Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Art Starts Here

“Shto takoy istkustva?”

This is one of the hardest questions to answer, not the least of which is because it is transliterated from Russian. It asks: “What is art?” I ventured forth one night to consider this while exploring that regional delight: the hometown art fair.

Art Mural

Hands-on Art: If you look in the lower, right-hand corner, you will see the first two tiles placed by me and my son. We used up his patience waiting for the cement to set up.


Yesterday, I took my son to the Art & Chocolate Walk in Grandville, MI. Families gathered to share tidbits and admire local amateur artists’ works alongside school children’s efforts. I will say now, I am no arbiter of art; I have not studied at the Sorbonne, nor could I tell you the effect Prussian blue had on the impressionists. What I can tell you is viewing art at the speed of sound is a blurry challenge. (My son is not known for his love of art–unless it is of the deconstructionist variant and it involves either indelible ink or an expensive piece of technology.)* Destructive self-expression aside, my son preferred gobbling the candy and cookies to exploring the meaning found in artistic media–regardless of what form it took.

Copper Man

Among the exhibits under flapping awnings and propped on rolling stages was the very popular human statue.  Parents would lead their unsuspecting child up to the copper-hued sculpture, asking their opinion about the work, only to hear the children yelp, “It moved!” followed by a spate of giggles when the work of art waggled a brush at them before returning to a frozen stance. Is this art? I can’t say. What I will say is the kids liked it and the man did a great job. He was up there the entire time I visited the fair staying in character–except when he broke the third wall–to the delight of onlookers. That shows talent in my book.

Art 17
Owls were the popular patronus of several artists–but this one by far was the most fierce creature.

The art exhibits were cleverly spaced throughout the local business establishments. The chamber of commerce committee that dreamed this up earned their pennies.

Art 3
This piece was among my favorites for its achingly honest child’s reflections on what makes her ‘hart’ mad or glad.  “My hart is mad wen my Dad brns pancakes.” “My hart is Mad when my bad is mest up.” and “My hart is kom  wen I grime my horis.”  Truly spoken, every word. I am only sorry my arm was jostled taking the picture, but I had to share these heart-felt sentiments.

There is something odd, at first, about squeezing into a dress shop or past floor tile samples to view whichever school group or work was displayed, but plucky people managed it. After you grabbed your treat and had your card punched, you could wander through the stock to find the exhibits–it was surprisingly fun.

food 3
The Art of Cookies – a very popular exhibit for my son.


We zipped through one store where grandfather clocks competed with chiming glass-and-mirrored wall clocks which signaled the changing shifts of visitors to the small table of glue and paper efforts by the local elementary students.**

Art 1
You know, somewhere, there are proud parents putting stuff like this up on refrigerators across the nation swearing it is the most beautiful art they’ve ever seen.  And in doing so, it becomes the truth.

To some, this marketing of community businesses through parental pride might strike a mercenary note, yet I couldn’t help but admire the effort it took to put this on. Someone organized the local shops, the schools and teachers, the musicians and artists to contribute–time, money, energy and enthusiasm.   Behind each cardboard easel you’ll see a deeper purpose–to nurture budding talents and to give pride of place for children who can go somewhere, point to a piece of work and say, “That one’s mine.” while the world looks on.

Art&Chocolate - collage 2

Everywhere I went, in the brief moments of admiration for some truly talented youngsters, I saw moms and dads escorting siblings and taking candid shots of performances and works by their children. Some children were shy about it, others wore smiles so wide it is hard to imagine a frame large enough to fit all those teeth.

Art 6
This piece was hanging, appropriately enough, in a bar.

Where does art comes from? What inspiration springs from the soul and dares to express itself in song, sound, or acrylic paints? When does it actually happen?

Art 4
What I liked about this, you can see children on the edge of becoming. The pretty princesses are turning into young women who have deeper feelings that can’t be captured with a sparkly tiara. (The boys, however, are still superheroes riding giant hover board shoes and wearing shades.)

Was there a budding Renoir or Matisse among the earnest, dramatic and sometimes cute artwork? From what I could see, yes. I was astounded at what was produced–either as a collaborative effort or even a derivative style, it was still very much art to me.  Perhaps it was the nascent, newly-birthed foal version of art, just finding its shaky legs and looking for its mother to lean on, but it was art.

Art 21
Art is:  A giant snowflake. A happy robot in the city. A building leaning into a boysenberry sky. A tree…no, a boat…no, maybe a ship with a multi-colored umbrella braced by the setting sun. Or maybe art is a sleepy giraffe being woken up by an owl who is obviously throwing a noisy party.

All artists start somewhere at a place of beginning, staring at a blank canvas and wondering how they can speak to the world through a charcoal pencil. How does a child scribbling one day turn into a world-renowned artist? At one point, someone put a pencil or crayon in their hand and told them, “Draw me a pretty picture.” This, this is where art starts.


I wanted to include some of my favorites, so scroll below to see what I could see in the short amount of time my son allowed me. 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*His first work is entitled “A Study in Red” because he squirted red food coloring all over the cream carpet in the living room. It never quite washed out. I hope the new home owners aren’t standing over the Rorschach-esque designs speculating whether a murder took place.

**If I confuse which grade of art was placed where, forgive me.  By my fourth piece of dessert my concentration suffered from sugar overload.


The Art Starts Here


Art 2
I don’t know why I liked this one so much, I just did.  It is bold, it is bright, but it has hidden subtleties and I can feel myself leaning in to absorb it even now.
Art 8
Totally eye-catching toys; it was the first thing that called to me through a window. I had to maneuver to find it…and the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.  The composition seems simple, but the shadows and whimsy perfectly captured that feeling of childlike exploration I felt while viewing the exhibits.
Art 5
I don’t know exactly what Seva Terburgh was hoping to convey, but what I took from this is people need to stop poking and petting babies. They don’t like it. The media was marker and watercolor…done by a 9th grader, people!
Art 7
I’m really enjoying this fish collage! Swimmingly done! Kudos to Emma Gardner, grade 9.
Art 10
Sophie Diekevers created this ink pen piece. I found it very disturbing, and not just because a 10th grader is this talented. Do you know hands are considered one of the hardest things to draw? Look at those hands, will you?
Art 9
Calla Heald, a 12th grader with a puckish sense of humor and a massive talent for wielding an ink pen like a master.
Art 12
I really like the art teacher who came up with such a dramatic piece. I admired every dragon and decorative tin wheel I saw.
Art 16
Who says a rooster can’t be a masterpiece?  Look at the effort this took!
Art 19
If I had to pick a Best in Show, I think this piece–done with charcoal and graphite–would be in the running. Might I point out the artist, Jessica Abraham, is a 12th grade student at Grandville High School.
Art 14
This one covered the entrance wall of a local restaurant: The Rainbow Grill. I bet no one left that place without first ordering ice cream.
Art 11
Ultra Modern Art.

Of Butterflies and Other Disturbing Things That Float

There is a manic busyness to butterflies that reminds a person that life is short. On average, a butterfly lives about a month, which is practically a luxury when compared to the mayfly which lives as an adult for less than a day—time which is basically spent reproducing before giving up their tiny ghosts. There is a lesson in this, probably.*

It’s hard to take a bad photo here, but going out at noon when the shadows are flat helps.

Because the human life span promises an extravagance of time, we tend to play fast and loose with our possibilities. We waste time to a degree that that Mother Nature shakes her head and throws plagues and severe storms at us for the occasional wake-up call.  I was reminded of this while photographing butterflies at Meijer Gardens this weekend.

“Tower to Echo leader, Bravo leader is coming in hot for a landing. Prepare crash teams.”

Saturday, I shutterbugged my way through hordes of Vitamin-D deficient, pale mid-westerners who frolicked in the sun like they forgot what the glowing ball in the sky meant.** It was a good day to be out. Bright, warm. If I hadn’t had a raging headache, the day would have been perfect.

“Abort landing, Bravo. Pull up! Echo has claimed the landing leaf and isn’t budging, the wanker! Tower out.”

A babysitter sprinted after my son who was like a hound off his leash, allowing me the privilege of a leisurely inspection of the Japanese Gardens where incipient spring threatens pollen bombing if the warm weather continues.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

In my haste to worship the sun god, I neglected my hat and sunscreen routine. After ensuring that I’d exposed myself long enough to accrue a good case of sunstroke, I scampered inside to jam myself between iPhone happy strangers all trying to immortalize terrorized butterflies in unwilling selfies in the arboretum.

Black and White – A dramatic pause on a posy.

April signifies the end of the Butterfly Exhibit—a seasonal tradition at the gardens guaranteeing huge crowds as winter slips its stranglehold on the state. It also signals the end of the butterflies’ tiny life spans. Maybe it was just me, but their ragged wings and spastic flapping seemed tragic even as I too tried to pin their image to a digital cork board. It’s a macabre pastime only ameliorated by the lack of chloroform and a ‘humane’ practice of letting the poor things live out their sexless lives, out of season, trapped in a giant glass prison.  I quash my guilt in order to enjoy myself.

Would it kill them to introduce one female into the group?  Would  it?

Throbbing skull aside, it was a perfect day. [Cue Ominous Music.]

We’re walking back to the car when, suddenly, I realize something is blocking the vision in my right eye.  There is a shadow pantomime something like a stick and a jellyfish sword fighting wherever I look. I’ve had similar incidents in the past, but nothing on this scale. I’m not the brightest girl in the world, but, taking the headache into consideration, it occurs to me something might be wrong.

A visual representation of the butterflies churning in my stomach.

I scurry home, upload my pictures (because, hey, priorities), and chat with a friend to ask her opinion. She agrees, it is probably a floater and it’s no big deal.  Because I suffer a certain amount of paranoia married with an overactive imagination and access to the internet, I come up with a different conclusion: I’ve detached a retina and I could lose my vision altogether.*** I call my friend who is a doctor, she says, “It’s probably nothing, but at your age with your severe myopia it could be a detached retina. If you can, you should have it looked at.”

Butterflies are fluttering, nihilistic harbingers–just better dressed than most.

Fast forward to an emergency visit to an ophthalmologist’s office, and she confirms it: “It’s just a big floater.  We’ll have you come back in three weeks to see how it’s doing.”

Looks harmless.  Total death merchant.

So, there you have it, butterflies are pernicious omens of ill will and doom, signifying the end of all things. Of course, that could just be the dancing jellyfish in my eye playing tricks on me.


Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Mayfly mantra: more sex, less effing around with laundry and shit.

**We had. I call it winter amnesia.

***This is aptly called free-floating anxiety.  Also, part of me wants to call this a detached retinue–because all of the  voices in my head have abandoned me to run around in a panic.

Brain Trust Vault Bankrupt

Wily Stapler

Sorry, I was sucked into the vacuum that is Spring Break with a hyperactive child who has an overdeveloped sense of curiosity and underdeveloped sense of self-preservation. 

The brain trust is drained.

For your amusement, pictures I took with my Samsung phone at work today:

Brain Trust - Stapler

This entire post is in response to something at Writers of the Rain said about there not being an interesting picture of a stapler.  I disagree! I now challenge everyone else to find or create their own interesting stapler photo.*

 Tardis Stapler

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Because it’s Monday, that’s why.