Tag Archives: Austin

I Love Austin

Standard

I admit I am tempted to cheat. When we show homes in Pflugerville, Round Rock and Cedar Park, I feel the need to have 2500+ square feet and a bathroom for each member of my family. The seduction of all that space and a kitchen that is 4 times the size of the one I have plus HUGE closets in every room, I could cheat. Dreams of the entertaining I could do and the meals I could make carry me away.

In my haze of huge home land, I realize we are in the car with heavy traffic sounding us. A wave washes over me, I can’t see Austin. Panic sets in and I’m gripping the arm rest. The feeling I get once we come over the hill and I see Downtown has no words. My body starts to relax once we take the 45th street exit. Once we cross Lamar a strange sense of calm overtakes me, once across Guadalupe, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.

People like big homes and big yards. The seclusion of the burbs is their dream. There is nothing wrong with desiring a sense of calm and peacefulness after a long day at work. Free of noise, hundreds of people and crazy traffic is very alluring, especially sitting in front of your fireplace, over looking your very own backyard pool, built-in.

Not everyone enjoys the sounds of screaming sirens all times of the day and night, the chop, chop chop of helicopters overhead rushing a person to the hospital or searching for some criminal, much less the random live wailing of the punk band practicing next door. I personally can’t imagine my life without it.

I have lived in Central Austin most of my adult life, I’ve seen the expansion of Mopac so far North that I didn’t know that far North existed, the warehouse district become the high-rise district, the corner indie movie theater on Guadalupe turn to a $ theater, Tower Records, Intellectual Property, to a noodle house. Austin has grown, changed and expanded in ways I would have never envisioned. 

Ultimately what keeps me here are the things you can’t get anywhere else. A swim in Shipe Park pool, a long run around Town Lake, snow cones at Casey’s, super cheap tacos from the Tamale House, businesses that are owned by a person, not a corporation, and most importantly, the overwhelming sense of belonging.

Austin has seen me through the best of times and the worst of times, it’s not just the town I live in, it’s a true love affair with a beautiful city.

Advertisements

Where the heck is Tarkington Prairie?

Standard

Hoot, glass owls on copperI’ve lived in Texas all my life and honestly I’ve never thought too much about it. I guess when you live in a state that still has the right to succeed from the union, tortilla chips created in the shape of Texas and is ultimately famous for the show Dallas and oil wells, you just learn to accept the things that go along with living here.

Living in Houston or Austin, is a world apart from living in a small town in Texas. I grew up in Houston the majority of my elementary life. We moved to Tarkington Prairie at the beginning of my 5th grade year. To say I hated it, would be a lie. Moving from the metropolis of Houston to a tiny spot in East Texas that doesn’t exist as a town, wasn’t that bad. I had a lot of time to learn about myself and experience many animals, reptiles and amphibians. We lived on 10 acres with a variety of barns, outbuildings and fenced plots. The best part of it was that the land behind ours was owned by Champion paper company. It wasn’t fenced and it was kept clear of brush. Huge pine trees wrapped around low water creeks was my playground.

Life is a little harder in the country. If the power goes out, you have no water, because you get water from the well that is electric. The other thing about the country, you experience life and death first hand. From watching a baby calf born to smashing a snake with a shovel, everyday reminds you that life is awesome and fragile at the same time.

Steer, charm necklace

What does all of this have to do with the art I’m creating now? I began working with things I was naturally drawn to and like all artists, pondering why these seemingly disparate objects belong together and make sense in your head as well as visually. Sometimes art starts with a memory, sometimes art brings back a memory. Either way, we understand ourselves a little better and it drives us to create.

Chicken, charm necklace

Most of the new pieces came from my second home in Tarkington Prairie. Once ashamed of living there, I can now laugh at the crazy celebrations such as Dairy Day and anointing a Dairy Day Queen to lead the parade of pick-up trucks down the main street of Cleveland, Texas. I can relish the time I spent with cows, horses, pigs, chickens and ducks and the complete freedom I experienced while trekking through the woods behind our house.

Texas is my home and will always be my home. I live in Austin now and I adore it. I do miss seeing loose cows in the road, rabbits running across your path and the occasional jump from seeing a snake. I’ve just learned how to enjoy those memories and let them inspire me in a whole new way.

Austin, charm necklace within watch

For those of you who are curious, here is Tarkington Prairie

The first cut is the deepest

Standard

I’m always looking for new ways to express myself. I crochet, make over fashion dolls, cook, make jewelry, and paint. I give myself a new challenge and I go for it. No fear! I’ve decided that I enjoy blogging so much, I want to write. I’ve written a few short stories here and there and all of the obligatory papers and reports for grad and undergrad classes. I now dare myself to write at least 1 maybe 2 short stories in the next few months. I have a goal of getting an article in a lifestyle magazine and possible a few short stories published. I live in Austin and we are an extremely literate town (although, while on the college campus, you might think otherwise).

Passion, new ring in bronze

Why do I think I can write? It’s not that I think I’m an expert in a certain field or that my observations are completely brand new. I would never be a critic! I do believe I have a unique way of seeing things and therefore, writing about them. All anyone can tell me is no. No doesn’t hurt. I’ve learned that you mine as well do what you want. Life is too short to let anyone stop you, a lesson I learned in a very hard way, while in Graduate school. I did my undergraduate work at UT Austin. We focused the cognitive part of art creation, artistic philosophies and executing our ideas. Students worked in a variety of art forms and traditions, including performance, installation and video. It was an extremely nurturing environment.

We choose to go to graduate school in Nacogdoches, located in East Texas, about 1 1/2 hours from the Louisiana border. I got in by the skin of my teeth because I had a good GED score and great recommendations from my former professors. The faculty hated my portfolio! I should have known then and there that the fit for me in the program would not be easy. I was young, full of my artist ego, and 100% naive.

Sunny, new ring in gold

My artwork was constantly challenged on the merits of craftsmanship, how it was hung or installed and the feminist ideas driving the work. I took my fair share of verbal beatings in formal critiques as well as some extra ones thrown in here and there in my studio. I have to admit, I did have a couple of incredible professors, who understood what I was doing, supported my work, and even defended it. I choose 3 of these people to serve on my committee for my thesis. These would be the people to lead me to artistic victory in the department. I had a very successful Master’s exhibition. This was the final piece to the puzzle of having your thesis accepted. My written thesis proposal had been accepted and I passed orals. I made it through all the bs and now I just had to work on my art.

The morning after my exhibition, I bounded into the chairman’s office ready to hear my accolades, finally! I had the few normal detractors (As an artist, not everyone will love your work. That’s just the way it is.) My thesis committee gave me glowing reviews, well 2 of them did. One was quoted for saying I was one of the smartest people to ever come through the program. WOW! But, he continued to say that after seeing my show, he didn’t know if he can further support my work or my thesis! WTF!!!! I left from the office and almost wrecked my bike on the way home. The tears streaming from my eyes blinding me and the horrible hyperventilating that comes from crying so hard, strangling me at the same time. I was destroyed!

Rumors later surfaced that the person who once loved me and now seemed to think I was crap, had a bad opening for his show the weekend before. To his credit, he is a master painter of still life and continues to teach, paint and exhibit his work in galleries throughout Texas. I guess we all have our bad days, but if this was indeed the case and I got blasted for his failings, then I don’t have much respect for him. If he honestly believed my show sucked, he should have been thoughtful enough to speak to me in private before I heard it from the chairman. I survived the ordeal and found another great person to serve on my committee. My resolve was stronger and words like his would never cut so deep again. Those wounds are now calluses.

I’m not scared to do what I want because I learned to survive the haters. They are everywhere and it’s best to let them be the fuel to your fire. I will write and I will be published because I want it and I’m not afraid to go out and get it. Rejection is part of the process and whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. You can’t let fear of approval and harsh words keep you in a cage or stop you in your tracks.

Give the bird to the naysayers when they try to hold you down. They can stand there and watch as you fly away!

Ocean, new ring in gold

The Waiting is the hardest part

Standard

My etsy store has been open a week today and nothing has sold. I’m a little disappointed but I also know it will take time for people to see my jewelry, become intrigued and ultimately buy it.

Deva, (celestial spirit) made for Debbie

The market for hand-made jewelry is huge. I have to learn to fight my way through, work hard, and make it to the top.

I’ve had to learn how to do this before. I remember running in the Capitol 10K in 2010. It’s a huge race around the capitol and through downtown Austin. Approximately 25,000+ run this race, it’s the largest 10K in Texas and one of the largest 10K’s in the nation.

The Dragon, copper wire wrapped ring

When you start, you can’t run, there are so many people that you slowly push to the start and look for a way to fight through the crowd.

It’s intimidating, frustrating and overwhelming all at once. Once you get past this, you look for openings and run faster and faster.

The Rabbit (calm), copper wire wrapped ring

You pass all of those people who have still not found their way through the crowd and you begin to make your own way. The power to persevere and overcome is AWESOME!!!

The positive has been it’s made me extremely motivated to create more pieces. I’ve completed three since Tuesday, 2 rings and 1 necklace. I know that I have so many more to make. I would like to have 50 pieces by the end of February. Yes it will be tough but with each piece I make, I get faster and my work is better. I plan to work on earrings next and maybe a couple of bracelets. Getting through this rough spot is no different than what I’ve had to experienced before. Look for openings – find your niche: run faster – get better at your craft: overcome the negative emotions that you take you out of the race – surpass your own expectations. The waiting is the hardest part, but crossing the finish line is priceless.

10K Trail Run Finish