Tu Scene: Visual Art in Tucson

Artist Steven Derks just introduced me to a new blog, Tu Scene, dedicated to the visual art scene in Tucson. The woman writing the blog, who I understand is a newcomer to Tucson, is doing an amazing job of pulling together a detailed calendar and info about what is happening locally artwise. Check it out. I have added it to the blogroll list to the right for future convenience.

Facebook and general update

I have just joined Facebook, so if you are already a member, please find me and invite me to be your friend and become a fan of my page. I am new to this whole social networking thing, so please be patient with me while I learn the ropes. I joined because I’ve been hearing from many sources that social networking is the new wave of art marketing, but as a bonus, it looks like I may get to reconnect with some old friends as well. I very much look forward to that.

I also realized that I have been blogging more than I knew—just not in this blog. Instead, I have been posting updates to my home page, when I could have been doing it here instead. Realizing that will make me come here more. In addition, I will be figuring out how to integrate this blog into my Facebook activities, so there is added incentive to write more often.

I have neglected my art business this year, as I have focused on fixing up our new (to us) house. As I near the end of the major tasks, though, I find myself turning back with renewed drive. I am determined to be more disciplined on the business side of my art this year, beginning with my online presence. I am also bursting with ideas to try out on and off the lathe.

If you haven’t seen them already, here are some new-ish pieces that might hint at some of my new directions.

“Assent, Ascent”



Crazy busy

I’m wondering if the universe just wants me to shut up for a while. I’m so crazy busy that I barely have time to breathe!

I leave for a show in Casa Grande in a couple of hours, then I come back to prepare a talk for the docents of the Tucson Museum of Art and prepare for the spring show at the museum. And, oh yeah, my significant other and I are trying to buy our first house at the same time! One with my own workshop, of course.

Done! (for now)

After being glued to the computer for 10 days or so, I have finally finished updating my work-for-sale pages. “Finished” is, of course, a relative term. There are about a dozen pieces I need to rephotograph before I can post them, but for now, I’m declaring I’m caught up, so today I get to go back into the studio!

I have so many pieces I want to make. Forcing myself to sit at home and work on my web site has required discipline. These tasks are not the ones you imagine when you think about being an artist. But if you don’t do them, you have to find another way to pay for your artmaking—or at least for your food and shelter.

I will blog more later. Now I’m off to make stuff!

Catching up

I had no idea it had been so long since I last posted. I was busy preparing for and then enduring the Tubac Festival of the Arts. It was five long days (two days longer than justified by the traffic it attracts, I think), and now that it’s over, I am focusing on updating my web site, specifically the work-for-sale pages, which have been down since before the ITE last summer.

I hadn’t photographed any of my work since the ITE, so I spent two solid days before the Tubac show photographing everything I had on hand. Regrettably, I neglected to photograph the new work that I have sold over the last six months. Now I have about 750 photos of remaining new work to tweak, crop, and load into web pages. (The large number is because I take multiple views of each piece, both for documentation purposes and so that online customers can really see each piece.) This includes my remaining ITE pieces, which heretofore had been photographed only by John Carlano—and only one view of each, at that.

Here are two views of a reconceived “In Her Dream.” This is the piece originally (in the Wood Turning Center’s “alTURNatives” exhibition) displayed suspended in a Japanese maple branch. There was no way to transport that very fragile branch back here after the exhibition, so I had to redream the context of the piece. I love what evolved. I started by displaying the vessel on the stones, then added the carved, dyed sassafras base just before Tubac.

“In Her Dream,” redreamt.

I think of this second image as a boudoir shot of the piece. It makes me smile.

My boudoir shot of “In Her Dream.”

I’ve given myself until the 24th to finish updating my site, because I will be out of town next week.

Now that I’m almost caught up, I’m going to try to set aside a regular time to photograph work. Posting photos here will be an incentive. So will not having to face this mountain of work all at once.

I’m back . . .

So many changes have happened over the last four months.

I’m comfortably installed in my new studio. And now I have a brand-new lathe for my new studio, a Jet 1642, with a 2-hp, 230-v, reversible motor and a 16″ swing. The speed is also variable from 0 to 3200 rpm, with two different belt settings, unlike my old lathe.

Don’t get me wrong. My old lathe, also a Jet, the 1442, served me well for almost five years of full-time turning—and I haven’t retired it yet. It is a little workhorse, but I have worked it hard and push its limitations daily. What are its limitations? Well, the speed is variable only at fixed steps. The lowest speed is theoretically 450 rpm, but actually measures closer to 700 rpm—not slow enough to safely turn very unbalanced pieces. It also lacks reverse. And though 1 hp does the job most of the time, I can stall the motor if I cut too agressively. It has been a very good machine for me for a long time, though, and I would stand by it as a solid choice for an inexpensive first full-size lathe.

My new lathe is, I think, the best deal around for the money. It costs little more than half the price of a comparable Powermatic (I paid $1439 on sale!), and it feels rock steady. I’m actually astonished at how quietly and smoothly it operates. I feel as though I can turn anything on it. And, although it may not be a lifetime lathe, I have no doubt I will get years of service from it.


I haven’t really settled back into turning since my return, because I am busy moving into a new studio. As wonderful as my current situation has been since I began turning, it’s time to make a change. I did enjoy the companionship of sharing a workshop with other turners this summer, and I’m going to try it for a while longer. A good friend who is also a turner has offered to share her studio, and I’m excited about the synergistic possibilities.

The timing of the move seems right. Moving is always a cleansing process, and coming off of this summer, the cleansing feels apropos. I’m beginning by sorting through my huge store of wood, determining what is worth moving and what to throw out. I shipped wood back from Philadelphia too, my beloved pear and some holly, and I’m eager to make the physical and mental space for it.

My work flow will be entirely different too, as it was in Philadelphia. It is a chance to reimagine and reorganize everything. My lathe has been against a wall, somewhat blocked in. Now it will be freestanding, with room to move around it, allowing me, I hope, to work more fluidly. And many of the tools I have will be more accessible because they will all be in one place.

I’ll keep you posted on how the reimagining goes, and maybe have some pictures next time.

Finally home

I went hiking in the desert today for the first time in almost three months, and I finally feel like I made it back home.

The desert is as green as I’ve ever seen it, deeply so. The prickly pear are ripe. Fishhook barrel cactus are blooming. Creosote blossoms are turning to their woolly fruit. The whiptail lizards, even the spotted whiptails, are huge—12 inches and longer—and more numerous than I’ve ever seen. No bobcat or deer or javelina tracks along the trail, but in the underbrush, cottontails and chipmunks and round-tail ground squirrels and white-wing doves.

The summer monsoons must have been heavy. Not only is everything deeply green and lush, but half of one of our usual trails has been erased by a new flood, and other trails are overgrown. Sabino Canyon Creek is running strong. A fecund season. So much life to come home to.

A poem from before I left:

Ocotillo aflame

Blooms lick the sky.
Limbs stretch and sway,