I wasn't particularly thinking this way at the time, but yesterday's late afternoon sketch is perfect for Thanksgiving. Not just because of the colors and the light and the gratitude for the beauty that I felt while doing it, but also because of this place. One thing that I am continually grateful for as an artist is the deep sense of place that spending a lifetime drinking in landscapes gives me. This place, this forest, makes me happy every day. I am unbelievably lucky to live four blocks from a forest, right in the heart of Memphis. It is an endless font of beauty, a refuge, a place to savor each day. A landscape painter could not ask for more.
I've been doing tons of the business side of being an artist lately and very little sketching. I've missed it, so I eased back in recently with a couple of quick sketches of Mr. Darcy. Of course.
Memphis has a great public radio station that does something unique in my experience (and I listen to a lot of NPR as I travel). Every single day and usually twice a day, they have a short program called Checking on the Arts. They interview artists, actors, musicians, people putting on fairs and booking concert halls, anyone doing something artistic in Memphis. Lots of stations get occasional bands into the studio, but no one I've heard has daily features that include visual artists as well. As a listener, I've gone to a number of plays I might not have, once I've heard the director or actors talking about the production, and I hear about lots of things I want to get out and do.
As an artist, it is gold. Especially since I've gone solo and don't have a gallery doing publicity for me, it is a beautiful thing to have a station willing to put me on the air and let me talk to the city.
And they do an amazing job. I got in this time, and Darel Snodgrass had a printout about my new show sitting on his desk already. He always does research ahead of time, asks great questions, keeps things moving along, covers everything that needs to be announced (challenging this time, because I have a lot on this year), and he does it all with warmth and enthusiasm. Here is this week's interview about Dixon, MTS, my holiday sale, and more....
So very many lovely people turned out for my opening at Dixon Gallery and Gardens last night. I am still buoyed by the wave of love and support that washed over me. The museum people have gone out of their way to be kind and, really, utterly marvelous. (Plus it's the sign of a good party when you get sent home with cake at the end of it.) Family, friends, dancers, art buddies, jam buddies, profs at MTS, park people, and a whole host of lovely people from unexpected places turned out for my big career night and made it special.
Very kindly, Frank Chin turned out with his camera and got some lovely shots for me to remember the evening. I was so grateful.
AND the Tom Lonardo Trio played, which was so special for me. Tom and Tim Goodwin were two of Di Anne Price's "Boyfriends," and I spent many years' worth of happy Sunday afternoons hanging out at Huey's and listening to them. Di Anne had a song for every contingency in my life. It's still so odd to be navigating the world without her soundtrack for company, and without her calling me "baby." As she did everyone she cared about. But having Tom and Tim there for my biggest career moment meant an awful lot, and I even got one beautiful celebratory dance toward the end of the evening. Such a treat.
Ironically I spent most of last week thinking about Paris, being really happy, and singing along to my René Miller's albums I bought from him there. I love stretching trips out by making art from them. It feels like I'm still living in that world when I'm inhabiting it and making art from it. I even found myself dancing through the woods on my walk singing René's songs.
Then Friday happened. And I'm just heartbroken for the city and very grateful my friends are all safe.
I'm going to keep working on this print of René and Dédé singing at the Marche d'Aligre. I did a sketch of them on site, sitting at one of the cafe tables, and then I came around the front and took the photo below. This sketch is from last year, but I'm working on a series of musicians, and I think I'll try one from this summer as well, René playing with Stephen Harrison.
Well, I thought I'd turn in the show and be a little more free, but that hasn't happened. I'm working till 10 tonight on the slide show to go with my lecture at Dixon tomorrow. It will be fun to give a talk in the auditorium just off the gallery with my show hanging.
So I'm definitely behind on posting here, and I'll try to catch up, but in the meantime, here are a few shots of how the exhibition looks. It's beautifully lit and hung, and the setting (and those amazing glass cases for my sketchbooks) just look so MUSEUM-Y. I'm thrilled.
I like how they have the paintings and prints done from the same sketch hanging together, so people can see the difference between the lush and liquid oil paint and the linear sharpness and pattern of the prints.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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