Month: May 2016

in retrospect…by the numbers

The open studio is over and life has returned to its normal peaceful, ordered state. I spent the day recovering from being super hostess and will resume being an artist tomorrow. For right now, I am content reliving the weekend in all its glory.

As I ponder the weekend, I am struck by how much we as a society are stuck on numbers to qualify our happiness and success. How many home runs did someone get in a season, how many people voted in an election, what score did your child get on the test, what is your IQ. The list is endless as to how we measure ourselves. Endless, but limited. For we don’t always measure the stuff that is really important. How many people dropped popcorn while they cheered for those home runs because they were so excited? How many people were affected by the policies put into place by the elected official? How many times was your child polite to other people? And how many times did you smile today? Perhaps those are the questions we should be finding the answers to.

I am not immune to the numbers game. Throughout my career as an artist, I have avidly counted things. Dollars I made at a craft show, new names on my mailing list, visitors to my gallery, lizards sold…it all added up over the years. But quite honestly, I can’t say that any of it was really important. I continued to make stuff, people continued to buy it and I wasn’t any more or less happy after I had figured out the bottom line. Or if I was, it was fleeting because I always thought the numbers should be higher.

And yet I continue to do it. I carefully count the names on the sign in sheet for the open studio trying to figure out how many people came. But as I do so, I wonder exactly what is the magic number? What is the number that means that the weekend was a success? That I can use to tell other people so that they will be impressed? And then I think maybe I need to come up with some different numbers.

So here they are:

Number of people who smiled when they were here: All of them.

Number of people who thanked me for opening up my property to the public: I lost count.

Number of people I thanked for coming out to see my work during the weekend of solid rain: Everyone I talked to. (At least I tried, if I missed anyone, consider yourself thanked).

Number of people who told me my work was amazing/phenomenal/fill in any number of adjectives: I lost count.

Number of kids who rode the rocking llama: over 30.

Number of adults who rode the rocking llama: Probably around 20 but I don’t know for sure, I think there were some who did it when no one was looking.

Number of chocolate chip cookies eaten: 7 dozen.

Number of people reached by my facebook post of the article in the Carroll County Times: 1,770. (This last number is quite ridiculous. It is my first encounter with the power of social media. And it doesn’t count the people who saw the article in the myriad of other places that it was posted or shared. It also reminds me of the still strong power of the press. The newspaper may be a dinosaur, but don’t count it out, especially in the smaller communities.)

Number of kids who stuck their tongues out at the kangaroo: Only one was caught on film, Others may have as well. I will never tell.

Number of tire ruts in our lawn: doesn’t matter.

Number of happy, successful artists living here: One.

Thank you.

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15 minutes

Okay folks, I have racked up another bunch of minutes on my 15 minutes of fame clock. As you may know, I am hosting an open studio and sculpture garden on my property this weekend. The local paper found out about it and asked to do an article. Of course I said yes! It came out online yesterday and it is really a lovely article. Many thanks to the writer, Lois Zymanski, the photographer, Dylan Slagle, and Jim and Susan who said such nice things about me.

To read the article, click here.

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In the meantime, I am aware that, like many previous days this spring, it is probably going to rain on Saturday. Ugh. I really wish that the weather were working out differently, but there’s nothing I can do.

So here are ten reasons why you should come out even if it is raining:

  1. You can pretend you live in Seattle. Seattle is a nice city. People there do things in the rain all the time. If they didn’t, nothing would get done.
  2. It’s a good chance to see if your rain gear is weather proof. Wouldn’t you like to know this before you go on that camping/hiking trip?
  3. You will get to meet all sorts of interesting people…including me! You have to figure that anyone who comes out in the rain to see steel animals is going to be interesting.
  4. I will have binoculars so you will be able to see some of the sculptures from the dry, warm studio.
  5. Wine. I will have wine.
  6. This is the only time I will open the gardens to the public for free this year. (Unless I change my mind. I have been known to do that before. I am fickle that way.)
  7. I will be bored if you don’t come. Boredom is bad for your health. Keep me healthy.
  8. Photographing the sculptures is better when it’s cloudy.
  9. I have extra umbrellas.
  10. It will give you great joy.

So see, there is no excuse for not coming to see me this weekend. Don’t forget…10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday (May 21/22, 2016). 415 Heath Dr., Eldersburg. I will be waiting.

 

I want

Technology these days is fascinating. New advances every minute, and all marketed to look like it’s the next thing since sliced bread. And yet, in my mind, most of it is based on male fantasies born from sic-fi movies and James Bond. A watch you can use as a phone and will tell you how many steps you’ve walked? A chance to change your reality by wearing a pair of boxy glasses? A car that tells you when to turn, when to stop and how far until the next McDonald’s, all shown in the windshield? (Mind you, I really would like to have the ability to teleport. Having tea with my sister in Seattle and being home by dinnertime sounds quite lovely.)

Some of these things are practical and do make life easier. I love the idea of GPS, my anxieties about getting lost in a strange city have diminished enormously. And, since my eye sight is going, I don’t have to try to read the teeny tiny words on the Rand McNally street map anymore…while I am driving. I also love that I can put things into my calendar on my computer and they magically appear on my phone. So do the books I download. And I can’t do without the ability to find out any information I need simply by pressing a few buttons. Encyclopedia Britannica has nothing on Google. Don’t even talk to me about giving up my digital camera (or phone).

So what is it that I want? I want technological ideas to be selected by 50 + year old women. That’s when you will get super practical ideas on how technology can help with real life. Here are some suggestions.

1 . Envision this: You are sitting in the dentist’s office waiting to be seen. The dentist comes out to the reception area, sees you, smiles and says “Hey Virginia, how are you doing today?” You smile in response and freeze a little bit because for the life of you, you can’t come up with his name. The man who has been intimate with your mouth (so to speak) for 10 years and your brain draws a blank. So you say “I’m well, how are you?” and wonder if he notices that you didn’t call him by name.

What if you were wearing a pair of glasses that flashed his name on the screen in front of your eyes as your dentist walked up to you? Or what if it flashed the word that you all of a sudden can’t remember right in the middle of a sentence during a VIS (very important speech). What if it reminded you of your granddaughter’s boyfriend’s favorite band when you see him? Yup, I thought so. Forget virtual reality, I want virtual memory glasses.

2.  Envision this: you know you are losing your hearing but you don’t want to wear hearing aides. They make you look like you are deaf AND they don’t always help you to hear what you want to because they make everything louder. It’s fine when you are sitting with one person, but when you are in a crowd, then it is super confusing.

What if you had an invisible hearing aide that automatically understood what you wanted to hear and could block out the rest, or at least tone it down? Anyone who has ever been in a recording studio knows that it is possible to do this on recordings. Now we just need to have the technology that does this in real time.

3. Envision this: You are lying in bed all snuggly and warm when you start to feel a tingly feeling. “Shit” you think, “here it comes again”. The next thing you know, you have flung the covers off, thrown your nightgown as far across the room and started fanning yourself. Yup, it’s the dreaded hotflash. Then, a few minutes later, just as you are starting to feel comfortable, the heat dissipates and you are left shivering in the middle of the bed.

What if you had a sensor that knows when you are about to experience this and adjusts the climate control in your house? So, five minutes before a hot flash, the air-conditioning comes on and blows cool air in the room so that when the internal toaster oven turns on your room is nice and cool. Then it knows when to turn off the AC and turn the heat back on so that you son’t have to spend 10 minutes trying to find your nightgown and pulling the covers back on. This is much better than being able to change your climate control when you aren’t even home.

I’m sure I can come up with many more ideas…just give me some time. If you have your own suggestions I’d love to hear them!



From the studio:

In case you were wanting to know what’s happening in the studio, I am almost done with a sculpture, I have figured out what my next animal is (not telling) and I attended an opening reception of the National Juried Show at the Delaplaine in Frederick MD on Saturday. My piece, “BOUND”, was nicely placed for optimal viewing and got some really lovely comments.

Next up on the schedule, the open studio on the 21st and 22nd of May.

take a break

I admit it. I was ready to give up on this blog. After four + years of writing fairly consistently, I became less and less inclined to write to the known and unknown general public. The breaks between posts started getting longer and longer. The days filled up with time in the studio (a worthwhile substitution), gardening (ditto) and life in general. I will also admit that for a while, my depression deepened and I was uninterested in writing anything. Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of ideas, lots of subjects, it just seemed that when I sat down to write, the words seemed unimportant or off kilter somehow.

Tonight I told my husband that I was thinking of discontinuing this blog. And he said one of the sweetest things he has ever said to me.

“But people will miss reading it.”

Sometimes I forget that people actually read what I write. Unless someone clicked the like button or left a comment, I really had no idea who read my words or if you enjoyed/hated them. But over the years I heard comments from some of you that you enjoyed reading my posts. Sometimes those comments came at a party with friends, sometimes they came at the end of the blog post. You are the silent readers, the ones I sometimes forget are out there. But I know you are real.

So here’s the deal. I will continue to write. I will not worry about the best time to post or how many people are seeing my blog. I will write for myself…out loud. I will be more diligent about being consistent.

Because the bottom line is that I enjoy writing. I enjoy putting into words the thoughts and feelings that runaround in my head all day, while I am working, walking, eating and driving. There is so much happening in the world and in my life. There are books to read, philosophies to absorb and current events to watch. Not to mention sculptures to create!

As you may know, I like to show at least one photograph in my posts. Well, tonight you get a bonus (mostly because I couldn’t figure out which was my favorite). The mahonia in my backyard has berries which, combined with the color of the leaves, is absolutely stunning. Enjoy!

(P.S. there is LOTS of stuff happening in the studio, keep an eye out for the next post. Or visit http://www.virginiasperry.com or www.facebook.com/VSperryStudio/)

Cheers and Happy May!