Sunday, June 28, 2015

Your Reception Primer

As you know, you (yes, you!) are invited to the opening reception for Transitions, an exhibit of paintings by yours truly, and ceramic pieces by Sharon T. Ohmberger. The date of the reception is Friday July 3rd, from 5:30 to 8:00pm, the exhibit is available to the public the entire month of July at The Burkholder Project.

It’s been interesting and informative to hear people respond to their invitations.
A close acquaintance of Handsome Husband revealed that he was not likely to attend. This strapping enforcer of the law said with obvious worry, “I dunno what to do at these things!” This from a man whose hands are considered lethal weapons.

To this question Handsome Husband and I offer a primer of sorts.  Forthwith is a step-by-step how-to for the uninitiated exhibit-goer:

What to wear:

Keep in mind that this particular opening reception is being held in Nebraska in July. The Burkholder Project is located in the Haymarket area near downtown Lincoln, where the only shade comes from 3-story brick buildings. The temperature is likely to be in the lower 400’s. Dress comfortably. Flip-flops and t-shirt are fine, tie is optional.

Conversation starters:

Hellow is a good way to start. Other topics include the temperature, parking, or ‘Them Huskers’ (if you’re a Nebraskan, you know what that means). Open-ended remarks are excellent ways to begin, such as, “Tell me about this”, or “Is this a place near (name any city you can think of)”. “This one is lovely; this is my favorite; this one reminds me of (name your favorite uncle or vacation place)” are excellent ways to begin a conversation.

Conversation enders:

“My great grandma used to paint like this, or, I don’t get it” are not helpful.  “Gee, I can’t even draw a stick figure!” has been heard before. At least a million times before. If you feel one of those remarks piling up behind your lips, shove a cookie in your mouth.

Speaking of cookies :


You will most likely be invited to have a nibble of something and a glass of cheap wine. This is an art reception. Pinkies out.

 Mostly though, dear reader, stroll through the various rooms and hallways that house the art. The Burkholder Project is a 3-level gallery filled with excellent artists and creations. Consider what you see, how it was made, why, and with what.  Remember, the artist would love to visit with you about what they’ve made, so asking a question is fine. Should their explanation take longer than you’re comfortable with, feel free to fake a phone call and stride quickly away. Feel free to ad lib here.

Keep an open mind, you may actually find something that would make you happy every time you see it in your home. If you’re not sure,  consider coming back in a few days when the crowd has thinned and visit with a knowledgeable salesperson. They will answer any questions or concerns you  may have. By then a discriminating collector may have already claimed your favorite art piece though so be prepared to live with crushing disappointment.

There you have it. Practice makes perfect, so let's start you on a regimen of opening receptions beginning with Transitions at The Burkholder Project on Friday July 3rd. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015


I’ve been noticing lately how easy it is to get caught up in brain chatter. I’m talking about unfinished conversations held years ago - or never held at all; lists to make and add to; and she said what? Why I oughta...kind of stuff.

Today on my walk my goal was to be present, to hush the chattery brain and allow information from my eyes to actually reach grey matter. What would change?

2015 Patricia Scarborough   Transition    oil  36x48
Here's what I'd been missing:

Dog paws the size of dinner plates meandering through mud.

A purple sack fluttering in the breeze, caught on barbed wire like a captured bird.

A momma bird (presumably) perched in a brand new nest.

Cemetery markers shoulder to shoulder, each a little tilted to the left. 

Puddles the color of the sky.

Corn plants taller than they were yesterday.

Birds on telephone wires in the key of G.

The first patch of sky for the day.

Worm trails in fresh dirt.

Blossoms of indeterminate origin wafting on a cool breeze.

Frogs singing in new ponds created by last night’s storm.

The weaving back and forth of tree branches planted in a row and allowed to grow untouched for 20 years.

I listened to the rhythm my feet on crunchy gravel.

I felt myself breath.

Remembered how very grateful I am to be married to my Handsome Husband, and to have lived with 2 Fine Sons for all those years.

Happy Mother’s Day to you. May your day be filled with the scent of fresh lilacs, laughter, and delight in the world around you.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pulling Myself Together

HH and The Fellas at The Getty Museum, waiting for me to un-discombobulate myself.
Handsome Husband, The Fellas and I were recently at The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, home to some exquisite paintings by Degas, Cezanne, and Monet. 

I give up.
Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light by Claude Monet. Download courtesy Getty Museum.  
It seems to be impossible to share with you what it’s like to stand before a painting that communicates beyond words, beyond the seasons and across borders. What is it about the movement of a line, or a swirl of paint that causes a space to grow in my chest that fills with a deep ache of wonder?

My feet leave the floor and my senses go on hiatus.

Actually, that kind of reaction would be totally acceptable to me. No one but me needs to know that the world has tilted ever so slightly. It’s the tears that begin to leak and drip off my chin that cause museum guards and art patrons to eye me suspiciously. No one wants to stand near another person who appears to be on the edge of discombobulation.

Upon seeing "The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light", “Wheat Stacks, Snow Effect, Morning”, and “Sunrise, Marine”  all in a row, my innards began to vibrate. The Van Gogh…then the Cezanne…a Degas, and another Degas…back to Sunrise, the painting which started the ruckus we now call Impressionism

Sunset, Marine, by Claude Monet. Download courtesy Getty Museum
History. Change. The beginning. Dedication. Determination. Failure. Risk. Energy. Passion. Professional peril. Misfortune, lucky breaks. Uncertainty. Vulnerability.   

Being within inches of all of those natures, framed and presented so prettily, creates a vibration of feeling that rattles me to my core. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ain't Got No

I was visiting recently with Dr. T, a fine young physicist, about the challenges of his work.  

2014 Blue River Reclamation  22x28 oil  Am I satisfied?
According to him, it goes like this:

They think about what they want to know. Experiments and measurements are set up.  And then they decide if they figured stuff out.  

That’s it, in a nutshell.

So, I asked, "When you get your answer…then what? You’re done? Check it off the list and start a new quest?"

With a deep sigh and no small amount of patience, he said:

"We’re never done. Asking a question always leads to more questions. We wonder about A. Which leads to A.1. Which leads to A.1a, or A.2, or whatever combination of trails happen to wander off from the original problem."

"More questions arise from the answers we get," he said.  "There’s always another something that needs asking. And answering."

With a sigh he wrapped it up by saying, “We learn to be satisfied with not being satisfied.”

And for just a moment, the vast abyss in my understanding of gravity, E=MC2 and time travel was bridged. I understood physics. Okay, maybe not exactly physics, but I got the part about not being satisfied.

Last year’s paintings were lovely. They’ve been signed, framed and hung so satisfied I was with them. Yet, as I view them today, I see things…questions I should have asked, ideas that needed wondering about.  Even last month’s accomplishments, so exciting and purposeful, don’t quite meet the mark today. I’m familiar with a successful artist whose wife no longer allows him to hang his own work in their home. Evidently she’s tired of having him dash away from a dinner party, grab a painting off the wall and disappear with it into his studio, leaving her with guests and the dishes. It’s a satisfaction problem.

In creative endeavors (as well as physics, evidently) to be satisfied is to stop looking. Satisfaction suggests fulfillment, a job well done – or done, anyway. It suggests no need to keep at it, no need to change, or to keep wondering what if.

If we're doing it right, there should always be something else.  As frustrating as it can be, it is energizing to allow that itchy little question that asks, what if … what if?

What if I try this?
What if this color …
What if that shape …
Is it enough? Too much?
How about …?

To keep learning and growing, that is how it should be. That’s how discoveries are made and societies are changed. Without a "what if" we wouldn't have light bulbs, telephones, Cubism, Jazz, circus elephants, Impressionism, platform shoes, bungee jumping, or any number of  discoveries that have changed the way we see the world. (I didn't say every query into "what-if" had to be successful.) It’s not always pretty or fun or Nobel Prize winning, but it is what drives us to keep at it, to keep learning, to keep dipping that brush in one more time.