the time I had graduated college I had been to NYC 8 times. As an art major I had always admired the artists I saw exhibiting their work in Soho or Chelsea and kind of dreamed that that would happen to me!
In October, I received notification that my artwork, Bluebellswill be making a trip to NYC to be exhibited at the 11th Biennial Exhibition at A.I.R Gallery. A.I.R Gallery is pretty cool as their mission is to support under appreciated women artists and has been in operation since the ’70s! The gallery ended up featuring my artwork as one of the two the were the ‘face’ of the exhibition. This biennial was centered around the theme of making and taking photos and reconsidering what the definition of photography is. Sometimes galleries submit calls for work centered around an already chosen theme, but sometimes that can be tricky to work with especially if your submissions may or may not always be centered around that theme and the exhibition can seem forced. This biennial just so happened to have many artists submit works of art centered around the photographic medium whether it may be painting or mix-media, or in my case traditional processing.
Wednesday we arrived at our hotel in Brooklyn and I knew Brooklyn was mostly of color, but I never expected to feel like I was in a minority and after a day of being there or so, the feeling went away. There were no altercations of our presence on the subways or walking around the neighborhood which was nice, because you never know these days… I was catcalled a few times, but after that catcalling video that was kinda expected. For dinner on Wednesday we went to Cent’Anni’s for dinner and had yummy spinach, pesto raviolis and chocolate cake for desert.
Thursday, we walked around the botanical garden in Brooklyn just to see a bit more of the neighborhood, and walked back to the hotel for to get ready for the reception. I had to really make sure to pace myself in terms of what I could do energetically so I wouldn’t be wiped for the reception. The reception itself was great! I got to meet the juror and see my work. I really had a feeling of, “I made it!” As exhibiting in a NYC gallery had been something I wanted to do for a LONG time. It helped me put my artwork into perspective.
Friday, I met up with my friend Jackie whom I met through the Biophillia residency in September. We had coffee and a pastry at Caffe Reggio. It was good to see her and we talked about future Ayatana opportunities and travel opportunities and caught up on life… then my parents and I walked to the 9/11 memorial to see the reflection pools and we ended up having lunch at Stage Door Pizza. After lunch, we walked a bit further and saw the Christmas tree at Rockefellar center. The following morning, Saturday, we drove home – exhausted and sore. Overall the experience was better than I imagined and I’m really glad I got to see my artwork in NYC!
Yesterday, I finally attended the Artist Under the Dome Event! It is sponsored by the Mass Cultural Council. The event was geared to celebrating artists are who working and living in Massachusetts. The morning was filled with political figures speaking about the work they’re doing to improve the quality of life of artists working and living in Massachusetts. Treasurer Steven Grossman spoke about working to make art buying tax exempt which will encourage potential art collectors to buy more art directly from the artists as they’ll get a tax break as well. I also learned that they are working on improving the quality of life for Independent Contractors.
The afternoon was filled with lunch, networking and trips to our Senators’ offices. Unfortunately mine weren’t around so I just dropped off my press kits in hopes of something coming out of it! You never know. The afternoon had a panel of leaders who are working in the Boston area who hold leadership positions in prominent artist groups that are trying to make things a little easier. They also talked about major issues that keep popping up; finding space, unpaid internships, etc. Most of which I was already aware of.
Yesterday I met up with my artist friend Heather who I met at the Younger Than Amy Show in Provincetown back in June and then later met up with our mutual friend Hilary. I recently gave Heather an old keyboard piano that I had so she can learn to play and we promised to meetup one of these days. Yesterday was one of those days! We went thrifting and then Hilary and Heather and I went to Nauset Beach to walk their dogs and we said goodbye to Hilary as she went back to work. Heather and I went to Zia’s a Pizzaria and Cafe type of restaurant. I had a calzone and she had an Italian sandwich. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to hang out again after the show too. We’re going to try to hang out more. I was going to go chanting with Hilary this morning, but I ended up not sleeping well last night and was really tired and we tried to get together again this afternoon before I left town, but it got too close to the time I was going to leave.
I hope everyone had a great Halloween! I am on the Cape for a week, and I was going to go to the Lost Dog in Orleans, MA for a costume party with one of my artist friends and her friend, but I had been suffering from indigestion since Thursday and was overcome by exhaustion for some weird reason that I decided to end up not going. Also my friend decided to not go as well and her friend ended up being non-responsive. But I will be seeing my friend on Monday of next week! We’re planning on going thrifting and maybe lunch or coffee somewhere in town.
I’ll post more next week if I get any good finds from thrifting.
I’m skipping over Wednesday because most of Wednesday I was sick. I stayed at the ranch for the afternoon, took a bath and a couple of naps. By dinner I was feeling a lot better. Later that evening we had an artist talk from a local artist who scans moths and makes prints from them and I think I went to bed relatively early.
I felt better on Thursday to continue the activities. We went on a hike through the property and gathered mushrooms to make spore prints later. You leave the mushrooms on a piece of bark or parchment and the mushrooms drop their spores leaving a print. Then you can fixate the print onto the paper with hairspray. Later we inoculated grain to grow bio luminescent mushrooms.
The spore print once it is done
Mushrooms laying on top of the paper
The supplies to inoculate grain
Then several weeks later, the grain starts to turn into mycelium!
The following day we had our first hike. Before this hike we drove to a chairlift in the same park and got a look at the foliage. This was the first time of that I got lost! The group van had to be taken into Ottawa to be fixed so we couldn’t drive as a group. We were already running a bit late so we didn’t get to meetup with the arborist, which was a bit of a bummer, but we used the time during the hike to find plant material for the kirlian workshop that night!
Yes that’s right! I was able to do a kirlian workshop with the group. It was really fun to do because everyone was excited to do the workshop and was very enthusiastic about finding plant matter. I also was able to work with plants that I wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to back home.
This day was very long and tiring at 1am I was very glad to be asleep!
There was an abundant of activities throughout the week that made every day an adventure. It wasn’t too much but everything did run a bit longer than expected which made it hard for everything to be done that day also made for very long days. I had been suffering from a low period of energy and was really nervous that I wouldn’t have the energy to do the hikes scheduled. But I think a lot of the low energy had to be from my grief from Minuteman and that this trip was exactly what I needed to be able to bring myself to back to an OK state. As I said on the last night, it was really healing to be welcomed into such an open and welcoming group after being kicked out from a place where your heart was still very much there…
Our week started off in the National Gallery cafe and having lunch with the group. We introduced ourselves and got a bit of an orientation of the week. Afterwards, we drove to the hostel where the rest of the group stayed – I stayed with a host from airbnb because being a psychic and medium and the hostel claiming to be haunted I wouldn’t have gotten much sleep! After picking up everyone’s gear we drove to the ranch.
Once we got there we had a chance to explore the property and take photos and find things for our artworks. We then had our artist talks and dinner in Wakefield at Cafe Chez Eric. We ended up staying at the restaurant a bit longer because we had a flat tire! We had a really interesting discussion that night about 3D printing and I got some interesting inspiration for my photography that maybe I could do one of these days.