Sunday, October 4, 2015

Small Wonders

One just never knows, does one?

As you recall, The Cather Foundation in Red Cloud, Nebraska invited me to exhibit my work in their beautiful gallery space from September 1 through October 30, 2015. Last night we enjoyed a really lovely reception, which was a series of unexpected delights.

The foundation building itself is lovely; updated, yet with the flavor of the past and the influences on Cather's life carefully preserved.

Despite the distance between towns in this part of the world there is a sincere appreciation for the fine arts. Take that, Big City.

During the evening a smooth, on-the-ball collector quietly purchased Windswept, a lovely pastel of mine that expresses the chill beauty of open space in rural Nebraska after a brutally cold snow storm. Gentleman Collector has a discerning eye, so I was doubly pleased. As I related this purchase to Handsome Husband, a friend listening in whispered with great regret, "No kidding? But I wanted that one." His disappointment was both gratifying and charming.

©Patricia Scarborough  Windswept  8x12 pastel
In an equally surprising and gratifying turn, Handsome Husband, whose taste runs more to rubber dinosaur and shoot'em up movies, purchased "Willa Cather Collected Stories" for his personal library.  HH credits his 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Griffin, for planting the seed. He recounted her dedication and love for Cather's work all these years later which was of course lost on a 4th grade boy. In the shadow of Cather's presence, as an adult he was intrigued. May wonders never cease.

We left Red Cloud last night with a sense of deep appreciation for so much; for the work of Willa Cather herself; for those who work to preserve her legacy; for those who appreciate the artistic efforts of others; and for a certain 4th grade teacher who planted a small seed so many years ago.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tree Work

The sky is bigger by half above the yard where touchdown passes were caught and little boy dreams of football stardom were made.

The mosaic of brilliant blue and green divided by twigs and lithe branches is gone, undone in a roaring 60 minutes of flying sawdust. Forty seasons of baby birds and squirrels scrabbling up and down have come to a close.

Undone by years of twisting winds this tired maple was held together by the filament of bird nests and a foot-long bolt drilled through its trunk to mend a terrible wound from 20 years ago which never really healed.

Part of the rhythm of my life is to check the tree for a weather report or just to see what shapes and colors it will share.

Today is clear, with no chance of shade. 

Handsome Husband, always the optimist, ventures that this change will bring opportunity, and he is right, of course. Games of catch were outgrown anyway and there will be one less tree-full of leaves to rake this fall.  Next year we'll start over with sun-loving flowers and saplings that hold the promise of shade and decades of reaching for the sky.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Art Relieves Stress

Feeling rushed? Panicked even?

Is anxiety getting the best of you? Are the walls pushing in, your lunch hour squeezed into a few minutes, break time feeling more like a breaking point?

September Ramble  ©Patricia Scarborough  12x12 oil
Jared Green gets it. He’s a writer and editor for a really interesting landscape architecture blog titled The Dirt. A few years ago he wrote several articles on stress as it relates to our inside living spaces. Go ahead and browse if you'd like. I'll wait.

The Washington Post gets in on the act as well. From Wapo june 29, 2015, in a nutshell:
“…University of Melbourne’s Kate Lee and a group of colleagues found that interrupting a tedious, attention-demanding task with a 40-second “microbreak” — in which one simply looks at a computerized image of a green roof — improved focus as well as subsequent performance…”
And from an article in the Wall Street Journal by ShirleyWang on the benefits of going green:
“... the researchers had participants take a break for 10 minutes in a quiet room to look at pictures of a nature scene or city street. Again, they found that cognitive performance improved after the nature break, even though it was only on paper.”

San Gabriel Trailhead  ©Patricia Scarorough  9x12 oil

Enough of science, let’s cut to the chase, shall we? 

Green is good. Grass is great. Trees are terrific. Flowers are fantastic. Skies are scintillating. Depth is delicious. Horizons are hor-…uh…hir-…uh..calming.

Anyway, the gist of it all is that looking at nature, at green living things, is good for us.

I understand that not everyone can leave their desk for a walk on a dirt path in a field of clover. Sometimes finding the time to gaze across a hay field and listen to the cattle munching is impossible. Or maybe you live in one of those places where cement has covered what used to be green and fertile. 
Under a Green Canopy  ©Patricia Scarborough 30x40 oil  
The answer is surprisingly easy. Get yourself some art. Plunk it on your desk between the pencil cup and stapler so you can see it easily. Better yet, really invest in your well-being and acquire a larger piece. Hang it on the wall, right over the chair where your boss plants herself. You can pretend to pay attention while gazing at something really important – like an image of the great big beautiful world around you. And feel your stress melt away.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

American Plains Art Awards

Great Plains Museum, Lincoln, Ne.
 I’m changing my address. Please send further correspondence to Scarborough Studios, Cloud Nine. It’s a pretty classy neighborhood.

It was terrific enough to be accepted in to the American Plains Artists Annual Juried Exhibition, held through October 24th at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, Ne. The American Plains Artists have been around for over 30 years, educating the public about the beauty of plains life through traditional and representational art works. Their annual exhibit is held in such lofty spaces as Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, and the Museum of the Southwest.

To attend the opening reception and see a ribbon next to my painting, "Labor & Plenty" left me a little stunned. I think my exact reaction was something clever, like “Neato!”

Thank you SourceTek for supporting my award!
Handsome Husband and I took a turn around the room to view the other artwork that had been juried into the collection.  W O W.  Seeing artwork via the APA website does not convey the richness and brilliance of color, or the quality of brush strokes, or the muscular feel of bronze. This exhibit is really beautiful.

Especially wonderful was seeing a First Place ribbon next to a beautiful oil painting of the Middle Loup River at Halsey Forest by my dear friend Layne Mills.  

Yay Layne!!
Recognizing that mine was among 30 awards given out by Jurist Tom Tierney, co-publisher of Art of the West Magazine in such a strong field of artists is heartwarming and humbling.
Mr. Tierney gave a lovely introductory talk about what it means to view a body of art and select good/better/best.  His remarks were respectful and supportive of our efforts as artists to interpret our vision of a geographical area and way of life past and present. Thank you sir.

Tom Tierney, co-publisher of Art of the West Magazine and jurist for this exhibit
So I’m doing a happy dance across the living room of my Cloud Nine address. No doubt the movers will be here soon enough to return me to my place among mortals, but until then, I’m loving the view.