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This month I begin working in my new studio at Sixstar Art Studios! I’m excited to be making art alongside Sixstar founder Jason Hackingwerth and fellow artists Michelle Gordon, Kenny Jensen, Alixandra Martin, and John Monteiro.

My Sixstar studio will make it easier to do larger works and for more people to see my art in person. But most important, I am inspired by these incredibly welcoming, talented and successful artists. I’m already getting the benefit of their knowledge and perspective, and looking forward to more of their collective stimulation, critique and support.

The Grand Opening of this brand-new space will be Friday evening, April 12, from 6-9 pm. Second Saturday Art Walk visitors are welcome to come by the next evening. And I will be happy to show art by appointment, just send me a message through the website to arrange a time. Sixstar is at 2430 Terminal Dr S Unit B, St. Petersburg, FL 33712.

Contemporary Art at Albert Whited Airport

Albert Whitted Airport joins the Art Walk fun this month with Visual Approaches: The Art of Aviation. This special exhibition will be Saturday April 13 from 6-8:00 pm at the terminal. I am one of 12 artists with works on display: my collages Seaplane on a Lake and My Home is the Sky will be available for sale. Come out to see the special exhibit and the two new large murals recently completed on airport buildings. Expect to see more art at Albert Whitted, as the City considers a request to allow art on individual T-hangars. Have dinner at the Hangar Restaurant upstairs, and make an evening of it! Thanks to Friends of Albert Whitted Airport for sponsoring this event and spearheading the effort to make Albert Whitted an art destination in our art-oriented community.

Seaplane on a Lake
19 in x 26 in
collage on paper/mat

My Home is the Sky
19in x 26in
collage on paper/mat

New Collage Art

It’s been a busy month, but I wanted to experiment with collage directly on wood panels as opposed to my customary paper or mat. The result is Breaking the Code, a colorful departure from some of my recent work that echoes some pieces from a couple of years’ back.

This piece is 16in x 20in on a self-framing cradled wood panel. I expect to scale up this technique in a series of larger pieces. I use acrylic gel medium to seal the wood and both adhere and seal the collage material as I build up the work. The result is a durable, self-hanging piece of art that does not need to be framed, although of course it can be.

Cracking the Code
16in x 20in
collage on wood panel

Letting Go

“There are just a few items the buyer wants fixed, they should be pretty easy,” said my realtor.

My mother’s condo had gone under contract, and the inspection had just been made. As my realtor ran through the things the buyer wanted corrected no later than ten days before closing, I felt a wave of resentment well up from my gut.

“The refrigerator ice maker doesn’t work, and the filter needs replacing. The lights on the stove hood won’t come on, not sure if the bulbs are burned out or the switch is bad. And one of the bathroom sink stoppers doesn’t close, and there is a slow drain.”

The last thing I wanted to do was to once again jump into action and fix whatever needed to be fixed, which I had done for my parents the last 18 years of their lives.

“To hell with it. I’ll lower the price a little, or they can take it or leave it. That’s a bunch of bs I never worried about, and I don’t want to worry about now!”

Well, the two realtors got together and decided to hire a company that could deal with the appliance issues. But the company wasn’t on the condo approved list and did not have a complying certificate of insurance. Another one they called did. But that company cancelled. Twice.

In the end, I called time out on all that.  Alicia Austin once again came to the rescue and fixed everything. All was well.

Except me. I wasn’t well. Why did I have such a strong, visceral reaction to what were, in retrospect, relatively minor demands?

One reason is that the unexpected demands triggered a whole history of feeling like I had to take care of someone or something, often out of the blue. The late-life fixer role for my parents actually started in very early life, as I felt responsible for the feelings of my parents. My default attitude was to take care of what needed to be taken care of, and to ignore my own needs and desires. And of course at the end of their lives I had to do that, often expending extra energy to keep them independent, a helicopter son, hovering close by to make sure I could step in as needed. As I was.

So this is the last time that will happen. Which brings up the other reason.

Sheer grief.

My anger and resentment always covered up the grieving and pain I experienced in anticipation of the loss of my mother, and earlier of my father. Walking into her unit again, the afternoon of the call, accessing the problems, walking back again to the bedroom where she died a year ago, another emotion welled up and my eyes overflowed with tears.

Loss. Finality. Soon, I won’t be able to walk into this space and see my mother in my mind’s eye, the brightness in her eyes as I show her my latest art, the smile as she listens to me play some beloved Bach or a hymn she taught me in my early childhood.

These two seemingly contradictory emotions of resentment and grief live inside me. I have lived with them a long time.

As things move toward closing, of the sale and of this long coda marking a last bit of caretaking, of which I will be the financial beneficiary, which somehow makes things even more complicated and disturbing, a vast emptiness is opening up.

Life. I try to live fully in every moment. I try to acknowledge the past but not be trapped by it. I walk into the future every day, but I am not alone.

“She will always be with you,” said Delphine, one of my mother’s caregivers. “And your father, too.”

They are. Every day. And many nights, as they continue to inhabit my dreams.

In some ways I didn’t fully grieve my father’s death until my mother died. 2014 until 2023. So all nine years of that unspoken grief caught up with me a year ago, along with the trauma from the January 2023 assault.

It was too much.

Now, I think I’m ok. Another chapter is opening. I’m excited.

And grateful.

And at peace. Today. One day at a time.