Meditation on Life at 58
Sitting here on a beautiful summer late afternoon, anticipating the heat wave that is descending upon Oregon, I am in an upbeat mood. It's time for an update, which will be both personal and professional. Fully ensconced in late-middle age, I am discovering that all aspects of my life are melding into one continuum. I don't really "have a job" but I'm not "retired" either. We have enjoyed having a second home in Bend, Oregon, for almost 11 years now. A retreat, a break, a place with access to different stuff than we have in Hillsboro, in the greater Portland area. When we go there, we're not "on vacation"… I view it as "just life." But having two properties to maintain, four hours away from each other, is not a sustainable endeavor. We knew we'd eventually consolidate and go back to having one property that we own. But where would that be? Many assumed we'd go to Bend; we never assumed that. Life had to unfold.
Bob has been retired from Intel for 18 months now. His year fellowship working with Community Action was complete in February, but he extended his work with them through this year. He really enjoys helping them with some technical projects. For all intents and purposes, he is retired. And he's looking for when I might be similarly retired! That is not as easy for me. I am an artist, and I feel that my artistic life is just beginning. I never want to be retired from that. So how do I fashion my life?
Earlier this year, we made that decision of where our "one and only" property would be. Bend wins. We are making plans to move to Bend, which will take about a year to completely make the transition. Meanwhile, we are living life! And things are good. Much is going on this summer, and fall. There are all sorts of things lined up that I am sure will expand me creatively and get me jump-started to create new art in 2016 and beyond. Here's a brief tour of what's coming up:
On the commission front, I have a couple of things going. One is a re-do of a project from 2011. Unfortunately, the concrete slab for a mosaic in the rose garden down the street from me in Hillsboro was not poured properly. The mosaic has had damage and is actually sinking as a result. Last year I volunteered to re-make the mosaic, if a new slab was properly poured, and the materials were covered. This is underway in my studio right now. The upside is that this mosaic will be superior to the original! I am going to be happier with the project this time— a direct result from the intervening four years of experience!
On the education front, I am excited to be traveling to the Chicago Mosaic School in July to take a five day intensive workshop with Scottish artist Dugald MacInnes. He is renowned for his exquisite work, primarily in his native Scottish slate. I've admired his work for years, and have long wanted to know how to work with slate like he does. My colleagues Karen Rycheck and Scott Fitzwater are taking the course with me. We should have a fabulous time!
I just confirmed that I'll be taking a course at Koko Mosaico in Ravenna, Italy, in October! I had the pleasure to go on Julie Richey's Mosaic Masterpiece Tour in Italy in 2013, where I first visited Koko, and met owners Arianna Gallo and Luca Barberini. It will be a terrific creative educational experience to take a workshop there.
It will cap a month-long travel adventure Bob and I will be embarking on. Mid-September, we will fly to Marseille, France, and spend two weeks in Provence, then fly to Venice for four days, followed by four days at an agriturismo in the region of Friuli-Venezia-Guilia, in the north of Italy. Our last stop will be Ravenna for 6 nights, during which time we'll be able to see the Ravenna Mosaico, a biennial festival of contemporary mosaic, in the heart of classical, Byzantine mosaic history.
When we return, it will be Washington County Open Studios. I am participating again this year, and I welcome everyone to come by my studio, and to take the tour of many other artists who open their doors in Washington County Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18.
Life is full, and life is good! It's a long journey that I hope will continue for a good long time. At the same time try not to take anything for granted and embrace each day with joy and optimism. Which is why I'm not griping about the hot weather!