Breaking the egg...

Yesterday after a visit to my studio with his daughter a friend posted a photo of the sculpture I created for HATCH and wrote, "“When an egg breaks from outside pressure it’s death. When it breaks from inside it’s new life.”

I have been breaking from the inside.  Relentlessly intense events the past few years left me plumb tuckered and raw.  Exhaustion and grief forced me to rest and restore.

Feeling is healing - even if it isn't easy.  

Charity Fundraiser

Passionate locals rallied to save the old Teslow grain elevator that is part of our town's history and landscape. Several birdhouses were made in the shape of the grain elevator using wood taken from the Teslow during the restoration process. Artists were asked to embellish the birdhouses which are currently around town collecting donations before they are raffled off.

Asha Kama

"Mani Wall" by Asha Kama Dasha Karma and I

Last year while in Bhutan I read about the painter Asha Kama, fell in love with his work and was heartened by his commitment to public service. Determined to meet Asha Kama I asked around.  Yesterday my dream came true via my dear friend Dilu. I haven't a clue just were to start gushing about my visit to VAST (the only contemporary art center in Bhutan which is also dedicated to interactive social community programs).  Asha means "uncle" - even the king addresses Kama with the special distinction of "uncle" because of all he has done for the youth and elderly in Bhutan.  Uncle indeed...! Asha Kama is a powerhouse and a delight. I look forward to fostering our friendship and doing what I can to support the lively youth and stellar vision of VAST.

I purchased this beautiful carving from Nepal which the Prime Minister of Bhutan donated to VAST to help support their mission.

Meet Levi Denham

Nice compliment to my studio don't you think? Bought this bugger Thursday morning in 10 minutes over the phone through a trusted friend (I HIGHLY recommend Phil for any auto-buying needs).  Raymond and I left Friday evening for Minneapolis, drove through the night in the old rodeo truck as temps outside dipped more than twenty degrees below zero.  I watched an amazing slow motion North Dakota sunrise - the bold sunbeam squeezed skyward by crisp cold air just before the sun blazingly burped into the sky a moment after this photo was shot:

Sunrise squeezed by super cold air

I very quickly bonded with my "new" rig during the 15 hour ride home. Ford calls the color, "Blue Jeans Metallic." Levi seemed an appropriate name and "Denham" happened because I know how much Cliff would have liked this truck.  Throughout my twenties, Cliff would tell me to "hurry up and make money Honey so you can adopt a child" - which I alway imagined to be a girl but if it were a boy - I threatened to name the child Levi Denham.

Each of my last two trucks spent nearly a decade with me.  I certainly hadn't planned on my truck getting totaled (I put $1200 into having the front end rebuilt less than two hours before a lady ran a stop sign and totaled my truck).  I don't believe Levi spent much of his life being a truck but less than 24 hours after bringing Levi home, the truck began its new life by hauling a large sculpture down our steep mountain across icy interstate roads to the Yellowstone Art Museum for an upcoming show and auction.

Reliquary sculpture headed to museum less than 24 hours after arriving home with my "new" rig

Levi looks good in front of my studio...

McNair Hare

I enjoyed creating a piece of art from a skateboard deck.  I dug into some very old acrylic paint which originally belonged to my dear artist friend Freeman Butts.  Fourteen years I modeled for Freeman.  I was by his side when he died of congestive heart failure.  Looking back at the finished skateboard I believe I see a hint of Freeman and his love of flesh and paint: The skateboard is in an online auction to raise funds to build a local skate board park.  (LINK to auction)

The project rekindled the desire to create a series of paintings I dreamed up seven years ago.  I would love to pursue my vision of the Madonna Bunny series...

Hard to capture the dimension of the wood carved leaves in a photograph but...



IMG_4696Photos taken by my friend Andy George


Back in the saddle...

Cathy Weber is a fabulous artist and inspiring friend who has urged me the last few years to join her at CRatpod - a 140 mile ride around the Pioneer Mountains to benefit Camp Mak-A-Dream.  I have actually signed up twice but life intervened.  So this year I am IN...!  I must be nuts.  I am juggling so much on my plate right now - the last thing to add to the list is a HUGE ride over several mountain passes two weeks before my wedding (I just have to say my tummy did a happy little flip when I typed the words "my wedding") Frankly I am not very much into road biking.  I LOVE mountain biking but paved roads and traffic are not my thing.  I got the road bike used from friend a few years ago just to enjoy the brief period each spring when Yellowstone National Park is closed to vehicles but open to bikes.  The park is MAGIC on a bike...!  Springtime in the Rockies most often doesn't allow for much single-track biking so the road bike is simply a fun way to get out with a friend, talk, take in scenery and catch up.  Last year an early spring ride ended in horrific disaster when I was attacked by three pit bulls.  Severe PTSD kept me from creating last year - the  journey was dark and challenging.  The act of registering to join Ratpod was a gutsy leap-of-faith and a purposeful challenge to myself.  What better way  to motivate myself back onto the road bike than to join a wonderful good cause and dangle the challenge of a BIG ride to get my butt back onto the skinny-tire bike.

In between spring storms, work and intense "momma-care" I have begun to squeeze in moments to ride:

Sunny and I grinning at the frozen lake...

Skateboard for Charity

I really need to get to work and should try to make some much-needed moola.  I have a zillion ideas.  If you follow my work you know I like to work in series because there is always so much to explore when I open my heart, engage my curiosity and dive into a theme.  When I adventure or create, I most often love the MAJOR expeditions.  But major expeditions take a large focused commitment of time and resources.  I am currently short on both as the intensity of my mother's care takes major portions of my time and resources.  So I find myself settling for more simple quickie excursions - both inside and outside my studio.  I must be patient and wait for the correct time to launch another major series. I found myself alone in the studio with a blank skateboard deck.  Many local artists have been given a blank deck to decorate to raise funds for the local skateboard park.  I was never any good at skateboarding myself - but I find it encouraging when youth and adults alike are motivated outside to play. 

The carved trout certainly had potential...

hmmm...think perhaps I will use some carved wood scraps...

I found myself playing with a box of scrap woodcarving leftover from earlier bronze vessel projects (the carved wood vessels are sacrificed into several pieces during the mold-making process).  The carved trout would have been a crowd pleaser in this fly fishing community.  Of course I want the project to bring in good money for McNair Skatepark but I felt myself more drawn to the carved leaves and my desire to paint a bunny...

Easter message...

OptionA Growth does not happen without uncomfortable moments. PTSD after a traumatic event last spring kept me from creating in my studio. Months and months (and months) passed without inspiration, a hard protective shell within which frightening darkness enveloped me. Painstaking patience, persistance, faith and love from friends, sips and dips in the spiritual essence of Momma Nature and a disciplined determination to peck my way through the the shell that protected me when my innards crumpled...FINALLY a completed sculpture...! The little bronze hatched from an act of love for an inspiring community of people who consistently break through shells, honor boldness, embrace raw realness and nurture. HATCHing = Fragility and strength. Bold breakout. Vulnerable exposure. Tender warm feather nurture. Encouragement. Celebration. New chapter (after new chapter after new chapter) Life embraced. Community. Protection. Freedom. Love. Generousity. Happy Easter dear peeps (with lotsa love... )

Rewind to Fast Forward

"I Have Heard the Dead Singing" Pete Strom introduced me to Sasha.  I knew I would like Sasha before I met him simply because he is Pete's friend.  Pete is pure blue/white light - a warm hearted BIG soulful being I met through HATCH.  Sasha is an instant friend but mostly I admire his gumption - what a brave open soul....!  Please take time to watch the video introduction of his story.  I wanted to support Sasha's fundraiser event.  Brandon Weber of Upworthy called Sasha's project, "horrifying and enlightening and beautifully healing all at once."

My sculpture "I Have Heard the Dead Singing" perfectly expressed Sasha's fundraiser theme so I donated the $10,000 sculpture to a silent auction that took place on a Friday night which I happened to spend in ER with my mother.  Raymond went to the event without me.  Raymond is more-than-perfect advocate for me, my art and Sasha's cause.  Karma arranged for the perfect person to buy the sculpture - she was beside herself with joy since the sculpture spoke to her spiritual journey.  A good cause was supported by a piece of my art, good people connected and one of my favorite early reliquary sculptures found a new loving home - warm fuzzies shared by all...

Yellowstone Art Museum Auction

Bunny ring and lace.. “Secret Miracles at Work” – my very first tree reliquary sculpture created years ago has been shown recently at the Yellowstone Art Museum in the exhibit leading up to their annual auction fundraiser. Raymond and I “gussied up” and had a blast at the auction Saturday night. The theme was “fire” (which I LOVE on lots a levels). The food was amazing (ask Raymond about the impressive BIG bowl of bacon at one of the buffets). Art auctions can be a bit stressful on donating artists but I felt quite “zen” about it that night (not always accomplished by me). Mostly we enjoyed the energy of being around artists and collectors in the museum community.

(I got the sweet bunny ring in Panama - love'n it SO much I might have to start collecting bunny rings)

Sculpture for Eagle Mount charity

Let me introduce this sweet little bugger: I pulled over in my truck to take this photo of the first little bronze cast at the foundry.



The photos were taken while sitting behind the steering wheel of my truck. I had just picked the sculpture up, fresh from the foundry earlier this spring and couldn’t wait to text photos to Mary, the director of Eagle Mount. I was on my way to a bachelorette party but so excited about the baby eagle that I had to pull over while driving up Paradise Valley and be a bit late for the party.

The folks at Eagle Mount get to name him because the sculpture belongs to them. Perhaps you have followed my adventures over the years and already know about the special outdoor ski program I volunteer for with Eaglemount? One morning a week during the shortest days of the year I share Momma Nature and snow slopes in a program sponsored by Eaglemount, a non-profit dedicated to providing adventures to people with disabilities and life-changing camp experiences for veterans and families with children who have cancer. Eaglemount is more than ski classes - the program offers so much to many unique peeps; young and old. "Eagle Mount Bozeman is committed to provide quality therapeutic recreational opportunities for people with disabilities and young people with cancer, and to provide support for families of participants so that “they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” (Isaiah 40:31)"

I missed out volunteering for Eaglemount’s ski program this past winter since my mother’s debilitating Alzheimer’s required my full attention but I came up with another way to contribute; the baby eaglet was born…!  The limited edition of 100 solid bronze sculptures belongs to Eagle Mount - they receive 100% profits from sales.  My collector peeps had first chance at the little buggers before Eagle Mount launched them in their eNewsletter a few weeks ago.  Last weekend the sculpture was given as a gift to donors who gave $1000 or more to Eagle Mount.  More than 1/2 the edition has already found homes; I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to create art that will outlive me and and provide funding for others less fortunate than myself.

Humbled. Honored. Excited.

(Click HERE if you want to purchase an eaglet and support Eagle Mount)

And so it begins...

The last three years began with a ritual of creating one palm-size woodland critter sculpture in clay to be cast in bronze. Each January the “critter project” has been a bit of a break from studio life - the sawdust, the BIG projects. Early mornings with tea at my dining room table, the sculptures came to life. The places they’ve traveled to their forever homes is a wondrous sweet thing. Affordable. Solid bronze. Made with love. Starts with a little lump of clay...

But this year I am making an extra little sculpture for a cause. Eaglemount is very near and dear to my heart. Any guesses as to what this lump of clay will become?

Raising funds for the airport sculpture project

Bison Bench Thanks to a generous pledge of $10,000 – the Bison Bench “Sojourn” is one step closer to being placed permanently at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Three pledges totaling $26,000 have been promised for the project. I carved the life size bison in black walnut before casting it in bronze. The sculptural bench will be at the top of the stairs near the fireplace to greet people arriving in Bozeman.

Celebration of the Arts

The Emerson Center’s biggest gala of the year includes a Quick Draw event. I was honored to join 3 other artists on a bright-lit stage to whip out an artwork for the auction. I was so busy chatting with people during the 2 hours I was creating on stage that I imagine the drawing only got about 20 minutes of my time (but that didn’t keep me from getting plenty dirty in the process). The drawing was slipped into a frame and sold along with the bronze “Munch” during the live auction. I love the crazy energy shared during a live Quick Draw event. The money raised adds warm fuzzies.

Yellowstone Art Museum Opening of Works for the Annual Art Auction

If I was totally on top of things rather than pulling through the grand grief that comes from losing my dearest little constant companion dog Zaydee - then I might have actually gotten an eNewsletter off to everyone to announce the opening at the Yellowstone Art Museum before it happened. Then again, I might not have gotten that done.  But I am pretty certain the event on January 22 was a special "members only pre-view" night with the artists rather than being open to the general public anyway.  The roads were dry.  Weather was friendly.  The gala was a blast (and a fine chance to wear my new beautifully fashioned one-of-a-kind suede fringe jacket gifted to me last month).  I love the opportunity to visit with other artists and find myself honored to have had two works selected for the event this year.  My large reliquary sculpture titled "Live it Gently with Fire" is in the live auction and can be seen in a photo of the main museum gallery on the YAM's website.  

On view now at the Yellowstone Art Museum

"Silent Dreams" - one of the sculptures from my recent "Neruda Series" is also on view at the museum and is open to bid for the silent auction with a "Buy it Now" price.

post payden ride perma-grin

Still grinning and giddy from the grand day riding 100 miles for Payden yesterday; I am bubbling beyond joy.  Who knew?!! I am not exactly sure what I expected.  I just know that since the event’s inception eleven years ago I wanted to participate but was limited to sponsoring riders since I didn’t own a road bike.  The used bike is new to me and BOY HOWDY am I ever a newbie at road riding…!  The sport looks simple on the outside but like most things, there is more to it than meets the eye.

For example: I had no idea that road bike tires don’t hold air and should be checked before every ride.  I don’t even own one of those tire gage pumps even though I have been a pretty avid mountain biker for nearly two decades.  The new bike and I have only ridden together five times since spring but yesterday morning I had the event number "113" pinned to my brand new very 1st bike jersey and road out of Sacageua Park at 6:15 a.m. with a batch of friends after three hours of sleep.  My bike felt sluggish.  I looked down at my tires in the dim dawn light and decided I was simply feeling a bit sluggish myself – seriously – not even the sun was up fully.  I hadn’t been on the bike for six weeks, I am always a bit slow to warm up and I was more concerned about how the seat felt since I knew it was going to be a long ride and the seat felt – well – it felt  (which was my concern).  Promptly distracted by the large Canadian Goose, my concerns were forgotten.  The determined critter was running behind us with its beak wide open flapping its wings and waddling high speed – block after block after block.  Seems the beautiful bird didn’t want to be left behind or was giving us a running ovation start?!!!  How many centurion fundraising events start with a goose chase?!

We left Livingston and began the climb up the Bozeman Pass.  I was grinning even then – finally I was going to ride for Payden and other Montana families faced with the gut wrenching challenge of a child with cancer.  I rode with the warm fuzzy force of more than 30 people who pledged my ride during the short four-day pre-event fundraising campaign.  How wonderful to have such good people in my world and the good fortune of a healthy body and new toy to put to a good cause!  My generous sponsors blew past my $1000 fundraising goal.  I was emotionally, physically and spiritually stoked (and still laughing about the goose).

The Pass wasn’t too bad.  Everyone said the next pass was harder but the gorgeous rolly polly curved luscious and scenic ride through Jackson Creek was inspirational.  The Bridger Mountains are a fantastic backdrop and setting.  Not only were we riding in God’s country but God’s country also happens to be my back door!  The temps were perfect.  Gracious cloud cover subdued the sun.  I rode long sections by myself and other bits with others.  We were sharing the usually quiet road with dozens of trucks pulling horse trailers.  Was there a rodeo somewhere?  The “Poker Ride” sign at the Big Sky Ski Resort turnoff explained the horse trailer exodus.  Big trucks and trailers are a bit scary for this novice road rider.  A group of gal pals caught up with me on the climb up Battle Ridge Pass.  We chatted and puffed our way up the pass then gorged ourselves on goodies at the rest stop set up for us at the top.  While the gals zipped down the mountain pass without peddling, I pedaled full speed to keep their pace.  Hmmmmm?!  Maybe there was a technical reason the bike had been for sale?!  I looked at my tires again but they simply looked super skinny and certainly not flat from my point of view besides it was infinitely more fun to suck in the view than to stare at the road or worry about my bike.

The road to Wilsaw in the Shields Valley is no less scenic than the Bridger Mountains we’d left behind.  The Crazy Mountains loomed ahead while the postcard perfect countryside boasted beautiful ranches, silos, haystacks, patchwork fields, giant John Deere tractors and the Shields River.  Breathtaking.  Speaking of breath – I was panting.  Val waved the SAG wagon over to have them look at my tires since she thought they looked a low.

Low?!!  I quickly learned a valuable lesson about road bike tires.  “ALWAYS check and pump before EACH ride” our local bike shop fella and friend Storrs told me while shaking his head.  I learned that my tires should be at 120 pounds of pressure, which explains the sluggishness since they were at 30 and 40 pounds respectfully.  Egads!  More than 4 hours, two mountain passes and 60+ miles into the ride and the gift of properly pumped tires made me feel taller in my seat but more important: each pedal stroke was oodles more efficient.  I also felt each little road bump more but it’s a fine trade-off when you consider the heavy -work-load option of biking on nearly deflated tires.

I could have kissed Val and our SAG wagon guru Storrs.  Which makes me want to mention the overwhelming love I feel for all of the people who volunteer behind an event like this.  Cheery people set up rest stops with fresh water and munchies at intervals.  The SAG wagon fixed flat after flat followed by mechanicals etc.  Professional massage therapists greeted us at Sacajawea Park to give free massages after riders crossed the cheering finish line.   The energy people shared brightened a loving force and fueled our cause.   The only thing that kept me from grinning stupidly throughout the ride was the threat of bugs in my teeth.Payden's signature and handprint

I learned quite a bit about myself, others and the sport of road riding.  I took turns in the lead “drafting” in a pack of fellas while riding the final twenty miles in a headwind.  Throughout the day we shared stories, laughs, panting, ibuprofen and encouragement during the eight hours on the road.  Momma Nature graced us with cool temps and pummeled us with a memorable wee tantrum of big-drop rain right before the finish line.  The scenery was out of this world.  My fanny faired better than expected.  The goodwill feeling stitched together by caring community put a perma-grin on my face.  I wore the grin home, filled my clawfoot tub, poured a glass of wine and ate brownies while I soaked.

I don't yet know the Blazing Saddles event fundraising total but my pledged contribution was more than $1700 for the Payden Memorial Foundation.  Donations can still be made on my pledge page.  A bright yellow jersey was given to me for raising more than $1000.  The jersey has Payden's sweet six year old signature printed on his hand print on the backside along with a drawing he did of himself on each sleeve.  Sweet.  Sad.  Touching.  Inspiring.

I imagine it will be a few days before I pull on my new jersey and ride.  I guarantee I will have pumped up tires and an inflated smile to match.  

worthy cause event

A sweet bit of grace added a little road bike to my arsenal of outdoor adventure toys this spring – why not use if for a good cause?!

Actually the Payden Memorial Foundation is more than a good cause: A Livingston family lost their dear sweet 6-year-old boy to cancer in 2000. The foundation is their way to celebrate Payden's life by helping Montana families who face the nightmarish challenge of a child with cancer. The Blazing Saddles ride is the biggest fundraising event for the foundation. Each year I have pledged my support to a number of riders but this year I will ride 100 miles for the cause.

I have never ridden 100 miles...!  The event snuck up on me (yes – the studio work keeps me captivated) so I registered last minute (Monday) and have been raising pledges since.  I haven't trained -  in fact I have ridden the bike exactly five times earlier this spring (but once was during a triathlon and another ride was over a mountain pass).

The day after tomorrow I will plunk my butt down on that wee little seat and pedal for Payden.   I have almost reached my goal of $1000 in pledges and would LOVE to beat it!!!

Your support and a bit of gumption on my part can help take care of families during their heartbreaking struggle.

Just take a quick moment to click on this link to sponsor:

You’ll reap the sparkle of warm fuzzies and my heartfelt gratitude…