Year End Blog: Salutations, thank yous, Things!

Hello, and a merry Whatever Holiday You Celebrate If Any. This is my end of year ramble, which is not going to be about all the shows I did this year, because mostly I did the same ones but for a couple. I can sum those two up thusly; Bucktown,ugh. Not remotely worth the pain in my ass. Chicago Art Girls, holyshityay!

Finally it seems I’m finding the shows, the audience, the mojo, that I need to find. We makers of things all do. We need to not just find our audience, but also find our shows/galleries/wherever the rad people come to experience what you make and hopefully let you make a living making. Making a living making is more than just selling the work. It’s also the connections and the community that you find while you’re at it. The importance of that can’t be remotely overstated. So, THANK YOU. You are so freakin’ beautiful and weird and awesome that I can’t even. There’s no doing this without you and I treasure your presence and participation. Those of my friends and rennie peeps who were among the first to follow the Facebook page, fellow artist/sans/makers, and those of you who just hopped on at the last show, or however you found your way here, you’re all in my black little heart and I love you. Like, for real.

2016 has been…challenging. To say the least. I am, like everyone, dealing with that as best I can. But speaking from a strictly shows and art life place, this season has been wonderful. I haven’t done the numbers yet, so I don’t know if I mean that in a financial sense, but this job isn’t exclusively about paying rent. This year stands out for having many bigger pieces finding homes, and many of those homes being with people who have bought from me before. I have collectors y’all!! That tells me something important. It tells me I’m connecting with people. I’ve talked before about how art is a desire driven purchase. It serves no practical purpose, and there’s no good reason to budget for it from a cost/benefit standpoint. We’re not looking at psychological stuff. Pure nuts and bolts I’m talkin’. So when people are spending on something with no purpose other than to be looked at, it’s speaking loudly and insistently to something rooted in their guts and souls. And that’s an artist’s freakin’ JOB. I am doing my job! And I appear to be doing it passably well. I probably can’t properly articulate how exciting that is for me. I have never comfortably referred to myself as an artist, because I never really thought of myself as one. That whole imposter thing is a thing. So for me, it’s beyond dope that I feel like I’m doing the job of making art. You did that! Give yourselves a cookie, because you made someones day.

In the coming season I want to build on that momentum and sense of growing community. That’s going to mean exploring new venues. New shows, always and of course, but also open studios and funky spaces of all sorts that support the artists. If all goes well you’ll find me right back at the shows you found me at this year. Glenwood, Lakeview, Edgewater, Craft and Relic, and Art Girls. Because those all continue to rock. Not Bucktown. Yes, that one turned out ok in the end, but the vibe was wrong for me, and I’m learning to trust my gut when it says “nope”. I hope to extend a tentacle into Logan Square this time around, so that should be interesting. Indiana will wait til next year because of family stuff, but it’s on the radar. There are some events in Milwaukee I’m eyeballing too.

And, Patreon. Is going. To happen! In the coming months, in addition to making All of the Things, I will be shooting video and giving a serious think on rewards (exclusive blogs! live chats! dinners! classes! art!) and whatnot for the various patron levels, so that I can make this happen. If you, oh hive mind, have any suggestions on such things I welcome your input. I don’t know what someone who pays me whatever, say $5 a month, to make art would like to have access to, so I’m open to ideas.

The opportunity this vehicle gives artists to connect with people all over the world is incredible. And the opportunity it gives people of modest means to be part of supporting the arts is mind blowingly awesome. I love tipping buskers. My dollar isn’t much in this day and age, but it’s not the only dollar in the hat. The hat contains many dollars from many people like me who want to be some part of that artist’s success. Patreon is the hat for people whose art doesn’t translate to a busking sort of situation, or a busker who wants a way bigger stage. A global hat to pass, with the opportunity for real interaction between artist and patrons. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to that, but I have no idea what I’m doing in general, so I’ma just do it and see what happens.

Thank you thank you for being here my lovelies. 🙂

Here’s to a safe and sane (or insane in a really great way) years end.

 

 

Deeper down the rabbit hole than usual

It’s been three years since I started this thing. This business, this art, this part of my life. Whatever it is. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but also, it does. I’m feeling a bit “Wtf do I think I’m doing?”.

I mean, how many people actually make a sustainable living making art? Way more talented people than me are not, in fact, making a sustainable living at it, so what makes me think I can? That question keeps popping up on me lately, from the sticky depths of my brain meatz.

You’d think it wouldn’t, because I did better this year than last year by almost double. That is not small potatoes. I have had so many validating things happen this season, too. So much positive reinforcement. The kinds of compliments that mean something on a professional level. Big sales, artists I admire wanting to trade. Which I will probably never stop being all, “For realz??” when that happens. But also the support of people who just believe in me and are are like, “Go! Do the thing!”, or my broke ass friends budgeting their tiny budgets for my stuff. That’s every bit as important as big sales. That’s huge.

You’d think it wouldn’t, because I’m like, a dynamo of “fuck it”. Flinging myself into a life I had no training for just because I was out of ideas and desperately needed something to do with myself is not a new thing for me. This is how I ended up a rennie leather worker. I’d never even been camping before I buggered off to go live without plumbing or electricity for an entire decade. If it looks good, I rarely pause to wonder if I can or should do it. I just kind of go. And I do that because I grew up a shy, awkward wee lass who never had adventures, but who decided she wanted to be Stevie Nicks if Stevie Nicks was also a pirate when she grew up. I’ve made some astonishingly bad choices because of this, but I’ve also had a pretty interesting life.

Really, I’m just as freaked out as anybody. I just try not to let it get in my way. I might not be if I were 20, but at 40, most of my cohort is at least able to pay their own rent. I have been at various points, but I suck so bad at sublimating it’s comical (Unless you’re the guy that fired me after I threatened to stab him in the head with a fork. True story. He totally deserved it.). I get fired like it’s an Olympic sport and I’m bringing home the gold for America. It’s not that I don’t like to work. Oh so au contraire. I go crazy cakes when I’m not busy. Happiest time of my life was as the aforementioned rennie leather worker with a ten hour work day and a six day work week. It’s just that if I can’t get passionate about it, or if the boss/coworkers are douche canoes, I lose whatever scant filter I have in place. I have a bullshit threshold of about two, and you need at least an eleven to get by in most jobs. So pretty much I’m the best boss of me out there.

I read somewhere that a lot of the most successful musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs claim they succeeded simply because they had no plan B. Which makes a certain amount of sense. If you have but one basket, you’re really committed to making sure that basket will hold all those eggs. People say “nay” a lot when you’ve got some cockamamie notion like you wanna start a band or make a computer and a cell phone have babies. I wonder how many people tried to talk them back into their day jobs. The negative stuff sticks with you far longer than anything else, and it’s hard not to let that turn into an ongoing question about whether or not you’re cut out for whatever thing. When I first started doing this, for the most part everyone was really supportive. But there was one person who told me what I did wasn’t art. This is not unusual. People will tell you that. It’s not art, it’s not this or that thing that they think defines art. And that sucked, because I thought highly of their opinion. And for a hot second I let that slow me down. Eventually I got over that nonsense, and it taught me a valuable skill set insofar as ignoring criticism that isn’t constructive goes. It’s really easy to say, “This isn’t art.” but it’s not useful. It’s an opinion, and opinions vary widely on the subject. You wanna add to my skill set or correct my execution, I welcome it. But that’s the difference between useful criticism and opinion.

That moment sticks with me, though I don’t believe it’s true anymore. I believe that nobody gets to say what is and isn’t art, because art is so personal. My position, in a nutshell; if you think it’s art, it’s art. If you show it to the world and they love it, it’s art. If you show it to the world and they hate it, it’s art. If you lock it in a closet, set it on fire, only show it to your cat, or seal it up in a wall for future generations to find, it’s art. If you went to school for it, it’s art. If you taught yourself from YouTube videos, trial and error, or you didn’t teach yourself at all because you think the only true art is unconscious expression with no direction, it’s. Still. Art. If it’s amazing, it’s art. If it’s horrible, IT’S STILL FREAKIN’ ART. If anything that sayer of nay propelled me forward because, well, because I’m extremely ornery.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of “Wtf do I think I’m doing?”. Like now. There’s that voice in my head that’s yelling “Impostor! They will figure out you’re faking it!”. It happens. But part of my process, and hopefully a useful part for other people who want to feel a little less insecure about their own feelings of insecurity, is just discussing what we all go through when setting off on an uncertain path with potentially no future as these things are reckoned, just because we had some idea that it could be awesome, and what happens when you’re not sure yet if it’s going to be. Because it helps, I think, to know that everyone feels this way. Even people who went to school and got good marks and everyone tells them they’re awesome at a thing, sometimes get impostored by their own brains. So it’s not just those of us who decide we’re going to figure it out as we go.

So relax, I’m saying. To you and me both. Wtf do I think I’m doing? I have no freakin’ idea. What an adventure. I like to think Pirate Stevie would approve.

 

 

 

I do not think it means what you think it means

As I further contemplate joining Patreon, I get really excited about what things like Patreon mean for the relationship between consumer and maker. I don’t know why any one else makes art, but I make it to tell stories, to have somewhere to put the manic energy that’s always lived in my hands, and to reflect an idea or state of mind. Stories are by their nature meant to be shared. Even if the story I tell with objects isn’t the one you’re hearing, as long as you’re hearing a story or getting an idea or emotion, I’ve done my job. And that’s awesome.

Music and literature in particular have often depended on middlemen to reach the consumer. Sometimes that’s a really useful relationship. Indie record labels and small publishing houses are wonderful things. But the big dogs are not wonderful a lot of the time. Those relationships can be really unbalanced to the detriment of the maker, with an overabundance of middlemen, higher prices for the finished product, a homogenization of the art, and not as much going to the artist as you might like. It’s really satisfying to me to buy or trade for art at the shows I do. I’m right there in the act of supporting the maker. I feel the same when I drop something in the hat of a performer. I’m helping them live their life so they can make art. And that’s awesome.

So this article I posted yesterday morning. Maria Popova interviews Amanda Palmer and they talk about this very thing. Art, the consumer, the relationship between the creator and the fan base. Palmer talks about a supporter on Patreon who withdrew their patronage because they didn’t want the money they spent on art to be spent on diapers. (For those of you who aren’t fans or don’t pay attention to such things, Palmer and husband Neil Gaiman have recently spawned.)

This brings up a very interesting issue. When you pay your plumber for routing out your drain, you understand, if you think about it at all, that he puts that money in the bank and then pays for his life expenses with it. Rent, food, kids school supplies. You do the same with your paycheck for whatever work you do. As far as art goes, when you buy a CD or book at the store, wherever that money goes, someone is paying bills with it, going on vacation with it, doing Life Things with it. But it’s at a remove. You don’t think about what your plumber does at home anymore than you’d want your boss wondering what you’re spending your paycheck on.

Patreon is different. The artists blog and post and share their lives with the patrons, creating an exchange that allows for the patronage relationship to work. Patronage is very different from buying a CD at the store, or art at a show. It’s far more personal and what you get for your money is sometimes less tangible. So Gladys knows that Palmer just supported her chosen political candidate and she knows that she pays Palmer $5 a month to make art. “Wait a minute? Is that MY money she just gave to that Socialist hippie????” Well, no. Gladys, you paid a wage to someone to make work, which you got your fair share of in whatever way Patreon has set up that you agreed to. You got what you paid for. Your $5, that is, Palmer’s paycheck, went into her bank account to pay for Life Things. Sometimes that’s going to facilitate making more art. But sometimes it’s for diapers and sometimes it’s for things you don’t necessarily agree with.

It leads to a lot of pondering about expectations, and why artists would be expected to somehow live differently than plumbers. I’d love for my art to completely support my life. That means that when someone buys my art, they’re directly supporting my life with this paycheck they’ve just given me in exchange for my work. My whole, entire, mundane detail filled life. Which involves buying more supplies and making more art, but it also entails having my oil changed and paying for my dog’s vet bills, paying my tax accountant and spending a weekend hiking at Devils Lake with my partner. If they don’t like that I have a dog with vet bills or sometimes need a vacation and don’t want to pay for that, it’s their choice. But are they so picky about the guy at the bakery, or the lady who dry cleans their shirts? Why, or why not?

But think about that. When I have enough of a customer base to actually consider Patreon, it’s going to create a different sort of consumer/maker relationship. Anyone who chooses to support it will be paying me a salary to just be here and make stuff. Such is the nature of patronage. It’s maybe just a dollar a month. But that dollar will get you access, rather than concrete objects. Workshops, blogs, bits and bobs. It’ll be different than buying something from me online or at a show. Though part of that access will probably be first dibs on new stuff. Can I then, with that dollar and many others, go and get a tattoo, for example, without pissing anybody off? Can I even fulfill a consumer/maker relationship at a higher level than what you’d put in a tip jar? Because visual artists on Patreon send their higher dollar patrons some great shit, let me tell you. Limited edition prints and whatnot, that only patrons get. But I don’t have prints. I’m a 3D girl. What do I send someone insane enough to put more than a buck in my hat?

The answer is, I don’t know. There’s a reason I don’t have “artist” on my business cards, but instead put “mad scientist” on them. Because this is all an experiment. I don’t know how many of you or anyone else are willing to get on board with me and see where it goes, but I’m totally willing to fling myself out into the void to find out.

New adventures

Greetings friends old and new. I’m announcing a thing.

With the addition of a mailing list (I’m working on figuring it out, swear), there is new opportunity for shenanigans! I frequently get asked at shows if I teach. Well, not as such. I have no place to host a workshop or anything else of that nature. But I do get around. To flea markets mostly. But also to coffee shops and bars. Well, mostly bars. Heh.

So, this mailing list gives anyone interested the ability to not only get updates on what shows are coming up, but what ninja art gathering is happening in the near future.

For example, this October is the “In Rust We Trust” field trip to the Grayslake Antique and Flea market. Only three spots available currently, cost is $7 entry to the flea and whatever you want to spend on junk. In other words, I’m not personally charging you anything for this exploratory excursion. We’ll wander around the market talking about boxes for junk, what kind of junk is good junk for assemblage, how much you should spend on junk and other art/junk related topics.

This is the first of such things, so it’s small. If it works out and everyone digs it, or if I get more people wanting to get on board, I’ll expand the size of the posse.

But in addition to junking trips there are any number of arty activities you and I can engage in. Ninja tea parties (and by “tea” I mean “whiskey”…or tea, you know, if you prefer) where the curious can ask any questions they like of me about any topic that tickles their fancy, and we can talk about how to integrate your artistic leanings into your life, the nuts and bolts of 3D mixed media (I know we all wish it wasn’t, but hot glue is inadequate to just about all tasks you set forth for it, more’s the pity), what you need to start doing shows, and generally have a nice time over, um, “tea”.

And from there we’ll see where it goes. I have all sorts of notions in this head of mine and I’d like to share them. And if you’d like me to, just the second I figure out this mailing list monkey, there will be a sign up thingie for you to hit up and you can get in on the action in a way that ensures you won’t miss an update because of Facebook’s lousy algorithms.

Prepare yourselves!

Spring Green: Highlights, lowdowns and wtfs

So this show had me pretty tense. I don’t usually do shows with this big a nut because I’m working real close to the bone most of the time. I drove up only able to afford the cost of the hotel with the actual cash I had to my name. Everything else had to go on credit. With travel costs, lodging and food plus fees, this particular show exceeded my budget by a fair bit and I was nervous as hell. Not just because it was a show I’d never even laid eyes on, but because experience has taught me that the further I get from my funky home metropolis, the worse I do sales-wise. My best crowds are firmly within city limits.

And till about 1 o’clock on a beautiful, sunny, mild Saturday, I seriously thought I was going to have to sell a kidney to pay my Visa bill this month (Which was why, despite the fact that I ended up with bangin’ sales, I didn’t do any of the shopping I longed to do. See? I’m a grown up with a firm grasp of fiscal responsibility.). I’d had one or two sales of mid range items, and while there was definitely a huge crowd that was there to buy and lots of appreciative browsing, practically the only thing that had walked out my door in the four hours since we had opened were business cards.

And then there was Epic. And the biggest sale of my fledgling art career, my disco bison head La Mujer Blanca. If you’re not involved in the medical field, there’s no real reason you should have ever heard of Epic Software. I certainly hadn’t, and till someone educated me was severely distressed about having had to take a check (no cell signal equals no credit cards) for such a large sum. It’s a privately owned software company based out of Madison whose products are used by about half the hospitals in the US. Apparently, the company campus is also a huge art gallery that is open to the public. The owner of this company is a big time supporter of the arts, and every year she shows up at Spring Green, wanders around picking out what she wants, then her entourage of helper monkeys run around writing checks and collecting the new artwork to hang in said gallery.

I believe “HOLY SHIT!” is an adequate response. Like, that’s the kind of show everyone wants to have. Where somebody with a bank account you can’t even conceptualize walks in and buys your most expensive piece without batting an eye. Soooo, yeah. That happened.

Excepting that one, the rest of the sales were not numerous or large, but I did get a positive vibe from the crowd for the most part, which makes me think I just need to get them used to me. The new kid always takes a minute to make friends.

So highlights (besides the aforementioned billionaire art collector). Huge crowd. Even on the occasionally rainy second day that was threatening storms, rain patrons (those who will not be thwarted by weather and those who deliberately go to fairs when it’s crap out so they don’t have to deal with crowds and lines) were there in pretty solid numbers. And said crowd was there to shop. I saw hands holding packages, bags, and various and sundry purchases more often than not. Not a single vendor I talked to was cranky about sales, which is practically unheard of. The organizers were organized. Very. And pleasant to deal with in all ways in which I had to deal with them. The judges weren’t even judgy! They were chatting and being friendly while they made whatever notes judges at art fairs make about whatever it is they judge. Which is a lovely departure from the other art fair judges I’ve encountered, who are always very obviously judging me (Who doesn’t like disco skulls? Haters, that’s who.). Also, Friday setup, indie bookstore with coffee, beer and delicious food, AND parking so close to my spot I didn’t have to clutter up the street with my vehicle because I could load in and out from the parking lot. Love it.

Lowdowns. No freakin’ cell signal. Unless you have US Cellular, you will get nothing and like it. Running cards was hit or miss, and the phone was draining its battery looking for the network so quickly, we actually had to run to the hardware store to buy an emergency backup battery which we drained and then had to recharge with a car charger to use again. Till our neighbor (may His noodley appendage touch her life with goodness) sweet talked the business we were in front of into letting her share their wifi, then hooked us up with the super secret password, we were kinda screwed. Fortunately, the patrons seemed beyond willing to write checks and fetch cash, so this is something everyone seems used to. Other thing, hotel. They book up like lightnin’ and it’s not cheap thanks to the Dells being right there. The closest and cheapest (that we were willing to sleep in, I don’t want bedbugs) thing we found was half an hour away in Sauk City and $125 a night, and this was after I called six or seven hotels, motels and B&Bs looking for a room. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE. For basically a Super 8. I have never paid so much for a damn bed and a shower. Yes, I’m cheap, but in my defense, I’m broke as well so, there you go. I swear, I’m just gonna go ahead and book a room in winter when I apply to the show, which I will cancel if they don’t let me in, because damn. But? These are for real my only complaints. Overall this was probably one of my best experiences doing a show.

So wtf thing one, people were way not into shrines. Like, some of them seemed offended by them. Which baffles me, but then I’m not even slightly religious, so I don’t know what heathen thing I’m doing that’s upsetting people. Also, random creepy dude waaaaay into my tats. Which is fine, but for the “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d really like to see you naked.” Now how could I possibly take that the wrong way????? Insert feminist rant. Yanno, for the most part I’m impossible to offend, but dude, inside voice, mkay? I didn’t need to hear that shit.

Conclusion? I’d highly recommend this show to anyone considering it, odd creeper notwithstanding. Totally going back next year.

Next up, Northbrook!

New Chapter

Whelp, it’s a new year, so it’s time for new business.
Ladies and gents, it is with some regret that I announce that next summer I will not be at Bristol Renaissance Faire. Instead, I will be going full Monty (NAKED ART! RAWR!) with this suckah and applying to a number of summer shows that I have until now been passing up in order to stick with my very only ren faire.

I first did Bristol when I was a wee sixteen years old.

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IKNOWRITE??

It was my gateway drug. To art. To culture. To adult content.
To freedom, really. Both intellectual and literal. I am who I am because I ran away with that circus and I have not a single regret.

For those of you who don’t know, I used to do this full time. Nine months a year for ten years of my life, this was my job. I worked for two master leather crafters for most of that time, had many adventures of all sorts and I miss the crap out of it.
Getting off the road was a different adventure. I wanted to try college and living in the city that jammed loving hooks into the meat of my heart the first time I laid eyes on it, so I moved to New Orleans for a few years.
College didn’t agree with me, and even though New Orleans is absolutely and deeply embedded in my soul, I chose to move back to Chicago for a multitude of reasons, financial, familial and personal.
It was supposed to be a way station only. I wanted to get back on the road. Back to the movement of the caravan, chasing the warm weather all over the country like a kid chasing the ice cream truck.
I was supposed to stop, get my bearings, load my truck and fly.
Not what the universe had in mind though.
My beloved companion animal was diagnosed with cancer and required frequent and expensive treatment (yeah, I’m one of those pet owners who is crazy attached to their dog), and my dad came out of his second bone marrow transplant induced remission, with no further transplants possible because of his age.
So yeah. That happened.
And I needed to do something besides work for a crazy screen printing lady (quitting that job comes in at 5 in the list of top five best things I’ve ever done) and worry. That’s how I started this business. No training, no money, no freakin’ clue what the hell I was doing.
Just desperate to move my hands and engage my mind with something besides two family members on chemo (dogs are so family members) and missing my nomadic life.
But I always had one toe left in the rennie waters, and that was Bristol.

So maybe you can guess how weird it is that this year will be the first time in more than twenty years that I won’t be doing any kind of faire.
I won’t lie, it’s messing with me.
But summer is art-show-palooza and if I’m doing this for a living I’ve got to jump in fo’ realz.
So, I’m doin’ it.

When I got off the road, a wonderful fellow named Al Craig, who was the crafts coordinator at Scarborough, said something to me as I was checking out. I remember exactly what he said, “You’ll be back. You’ll take 8 years, maybe 10 years, do whatever it is you’re going to do, and then you’ll be back. Some people just pass through on their way somewhere else. But you’re a lifer, girl. This is your home.”
Eight years since he said that I still believe he was dead on.
I’ll find a way to incorporate traveling and ren faire back into my world someday.
But this day is the time to pour all my energy into growing my fledgling business into something that can fly.

The voodoo that Boo do

Ermahgerd, we had such an incredible weekend.
Fall Art Tour is always a good time for us, but this year was extra saucy with awesome.
We got to hang out with so many lovely people, and splurged on a boatload of art. Not something we normally allow ourselves, being on severely restricted budgets (he’s a student, I’m an on call, very part time electrician’s assistant with a shady side business dealing in bones and glitter), but sometimes you’ve got to be ruthlessly self indulgent if you’re going to have a life worth living. Ya know?

We blew into town Friday and stopped at my favorite place for all things rusty and funky, Raven House (http://www.ravenhousebaraboo.blogspot.com, go!), to pick up a map of the participants and touch base with the fabulous proprietress, who also runs the Sunday Market I was going to be vending at while I was up there. From there we hit the studio of Maday, a quilter of epic talent whose work exceeds the standard idea of a quilt (http://freespiritsewing.com, go!). Her mixed media fiber creations are a story and an art and all around day-um fabulous. I’ve been drooling over her stuff on Facebook for months now, so when I heard she was to be part of the Fall Art Tour I got jazzed, and budgeted some dough for goodies.

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Then we hit Helen’s Daughters studio (http://www.helensdaughters.com, go!), makers of fine and unusual handbags, for a browse through their gorgeous garden, the various artisans housed in it (unbelievable jewelry, basket making, and batik), and a yack with Char and Mariella, the daughters of Helen, who make these incredible bags. I myself don’t have much occasion to use a fancy purse (more’s the pity, cuz they’re seriously awesome), but they also make extremely practical packs, pouches and other means for stuff holding. I got myself the perfect pouch for my street shows, with an adjustable strap so I can wear it over the shoulder or around my hips, and generous enough to fit my two strapping monkeys. Win.

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Our last stop on the local leg of the tour was the studio of an illustrator and puppeteer by the name of Anne Horjus, whose beautiful work can be found in the children’s book, Sleep, with writer Charles Anthony Silvestri (http://annehorjus.com, go!). He also does wood block prints and paintings, lives in an amazing old Victorian, and is a really nice guy with an awesome sense of humor. We had a great time there talking puppets, Jim Henson, and Labyrinth/ Dark Crystal, both of which, we all agreed, were the top puppet movies of all time.

After a meal at our favorite Little Village Cafe (really, it’s all about the pie), we headed to Con Amici wine bar to have a few glasses of delicious adult beverage, and get our caricatures drawn by local artist Ryan Biddle (http://biddleart.com, go!). Hey, it’s art tour weekend, you gotta support the arts. And also, silly and fun, which we’re all about.

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Adult beverages consumed, back to our Baraboo roost, WilloWood Inn (http://www.willowoodinn.com, go!) for Real Genius (Val Kilmer in the 80s, is there anything hotter?) and bed.

Saturday morning found us abed later than we had intended, but whatevs, vacation. Our first stop was back to Raven House to do a leetle shopping.

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Then we were off to Spring Green. The entire town was having a yard sale, lucky us, but what had caught our eye there were a pair of graphic artists. One, sadly, had bowed out to move to Colorado, but the other one, Kim Russel (http://www.russellworks.com, go!), was stationed at a local gallery. We spent a good half hour chatting with her, gushing over her work, and eventually deciding on which prints we wanted to take home. I have a thing for cranes, a critter I never clapped eyes on in the flesh till my 38th year, but now can’t get enough of.

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Taking off from Spring Green we drove though hills on fire with fall leaves, heading for Loganville and our next stop, The Bricolage, a huge farm at the end of a dead end road, which is the home, studio, and retreat of Don and Ali Kauss. She makes lovely silver jewelry and he does assemblage (http://www.kaussart.com, go!), and they both rent out spaces in barns and revamped chicken coops to visiting artists and people just looking to get away from everything. Mah boo wanted to talk bow hunting with him, but I just wanted to drool over his amazing assortment of skulls, bones, rusty junk and generally awesome stuff that he turns into creepy assemblage that I totally want all of. In mah house. Right now.

We only hit two studios because we wanted to be back at Con Amici for their Pinot and Picasso night. A thing in which they handed out hooch and art supplies to a bunch of willing folks, with an art teacher handy to offer guidance and keep a progressively drunker group on track, and let us try and make art. It. Was. Awesomely fun. I’ve never painted, mah boo has never art-ed at all, AND he’s colorblind. But we’re both more than willing to suck at something in the name of fun (watch me bowl sometime and you’ll see what I mean), so we were all, “Where do we sign up?”
A bottle or so of wine and a couple’a hours later, we had…tree like things!

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And a nice buzz. And a painting (no like, a real one), because our caricature artist from the night before is a hella good painter too and had one on the wall priced crazy low.
Ruthlessly self indulgent, remember? I don’t have a picture of this one. Because I suck. And it’s not in my house, it’s in my honey’s, so I can’t fix that.

So, Tank Girl (Lori Petty, droolz), bed, up at crack for Sunday Market.

Which happened to coincide with a Packers game, so not as populous as we would have liked, but still, a good time was had. I got pancakes and an accordion, and did all my produce shopping for the week to the tune of $4.50 (broccoli/kale hybrid is made of awesome. I’m not making this up.). I call it a win.
Hugs all around as we packed up the car and headed to our very last stop, back to the studio of Maday Delgado for some Cuban love (we laugh, we cry, we yell a lot) and a wonderful, touching parting giftie, which now lives in my room beside my bed, under three Buddhas, a Chinese dragon, Eleggua and Bastet. Which I think is completely appropriate.

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So that was my vacation. Woodland critter count for this trip includes two feeding red tailed hawks, six migrating sandhill cranes, and eight wild turkeys. And one partly skeletonized roadkilled deer, which of COURSE I forgot to pack rubber gloves and a cooler. Oh well, it’s not like there’s gonna be any bugs to clean it till spring. In other words, stinky.

We had a ball, as usual. Everyone was super happy to see us again (we’re getting pretty recognizable at this point, going up two or three times a year like we do), and made us feel like we were seeing old friends rather than being tourists. It was a much needed and welcome cap to a busy summer.