Saturday, April 9, 2022

Key West Artists...and some possible plot strands for @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: One of the things John and I really love about Key West is the vibrant art scene on the island. A few weeks ago we went on a tour of several artist studios sponsored by the Studios of Key West. We first visited the studio of sculptor John Martini, who is well known for his large steel sculptures, simultaneously whimsical and ferocious. You can spot them all around town but seeing a forest of them all in one place was remarkable.


Plus, you are invited to peer through a window into the artist's creative process...this reminded me of our "what we're writing" days, where we show you snippets of works in progress...



Next we visited the exhibits at the Studios of Key West, and went to the top floor of the building to admire Hugh’s View, a rooftop bar/gathering place. My writer’s brain began to churn. I could imagine someone being on this rooftop for a concert or a happy hour and witnessing something that they might not even realize that they’d seen. I filed that thought away.




It was unbearably hot that day, but we forged onward to see the studios on Dey Street. Formerly the home of the late artist Suzie dePoo, the compound is now a creative hive of activity for artists and musicians.



 Here we met Marlene Koenig, a visual artist (and yoga teacher.) 



She and her poet husband spend three or four months away from Key West every summer, and over that time they work on books together. She does artwork on one side of the page, and he writes poetry on the other. She described these journals as a way to keep her grounded in her practice while she’s far from her studio. (This resonated with me, as I realize that if I take too much time off from writing, it can be very hard to get started again.) Her husband, Greg Cantrell, describes it this way: "On all of our travels, we begin each day with a few hours in a favorite cafe...and we always carry our journals around: Marlene fills hers with images, I fill mine with words--our daily ritual and discipline."

The books were so interesting and beautiful that I went back a second time to take pictures for you. (I know that some of you Reds use special journals for your projects too.)







As I was leaving, I noticed her window, overlooking a small alley. 



In that small alley, what might she, as a character, have seen, maybe not even consciously noticed? Maybe what her subconscious registered will be illustrated in one of her books? I'm thinking...I will try to have this scene ready for our next 'what we're writing' week!

Reds, if you keep a journal, what does it look like? How do you use it? What's the most unusual window into an artist or writer's process have you heard about?


68 comments:

  1. Wow . . . these are lovely. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    How interesting that a place gives you an idea for a story . . . I’m looking forward to reading what you come up with for a scene . . . .

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  2. Thanks for the look at the artist's stuff. Very enjoyable. And I'm curious what you do with that scene idea you got.

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  3. Lots of cool art! And I'm glad you got inspiration for new scenes.

    I don't keep a journal except when I pick up pen and take it to the rocking chair in my office for some brainstorming. I love the way ideas rise up and flow out differently with pen on paper.

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    1. It is different on paper! I only write on a pad if I'm caught away from my computer or can't dictate into my phone.

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  4. Love the pictures, thanks! I had to look up Dey Street on Google Maps; I've actually walked past it many times but never had a reason to venture down the street. That's one of the things I love about Key West; even after 20 years of visits there are still places and things I've never seen.

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    1. So true Emily! that's why I can continue to write this series--there's always something new to share.

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  5. I keep what I call a Daily Log, as a way of recording my everyday life. I often include a collage into the pages. I find that having a place to put my observations about what I've done, seen and thought about that day keeps me honest to the practice of really noticing the rhythms of my life. Many entries are mundane, but some record watershed moments of understanding or realization about something going on in my life or with my plans. I enjoy the daily practice of it and close my days by making my entries -- and some of those entries become springboards into my writing.

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    1. I love to hear that Amanda! I love collage and hope to take a class in it next winter.

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  6. Presently I have three journals, but nothing like Amanda's which sounds introspective and profound.

    The first is for the breads I bake, we have home-baked bread every morning. In it, I list ingredient changes and substitutions, the date and exactly which recipe I used.

    The second is for wines. My next wine journal won't waste as much paper and will be more like a list, I think. Again, details of the wine, country of origin, year, my impressions, also how it either improves or not after being open for a couple days. If I can find one again that I liked and was a good value, wonderful!

    My last journal is of books I have read. I note the date, the author and then describe the plot and characters. I sometimes put in spoilers, so these are not reviews for public consumption. These are so I can refer back and refresh my memory. They are very helpful when I want to resume a series and pick up the next book a year later. Unfortunately, these journals only go back about 2 years. Also, I should have done the same for my audiobooks. I am considering beginning a new journal for those.

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    1. Do you mean you BAKE every morning, Judy? Either way, you can't beat fresh bread. I have some rising now!

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    2. Judy: what a tremendous way to organize and learn from bread, wine and books. So practical and useful. I use spiral-bound sketch books for my Daily Logs; what kind of notebooks do you use?

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    3. Edith, I bake about twice a week. As soon as we get close to finishing a bread, I'll bake another.

      Amanda, all of the notebooks are different, but not by design. I use gift notebooks and whatever is on sale at Staples. So some are spiral but most aren't.

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    4. You are so much more organized than I will ever be, Judy!

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    5. Judy, you are so organized! I've tried keeping both book and wine journals, with little success. Now if I find a wine I really like, I take a photo of the label. And after many attempts at separate book journals, a couple of years ago I started recording what I was reading every week in my Quo Vadis weekly planner, and that has worked a treat.

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    6. Selectively organized is more like it, Lucy and Debs...LOL. Just finally clearing off the dining room table from solicitation/junk mail that's accumulated over the last 2 years.

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    7. What a Great idea your Journals are Judy! A lot of times I recognize a book title from as a book I have read, but then can't remember all the details. This is especially true if a book has been made into a movie or series on Netflex - though I usually remember if the book was good or not.

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  7. This is SO gorgeous, amazing, I cannot even fathom how someone's mind works to create that. Wow. I just have my notebook of daily to-dos. They are almost like a journal, really, it's amazing to look back on all the entries.
    Wow, Lucy, this is fabulous. And every one of your ideas is perfect. So someone is having an art gallery opening, or maybe an art fair, a house to house progressive show? I just read a novel where someone threw a glass of wine on a painting. It was really disturbing. Cannot wait to read your scene!

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    1. A glass of wine on a painting?? That would be devastating...

      I throw my list out after I check all the boxes. That is why someone will want your papers Hank for a library, but I will have nothing. Except, if anyone reads Ann Patchett's book of essays, one is about her "papers." Fascinating!

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    2. Hank, one of my daughters is a prodigious list maker. At one point she showed me her list of lists! I'm in awe.

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  8. And it's fascinating, thinking about it, that some journals are meant for others to see, and some aren't.

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    1. I wish I had you with me every time I sat down to write Hank. The story would go so much faster!

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    2. It’s always easier to think of a story for someone else, that’s for sure! Xxxxx

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  9. LUCY: Gorgeous art, thanks for sharing.

    I used to never journal but I started a daily log when I came home from San Diego in March 2020 and remained in quarantine. Documented my COVID symptoms, and what I was doing in lockdown mode (balcony garden, sourdough bread making, homemade meals and my daily outdoor exercise.

    My reading greatly suffered during that time but my ratings and reviews were posted on Goodyear and Netgalley, Edelweiss & other platforms.

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    1. Ugh autocorrect: Goodreads not Goodyear!

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    2. I loved reading about your garden and your cooking Grace!

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  10. What a great way to be a tourist in your own town! How fun are those metal sculptures? So whimsical. But yes, fierce. I'm intrigued by the... angels? in his idea book. Jagged halos make them not quite angelic.

    I've always admired the introspective process of journaling, but the closest I've come is to keep a travel journal a couple times. Which petered out midway because I was too busy to take the time to note my experiences and thoughts. Photos of the experiences had to suffice.

    As for your plot inspirations, keep 'em coming!

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    1. Right, Karen, the plot inspirations!
      Lucy, is Marlene going to be in a book? I know that you do sometimes put your Key West pals into your stories.

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    2. Yes she's going to have a cameo in book 13. I asked her if she'd like to do that, because I could have made a character up. She was game!

      Karen, I understand the intention to write travel journals. I feel I'm lazy about that though, sadly.

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  11. My first thought about Hugh’s View was that “it’s a great place for someone to get shoved off the roof!”

    For many years I kept a journal and stopped only because the arthritis in my hand made it too painful to hold a pen for more than a few minutes. I miss doing it. Lately I’ve been thinking that I should try for five minutes each day, maybe even five in the morning and five at night.

    I’m excited that you’re going to be at Barnes and Noble in Milford in August!

    DebRo

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    1. I can drive to Milford in August. Oh, Deb, we could finally meet there if the timing works out!! Roberta, let us know your Connecticut schedule of appearances. Such a small state;-)

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    2. that would be so fun--let's have dinner too!

      DebRo, have you tried dictating on your phone? I find it works pretty well for me.

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    3. Ooh, maybe I'll meet you all down there!

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    4. Oh, Edith. It would be fabulous!!

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    5. It would be great if we could all meet up there and then get dinner!

      Judy, I hope we can get together long before August, if at all possible.

      DebRo

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    6. August 24 at 6 pm. This is the Barnes and Noble event. Followed by dinner:) somewhere...TBD

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    7. This sounds great Roberta! I would love to join the group and finally get to meet some of the people I "know" from this blog.

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  12. Oh, and the closest I have to a journal these days is my grocery list/notebook. During the week I jot down what I need to get at the supermarket. I check through previous entries to see when I last purchased certain items. I take the notebook with me and cross off items as I go along, also writing down the price. When I review a year’s worth of entries and see how much prices have gone up, it almost seems like a horror story!!

    DebRo

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  13. My sister, who thinks I should write more, gave me a very special book made of hand-made paper sheets in a simple heavy leather binding. Technically, it is a journal but it is so beautiful as an object that I cannot bear to write in it. Her response: "but you have to."

    Interesting to see the sculpture in storage, so to speak. It gives some perspective on the business of being an artist. I have wondered how painters and sculptors manage to separate themselves from their creations enough to sell them. When I see the work hanging out in the shop, I get the sense that the right installation matters to the ultimate purpose of the piece. I suppose, just like a book needs a reader.

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    1. Oh my, I couldn't have written in such a notebook either! But you should:).

      Isn't that group of sculptures amazing? I didn't get the sense they were for sale, but I didn't ask.

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  14. Such vibrant art, it matches the energy of Key West I think. I am in the list camp of jounaling. For years I have made Countdowns to either Solstice or Equinox. Right now I am living towards Countdown to Summer Solstice 2022. Partial planner, partial diary, they keep me on track. Usually.

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  15. First seconding: What a GREAT art scene there is in Key West - when I was there I had the good fortune of going to an art auction. All local artists. So much fun, wish I had more walls.

    I'm not a journal keeper. Never have been. EXCEPT when Jerry got sick, day 1 in the ER I started a journal. Because my mind had turned to mush and I needed to write down what people were telling me or I'd forget. Each entry starts with a date and time and WHO (name and role and institution) I was talking to. I think me sitting there taking notes made a difference in how doctors, who can be so embedded in their own world and lingo, explained things. I kept doing it through the aftermath, through all the phone calls with financial institutions and attorneys and social security and and. Trying to keep my marbles corralled. Nine months later, question still come up and I go back to my journal and find the information.

    And an aside: I have travel journals, notes Jerry took on every single trip. Every meal! And journals for each of the kids. Also spearheaded by Jerry, not me. Which I'm hoping someday (soon!) they'll take off my hands.

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    1. we're hoping some day you find a book in all that journaling Hallie!

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    2. Hallie, when I was shepherding my friend Annie (in her eighties) through her cancer diagnosis and treatment, I took notes every time. I could pass them along to her daughter in Virginia and remind Annie herself of the details. It made such a difference.

      What a treasure Jerry's travel journals must be!

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    3. Hallie, that was an inspired impulse, to write everything down. Your poor numb mind probably was eased by knowing you had the aide memoire going.

      My father-in-law did not journal, but he kept every scrap of correspondence he sent and received for more than 50 years. We were able to read about practically every slice of cherry pie--his favorite--he ever ate, how many fish he caught, and more importantly, his influence on the local and broader regions of nature conservancy. A true treasure, and lots of material for Steve to plumb (minus the cherry pie and fish catch tally) for his movie about his dad's life.

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    4. Edith, what a wonderful friend you are!

      DebRo

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  16. I love touring artist studios! Thank you for taking us on this quick tour of Key West. And journals? I've kept them for years, usually in one of Mychal Mitchell's wonderful Iona Handcrafted Books.

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    1. You're welcome Gigi, we always look forward to this event. Do you look back on your journals? My sister, Susan Cerulean, journals a lot, and this has made it possible for her to write several memoirs.

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  17. I love everything about this, Roberta! The art walk, the sculptures, and especially the journals! That's the sort of journaling I aspire to but will never manage, and lately I've been very remiss in even keeping little entries. But I will get back to it--you've inspired me!

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  18. Lucy,

    This reminded me of my grandfather's diary. He kept diaries while he was serving in the First World War and there were many illustrations inside the diaries.

    What gave me a window into a writer's process? I remember one of my favorite authors was talking about cross training as a writer. Her novels are historical mysteries and her cross training (as a writer) includes writing memoirs and non fiction. I thought of it as using the writing muscles ?

    The photos are gorgeous and wow! these artists are talented!

    Diana

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    1. So cool about your grandfather's diaries. Has anyone thought to do something with them?

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    2. Yes, Lucy. I am thinking of publishing them. Diana

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  19. So spectacular! You've made me miss life in the Keys. It is a magical place.

    I kept journals for years in blank books. Just words, some sketches. I transcribed interesting bits onto my first computer - that didn't work out too well when wordstar became a thing of the past the floppy disks delaminated. I know use a Microsoft program called Diarium. It allows me to include pictures, tags, map locations and emojis. A fun program and - best of all - searchable!

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  20. I predict future art scenes in the Key West series.
    Hallie reminded me of my mother's wonderful lung doctor, a caring man with the Chinese reverence for elders, handing me paper and pen and saying, "Take notes for your mother," and I did. At one follow-up visit I said I hoped I'd have her courage if needed. He looked at me for a moment and said, "I believe you will." I hope so . . . and hope not to have to.

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    1. What a wonderful doctor with good advice and support Mary!

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  21. Oh Lucy, all the art in Key West is one of the things I love most about it, too. I have several special pieces that I bought there--a print of a woman reading I had framed, a small sculpted goat, a glass rooster I bought during a street art fair, and more prints (one of a Conch house). I was so sorry to read that Wild Side Gallery on the corner of Duvall and Truman has closed. I spent lots of time in there looking at all the different forms of artists' work. I bought my little goat and other items there. The owner always told you the story behind the piece, about the artist and her/his work, if you asked.

    When you were talking about the journals, Lucy, it reminded me of the Sketchbook Project at the Brooklyn Art Library. Anyone can order the journals and fill them with words and art, then send it back to be a part of the world-wide sketchbook collection they have. Or, I should say had. Recently the truck carrying the entire collection to St. Pete, Florida caught on fire and destroyed the collection. They are going to start it anew, with directions on their Brooklyn Art Library page. https://brooklynartlibrary.org/participate In the same spirit, there are now what are called "junk journals" that people create to include anything they want. Writing, photos, pictures from magazines, stickers, original artwork and more. The pages are made of sturdy strength to accommodate the different items pasted into it. I bought my granddaughter such a journal and hope she fills it with special items to her life. I need to ask her about it, as it's been a couple of months since I gave it to her. Myself, I'm terrible about trying to keep a journal.

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    1. That's an awful story about the fire on the truck full of journals--tragic!

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    2. It is, Lucy. Those were sketchbooks from all over the world.

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  22. This is fantastic! Now I want to go to Key West!!! Road trip!

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  23. What extraordinary art and creative inspiration! I'm so jealous, but this is reminding me that Portland has resumed its First Friday Art Walks, and maybe I should get out of the house and start interacting with other forms of creative endeavor!

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  24. Roberta journals are fantastic! When you first described them I thought the art would be just sketches, but they are quite involved, and beautiful!

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