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Independence Day: 4th Anniversary of Self Employment

Margaret Almon with Beverly Pepper's Vertical Ventaglio
Margaret Almon with Beverly Pepper’s Vertical Ventaglio , June 2014. Photo by Wayne Stratz. Vertical Ventaglio by Beverly Pepper in the Memorial Art Gallery Sculpture Garden in Rochester, NY. Vertical Ventaglio, 1967-1968 American Sculpture Stainless and carbon steel with automotive paint 104 5/8 in. x 43 1/2 in. x 86 in. (265.75 cm x 110.49 cm x 218.44 cm)

July 2014 is the 4th Anniversary of my Independence.  My employer closed the library in which I worked and let me go.  I am thinking about that phrase, “Let me go.” They let me go, and I went.  I was scared, anxious and sad.  I worried about money.  I felt unnecessary, obsolete and hurt.  They let me go, and I decided to let them go, and work for myself as an artist.

Now, I can’t imagine working for someone else.  It is both scary and exhilarating to choose my own path, knowing that each month I start again with the balance sheet.

Stratoz and I were on vacation in 2010 when the list of those who were laid off was announced(and which thankfully I did not know until I got back).   This photo is from our 2014 vacation trip to Rochester, NY, with the sculpture at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery by Beverly Pepper.  I read a story about the artist which I admire:

Turning from painting to sculpture in 1960, Pepper first carved in wood, a plentiful and inexpensive material. Instead of hand chisels, she preferred power tools as appropriate to the modern Machine Age. In 1962 the organizer of the music and art festival at Spoleto, Italy, invited ten sculptors to use local steel factories as their studios for a month. Of the three Americans, two were well-established masters of abstract metal constructions: Alexander Calder and David Smith. The third was Pepper, who did not yet even know how to weld. So she apprenticed herself to an ironmonger and shortly thereafter made her first steel sculpture, nearly eighteen feet tall. Thereafter, Pepper sculpted only in metal on a monumental scale, preferably for installation outdoors in urban spaces. 

Beverly Pepper | Landmarks.

I admire Pepper’s confidence.  She didn’t know how to weld, but she wanted to weld, and onward she went.  Another independent spirit!

What is independence for you?

My visit to another Beverly Pepper work, this time at the Grounds for Sculpture

X is for Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, A to Z Challenge 2013


X is for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Started by some jazz lovers in Rochester, John Nugent and Marc Iacona in 2002, Xerox became the title sponsor in 2009.

Our first visit, Stratoz went to vespers at Christ Church, one of the venues, and after asked if he could photograph the Tiffany mosaic. He got this cool silhouette of the drum kit as well.

Over the years, the Nordic jazz venue at the Reformation Lutheran Church has some of the most innovative music.
I took this photo of Stratoz by the larger than life Festival schedule. The Xerox Auditorium was already one of our favorite places on the schedule, and it was nice to know that Xerox wanted to participate even more by becoming a sponsor. They also started printing the passes with a funky text only visible under UV light, using their Xerox-Superpowers!
I keep last year’s XRIJF pass in my studio, as a reminder of the joy that is jazz.


Milestone Glass, Rochester, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Going North: Of Canada Day and Rochester, NY, Jazz, Poutine and Tim Horton’s

For Canada Day, and I am reflecting on my circuitous route from Edmonton, AB to Lansdale, PA and my vacation to Rochester for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.  2012 was the 4th year Stratoz and I have made the journey north for the festival, as we both love jazz and I particularly love going north in the summer.  We stayed with our friends who Stratoz met through his blog, and enjoyed good company and 5 nights of jazz.  The Nordic jazz venue was a favorite of ours, with Sunna Gunnlaugs trio from Iceland, and other musicians from even farther north than Rochester.

Milestone Glass, Rochester, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Milestone Glass, Rochester, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

On the way to my pilgrimage to Tim Horton’s for a maple dip donut and coffee, we rediscovered Milestone Glass Creations, and got some fine sheets of glass as souvenirs of our trip.  I remember Timmy’s from my youth, the shop on Whyte Ave in Edmonton, and I still do not understand why something as delicious as  maple glazed donuts are so scarce in the US.  Rochester is far enough north that Tim Horton’s has infiltrated.

Tim Hortons Coffee and Maple Glaze, Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Tim Hortons Coffee and Maple Glaze, Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Most unexpectedly, our friend Kathryn alerted us to the Le Petit Poutine truck parked at Abilene, one of the jazz fest venues, with owners from Quebec.  I had not partaken of  poutine since the night the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup, and all the food trucks were out for the revelers downtown.  In the interim, I became a vegetarian, but happily, Le Petit Poutine has a vegetarian version of the luscious gravy, fries and cheese curds, topped with fresh thyme.   Apparently, the name “poutine” comes from an Acadian word for “mess” and yes, it’s a big delicious mess, and being descended from Acadians, I approve.

Mmm...Le Petit Poutine, Rochester NY food truck
Mmm…Le Petit Poutine, Rochester NY food truck

The final thing to evoke Canada for me was the accent I kept hearing in lines for jazz venues, almost Canadian in inflection, with some Chicago thrown in.  I don’t know why I didn’t notice this in previous years, but apparently Rochester has its own dialect.  People were always delighted and surprised to discover we had come up from Philadelphia to the festival.A jazz bonus:  Taurey Butler trio ended the festival for us, and he was a wonderful pianist, from East Orange, NJ who discovered Oscar Peterson(Canadian), and after a degree in engineering and Japanese, eventually started playing jazz piano, and moved to Montreal, Oscar’s hometown.

Rochester Jazz Festival and Tiffany’s The Lord’s Supper Mosaic

Tiffany's The Lord's Supper with Drums. Photo by Wayne Stratz, at Rochester Jazz Festival.
Tiffany’s The Lord’s Supper with Drums. Photo by Wayne Stratz, at Rochester Jazz Festival.

After my post about Tiffany’s Dream Garden mosaic, my husband reminded me that we’d seen another Tiffany mosaic, The Lord’s Supper, at the the Rochester International Jazz Festival in 2009. He took a particularly cool picture of it, with a drum kit in front, since Christ Church Episcopal was a venue for the Festival. We were getting ready to listen to Miguel Zenon, saxophonist extraordinaire, and a painting at the front of the sanctuary caught my eye, and then I realized it was a mosaic! And when I went up to get a closer look, I discovered the floor was tiled in Tiffany mosaic as well. I was in heaven.

Tiffany's The Lord's Supper at Christ Episcopal Church, Rochester, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Tiffany’s The Lord’s Supper at Christ Episcopal Church, Rochester, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Tiffany Mosaic Floor Christ Church, Rochester, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Tiffany Mosaic Floor Christ Church, Rochester, NY. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

A blogger friend of Wayne’s has graciously offered to let us stay with them. I find when I sit and listen to jazz, I imagine mosaics, like the music taps into the creative visual part of my mind, and my imagination roams into new ideas. The other cool thing about a Rochester trip, is that there were yarn stores to check out. I became a knitter in 2008, and suddenly I had a new stash of fiber in addition to my stash of glass, and the opportunity to experience color and texture in a different way. On the way to Rochester, in Watkins Glen, is the Finger Lakes Fiber Yarn store. As we drove into town, I was looking for the store, but it was easy to find, since there was a big sign that said “YARN” and what lovely yarn it was.

Not to mention there was Tobes Donut & Bakery next door, and I am nothing if not a fan of donuts.

Related: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls

Over at Stratoz:

Tiffany Lamps Come to the Reading Museum