Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

IMG_5908Predictable, I know.  More cats.

… but when I think Window, I can’t help thinking about my cats.  I sometimes wonder if I’m doing the right thing, keeping them inside… not letting them roam free in the woods and the streets.  I figured the least I could do, when we looked for a new home, was make sure our first cat, Stewie would have plenty of sunny windows to lounge in.  He had no windows to enjoy at our last place, since the ones we had were all tightly covered for safety and heating purposes.

Now Stewie and his younger sister Olive, have plenty of windows for sunbathing, birdwatching, and catching a breeze.  It makes me happy to see them in their windows, enjoying the warm sunshine and sniffing the fresh air.

This one is in our front room, where they like to watch cars and people go by, and the birds flying to the old maple tree and the feeder.  This is also where we often see them waiting for us when we come home from work, right before they arch their backs in a lazy stretch, and jump down to greet us at the door.

Who waits in your window?

xo skyblue

Brave Girl with Pink Handbag – Where are you?

I’d love to know where she ended up.  If she ended up anywhere.   I’m sure I’ll find out Monday.  Maybe no one would want her.  But I believed that at least one person would.  I had to believe it, or I would never succeed.  She was such a joy to create.  I was literally in another world when i made her.  Especially her hair.  I started drawing her two weeks ago today.  It was Sunday.  A sunny, cozy, Sunday.  Her top and bottom half were drawn on two pieces of scrap paper, and attached at the hips.

Just to clarify… when I say draw, I mean draw, erase, draw, erase, erase, erase it all, draw erase some more, erase the whole thing, start over, almost finish, erase the entire face 14 more times, look at the clock, realize its 3:30am, draw it once more, and…. done.  Well… as done as a person who makes art can feel.  Basically, I knew I had a deadline and the pressure was on.  In fact, she started as an entirely different painting, an entirely different girl, which I worked on all day Saturday, only to toss aside.  That canvas now stands with the other misfits and orphans that lean against the studio wall, wondering if they will ever be loved again.  They will.

But for now, I am focused on Brave Girl.  She was still just a flimsy drawing, detailed with colored pencils, carefully cut out, sprayed with fixative and set to the side, while I began to create her ground… her world.  Paint, glue, tissue, little scraps in my studio… Three canvases later, one milky blue, one awful pea green, and finally it started to emerge.  The whole time I was trying to stay away from a Pink background for a few different reasons, but I eventually I gave in.  Red, White, a little Titanium Buff, and off I went into her world.  Layer after layer, more red, some orange, lots of yellow… a little purple.  Cutting, gluing, drawing, gluing, painting… until the world was ready for her.  She settled in perfectly, with some minor gluing drama…OK… it was a disaster.  I am a mess with the glue.  How do I get it in my hair?!! Luckily I was able to overcome the glue monster… I took a deep breath, followed the gluing protocol, and laid her in place.  I knew she was home.  Still bald, but home.  I loved her. I didn’t “love my drawing”.  My drawing skills are mediocre at best.  A little shadowing and perspective I learned from Miss Mailette, but still drawing with the skill level of a first grader.  No, I didn’t love the drawing. I just loved her. And it didn’t matter to me if anyone else did.  It didn’t matter if she wasn’t perfect.  She was loved.

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During the week, I worked on her here and there.  The circles of text and music were originally cut out to be hair.  Crazy, quirky, pretty, bubble hair.  I thought about leaving her bald… she was pretty that way.  I do sometimes leave my girls bald, but she was going to have hair.  I arranged the shapes in dozens of ways.  The bubble hair wasn’t working for her though… I was trying too hard.  And I hadn’t even thought about the flowers yet.  There’s always flowers.  I was running out of time.  So I moved the bubbles of paper down to the bottom and i just said, heck, I’ll just make these into flowers.

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The flowers emerged, different sizes and colors…nothing too crazy.  I tend to get overly involved in detail, and I don’t really have time for that now.  But in no way did that mean the flowers didn’t have to be right.  I just had to work differently than I usually do.  I had to just go with it.  I groomed her flower garden for a few hours during the week.  And then Saturday… my favorite day of the week since I was four (in my day you could only watch cartoons on Saturday).. this day I would now go back to her hair.  No thinking, just grab your sh*t, fill the water and today we are going outside. 

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There’s nothing like working in a colorful, sunny studio surrounded by art supplies, furry friends and books.  But working outside with the sunshine tops that by far.  The morning light shows you colors you never saw before.  I set up my easel and all my supplies, and got straight to work.  The voice of my nerves tried to creep out of my brush.  Your running out of time.  Tick Tock.  You only have two days.  What if you ruin it?  You don’t know what you’re doing. What if you can’t finish it. You should start over.  This is cr*p. 

“Shut up”, I told the voice.  So I just sat there and got to work.  I played with the flowers, mushed colors around in the background.  I was still procrastinating a bit, not sure what her hair was to look like… the hair is important.  I started to sketch around her face in yellow chalk.  A little curly, a little stringy, down pasted her waist.

I sat, I listened, I looked, tilted my head.  Nope, that’s not it.  Listened some more.  And then the wind came out of nowhere.  It was probably there all morning, and I just hadn’t noticed it, but when the wind blows in my yard the trees make some serious noise. I am certain it would register on my husbands trusty decibel meter.  I stared at the painting, I looked up at the trees for a while, closed my eyes, then I saw her hair blow. This would be her hair. The hair that evolved over the course of the day was trying to capture that moment.  That obnoxiously (but beautifully) loud gust of wind that almost knocked her over but she stood firm with her handbag.  Everything she needed was in that handbag.  Her strength, hope, family, friends, love, creativity, courage, cats…a little money for food, coffee and health insurance…  they were all right in there.  The wind was powerful.  She was definitely more so.

My parents came over and hung out while I worked, and then I finally packed it in for dinner.  One more day.  She was getting there.

The next day I woke up and I was pumped.  I couldn’t wait to spend the day with her.  First things first, coffee and couch time.  Then I put the music on, I got my yoga on, and we did our thing.  Brave girl and me.  Girl time!  We hung out all day and well into the night, until there was nothing left to talk about.  Later girlfriend. She was complete.

I don’t usually write play by plays detailing my paintings in progress.  This is possibly the first.  Photos are easier to share since you can always say “I know it sucks, it’s not done yet”.  It’s definitely strange putting this side of my art out there though. I guess some people will think I am utterly weird creating the way I do, but this is pretty much how it goes every time.  Except for the “finishing” part.  Signed, sealed, varnished, ready to hang.  Very. Rarely. Happens.

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There are two jewels that were added at the end, which had their own separate gluing challenges.  Apparently gravity is still stronger than mostly dry glue (meaning, you must lay the painting flat until glue COMPLETELY dries, or her ruby necklace might end up as a belly button jewel).  But it all worked out in the end, and I was ready to let her go.  Let’s do this. 

I boxed her up and sent her out into the world.

xo skyblue

**********************************

Brave Girl was created for a fundraiser which would raise money for breast health initiatives including the Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness, and a free mammogram program, in Bristol CT.  I couldn’t make it to the fundraiser this year, but my heart was definitely there.  Literally. She hopefully went home with someone last night.  🙂

Update ~ Brave Girl ended up going to a wonderful home and resides with a private art collection in Bristol, CT.

 

***

Connecticut Folk Artist Skyblue is Erica Lubee (formerly Erica Moreland).  She writes this blog from her studio in CT to share her love of art, creativity, photography, nature and all creatures big and small, real and imagined.  Her passion is for mixed media, whimsical folkart, illustration and the feminine portrait.  Visit Skyblue’s gallery for more of her paintings and artworks.  Some prints available at Redbubble.  Original drawings, paintings, and more will become available soon!  Follow or subscribe here or on Facebook for updates and more artsy fun. 🙂

 

 

Hot Air and Meatballs

If you were hoping for meatballs, i apologize for the false advertising.  There are no meatballs here.  I just didn’t know what to call my post, and I’m hungry… so meatballs came to mind.

But I hope you will stick around because I have plenty of hot air.  Just some photos taken a few weekends ago at a local festival.

I can’t believe I have lived in Connecticut all my life, and never knew the festival existed or that they had these early morning launches once a year… but a friend at work mentioned it.  Often on my lunch hour, I go walking at Norton Park down the street from our office. The event takes place at this park.  The park is nice enough… I really enjoy my walks there.  But that morning it was transformed into one of the most amazing places I have ever been.

I rolled out of bed at 5am on a Sunday (which would typically be unheard of for my lazy ass) and decided I was not missing my opportunity to witness the annual balloon launch. My husband opened one eye wondering where the hell I was going at this hour, and begrudgingly, but surprisingly offered to join me.  (I hadn’t really invited him since, not in a million years, did i think he would get up that early to go with me.)  It was still dark as I rushed him out of the house, my heart racing that I would miss the launch… but we got there and hadn’t missed a thing.  One by one, two by two, they came to life… and floated away.

There are really no words I can write to share with you how amazing that morning was.  I felt like I was in a cartoon.  My pictures might explain it a little better… and yes, that little white dot is the moon.  But you have to see it with your own eyes to really get it.

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It was so worth getting out of bed.

xo skyblue

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Tree at Norton Park

Please learn more about the festival here!  I think you can even sign up for ride!!

The Top Ten Reasons Skyblue loves ~ SHE HAS TROUBLE WITH NUMBERS ~ by Joann Loftus

I’ve seen dozens, if not hundreds of online contests on blogs, facebook, instagram… but never considered entering one.  I guess if it’s not a million dollars, or a date with Mark Wahlberg, i’m not really interested.  I just really don’t want any more stuff.

A few weeks back though, I did enter one of those online contests.  I just happened across it, cruising through my feed, and for the first time I was like… “hell yah! sign me up!!” The very talented, inspiring artist, Joann Loftus was giving away a print…any print!  A hand embelleshed print of one of her original mixed media paintings, which i absolutely drool over.  Yup. I occasionally drool over art.  And, Mark Wahlberg.  Enough about him though… I won the art!! And I just wanted to tell the world!!!

It came in the mail wrapped up in this delicious paper with a special note on one of her sweet cards. (her painting Create)

IMG_4646I couldn’t WAIT to open it.

Rewind about a year… my husband and I did a lot of work remodeling our bedroom.  It was my first little attempt at being a “designer”.  I had this vision that just wouldn’t go away.

I had become passionate about the project… Together we made it happen, and it became a huge part of a healing process we were going through after some health issues.   The room was transformed from mostly-dreadful to semi-delightful, but with a severe lack of funds, the project came to a screeching halt before my favorite part of the design… the ART!!!  I knew there had to be art, that wasn’t my own, that I hadn’t seen yet.  When I saw it, I would know.

IMG_4660I brought up this back story because it is important for you to understand how excited I am having added the first piece of art (besides a few of my own which don’t count) to our Bohemian Zen bedroom.  When I saw the contest Joann had posted, I knew I wanted one of her pieces in our bedroom.

Most artists would agree, nothing says appreciation for someone’s art like forking over some well-earned dough.  Since I wouldn’t be paying for this piece, I wanted to somehow express how much I really did appreciate it.  Sending a heartfelt email just didn’t seem enough.  So I broke out a top ten list… written especially for Joann, and pasted it into the email.  I was pretty sure this whole thing was a scam, since it seemed much to good to be true, but I sent the email with my painting of choice.

It was not an easy or instant decision…I can relate deeply to so many of her pieces (Create was actually the first runner-up!)… but without a doubt it was meant to be, She Has Trouble with Numbers.

IMG_4669So here is the top ten list…

The Top Ten Reasons I love She Has Trouble With Numbers, by Joann Loftus

1. This was the first Loftus I ever saw.
2. I didn’t much love my short curly hair that wouldn’t grow out after chemo.  I liked her short “curly-ish” hair when i first saw her.  It made me like mine more.
3. She reminds me of me.  I’m terrible at math.  I mean really terrible.  It gives me hives.
4. She has daisies on her cheeks.  Heaven knows, I love daisies.
5. She will look so pretty in my bedroom.
6. The painting reminds me of my husband, who is fantastic at math.  He helped me “double” a recipe today.
7. The colors are amazing.  They remind me of our quilt, a gift from my mom. She, like my husband, is excellent at math and does our taxes like a CPA Ninja.
8. The painting reminds me of my dad, who, like me, is also terrible at math.
9. Did I say, I love the colors?
10. I can’t stop looking at her.  I feel like she was painted especially for me.IMG_4671
… when Trouble arrived in the mail last week, she was even more lovely than on my computer screen.  I knew she belonged in this room. She has found her home right next to my bed… and next to my alarm clock.  The numbers 5:13(am) could not be more troublesome.
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Anyway, more than that, I love that I see her everyday first thing when i wake up, and just before i turn the lights out.  She’s home.
Thank you Joann.  I can’t wait to save up for my next Loftus!
xo,
skyblue
***
Please find a piece for your own home, or for someone you love at Joann’s Etsy store and see what she’s up to on her Facebook page.
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Coffee and Daydreams

IMG_9306Some afternoons, when I just sit with my thoughts, and breath…IMG_9190I find myself in little orange studio, sipping a perfect cup of coffee from my favorite mug… sunbeams raining on my two sweet purring cats.   My road rage is replaced by thoughts of those i love.  I realize i am pretty. And all at once, i remember a thousand of my happiest childhood moments.  I get a glimpse of what i ache for most in life.

I suddenly realize how much of it I already have.

thank you to everyone who believes in me.

xo skyblue

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…make sure you wear a flower in your hair

Not feeling very pretty today.  Don’t feel like doing much.  Feel frustrated, ugly, trapped, stressed, fat, lost.  OK, so that’s my deal today.  It’s definitely not like that every day.  Many days I feel this way and I can just roll with it. Who doesn’t feel this way sometimes?  We must suck it up and move on.  And most days I do.  My life is full of much, MUCH more good than bad.

Today I just need a little extra boost.  So I will do what I often do to help me snap out of it. I will go in my basket, pick out a flower, and stick it in my hair.  Then I will just move on, and get going.  And I will say, holy crap… what is wrong with me?? It’s Saturday, my favorite day, and the sun is out.  I have a job, a home, food, decent health, two sweet kitties, a beautiful family, amazing friends, and coffee. That is what I’ll focus on today.  Everything else will come, and if it doesn’t… it’s not the end of the world.  (-: 

sky blue, xo.

Come Dance with Me. The Story of Little Orange Studio

Exhilaration is…what happens when i come home from work, go straight to little orange studio, crank up my Pandora, forget about work and responsibility, and just go wherever the music takes me.  Literally!  This is how i exercise.

Will I do some belly dancing? or lift some weights? or do some step aerobics?  How about some Yoga?  Ballet?  Maybe some Pilates?  Maybe I feel like just putting on a pretty skirt and dancing like I was on stage again (is that wierd? oh well.)

And my husband?  What does he think of his wife in the other room practicing torso undulations and snake arms… busting out in hour long dance routines? It used to freak him out when I first started doing it no doubt… but it doesn’t seem to phase him anymore.  he usually can’t help sneaking into the studio to come stand beside me in the mirror and do his special guy-version of a hip shimmy… or he likes to tip toe up behind me and make inappropriate gestures when i’m doing yoga (hello? Downward Dog? we all know some of those poses clearly invite innocent spousal butt grabs).

My dance habits although a bit strange to others, are my most regular and effective form of exercise, and an endless source and outlet for creativity.  I go through constant ups and downs with regards to my commitment of keeping up a regular schedule.  I’ll start to feel really flexible and strong, and toned, and then i lose my steam.  I get lazy.  I procrastinate.  But ultimately, besides fair weather walking,  this is my main source of exercise. To understand this slightly odd hobby – dancing for hours in a special room of my house- and to understand why i do it and what it means to me, one must know some of my background.

image: First Lesson at Truempy Ballet School by Alfred Eisenstaedt

A brief (although wordy) history of my significant, but very humble, experiences in dance, movement, and fitness…

  • 1977 (I was 7, sure go ahead do the math).  I had known for “years” that i wanted to be a ballerina.  I had not learned yet that i was destined to suck at all sports and athletics.  I started going to ballet classes at a little school in Manchester. I Loved it, but I hated it.  I was addicted to the beauty of it and to the feeling of moving my body to music, but so incredibly challenged by the intensity of it all… so much pain…so competitive.  I couldn’t live without it, but I dreaded every muscle throbbing-toe bleeding class and rehearsal.  [How I loved you, Ms. Priscilla, even when you made me cry and made me do it 37 times, until it was perfect . I truly loved you despite the oozing blisters.]
  • My bedroom at the time becomes, part little girl’s room, part Grand Stage where my early “choreographies” are rehearsed, and performed for unsuspecting aunts and uncles.  I think I charged them each like one dollar.
  •  I did primarily ballet at my dance school, but i also did lot’s of jazz, and tap until I was about 22.  Tap and jazz were where i had the most fun (Who’s not having fun slinking around to Smooth Criminal, and tap dancing your heart out to 42nd Street!)… but ballet was still my first love.  The satin toe-shoes, the delicate tutu’s, the perfect pirouettes , the graceful arms and hands.  I was never the best in my class, and i only ever got a few solo parts, but i kept up with it…always knowing it was my foundation for being able to do any of the other stuff.  I spent many years performing in recitals and small town productions with my beloved first dance school.  My mom and dad were there for every performance, every class, every accomplishment, every smile, every tear.  My mom sewed my costumes.  My dad helped backstage… assembling Santa’s sleigh…he even helped tie up the unraveled ballet shoes of tiny sugarplums in the wings.
  • I went to college and joined the dance company there, which is the first time i was exposed to any other types of dance.  During this time I learned a little modern, and contemporary.  Performed a few times, tried some choreography.  Got a surprise marriage proposal from my dance partner, on stage, during a show, in front of our families and my entire college campus. (that wedding never did happen, but a very memorable “dance” moment!  and great man that i hope is living a happy, healthy life with a beautiful family somewhere. i didn’t deserve him.)
  • My mid-twenties…started dabbling in some step aerobics and learning to do light weight lifting, etc.
  • After college ended, I danced here and there until i was about 26 and then stopped.  I was too old for dance recitals, and didn’t know of any options other than traditional ballet and tap schools where i could continue dancing.
  • Started going to gyms more, learning how to use fitness equipment and taking group classes… aerobics, kickboxing, and the occasional yoga class [a little too new age and misunderstood by me at that time, but i was slightly and subconsciously intrigued].  My body looked and felt great, but I never loved going to the gym.  “What? No pretty costumes?  No beautiful music?  No fun choreographies? “Waahh… grown up exercise… yuck!”
  • Stopped moving altogether for a few years, besides some pretty steady nightclub dancing and the occasionally date on roller blades.
  • Mid-late 90’s, found a tiny little classified posting in the Advocate, for a belly dance class held in a used book store.  “Belly Dance? A Book Store? Interesting…”
  • 5 minutes into my first class…Hooked…I was going to be a dancer again.

  • Gradually found some more classes to take.  One of my early classes was a fusion of belly dance and yoga.  Hmmm… i was liking this yoga thing more and more… especially if i can do it while i’m belly dancing!
  • Started taking lots of belly dance classes and traveling for workshops… and performing a bit.  Hip Scarves! Silk Veils! Sparkly Costumes!  Fake Eyelashes! Exciting Music!  Classes with famous experts!  Dance camp with professionals and famous musicians! THIS WAS LIVING!
  • created a special exercise/belly dance area in my apartment at the time, doing more independent practice and study of belly dance, yoga, pilates, and fitness in general as I slowly and modestly transformed the space into my “dance room”.
  • I spent a few years doing local belly dance performances with other students for fun, for fundraisers, in restaurants… I met so many lovely, creative women.
  • Learned a bit more Yoga and Pilates with books, classes and workshops. Both feel very complimentary to my belly dancing.
  • Got a little stagnant with belly dance after a while.  Tried my hips at some Polynesian and Hula, knowing the music and movements would be equally as thrilling and beautiful.  The costumes were interesting too… I performed at a handful of gigs and parties … got to wear a few grass skirts, and yes… i had my own pair of coconuts.  I had a great time, met more lovely, creative women.
  • Decided to focus my efforts solely on belly dance once again… some classes, a workshop or two, another few performances… did a little teaching for beginners. Only stayed involved with the belly dance community for another year or so.  Life got in the way, as they say.  A few dear friends remain.

  • 2006, I moved.  I started creating a new space, a new room in my new house, where i could practice, play music, be comfortable, and feel inspired – and where I could paint the walls any color of the rainbow without losing a security deposit.
  • Today, I’m dancing again.  I get in an occasional funk with the seasons, my moods, or a temporary obstacle.  But I am dancing.

***

Little Orange Studio is where,

even though I am no longer formally involved in dance…

I am still a dancer. 

There are magical forces at work here.

This is where i get the movement and exercise my body craves.

This is where i am still able to be creative with choreography and improvisation. 

This is where I am the artist I have always wanted to be.

This is where I am the writer I never thought I could be.

This is where I heal, ease pain, and get stronger after the cancer.

This is where I am still a dancer.

This is where I will forever be…

ballerina, belly dance goddess…

dancer.

***

My life of dance and movement gave me the vision to create these spaces where i live.  The space I have now is where i dance, exercise, and make artwork in harmony.  One inspires the other… inspires the other….they are not separate. Since having little orange studio, I have experienced the power it has over my creativity, inspiration, and motivation.  At any moment… early in the morning, or by the flicker of candle light and a full moon… you might find me in there making a necklace, doing sun salutations,  painting a canvas, dancing to middle eastern, acoustic or club music.  sometimes I’m wearing yoga pants and a hip scarf… other times i am decked head to toe in belly dance attire with swirling skirts, jingling coins, lipstick, and flowers in my hair.  No matter what you find me doing in there, there will be music playing, candles glowing, and incense burning.  No matter what you find me doing in there, i am being the most “me” I could ever be.

What inspires me about the sunny studio by the woods?  The warm colors… the delicate sunlight… the magical lamps… the shaggy rugs… the shelves of lovely books and treasures from my past… the whimsical paintings… the meticulously organized art supplies… my gorgeous [hand-made-by-hubby] table and flea market furniture… my cat sleeping in a basket of pretty scarves…the late-morning light that beams onto the colors and my skin.

One might agree, It’s not always easy to find motivation for exercise, or the recipe for creativity, or the wisdom to stop and listen to birds from a yoga mat.  “Real life” always seems to trump.  But putting petty excuses aside, there are no valid reasons for me not to want to go into this room and be creative, exercise, write, dance.  This is where i feel whole and strong. This is where my soul longs to spend its days.

Little OS is my story.  Here I can dance until i am 80 and create until earth’s journey ends.  I never have to retire my sparkly hip scarves or jingly coin belts!  I realize i may want to think twice about the sequin bra’s and coconut shells in a few years, although perky is no longer an issue for me, so who knows! (this can be further clarified for you by Dancing Rapunzel if curiosity now has the best of you)

ALLLLL this being said, I have secretly wished i could help other people create spaces like this for themselves, for whatever it is they want do do.  I don’t think i will have my little orange studio interior design company any time soon, but maybe someone will read this and try it for themselves.  and then poof.  it happens for them…  the magic.

My space happens to be a spare room in the back of my house tucked near the woods.  A cozy corner, a large closet, a patch of grass under a tree can work too.  Your space might be waiting, right before your eyes.  Give it some love.  Give it some You.

Let’s say you had an extra room or spare corner in your home…what would yours look like?  What would you do there?

Maybe you already have a space, that is your story, and you’ve just never told it.

My hope is that at least one kindred blogger or reader will find this post, and be inspired to create their own space to dance (or meditate, do situps, sew dresses, do yoga, make art…  ).

Exhilaration, Bliss, Spiritual Perfection, might be waiting for you there.

love, skyblue. xo.


Holy Land USA and theTimeExpo Museum – Some Easter fun in Waterbury, CT

If you do a Google search of Waterbury, CT you will probably get a pretty generic list of fact sheets and local services.  Why would someone Google Waterbury? People around here do not say the nicest things about it.  I have been guilty myself of the trash talking. Living in a suburb of the “brass city”, i have to pass through it quite often, and i do most of my grocery shopping there.  Sometimes it annoys me…Waterbury… but i have decided it deserves a little love.  Especially on Easter.

This Easter morning we woke up to another news story of a vacant factory in Waterbury burning to the ground.  There seems to have been a rash of fires there – all empty, run down houses and businesses which while standing, have been inviting plenty of seedy behavior.

One area that is particularly run down is that of the religious tourist attraction – Holy Land USA.  Although I don’t think there have been any fires there, it’s current state of neglect and disrepair attracts less than wholesome activities.  It is no longer the tourist attraction it was intended to be, and it is surrounded by an air of darkness.

In the mid 1950’s, a lawyer named John Greco built a miniature replica of Jerusalem and Bethlehem on a 17-acre hill in Waterbury.  It became one of Connecticut’s most popular tourist attractions in the 1960’s and 70’s, drawing in thousands of Bible readers every year.  I have not read the Bible, so I have no knowledge of most of the stories and passages, but I think this place on the hill must have been very special to a great many people…especially to Mr. Greco and the many volunteers and believers who built it.  It closed in the 80’s, shortly before its creator passed away, and since then it has been neglected and vandalized, with not much hope for restoration.  And only last year a young girl was tragically raped and murdered just beneath the cross.  The place has been mostly off limits, but I had read that people go up there to witness remnants of the tiny biblical scenes.

The other day I decided to go up there with my husband on a whim.  Now that I think about it though… I had probably asked him about thirty times if we could go up there, so it was more likely a result of my relentless nagging.  Anyway, I felt extra drawn to try to find it that particular day for some reason.  Maybe it was the gloomy, slate gray sky.

We found the winding dead end street, and hesitantly drove up to the rickety gates.  I couldn’t believe I was right there, at Holy Land… the place behind the landmark cross I remember seeing as a child when we drove up to see my second cousin’s in Ansonia once a year… The cross that stands majestically, but sadly atop a small mountain alongside I-84.  I was absolutely fascinated.  I was positively terrified.

I yanked my camera out of my purse, and started snapping from the passenger seat.  Of course now I just had to walk up to it.  Eventually, I ended up inside the gates and off i went with my camera, sneaking along the overgrown path.  My husband was begrudgingly escorting me, but I was definitely freaking out.  I photographed every inch of the place… or as much of it as i could, knowing we probably weren’t supposed to be in there, and knowing how utterly stupid we were, wandering around such a secluded, now sinister place.  We made it partially up the hill, just within site of the cross, when we heard voices behind the tangled bushes. (Hellll, no… we weren’t crashing that party.)  I managed to capture a few shaky images of the cross before we hi-tailed it out of there.  As we power walked down the bend, we came face to face with another group of “could be totally innoncent, could be gangstas” twenty-somethings. W immediately got that look on his face, which said… “I’ll be grabbing that rock Erica, and when I start taking people out with it, you run like f*ck!”  We safely made it to the car and I immediately inspected each photo to see the details I missed in our haste.  Cool.

As millions of people around the world spend their Easter traveling to the Holy Lands, take a peak at my snap shots… remnants of a dreamer’s once realized dream.  I do hope they will respectfully contribute to the memory and sad beauty of this abandoned place, doomed to be further destroyed or forgotten.  But I also encourage you to check out these great images from the years before its hopeless decline.

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… Later that same day, we ventured up to my favorite thing in Waterbury, the life-size replica of a Moai statue from Easter Island.  The statue, which can also be seen from I-84, guards the Time Expo Museum – its authentic versions thought to have historically functioned together with the sun as a primitive time piece. Easter Island, I have learned was named as such, by the Dutch explorer who encountered it on Easter Sunday, 1722.  I’ve never been to the museum, but i do adore its giant loveable protector.

If you happen to be driving through Waterbury, make sure you look up to your left and off to your right for these creative, Connecticut treasures.  Maybe you will decide to hop off the freeway, and venture up close.  Anyway, Happy Easter all, however you celebrated it.

My heart in full color

I often wonder what it must be like to not love art… to not love creating.  I can’t even imagine it.  People seem to think i am part yoga hippie,part crazy cat lady, and part health nut.  I have no idea why people think I’m a health nut. I had a raspberry danish, two cups of coffee, a glass of root beer, and a large handful of m&ms today.  The other descriptions are pretty accurate i would say.  A day of fun for me would be a few hours at the flea market, another few hours painting in my studio, and another hour or two doing yoga and belly dance.

I was thrilled to spend a few hours in my studio this weekend.  As I worked on a couple of paintings, I found myself asking,  “Why do I love art so much?  Why do i long to spend all the hours of daylight in my studio, sketching, gluing, painting…

I haven’t figured out exactly how to answer that question.  But i decided (for once) I would not judge every stroke, and second guess every color choice, and worry if my paintings would be good enough, or if they would have anything worthwhile to say… I would instead simply enjoy each stroke, and notice the juxtaposition of colors and shapes.  I would just get lost in my paint and let my brushes speak what is in my heart.

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These are some close-ups of the series i’m working on for my living room.  I love the way paint and canvas unite to make the most interesting patterns and textures from the close-up perspective.  More to come i hope.  Happy Monday!

e.j.l. xo