Sep 29, 2009

A night out at Waterfire, Providence

Waterfire, Providence

A few weeks ago my husband and I met up with some friends for dinner in Providence. Both Brian and I used to live in Rhode Island, and I love being back there. There's such a wonderful artist community, with support for the arts through galleries, theatre, festivals, and events such as Waterfire. The Waterfire phenomenon began as an installation that really took on a life of its own, and now runs bi-weekly (and sometimes more often with partial lightings, depending on sponsorship) from spring through fall.

Fires in the basin

From the Waterfire website:
Barnaby Evans created First Fire in 1994 as a commission to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence. In June 1996, Evans created Second Fire for the International Sculpture Conference where it became the gathering place
for thousands of participants from all over the world. Ardent art supporters convinced Evans to create an on-going fire installation and started a grass-roots effort to establish WaterFire as a non-profit arts organization.
With the support of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, a hard working staff, generous donations from visitors, contributions from corporate leaders and support from the City and State, WaterFire’s bright flames now regularly return to illuminate downtown Providence.

If you've never been to Waterfire, and you live in the Rhode Island area, I'd recommend you make the time to see it for yourself. The waterfront is alive with people, atmospheric music is played on speakers throughout the installation, and the sound and smell of the burning wood permeate the air. Watching the volunteers stoke the fires with fresh timber is a treat - we stopped to watch their progress down the river, dressed in black and silent as they worked. There is always interesting performance art in addition to the fires - I've seen fire dancers, living statues, musicians and singers - the week we were there was a celebration of opera. We caught several performances on stage.

Starry starry night in Memorial park

A new installation that I participated in is Starry Starry Night in Memorial Park. A hundred illuminated paper stars hang from the trees, casting a blue glow in the park. Brian and I purchased a star package to support Waterfire. I received a ribbon on which to write a wish, which was attatched to a star, and then hung in a place of my choice in the park. I also was given two luminaries and cards to write dedications, and a star to bring home with me. For my wish, I added the intention to find the path I am meant for - I've been feeling that I have missed my mark lately, and need some guidance in that respect. For the luminaries, I dedicated one to my husband, who is incredibly supportive and inspiring to me, and one to a dear friend who is suffering through a divorce - wishing him peace through a difficult time.

Looking out over the lights in the park, I was feeling truly connected to the community at Waterfire. It was so moving, and just a lovely experience.

There is one more Waterfire scheduled for October. It's always a busy month, so I don't know if I'll be able to make it back, but with luck I'll be able to sneak out there for a little while.

Sep 25, 2009

My Etsy store is open!

I finally got my Etsy store open, and have some work available for purchase there. I have lots of pieces that I want to add soon, but I'm glad to have a decent start.

For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, it is a website of hand-made items for sale by numerous artisans. Think Ebay for artists and crafters. Etsy also allows the sale of materials for crafts and vintage items.

My store's name is LisasArtwork, and I will be adding some pastel, acrylic and mixed-media work as I can. Mostly I was unsure how to handle postage and shipping of the artwork safely, so I took some time to browse other Etsy shops for policies and shipping information. Etsy also has a nice blog full of info on getting your store up and running, which was very helpful.

To make things a little easier, I am offering free shipping of my artwork to addresses in the US and Canada. As things progress with the store, I may post separate shipping charges, but thought that might be a little more streamlined for now.

So feel free to browse my shop! I'll be adding more items soon, as well as creating some artwork for local fairs for the holiday season.

Sep 6, 2009


I've been doing some heavy thinking about happiness lately. You see I am somewhat successful at a day job where I am in a position of authority - an Art Director at a multimedia company, and I create some pretty cool stuff. I'm not even lying when I say that I'm good at what I do.

I'm one of those people you probably knew and despised in grade school. I loved to learn and work hard and prove it to the teachers. I thought that my value as a human being was based on how I performed and wanted tangible grades to show that I was Good Enough even if I was just a girl with artistic talent. I knew I wanted to be an artist but always felt that I had to show I was smart too.

So I started out as an illustrator, but quickly moved into animation and digital art, then multimedia and Actionscript programming. I love the way you can plan and create and make something start to finish that is both beautiful and functional. There's so much about Flash development that is satisfying - it's challenging and it blends an artistic sense with practical knowledge and usability. It allows me to use both parts of my brain. Awesome.

But there's all the other stuff that comes with the day job. You will have to compromise yourself and work past your disagreements and you won't always get satisfaction from this job no matter how hard you work. You can really burn out if this job is diametrically opposed to your core beliefs and needs.

I think one problem for me is that for years I have invested myself personally in the job I have been doing. Not just in that I want to be there fully and do great work, but that I am expecting a sense of fulfillment creatively from these projects. And maybe that's asking too much from the day job. There's a whole life full of things I want to experience. Over time I've become a person who values people and relationships, art and music, freedom and time to myself, being with friends and family well over that accomplishment from the day job. I don't think I ever really valued the day job more than these things, but have become more honest with myself about how much I want them, and how pursuing career benchmarks distract me from what brings me happiness.

I have been in a state of self-examination for quite a while, during which I've been practicing more fine art. It's very, very hard to separate my value (perceived value) from how much I make and my title at the day job. But I know that there's other aspects of my life that make me happy. That I want to focus on and enjoy while I'm here.

Penelope Trunk has a great blog on career advice, and I recently found this post on building a career as an artist. It's a bit of tough love on being an artist in general, but I really identify with her thoughts on work/life balance. If I'm lucky enough to create a name for myself as an artist, I'll feel much more freedom in my life in general. But if I do need to balance the fine art with the day job, I will not look for the job to provide my happiness. I'm looking for ways to open my life up to the joys of friends and family and taking time for the arts. This will mean valuing myself for the other things I am good at. Loving people. Being compassionate. Laughing and being silly with my husband. My goofball self-depreciating humor. Being this crazy person is more important than how many hours I spend at work. I don't want to wake up panicked in the middle of the night thinking I haven't lived my life the way I should have.