Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Babies and Baskets

I just discovered a whole treasure trove of blogs through Shona Cole's wonderful blogs-yes several- a portal to a whole collective of collage artists blogs and a wonderful stroll around the 'net' inspired by her book "the Artistic Mother" Made me think of my days as a young mother-and what I would have done if the internet and such sites even existed. Wow- to sit down at nap time and interact with another 'Artistic mother' in Australia like I did this morning- can't imagine! Jon and I moved to Durango in 1992 as soon as he was done with Law School. Young and well not cautious, we renovated a tiny tiny Victorian in the historical mining district, he sat at an office and tried to get clients and I taught preschool until with the same "Why Not" that had propelled us the last couple of years we decided to start our family. I was thrilled to be home with my little beautiful baby- the one thing I was worried about was keeping my "artistic juices flowing." 5th Ave was just a few blocks from the hub of Durango- Main Street- with the restaurants, bookstores, movie theater, coffee shops and grocery stores and Jon's office- so I often walked pushing an archaic stroller over rough cement sidewalks, muddy alleys and gravel- and I would always take a different route to peer into yards and windows of the beautiful Victorian house Durango is known for. There were two that were my favorites- one had a kitchen addition to die for- with cooper pots hanging above a white marble island- in front of the most glorious Viking chef stove. At night you really got a good view- yes I am voyeuristic. The other house I loved to peer in the windows wasn't so magnificent but inside up against the window was a loom- a free standing weavers loom and I would stop there, pushing my stroller, and think someday I would have a loom too- at the time they were about $5000 dollars- and since I had such a desire to weave and knew I would not be getting a loom anytime soon- I discovered basket weaving. The bookstore had a, one, basket book and through it I tracked down a supplier I could mail order from-all this pre internet even!! And to really push myself, relatively quickly I made up a business "Southwest Basket Company, made tags, pre photoshop- and somehow got into the high end craft Christmas Bazaar put on by the Durango Arts Center.
My studio was the dining room, with plastic tubs that in theory would be neatly stacked in the corner when not working- in theory I say- my husband put up with a lot in a tiny house- basket weaving covers the floor with scraps- But through my baby era- I happily wove, attended conference, showed and sold- being involved with a great group of loom weavers- cause there wasn't a sole basket weaver group in the area. Hugely this all was possible due to a husband that was supportive- and that I purposely dug out this part of my life and held my ground- because it is too easily lost- in the "tyranny of the urgent.
My baskets got to a level I could of approached galleries in places like Santa Fe and Jackson Hole Wyoming- both with wonderful craft galleries- but I had a decision to make- High End Craft- require travel- to several of the big Craft show- mostly on the other side of the Rocky Mountain- in the Midwest- and so I gave up the pursuit, that had keep me feeling like an artist through raising babies- because Now it would keep me from my babies and I was unwilling to do that. Illustrating with Collage, writing and the advance of the internet- I can do my job, correspond with editors in Chicago and New York, via the internet and FEDEX send off my work and truly be able to pick my girls up from school and go off on adventures with them every weekend! I always had a feeling I did have to give up something as an Artist because I had put Motherhood before it- and then just the other day I had an "ahh ha" moment. Yes- I am handicapped as an artist because of the fact I am a wife and a mother- take a survey of top galleries curators- but for me - capitalization to emphasize my point- IF I WASN'T A WIFE AND A MOTHER- I WOULDN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY AS AN ARTIST!!!



  1. Julia, those baskets are stunning. What a lot of time and delicate work went into each one. Just beautiful. In the movie, *Ground Hog Day*, Phil Conners says, " We make choices and we live with 'em..." And there are always trade-offs no matter which way we go. Some choices are self serving,with little lasting fruit. Your choice of making family a priority look to be bearing beautiful and lasting fruit.

  2. I should clarify that I am not saying women need to be wifes and mothers to say something in art- I'm saying for me personally- it is where I found my voice.

  3. what a great post! I totally hear you on not having anything to say without kids. I always wanted to say something, but couldn't bring it forward. I think though after I spend these years with kids practicing my art when they are grown I will have things to say. it seemed that becoming a mother awakened the artist in me! (I wrote about this on the Wishstudio and on Visionary Mom, let me know if you want the links). I share these only to connect to others who are experiencing the same, so we don't feel so alone!!!
    Your baskets are top quality :)

  4. Wow, there are so many things I could say about this post. I've felt the same way about having the children. It's given me a voice and a strenght and as they've grown, so have I. I think they are our greatest creations and as we see them develope, we realise that we can create other art as well.

    I also love reading about people who make their art work for them and who can earn from it. I've always been told 'no way! You're just wasting time playing!' so thank you :)