The Road Less Traveled: Welcome to Holland (or not)

April 7, 2013 at 4:36 pm (The Road Less Traveled)

Miss Raleigh USA, Miss Teen Raleigh, and my daughter.

Miss Raleigh USA, Miss Teen Raleigh, and my daughter.

So most of the “Road Less Traveled” posts on this blog have to do with places I have traveled that have inspired me. Since February, though, I have been on a more emotional journey, one that has been compared to a trip to Holland and has made for some unexpected bedfellows.

Two months ago, my ten year old daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Soon after, many of my friends, as well as The Autism Society of North Carolina, shared with me Emily Perl Kingsley’s 1987 essay “Welcome to Holland”. While the Welcome to Holland essay’s sentiment is one I hope to embrace someday, I would liken these last two months since my daughter’s diagnosis to a different kind of tour. The catalyst for this “tour” analogy came after a therapist asked me if I was comfortable with my daughter’s diagnosis.

“I am riding a donkey down the Grand Canyon, slowly, poking my way down one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Some days something sets me off and steers me off course and my donkey goes plunging off the edge with me still on top. Some days your well meaning questions and comments compel me to grip the reigns tighter and dig my heels in deeper. So, am I comfortable the diagnosis? No. I am holding on for dear life so I don’t fall of the edge.” [From my own journal post, March 2013]

April is Autism Awareness Month and coincidentally enough, it is now that I finally feel that I, along with my family, have turned a corner.

At a friend’s suggestion, my daughter decided to turn her fear, anxiety, and sadness over her diagnosis into a project. She put together a team to walk for the Inaugural Triangle Walk Now for Autism Speaks next week. She also coordinated a spirit night/fundraiser to support Autism Speaks at Tijuana Flats, for which I ended up on the evening news to promote the event. Watching myself on NBC 17 that night made me realize how far we had come. Back in February, I couldn’t utter the word “autism” without crying. Last week, I was on the evening news promoting Autism Awareness Month.

I also have seen many of my friends, as well as some unlikely allies, step forward to show their support. Last week, Miss Raleigh USA 2014, Marcie Trivette, joined my daughter and I at Tijuana Flats to show her support and solidarity. Marcie’s passion/platform is raising autism awareness in honor of her 15 year old brother. Check out Marcie’s Blog Post on meeting my daughter and Miss Raleigh Teen USA, Lexie Qualle at Tijuana Flats.

Last Friday night, I was able to pay it forward, finally being on the giving end of “it’s better to give than to receive” spectrum. Studio 109A hosted an old fashioned bake sale to raise funds to send two deserving kids to Camp Royall, a camp for autistic children run by The Autism Society.

This summer, I will move out of my beloved Artspace and Studio 109A to spend more time at home with my family. Of course, I will always be an artist and perhaps someday I will return to Artspace. For now though, this Road Less Traveled is taking me in a different direction.

“So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place… But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.” [From Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley’s, 1987]



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Shop Local: The Scrap Exchange

June 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm (The Road Less Traveled)

I am often asked, “where do you get your objects?” I get many of my found objects from flea markets, auctions, and friends. Some of my most recent acquisitions, however, came from The Scrap Exchange, a creative reuse store in Durham.

According to The Scrap Exchange website, its mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse. Since 1991, The Scrap Exchange has been collecting industrial discards and distributing these reclaimed materials through its retail store, community events, parties and workshops.

Patterned after The Reverse Garbage Truck, located in Australia, The Scrap Exchange is one of about 40 creative reuse organizations in the United States.

Materials can be purchased by the piece, by the bag, or online. Mixed bags filled with as much as you can stuff inside sell for $3.50 for a mini bag to up to $15.00 for a large bag. Last time I was there, I filled up a mini bag with game pieces, bottle tops, fabric scraps, bobbins, empty film canisters, computer keys, and plastic tubing.

“To make saleable products from reused items, people have to be very clever, because they need to be able to repeat or manufacture the item,” says Mary-Jean Newton, the co-founder of MAD (Making a Difference), an offshoot of Reverse Garbage. “If it has a function, people who normally wouldn’t buy art or design have another reason to buy it. And if it’s helping the environment, people will remember how important their consumer choices are.” [The Sydney Morning Herald]

In this video, The Scrap Exchange Executive Director Ann Woodward discusses the importance of creative reuse in our community.

The Scrap Exchange is open seven days a week and is located at 548 Foster Street in Durham, NC. For more information call (919) 688-6960. See you there!

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The Road Less Traveled: The Piedmont Craftsmen’s Craft Fair

November 16, 2009 at 3:37 am (The Road Less Traveled)

For Six Days in November, Winston-Salem, The City of the Arts, will feature  performances in music, theatre and dance.  living history at Old Salem, and dining experiences, all leading up to one of the nation’s premier craft events, The Piedmont Craftsmen’s Fair.

“For goodness sakes, it’s in our blood,” said Event Coordinator Tomi Melson. “The Moravians set out to make this place a center of fine craftsmanship three centuries ago and did it.”

Now on a typical year, I do eight to ten craft shows a year. I have traveled from Florida to Las Vegas, and in my opinion, The Piedmont Craftsmen’s Fair is by far the most beautiful show.                                   
Held annually since 1963 by Piedmont Craftsmen, Inc., the fair showcases the handwork of more than 130 fine artisans from across the southeast. Exhibiting members are juried into the organization on the basis of  skill, professionalism, quality, and originality.
Two years ago, I was juried into Piedmont Craftsmen. Since then, I have participated in  the fair and exhibited my work at the gallery, which is located on North Trade Street.

Piedmont Craftsmen Gallery

Sadly, this year I will not be participating in the fair, but you can find some of my new work in the gallery. Also on exhibit in the gallery this month is Cindy Billingsley’s Endangered.


Cynthia Bilingsley Endangered

So, this is the week to take the road less traveled to Winston-Salem, The City of the Arts. The Piedmont Craftsmen’s Fair runs Saturday, November 21st from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 22nd, from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Benton Convention Center in Downtown Winston-Salem.


Piedmont Craftsmen Fair Preview Night

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The Road Less Traveled: "A" is for Artspace

August 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm (The Road Less Traveled)

In April, I posted my first Road Less Traveled installment about my visit to The Rocky Mount Art Center. The day trip to Rocky Mount, while worth the drive, took me 59 miles outside of Raleigh. So, as the summer of staycation vacations winds down, I thought I would tell you about one of my favorite places closer to home.

When I first moved to Raleigh eight years ago, one of the first places I visited was Artspace in Downtown Raleigh’s City Market Moore Square Art District. As I wandered down the artful halls, I never imagined that someday I would have my studio there.

Located in a historic building, Artspace was once the location of the city’s livery and later the Sanders Ford Car Dealership. Signs of Sanders Ford still swell from the brick walls. A metal arrow directing Please Park Left For Service hangs in the lobby and more conspicuously, the Sanders Ford logo peers out from under the blue Artspace sign in front.

Today, this 30,000 square foot building is home to 35 artists, including myself, working in a variety of media, along with three exhibition spaces, education space, a gift shop, and administrative offices.

According to its website, “Since its inception Artspace has inspired more than 2 million visitors and served as the heart of Raleigh’s visual art community. Artspace offers more than 100,000 visitors annually over 30 challenging and award-winning exhibitions, interactive workshops to over 2,000 school-aged children each year, art programming for at-risk youth, classes and workshops to over 3,000 youth and adults annually, and over 200 public events open to all in the community free of charge.”
Growing up in a major metropolitan city, I can tell you that the only open art studio environment we had was located in such a bad area of town, nobody ever went to it. Artspace is centrally located just steps away from Marbles Kids Museum and Fayetteville Street, and a Raleigh Rickshaw ride away from the State Capitol, The North Carolina Museum of History, and The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
This weekend, Artspace plays host to Family Fun Day. Carnival fun and games will include artist demonstrations, face painting, and make and take activities. For grownups, this Saturday, August 22nd, also marks the last Downtown Live Free Concert in Moore Square Park featuring the 90’s group Better than Ezra. This weekend I will be exhibiting a short drive away at the 33rd annual Lazy Daze Arts and Craft Festival in Downtown Cary.
So, whether you live or work in the Triangle or are just visiting this weekend or any weekend, plan your next staycation/vacation trip to Artspace. Artspace is open to the public 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and stays open until 10:oo p.m. the first Friday of every month. Admission is free.


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The Road Less Traveled

April 16, 2009 at 11:46 pm (The Road Less Traveled)

I was born in Miami, Florida and moved to Raleigh eight years ago. I always tease my husband and say that, “I moved to Raleigh and became an artist… Who knew?” Although I have been to the mountains of North Carolina and to the coast, like many of us, I very rarely venture beyond the 15 mile radius between my house and my studio at Artspace.

Today, however, I had the pleasure of visiting The Rocky Mount Art Center. Located about 60 miles outside of Raleigh, The Art Center is located in The Imperial Art Centre for the Arts and Sciences in Downtown Rocky Mount. Occupying the combined former sites of the Imperial Tobacco company and old Braswell Memorial Library in downtown Rocky Mount, the complex houses an Arts Center, Children’s Museum & Science Center, and community performing arts theatre. The 135,000 square foot facility involved the historic restoration and renovation of the old buildings which had been dormant for more than 50 years.
Now, when you are traveling with children, first thing is first… The Science Center and The Children’s Museum. Once we were done with that, however, we wandered over to the art and fine craft galleries in The Art Center. The Art Center features an impressive display of fine craft in its exhibition halls and permanent collection gallery. Current exhibitions on display include Handcrafted, A Continual Journey: Jewelry and Objects, and Within.

The exhibition I was most interested in was Robert Ebendorf’s Jewelry and Objects. When I first started making jewelry, I saw Robert Ebendorf’s Off the Street, From the Beach necklace (pictured on right) in a magazine. This necklace is made from a collection of colorful plastic objects found on the boardwalks, parking lots, and sidewalks of Santa Monica. I could say that he was the inspiration for me to explore found objects in my own work. His work is included in some of the most celebrated museum collections in the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Victoria and Albert Museum in England, and The Mint Museum of Craft and Design in North Carolina (Charlotte). Currently, he is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor in East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design, which in my opinion makes him a North Carolina treasure. On display at The Rocky Mount Art Center are over 80 pieces spread out between the North Carolina Gallery (downstairs) and the Artists Gallery (upstairs), including the From the Beach… necklace. Ebendorf takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary proving that he is truly master of the medium. A Continual Journey: Jewelry and Objects will be on Exhibition at The Rocky Mount Art Center through May 17th.
Also on the second floor of The Rocky Mount Art Center is Andrew Fullwood’s Within. Like Robert Ebendorf, Fullwood makes the ordinary, in this case a “promising log”, and makes it truly extraordinary. His sculptures are created from single pieces of natural wood and transformed into complex sculptures through the use of chainsaws, chisels, files, rasps and fine grade sand paper. He says, “With my sculpture, I want to generate curiousity, allurement, and excitement, and I want there to be an element of surprise.” That he did. To my unexpected surprise, this exhibition was highlight of my visit to The Rocky Mount Art Center. Within runs through May 24th.
Admission to The Rocky Mount Art Center is free. The Art Center does have a children’s area with creation stations in which the children can create their own masterpieces. There is even a play stage and costumes in case the kids want to try their hand at the performing arts. There is a nominal admission fee for The Science Center and Children’s Museum Tuesday throught Saturday, but on Sundays, admission to The Science Center and Children’s Museum is free.
So, I encourage you to take the road less traveled and journey beyond your 15 mile radius this spring. You never know what affordable treasures you might find right in your own backyard.

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