Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From the Gilded Stage to the Silver Screen

This lovely lady made dumplings for dinner! Here we are posing outside the theater at Kansas City's newest addition, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Eek! All I had was my camera phone!

I spent my weekend preoccupied with performance, in several manifestations. During one of my A.C.E.D. classes on Saturday, my students recorded their "disc jockey" introductions to pop songs. Later that evening, my friend Kate and I made our first visit to the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, where we saw the ballet Romeo & Juliet. The next day, my family got together for the Academy Awards and a pre-show feast.

A.C.E.D., of course, is always an enjoyable experience. My adult students with intellectual disabilities  bring energy, excitement and great ideas to the classroom without fail. In fact, it was a student's idea to focus our radio broadcasting course on radio interviews during one of our class periods. Even though I often listen to interviews on NPR, I didn't even think of that!

The glass enclosure.

Spacious lobby and spacey ramp.

Broad view of Kansas City from the Performing Arts Center.

Then, there was the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It is so exciting to have such a first-rate performing arts center in Kansas City! You can see well from any seat in the house, and your ears will be blessed from every angle. Kate and I sat on the Grand Tier, which is not the highest level, but it was pretty high up. We heard the dancers' feet slap the stage as if we were sitting directly before them. It was magnificent! I am a huge fan of the building's architecture, although I am not sure I am sold on how each floor has its own color of carpet. Even though the building itself is a work of art, I do wish there were more paintings, sculptures, etc. around. Art could be added in a way that does not interfere with the architecture or clutter the space.

A mod take on the typical performing arts theater, but fair Verona hasn't changed a bit.
People spilled out of the theater after the performance. The place was packed!

No ballet slippers for me.

What I wore to the theater: vintage flower pin bought during my adolescence when I still understood Romeo & Juliet, cardigan bought from Target because it matched my glasses, a tank top from JCPenney, a thrifted dress with tags still attached at time of purchase, shoes from Payless, tights from K-Mart, and an opera jacket that once belonged to my Aunt Opal. I'm so fashionable. That's what this one girl meant when she looked at me all funny.

The ballet was divine. There is something so thrilling about live performances. Maybe it's because I know how much work is going on behind the scenes to make the production appear flawless. Or maybe it's the costumes! Or the music! Romeo & Juliet is a classic, and I think it was a good idea to see a narrative with which I was familiar. I remember studying the play during freshman year of high school. I thought it was so incredibly heartbreaking. If only Juliet had awakened five minutes earlier! If only Romeo had arrived after Juliet had risen from her cold slumber! If only I could have gotten to the crypt to stop Romeo from slaying himself! I hated cruel fate at the time. Later on, as an adult, I revisited Romeo & Juliet. My experience at that point was much different from that of my adolescence. I thought Romeo was downright emo in his convictions. It made me realize, a little sadly/a little wisely, youth happens once. I had grown too old to relate to the primary characters. I understood that, yes, you do indeed survive your first love, even though losing him/her hurts. Does this make me jaded? I like to think not - I'm still a crier and a feeler and a it-takes-me-a-long-time-to-get-over-a-love kinda person! Anyway, the production was beautiful from the music to the costumes, from Romeo to Juliet. I enjoyed it very much, and I hope to make it back to the Performing Arts Center soon.

Roasted veggies and swiss burgers.

Mmm, fresh fruit and dip!

Mmm, fresh fruit and mini-pastries!

I love movies, too, and watching the Academy Awards is almost as good as seeing one. The Oscars doesn't just celebrate actors and actresses. It celebrates all the artists, thinkers, movers and shakers it takes to produce and release into the world a multi-faceted piece of art. As an artist, I am enthralled by the costume, set and makeup design, as well as all the new digital processes used in movies. I am also a huge fan of cartoons. The Animated Feature and Animated Short categories inspire me. Hee! The Academy Awards makes me dream!!! My sister began the tradition of celebrating the Academy Awards in dressy outfits with a fancy dinner years ago. This year we went without the gowns, but we did have a delicious dinner. Then we spent the evening enthralled by the movies. I watch The Academy Awards to learn about movies I haven't yet seen (which seems to be most of them!) and artists I should get to know. My favorite things about Oscar Night are the fashions worn and the emotions shared. I live for exciting, emotional, humorous or outrageous speeches. My favorite to date is Roberto Benigni's acceptance of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film for Life is Beautiful. What's yours?

Did your favorite movies and stars win this year? Are you inspired to try a new art form or see a new film? Are you a movie buff? What's your favorite Oscar winner? My favorites are It Happened One Night and Marty - but, sheesh, how can I even choose! Obviously, The Artist is now at the top of my list of movies to see right this very instant. I can't believe I haven't yet seen it! I, who am so enthralled with old Hollywood and silent film!

Who dressed the best? I was hung up on quirky details like the rose on Stacy Keibler's gold Marchesa gown and the huge bow at the neck of Emma Stone's Giambattista Valli design. I was also way into Rooney Mara's bangs, Michelle Williams' pixie cut (as usual), and Jessica Chastain's pretty shade of red. As far as the guys go, Christopher Plummer did it for me in his velvet tux!

Alison :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Susie Homemaker Party

A clever friend brought a tray of SPAM and Twinkie bites to share. The SPAM went home with her, unopened, but its presentation was fabulous! I can't get over how well the golden cakes match the lettering of the word SPAM.

I like to build up internal excitement as my birthday approaches. To do so, I always celebrate Valentine's Day, and I usually plan a party or a fun outing to get me in the birthday spirit. This year I had a girls' night the Friday before my birthday. The theme was "Susie Homemaker." I invited my gal pals to come over bearing retro goodies and wearing their best vintage aprons.

Protecting the innocent, unless they say otherwise. That's me in the mirror. I am definitely the guilty party-thrower.

We had such a deliciously fun night. We filled it with honest and intimate girl talk and tasty treats. Although not as many ladies were available as I had hoped, in retrospect, the right amount of people showed up. The group was large enough to be interesting, yet small enough to have one large group conversation. If there had been any more people, we probably would have broken into small groups. I am really happy with how the evening turned out. 

Hanging vintage aprons. The chick in the photos? That's me. The photos were made by the brilliant Josh Moutray, ca. 2002.

It was especially satisfying to bring together a group of smart, gorgeous and amazing women who all really hit it off with one another. 

My all-in-one office/library/dining room/art studio. Tonight it was all about the spread on my retro dining room table (given to me by a family friend who knows what makes my heart go pitter-patter). Vintage aprons from my collection hang about. Do you spy my weighted hula hoop inside my bedroom door? Best piece of exercise equipment ever!

Mmm, look at those vittles! Clockwise from left: Sweet & dill pickles & pickled okra (I have southern roots, all right?), Jello salad, icebox cake (an old and super secret family recipe), chips and salsa, more pickled foods - green & black olives & pickled baby corn, goat cheese and crusty toast, cheese & summer sausage, and sushi. And my owl centerpiece surrounded by it all. More came later, if you can believe it! You could hardly see the strawberries on the tablecloth I borrowed from my mom.

The dishes in the top left, top right and bottom left photos were thrifted. The dish at the lower right belonged to my grandma.

Have you ever thrown a theme party? Do you host regular girls' nights? Or guys? How do you throw a tip-top guys' night? I would love to hear details!

Hope your night is ending on a lovely note,

Alison :)

Thirty Plus One Candles

I blew out the candles so quickly, you don't get to see them lit. Wonder what I wished for?? Right now, it's more pie!

Thirty-one snuck up on me. The flip of the calendar was gentle and painless. It wasn't a thing like turning thirty. The countdown began the moment I turned 29; I was on the precipice of real adulthood (or so I told myself). For at least half a year in advance I referred to myself as thirty, in preparation for the shock to my system, I suppose. And it was shocking to leave my twenties behind. However, life did not change. I felt rather the same after the big day had passed. Maybe I was a little more nervous about the idea of being single and childless.

This time around, I'm used to being in a new category - my thirties. I am yet a little more nervous about the idea of being single and childless, but in general I feel good. In fact, I felt younger and more energetic on my birthday than I have in a long time. Last year, I decided it was just about time to make things happen for myself. I move at a slow pace, so it took me most of my thirtieth year to implement this program. I call it "Project Me," and I have posted about it. Through "Project Me" I develop the best parts of myself, stand up for my own needs and desires, live a healthier lifestyle, and pursue my goals. In the past year I have made strides - I am a little bolder, a lot stronger, a tiny bit less of a pushover, and I am seeing the benefits of these changes. For this my thirty-first year, my goals are to develop more positive self-talk (and shush that demon who lives to make me miserable), tweak my eating habits even more so my gym sessions will yield a higher pay-off, take professional risks (in a good way), and simply focus on my own happiness.

Today, appropriately enough, I spoke with an alumna of the college for which I work. She was seventy. She told me about all the exciting things she has been up to recently - including starting a business and buying her first home. In the middle of her monologue, she paused and said, "There are some advantages to getting old." I said, "Thanks for letting me know, since I just turned 31 yesterday. I was a little nervous about the whole thing." "Oh, you're so young!" she said. "Don't be nervous. The thirties are great years." And I believe her. I look around at all the young but a little older than I am actresses I admire. Once they hit their thirties, they became more beautiful, more confident, more talented, and more amazing than they ever were before. I do not think this is just a famous person phenomenon. I think at around thirty, we are finally instilled with enough self-realization, self-confidence and life experience to live honestly and to work toward self-fulfillment. The woman I spoke with said that in your thirties things that don't matter all that much to your own happiness leave your life. I like that thought. I am ready to get lighter as I grow older.


The perfect blueberry pie - made with love by my mom and sister. It tasted as good as it looked.

Ah, yeah. Look at those crumbs. You know what makes a pie crust nice and flaky, right? Butter, lots and lots of butter.

Last year, my sister threw me a surprise party. It was the big 3-0, after all, and it was really special to have everyone make such a big deal over me. I also went out to dinner with friends, celebrated with my boyfriend at the time, and had dinner at home with my family. This year was low-key. Last night, my mom made taco salad with the mashed red beans (faux refried beans - so yummy and healthy!) I so love. Instead of birthday cake, I requested blueberry pie - my mom and brother made one a couple summers ago. Big mistake! Now, it's replaced apple cake (which I had every year for about ten years) as my "birthday cake" of choice. I had a really great night with them!

The fam: My bro - so GQ, my mom cutting pie at lightning speed, my dad hamming things up, and my sister lookin' purdy.

So, how about you? What did you do for your most recent birthday? I always feel so sad when people aren't celebrated or don't want to celebrate. I hope I am never too old for birthdays! Speaking of aging, how do you feel about it? At thirty-one, I am hardly old, but I know that's where I'm headed! It's either there or... the alternative. I'm enjoying the journey so far. I look at the students I work with daily - their youth and energy and beauty inspires me. I wouldn't want to go back, though. I love the perspective I've gained on life. Sometimes I laugh a little to myself and think of what a fool I must have been when I was their age. And, of course, to a seventy year-old, I am sure I have plenty of time left for a little foolishness without redoing my most youthful years.


Alison :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Me, My Valentine

This song is totally unrelated to what I'm saying, but it sure gives me a Valentines Day kinda feeling.

The other day I was talking to my gym buddy on the phone. I told her I didn't really want to be seen at the gym on Valentine's Day, because then people would "know" I was single. Not long after our conversation, I thought, "How ridiculous!" For one thing, a lot of people exercising at the gym on Valentine's Day are probably single, too. There's nothing wrong with showing off the goods to guys who might be looking, right? For another thing, spending the evening with someone on Valentine's Day does not always indicate a good and lasting relationship.

Last year, I had an amazing, romantic Valentine's Day, but you know what? The guy I shared that night with is no longer a part of my life. He was there for a fleeting moment in the grand sweep of my life, and I am the one who remains here with me. And, so, I decided I would be my own Valentine this year. I clothed myself in a pretty dress, and I called myself lovely. I brought in Valentines for my coworkers, and they deemed me both dorky and sweet. I treated myself to salted caramel (most of which I shared with my workmates - their responses made the candy less difficult to give away) and a night at the gym. I worked hard - I built muscles, burned calories, and sweated the volume of Lake Michigan. Hoo! I was glistening by the time I finished! I feel glorious, to be perfectly honest. I would much rather treat my solo self right on Valentine's Day than be in another relationship where the guy I am with isn't fully committed to me or our relationship every other day of the year.

Now, maybe next year I will be engaged in a different kind of cardiovascular activity than I was tonight, and you won't hear me complain. For this year, however, putting effort into myself was the best way I could have spent my day. A day that empasizes love is fine by me, and couldn't we all spend a little more time loving ourselves?

Now, I'm going to seal the deal with a hot bath and a good book, but before I go, I want to know - How did you love yourself today?*


Alison :)

*You can interpret that in any which way you want. ;)


Find the tutorial on Zakka Life, Jessica Okui's lovely blog.

My sister's version. Super fun, right?

My own sister decided to outdo my happy store-bought Valentines by making her own! She is a teacher, and since her room is decorated with a superhero theme, she decided to make her students these  superhero-inspired Valentines found on Pinterest. They were originally posted on Zakka Life. Aren't they adorable!? I'll have to file away this idea for another year. They would also be a really sweet treat at a superhero-themed costume party! The wheels are turning...

Also, all my Valentines will be late. Not a surprise to the recipients, I am sure. I just couldn't stand the idea of driving to the post office through the wet, yucky, could possibly be slick streets after last night's snowfall.  Aw, but tomorrow is another day, and, remember, it's the thought that counts!

A soft seat before a fire plus a leisurely enjoyed article about Allan Wexler's work equals perfection.

Speaking of snow, the college where I work did not have a snow day, even though nearly all the elementary and high schools in the area were closed. Despite this, I did have a relaxing lunch break in front of a fire with a magazine in hand. Everyone deserves an hour of luxury in the middle of a cold gray day.

Hope you had a super day (and got to spend it in bed),

Alison :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Drawing Back My Bow...

... And letting my Valentines flow.

The perfect Valentines - corny and cute. Just like me!
Details of my favorites.
Signed, sealed, and ready to be delivered. These are envelopes I already had.

Let me tell you what happened to my Christmas cards. I always like to make Christmas cards for my friends and family. I figure I can't buy everyone a present, but I can put time and effort into cards for all my loved ones. Sometimes, though, I get a little overwhelmed, a little behind, or just plain disorganized. Despite my good intentions, the Christmas cards don't make it to the mailbox. In fact, they don't even make it out of my head. They never get made at all. That is precisely what happened this year. 

Luckily, I have Valentine's Day to redeem myself, and I don't mind sending out Valentine's Day cards one bit. Valentine's Day is a favorite holiday of mine, as it falls exactly one week after my Grandma's birthday (and my uncle, her son's - what a birthday present!) and exactly one week before my own. It gives me permission to party all month long. Plus, who can remain immune to the trappings of l-o-v-e? Not me. So, this year, it's Valentines from me. 

I could have made my own, but I found these amazing Joke Card Valentines from Peaceable Kingdom, making that idea null and void. I have never been fond of branded character cards featuring the likes of Barbie, Spongebob Squarepants, or whoever else is popular at any give time. I thought these were corny and cute enough to send out. I love the puns, the playful characters, the happy patterns and the bright colors. Let's just say, these cards speak me.

Are you giving out Valentines this year? Are you going to put me to shame by making your own? If so, please share a link! I would love to see what you're making.

Who has your heart? Mine is free right now, and I think I like it that way for the moment.


Alison :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Quote of the Moment, No. 6 - Football Quote for the Super Bowl

Congratulations to the New York Giants, Super Bowl XLVI champs!

Ah, you've gotta love a good sports = life analogy. The one above particularly inspires me. What are your goals? Where are your goalposts? What are you aiming for? I have been working on the answers to these questions as of late. Some of my goals are professional (showing art, selling handmade objects), while others are of a more personal nature (being cool with myself, eating well, not taking crap from guys who aren't sold on me or vice versa). Some of my goals for The Junk Revival have been to post here on a regular basis, to share ideas, develop my voice and have it heard, and to create a place to think aloud. I would also like to use this online identity to share some actual junk revivals. I mean refurbished objects. So far, it's been more of a place to revive the junk in my head. I guess it works either way. However, you should look forward to seeing more projects posted here.

By the way, I just adore the Roman-inspired outfit Madonna wore during the Half-Time show tonight. How about you? Any chance you'll rock a work-appropriate version? Me? I just might.

See more photographs of the Half-Time show here.

I hope you all are having a beautiful Sunday night and getting pumped for the work week (Unless you have Mondays off. In that case, I'm wildly jealous and hope you're out on the town making the most of what's left of the evening).


Alison :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Take a Look at Those Peepers

Check out those eyes! One of my students hammed it up with some giant googly eyes during a class at A.C.E.D. today. The photo was so funny, I just had to share! During this session I am teaching two classes and helping out with a third:

1) Baskets, Bags & Duct Tape - It's a class in which we are collecting canned goods to donate to the needy. The twist is that we are giving our donations a makeover. We are donating our canned goods in decorated boxes and bags. We are even going to decorate the cans!

2) Art From the Heart - I am assisting with this class during the first session, but I will be teaching it during our second session. It takes its subject from the vision of Joyce Hallmark, founder of Hallmark Cards. The students enjoy making cards for those they love, and it's an especially appropriate theme, since we are located in the Kansas City area.

3) On the Air - This one is out of my comfort zone. We are learning about the radio - the different positions at a radio station, call letters, dj names and voices, different formats, commercials, etc. It's been really fun so far. It's been a definite learning experience for me, too!

During the next session I will be teaching Art From the Heart, as I mentioned, as well as Hattitude Attitude, a class that's all about hats. I am having such a wonderful time! I really LOVE my students! They are amazing and always a thrill to work with!

I was supposed to go to a dinner party this evening, but after checking out the openings last night, getting up early for A.C.E.D. today, and and then following up class with a few errands, I am beat. I am spending the night in a state of uber-relaxation. How about you? How's your Saturday night shaping up?

Alison :)

The First First Friday...

...For me in a really long time.

A couple getting close at the Slap & Tickle Gallery in Kansas City, MO. Images by Dave Michael, left, and Sandy Woodson, right.

Yes, that is what you think it is at the Slap & Tickle. Artist Dave Michael is pictured at far left.

More from the Slap & Tickle - the galleries were all hopping despite the rain and cold. The photographs at left are by Bad Gira, and the painting in the background is by Betsy Barratt.
If you visit Kansas City, you may be surprised by its vibrant art scene. Most people who are not familiar with our (unexpectedly) cultured ways are. Every First Friday galleries open new exhibitions to an eager and educated public. Kansas City has a very welcoming art scene and is home to many artists, art writers, arts administrators, art collectors and art lovers (and, of course, many of those titles overlap in each individual).You will see work by everyone from students to old hands, from homegrown to internationally known artists.  This month I cajoled my friend Conor into joining me for my first gallery trot in months - it was long overdue. 

We started our night at the Slap & Tickle Gallery in the East Crossroads, where the Fifth Annual Erotica Art Show was on display. The exhibition, and the gallery itself, blends public and private beautifully. Half gallery and half studio/home, partners Apryl (Murray) McAnemey and Thom Richart offer a variety of exhibitions and performances to the public each month. While we were there, Conor and I ran into my pal artist Mary Ware. She makes beautiful paintings, and she had several intimate (in subject and scale) drawings on display tonight. Unfortunately, 1) I don't have any photos of her work and 2) I only have photos from our first gallery visit.

After the Slap & Tickle, we headed west to the Spray Booth Gallery, where we saw XOXO Salon Show & Benefit, a salon style exhibition featuring both art students and established Kansas City artists. This exhibition is what got me out of the house tonight. Several co-workers, friends and many students I interact with on a regular basis had work on display. The work impressed me, and, like you might expect of a salon show, it was quite diverse in tone and subject matter. I saw many students I know, but, to be honest, I felt nervous around them without my official workaday title about me, so I didn't really talk to anyone besides Conor.

Since we were already walking, Conor and I headed back out into the cold to see what else might be on display in the Crossroads. We stopped by several galleries and saw projected images of architecture, a gorgeous installation of Reilly Hoffman's metal sculptures that brought to my mind the phases of the moon, collaged paintings, and luxurious rugs. Then, Conor and I headed to Kemper at the CrossroadsHere's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry, an exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist Eric Fertman, opened tonight. I really enjoyed what I saw - humorous totems to these our modern times, refined woodwork, horse hair accents described in laugh-out-loud terms, and stream of consciousness-like drawings. At Kemper at the Crossroads we also saw a former co-worker  of mine and a former student.

I could have danced through the galleries all night, but I was wearing bad walking shoes and grew hungrier for food than art. Conor and I decided to stop at Hamburger Mary's. Conor had eaten earlier and just indulged in drink, whereas I had one of my favorite BLT's in all of Kansas City with a side of sweet potato fries. A student I know was there to meet some friends, and we chatted for a few minutes. You just can't go out in the big small town of Kansas City without running into at least one person you know well enough to converse with.

Conor was such a dear to put up with my art asides and long dinner time tonight. I really enjoyed his company and all the art I saw. It's just too bad I can never make it to all the galleries on First Friday. I was especially disappointed we didn't get to Jim Sajovic's exhibition Graphic at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. Jim is an amazing artist, and he was my Foundation instructor at the Kansas City Art Institute. As such, he has been very influential to me! Never will I be able to hang a piece of artwork with pins in the top corners - I will always pin all four corners! I will be sure to visit his exhibition before it comes down. The images I have seen  look really exciting!

What type of art to you enjoy viewing? Do you ever go to art openings?

Alison :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Project Me: Getting Better...

The only Project Me topic I've been focused on this week is getting better. I have felt puny since I developed a cough and congestion last Thursday. Since then, I've spent the majority of my time in bed, or, now that I am back to work and feeling somewhat better, on the couch in the prone position. From that position, I have had a lot of time to contemplate my living room. See below for a few of my favorite views from the couch:

Row 1: The television (Criminal Minds tonight), of course, along with my new mantel tableau, which includes two vessels handmade by me, a framed print that once belonged to my grandma, a segmented box from my grandma's house, random natural objects, and what I choose to refer to as my "mantel clock."

Row 2: 1) My most favorite garage sale find ever - a green Frankoma shell vessel. This baby became mine for the high price of $2.00 and kicked off a love affair that's still going strong; a wooden vase hand-turned by me; Memory Box, a printer's drawer customized by me; garage sale pillows; and vintage radiator native to my apartment. 2) A red purse beside a woven basket under the coffee table I borrowed from my grandma years ago.

Row 3: 1) Just a few of my books accompanied by framed photos of my family and me, a ceramic bowl filled with a variety of seed pods, a shoe sole, and a silver spray painted replica of The Thinker. Kitschy, no?; 2) The gorgeous light fixture came with my apartment. I wish I could take it with me when I move. 3) The door to my porch with feathers originally featured here.

What objects in your own home do you admire on a regular basis? I would love to take a peek!

I hope you are all having a lovely Thursday night,

Alison :)