Thursday, April 30, 2009

Something New to Try...

Ok folks. Today I am tickled pink by every little thing. I am walking into rooms and forgetting what I needed and laughing at myself. But that's not what I wanted to talk about! What I wanted to share with you are my 2 new discoveries which are: 1. marshmallows in coffee and 2. the complexity of what's under the hood of my van.

1: Marshmallows in Coffee - While babysitting this afternoon I grew quite sleepy and decided to have a mug of coffee (not a cup because coffee goes in mugs). The couple I babysit for always leave a little extra coffee in the pot before they depart on their daily routine. So, I filled up a mug and decided to be adventurous by adding one jumbo sized marshmallow rather than milk and sugar. I figured it was a great two-in-one combo and as a matter of fact...I was right! I encourage you to try it out and share your experience (below in the comments section)!

Q: "do you take cream in your coffee?"

A: "no, I prefer marshmallows, thanks for asking!"

ps: while spell checking this entry I realized that marshmallow is spelled with two a's rather than mellow as I previously thought. Pardon my spelling errors - they run in the family.

2: Under the Hood of my Van - I'm 23. I have no kids but I do have a family sized Astro van! To read the Story of the Van, see appendix A. The van is making some strange, hallow / ghostly noises these days. While switching vehicles last weekend, my mother left me with a word of caution: "if you hear the van making any strange noises be sure to take it to a Chevy dealership to get it fixed!" Thanks mom, haha. She left me with the gas guzzler and took her shiny Prius back to Winston Salem. I love making jokes about driving a van but when it comes down to it, I'm super lucky to have a vehicle to drive that I didn't have to pay for. Plus, having a van encourages me to walk or ride my bike instead of driving. Back to the point - I decided to look under the hood to find some answers. I didn't find any, mainly because I didn't know what I was looking for, but I did find a lot of really neat looking complex things. I wish that in Driver's Ed we learned more about the components under the hood rather than the consequences of drinking and driving. One way to deter drinking and driving is to educate people about their vehicle and it's parts and thus increase their level of responsibility for their car which will hopefully encourage them to make good decisions with their vehicle. Who knows! I'll probably be taking the van to the shop sometime soon and looking for alternative modes of transportation (can I get a ride by the way?) while they tell me that I have to wait for a part to come in from China. Lets hope that GMC doesn't file for bankruptcy by then!

Appendix A: Everyone is curious when they see me pull into their driveway in an unexpected over-sized gigantic van/boat. How perplexing, a little lady like me with a big vehicle like that. The Story of the Van goes like this: I was 8, turning 9. It just so happened that around the same time I was turning 9, our little Chevy car was turning dead. Eeks, how morbid! What I mean is, it was time to get a new car! We went to the Chevy dealership and all of the white vehicles on the floor were specially discounted because they were used as test-driving vehicles. My mom said to me "Heather, which one do you think we should get?" If you know me, you may have caught on to my joke making mentality. I enjoy testing people's reactions (in a nice way of course). This may stem from my fascination with the human brain and psychology. I walked right up to the only van in the room, got inside and said "hey mom! how about this one!?"
Little did she know, I was completely joking. Little did I know, she would agree.
She reasoned that since she was the leader of my girl scout troop and took kids on camping/field trips frequently and hauled girl scout cookie boxes (hundreds) from the delivery site once a year, that a van would be very useful. And so, we traded in our small and economic car for a functional and faithful van that is still with us today! The end.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Artist Profile: Linda Ruth Dickenson

This article was written for

When viewing non-representational art, it is often most beneficial for the viewer to find meaning through the artist's interpretation rather than conjuring up answers on their own. After all, there’s more to art than simply liking it or not liking it. Such was the case one First Friday evening as I gallivanted from gallery to gallery in search of something different. My interests peaked when I viewed the vibrant and energizing vertical "stripes" of Linda Ruth Dickenson at the Collector's Gallery off Moore's Square in downtown Raleigh. It was there that I overheard someone explaining that there is a story behind the stripes.

I set off to hear the story from the artist herself. I ventured over to ArtSpace where Dickenson has been a resident artist since 2002. Her studio is comfortably situated in an upper level corner adjacent to other inspiring artists. After viewing her work for the first time, she was kind enough to invite me back again and give me some personal insight into her vertical "bands" of color and horizonscapes of reductive expanse.

In order to better understand Dickenson's view of the world and thus her interpretation on canvas, I wanted to know where she comes from. Born to American missionary parents, Dickenson spent the first 18 years of her life in Taiwan before moving to the US for college. While gazing out onto South Blount Street from her studio window, she explained to me that the fusion between the two distinctive cultures is often incorporated in her paintings along with biblical and natural inspirations. In the series currently displayed in her ArtSpace studio, Dickenson's paintings reflect "concepts" that can be understood universally. For instance, Age, a sequence of three paintings, reveals an experience that anyone can relate to: life. Although she paints with intention, Dickenson encourages her viewers to share their own interpretations and has found that viewers are often cognizant of underlying subtleties within the paint that she can inversely learn from.

Drawing from her Asian roots, Dickenson harmoniously balances ying and yang concepts in each piece of the vertical series. Likewise, by altering complementary hues, resonances and dissonances literally draw the viewer into the piece where they can create their own experience. If you have the opportunity to view a piece in the series you will notice the constant motion created by Dickenson's choice of color placement.

I encourage readers to experience art first hand and speak with the artist if you are fortunate enough to do so. During her residency at ArtSpace, Dickenson has been visited by tours of school children, senators, and Buddhist Monks alike. She is a warm spirit who welcomes the opportunity to share and educate everyone who visits her, as is the intent of ArtSpace.


Heather A.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Here We Go!

I call this my travel string because, whether I'm at home or jet setting abroad, everyday is a journey.

From the curious age of 18 months, sitting on mom’s lap on an airplane en route to Australia to jump with kangaroos, I've been a traveler with eyes and ears open to learning. At the same rate, I developed an unassuming appreciation of art and design (influenced especially by traveling) and thus an appreciation for the people who create and the places they call home.

Essentially, I am excited by the idea of developing an online journal of my travel experiences to share with my friends and loved ones. I am slightly anxious about the level of commitment and dedication required to maintain an audience and the vulnerability it takes to share my perspective [interpretation of my sensory experiences] in a way that remains truthful to who I am. The whole thought of this brings me back to middle school - a time when I realized that I was growing older and wanted to literally document each day so that I could look back later and have a first-hand reference reminding me of who I was as a kid. I recently read one of those journals and laughed out loud at the things I wrote. My middle school self had a lot of foresight about the future and the importance of keeping memories, but I didn't have a lot of discipline and I still don't! Thus, please hold me accountable as my friends and family, and keep me on task by reading, contributing, and asking for pictures! I want to share and I hope you enjoy! <3

PAST: I developed a great deal of training in the arts during the first 14 years of my life which were spent in St. Louis, MO (University City to be exact). I attended after school and summer camp classes at COCA (Center of Contemporary Arts) in theater (improv, monologues, mini-films), dance (ballet, tap, jazz), art (painting, print making, ceramics) and The Craft Alliance (small scale metal-working, and cartooning and comic strip writing). I was infected by the creative bug and one day while I was watching day time television I saw an ad for a distance university featuring degrees in: computer science, nursing, electrical engineering, and interior design! I remember this moment distinctly because that's when I realized that my dream of surrounding people in an art environment by literally placing them in the piece (or room) was indeed a legitimate career path!!

I held on to this vision, and started honing in on my skills when we moved to Chapel Hill, NC and thus into a new house. I remember one summer, it was my mom's birthday and all week I'd been thinking of what I could get her. Finally, I decided that I would go to the hardware store (I love hardware stores), purchase a gallon or two of summer mint green paint with my babysitting money, and 'redecorate' my mom's room before she had time to come home from work. I also bought a can of silver spray paint so that I could detach and paint all of the pulls on her bedroom furniture to give it a rejuvenated and updated look! I had the naive determination that this could all be done, by myself, before 5:30pm when she pulled in the drive way. Unfortunately, that was not the case. She was, however, thrilled by my efforts. The room turned out great! A splash of color, some updated fabrics on the bed and windows, and BAM! - She was the main character in her own piece of art and had a relaxing place to get away and doze.

Finally, when the time came to college search, I could easily narrow my list down to the schools that offered 1. my field of interest: interior design, 2. within the hubbub of a developed or developing city: Raleigh, NC, 3. that was far enough, but not too far from home: God forbid I couldn't come back and get some dinner and do laundry from time to time, not to mention see my mama! I found a perfect school that drew me in with its charm and energy: Meredith College. Had you asked me a year before whether I would consider going to a women's college, I would have said hell no! I thought the idea was preposterous, unnecessary, and absurd! It was a good thing I had a change of heart because my four year experience there was very fulfilling.

After college, and I'm only a year into that chapter of my life, I began working for a well known architecture firm located along a hip and growing main street in the downtown area. The firm, filled with wonderful and talented people, was an exciting place for my young professional self to learn. Most days during my morning walk to work, I'd smile to myself and say "damn! how'd I get this job?" Everything was great - I was a twenty-two year old woman fresh out of college. I had secured a job, lived in a sweet house on Peace Street, and was doing pretty well on my own.

Which leads me to present: Just when that professional adjustment period started to become familiar, routine and comfortable, an unexpected thing happened. I lost my job. I was laid off with 25% of the company and it was devastating mainly because I hadn’t planned for it - it wasn’t a part of my goals for after college.

Once I was over the initial shock of losing my job, I felt my spirit becoming renewed as I began to search for direction. I did a lot of reading on the field of art management; opportunities overseas & careers abroad. I felt fortunate to see the value of breaking out of my planned path to set foot on another and for the first time, I was thrilled about being laid-off because it transformed into an opportunity that pushed me to discover more.

I cannot say that I know exactly what I am doing or where I am going at this point, however I feel very confident that my next steps will continue leading me in the right direction. I’m excited to say that I will be entering into a masters program that takes me to France for six months this August. The opportunity to attend graduate school in another country led me to starting a blog in order to keep those who are interested in my experience updated, and to keep in touch as I hope you will!