Archive for the ‘unusual situations’ Category

Dear Fellow Starvelings,

I know it’s been a long time since last I wrote, but I’m determined to hang around this time. There’s a lot I’ve learned – both what to do and what not to do.  And there’s an awful lot to write about.

The main thing about this summer is that I got to spend more time than usual with my mom. She turned 97 last month, she still lives at home, and is as feisty and independent an individual as you are ever likely to meet. She sees the portents of mortality, and she’s facing them courageously. Then again, she’s always been courageous. Shy people who stand up for themselves are the bravest people I know, and she’s at the top of that list.

I did some gardening. Mom has always been a wonderful gardener but can’t do it any more. She can, however, give very precise instructions! I did some tidying and got rid of some tins ‘way over their sell-by date to give her more counter space (she’s one of those Great Depression kids who doesn’t want to throw anything away “just in case”).

We went over old pictures, letters, newspaper articles. She told me a lot of stories I’d never heard before about her young days. This time I wrote it down, as much as I could. Every time I visit she wants me to take stuff back with me that she doesn’t want any more. Usually I say no, but this time I said yes, at least to many of these items. I realize that she wants me to have them as remembrances, She doesn’t want them scattered to the four winds or sold at a garage sale. So now I have Mom’s wedding ring. I wear it all the time and find that when I touch it I feel a sort of communion with her. I don’t regret accepting this gift one little bit. It keeps a part of her with me always.

We also sang together. Mom loves to sing. Her favorite song, she told me, is “The Rose.” So I had the bright idea of setting up the DVD player that had been gathering dust in the corner, made a call to Ken, and in a few days Mom got a little package in the mail – a DVD of a Bette Midler concert including The Rose! And by gosh, Mom just loves Bette Midler, as it turns out. We played the concert twice and had so much fun. I love it when my mother laughs.

I’ve done a few pictures for her and plan to do some more.  I talk to her on the phone three days a week. (advice to starvelings: get one of those bundled phone/cable/pc deals where you can use your land phone to call anywhere in the US and have any number of these calls just folded into your monthly bill at no extra charge).

Anyway, it’s time to jump back in the saddle. I’ll have some interesting reports in the coming months so stay on board. Now that really WAS a mixed metaphor, wasn’t it?

No wonder I call my Facebook Art Page: Judith Keefer Tingley – Mixed Metaphors.

Dear Fellow Starvelings,

This week I’m getting ready to visit my Mom in Michigan. I do this every year, and every year I want to spend more time with her.  She’ll be 97 years old soon, and I treasure every minute with her. Sure, we talk on the phone several times a week but that’s just not the same as a good hug. She has a lot of stories and a lot of wisdom to share, and this year I want to act as her secretary, taking down those stories in a manner I hope will do her justice. I’m also going to bring her a present, which she’ll almost certainly try to refuse, but I want her to have it anyway. It’s this collage I did wherein I picture Mom and me as two little girls together:


Dear Fellow Starvelings,

April has come and gone, a sodden sodding mess. Now the sun has decided to shine and I’m ready to go dancing in the streets!

But before that, let me describe to you a very tricky situation a friend finds herself in. This friend (we shall call her MM, for “Miss Moral” because moral she tries to be, even though the moral path is sometimes not the most obvious one).

Here are a few facts about our MM:

She is a painter. She is also passionately political.

She belongs to an association of painters, all of whom are very nice people. It is a well organized association, with a President and a Board of Directors and lots of committees.

Recently MM received a notification from the Association that she needed to add her signature to its by-laws, as this was required of all members. Our poor MM had not been aware of this requirement; she had not even been aware that the association had by-laws. Wanting to be a good member, she found the by-laws, read them once, read them again, and then again, shaking her head in bafflement. Most of the document was just as she’d expected, but one clause gave her pause. It was undoubtedly the most well intended of all the sections, but she worried that its inclusion might force her not to sign, thereby resigning her membership.

What was it that worried MM so? It was the insertion into the by-laws a statement asserting that the member would not make art “that defames or vilifies any person, people, races, religion or religious group and is not obscene, pornographic, indecent, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory or otherwise objectionable.”

Well, of course this sounds perfectly fine on first reading. MM would never ever ever make art that could be considered racist or sexist or homophobic or ageist … but wait a minute… MM considered the content of some of her political paintings. She made fun of certain political groups. She made fun of religion in general. She vilified racists, sexists, homophobes, ageists and others of their ilk quite strongly in some of her pieces. She sometimes included likenesses of well-known politicians or celebrities in her work, and not in a flattering way.  She pondered the meaning of even including privacy rights and publicity rights in the by-laws.  But as she understood it, art trumped these, at least when applied to public figures.

The more she thought about it, the more confused she became. Surely some of her paintings could be regarded as indecent, maybe even inflammatory, and “otherwise objectionable” — she was sure at least some part of the population would object to many of her pieces.

So, though she deeply respects the intentions of the agreement, she still hasn’t signed it.  And the vast world of possibilities seems to be getting smaller and smaller as she considers some of the pieces she has planned —  what might be indecent, what might be inflammatory, what might be otherwise objectionable.

I took my show down last week. It was a wonderful month full of nice people saying nice things about my work (and even buying it!!). I feel like I’ve taken a big first step.

On the other hand, I’m also feeling something similar to postpartum malaise.

I know I need to start working again, and I even have plans for a Scarlet Letter piece and a Cain & Abel piece (settling the score, as it were). But these projects are large & complicated and seem intimidating right now.

What to do? Well, I’ve decided to give myself a little boost by beginning with an abstraction & then finding patterns in it. Like when I was a kid and found patterns in the wallpaper. I’m working with the first abstraction now, using color pencils to discover my own creation within the lines. It’s fun and surprising and I find that I’m actually constructing a coherent picture out of it all, just going with my gut..

I don’t know if it’s art, but it’s getting me energized.  I’ll post the finished product when it feels finished, and you can judge for yourselves.

Art or not, it is serving a useful purpose – it’s getting me going again!