I appear to be in-between crises today so I’ll take a moment to write a little about art!
This past Saturday, October 1, 2022, was the opening reception for the Art Saint Louis show, “Declaration”. Above is my contribution to the show. It’s made of found papers, paint sample cards and image transfers from found papers made with packing tape. My artist statement reads as follows:
“When I started, I was inspired by some found images of rug designs from a catalog combined with some of my own mini postage stamp inspired collages juxtaposed with paint sample cards in tints of yellow. I work part time in a hardware store where exciting possibilities are everywhere. Bright paint sample cards, caution signs and caution tape and anything in the store that is colorful are parts of life I greatly enjoy. One of the colors on the sample cards was named Dazzle Yellow. I made some image transfers on packing tape out of sign images from a catalog and pieces of found papers that incorporate yellow, basically making my own version of caution tape. The purpose of such a bright yellow is to get attention. Once you have it, how do you use it? Yellow could mean stop and be careful, stop and enjoy, or “Look at me, I’m full of possibilities today!”
This was not an easy art show to look at, because as you might expect, a show with the theme “Declaration” is heavy on political themes. I had my share of political ideas for art pieces I considered making for this show but I decided to go in a different direction – I desperately need a break from politics and I figured art show patrons might like a little break as well! Whatever the subject matter, it’s always an honor to exhibit among a group of artists as talented as these.
I’m on the left posing with my collage and Dad is on the right next to a panel outside on the sidewalk that we were all allowed to add to with chalk markers. I’m very grateful to my Dad for coming with me – my husband Tom was busy at a homecoming event at his high school at the time of the opening and I certainly don’t begrudge him that! My Dad has been coming to my art events for decades and I’m eternally grateful for his support!
I custom made the frame for this piece at the last minute – I hadn’t done any woodworking since making a memorial box for the funeral of my uncle last year. Due to tragic events of last year I had been in such a brain fog that I didn’t trust myself with saws, mat knives and things until I was kind of forced into making this frame. That’s part of my motivation for entering these shows – it’s therapy for me both because of the opportunity for expression and because the deadlines force me to get things finished.
I have made so many picture frames in a similar style that even though it had been awhile, I had little trouble and was vastly relieved when it turned out ok! I had been intending to buy a frame because I thought I didn’t have enough time to work up to making one, but in the checkout line after looking in three stores for one the right size and shape I discovered that I had forgotten to pay my credit card bill and the charge would not go through. I immediately made a payment over the phone but it took a couple of days to re-activate so I was forced to hurry up and make the frame. I’m now glad that happened because now I have a lot more confidence and the next frame or wood project will be much easier.
Here are some helpful links with more information about the “Declaration” show:
August 29, 2022:Another entry from the #whydidntyouwarnme desk
This summer we had historic levels of rainfall in the St. Louis metro area which have resulted in a lot of heartbreaking damage and costly repairs for many people. My husband owns a house and I own one house and one condo. We were fortunate to escape the ravages of water damage on our three properties until last week – and it wasn’t from any natural disaster.
I own a condo at 1544 High School Drive in Brentwood Forest Condominiums, of Brentwood, Missouri. It’s a long story how I came to own this, which I’ll get into later. I lived there as my full time residence from November of 2004 until August of 2018 when I got married to Tom Winkelmann.
Since our marriage, we have used the condo to store some of our extra stuff while I have used it on occasion as a crash pad and a studio for art and writing when I need some quiet time away to get some creative work done. Until recently Tom had a cat who liked to pee on everything so I avoided moving things over there like my favorite furniture, pillows, and blankets until he was gone. The cat Leo was ancient when we got married and he passed away this summer. Eventually I plan to rehab the condo and get it ready to rent out. Over the last four years I’ve encountered a number of obstacles which have made it hard to get this done (if anyone wants to know more about these obstacles I’ll get into that but it’s not critical to know for this first section). This is going to turn out to be one of those blog posts I’m going to keep adding onto as I go through an unexpected problem caused by a water leak from the condo above mine, 1542 High School Drive owned by William and Laurel Mahon of St. Charles, Missouri. My unit is on the first floor of a two-story building.
Last Monday (August 22, 2022) I entered the condo to do some cleaning and moving to get ready for rehabbing. I broke my foot last year and was grieving over the loss of my uncle and the suicide death of my brother which happened at this time last year. I haven’t really been able to function close to normally until a couple of weeks ago. When I walked by the closet where the water heater is, I stepped in water. I opened the closet door to see if it was leaking, and saw that that the inside of the closet was full of mold and when I looked up I saw the ceiling of the closet was moldy, and the ceiling near the closet spreading into the living room and the room I use as an office was also moldy. Part of the wall on the outside of the closet had mold. So did part of the kitchen ceiling and the pantry. The last time I’d been at the condo was about two weeks before that and none of that mold was there then.
My water heater was brand new as of 2017, and it seemed unlikely to me that it would have leaked and leaked into the ceiling above it even if it did. I asked my Dad to come over and diagnose the problem. Was the leak from my level or upstairs? He diagnosed the leak as being from upstairs, and later that week he met with the son of the owner of the unit above me to show him the damage and let him know that there was likely going to be a claim made on his insurance for the damage to my unit.
My Dad told me he was under the impression that the son was going to try to deny responsibility, even though he had a plumber to his unit to shut off the leak upstairs, which had apparently originated with the air conditioning unit in 1542. The leak not only caused the mold growth, but ruined my water heater, which will have to be replaced. I’m sure the upstairs owners would rather my insurance pay it than theirs. But since the leak was upstairs, their insurance should pay. I will keep a log here on this blog of what happens because I’m probably going to have to explain this several times, perhaps in court if it comes to that, and it’s easier to just have it written out and documented as it happens. I will add photos and updates as I go.
My Dad met with the plumber hired by the owners of 1542 along with the property manager of Brentwood Forest this morning, August 29, 2022. The plumber confirmed that my water heater was ruined because the box with the electronics was completely flooded. The property manager appeared to be there not to help me, the victim, but to blame the presence of mold on two aquariums that I have near the damaged area. Those aquariums have been there since 2005. They don’t leak and until last week I didn’t have mold in any of those spots. I don’t understand why the property manager wants to railroad me. Whatever the reason, I will not let myself be financially abused for damage I didn’t cause.
Instead of helping the wronged party, me, with the giant inconvenience and time suck this is going to be, the property manager was more interested in threatening to have the city condemn my unit for having mold in it. If I ever want to sell my condo, I’m not really doing myself any favors by telling anecdotes about what the condo association here is like. But I care more about warning people, and I’m sure there are other places on the web where you can read similar accounts. If you must live here, rent, don’t own. And don’t make a long commitment.
You can read some of the reviews of the Brentwood Forest Condominium Association on Yelp. I’ll likely be adding mine soon.
So here is my warning to people who own units in Brentwood Forest. If your unit is on a lower floor, before you go out of town, or leave the condo for awhile, such as on vacation or for the winter or whatever, take pictures or video of your ceilings to show they are clear of damage. Then if you get back and find a problem, it will be harder to pin the damage on you. Even though they admit the leak started upstairs, and common sense says water doesn’t flow upwards, it appears I’m going to have to fight for fair treatment. So there is a bit of advice to help you avoid a similar situation.
Stay tuned! I hope this doesn’t get as ugly as it looks like it might. But if it does, you’ll get the news here as it happens.
I usually don’t have back pain, but I have it today just from the emotional stress, so after I shut this laptop down I’m going to go swim in the excellent Brentwood Forest pool – probably the main reason I haven’t sold this place yet.
I’m going to be keeping a time log each day it’s applicable of how much time I’ve spent cleaning this up and managing and mitigating the repairs.
Time spent as of 08/30/22: 33 minutes
I sent the following email to Kent Allen, the BFCA general manager:
“I just want to let you know that as I make repairs on my condo, I’m going to be keeping track off all the expenses and time involved. I’m on the bottom level, and the water originated above me. That makes me the wronged party in this case. Since I’m the one who received the leaking water into my unit, I’m going to have to remove a lot of stuff so the walls can be fixed. This is going to be a lot of time for me, and the people upstairs are going to be charged for it. I’m going to be documenting all my time and expenses.
If you try to make things harder for me by making me spend extra time and extra fees to get this work done, say by trying to get the County to condemn my unit because of damage they caused, the extra time and expenses it’s going to take to reverse that will be charged to the insurance of the people in 1542, not me. So I hope you don’t try to hurt me that way because it will just end up hurting them in the end.
I’m not eager to cost the people upstairs more than is necessary because until now I have had no problems with them. They offered to pay for a leak from the bathroom up above mine before, but since I’ve been planning to rehab that whole bathroom anyway I told them not to worry about it. If they try to say the new damage is actually old, they are going to get a very different response. There is damage in several spots that came from above. I know what came from above and what did not. I have let the minor damage go in the past, because I’ve been planning to rehab and repaint everything, and it wouldn’t matter. But this damage is a lot more serious and it does matter. So please don’t hurt them by trying to hurt me.
Thank you for your time.”
Response from Kent.
“I’m not calling anyone. “
My expense tally so far:
08/24/22 – 64 OZ Air Dehumidifier Q=2 21.69
08/31/22 – 42 OZ Damprid Refill 4.86
1PT Concern Neem Oil 16.31
35 PT Dehumidifier 246.26
Time spent as of 09/09/22: 142 minutes
Photos and videos of damage visible in this online album:
Those aquariums had been there for 7 years at that point with no sign of mold. I think if you take all the evidence together you can see that the idea that the mold just happened to come from my aquariums at the time when they admit that water was coming in from upstairs is not credible and is an attempt at fraud.
Time spent as of 09/12/22: 180 minutes
Yes it’s been a long time since I’ve posted an update on the condo situation. I have been paid by my insurance company for the damage, and am now in the process of moving things out so I can renovate. This process was much delayed because of my Dad’s health issues that started in October 2022. He required my help for several months but fortunately has recovered extremely well! I’m having a heck of a time building a new routine and a new life with all the turmoil of the last couple of years but I’m slowly improving.
Brentwood Forest had a change in management in May 2023. Here are my comments about it that I wrote today on the Nextdoor platform.
“I have many reasons to be thankful that the old regime is gone. So far, the new regime has been encouraging in that they are much more transparent with communications (they actually answer my questions if I ask one via email such as when is the building and grounds committee meeting) and the person at the front desk treats people like customers instead of inmates which is reassuring! Now I won’t dread going into the office to do routine business any more.
On the down side, I wrote the management the following email today after visiting the larger pool last night. ‘Hi, do you know if the pool is open this evening and if will be until 8 pm? The pool management people appeared to shut it down early last night, apparently it was too filthy to allow people in it any more.
I was swimming at the time, I was the only one. I took a chance because I swim in natural bodies of water a lot so was only a little put off. We were wondering why no one seemed to be there then we saw the condition of the pool and figured that must by why.
The other day a duck was swimming in the pool with us. It looked last night like there were a lot of duck feces and leaves in it, and there was considerable algae.
We were wondering why two pool employees were there chatting with each other but making no attempt to clean the pool when no one was in it. I understand lifeguards are supposed to keep their eye on swimmers but when no one is in the pool can’t they skim out leaves and duck feces?
Please let me know if I should try to swim tonight! I don’t live in my unit at the moment because it’s being renovated so I have to make a special trip over there. Thank you for your help!'”
I forgot to mention that the shower they have for rinsing off after you get out didn’t work when I tried to use it last night.
This is a real bummer because swimming was one of the ways I was getting my mental and physical health back so I can get back to working on my projects, home improvement and otherwise. Yes there are other places to swim, but this was my favorite (in summer anyway).
Art Saint Louis is having a virtual exhibition on their web site, from July 1 – September 1, 2022. I have had one piece selected for this show so I’ll be in it along with 25 other artists.
I’m also in an upcoming gallery show at Art St. Louis called “(all the) Feels”. It runs from July 30 – September 8, 2022. The opening reception is August 6 from 5-7 pm. One of my collages was selected for this show.
For several years I had pretty much given up on producing “fine art” pieces, even though I still had lots of ideas. The main reason was that my time seemed better spent making more craft-oriented things that helped promote my Etsy shop, the blog posts I was writing for Schnarr’s Hardware, or the teaching I was doing at the time. By then, life had taught me several times over not to put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to making a living. I was trying lots of things to see what worked and what didn’t.
In the fall of 2019 I started working on a Master’s Degree at Webster University in Advertising and Marketing Communications. My reasoning for studying communications is that art is a form of communication, and in addition picking up more knowledge about communications can make any of my activities more successful.
My communications classes are fascinating, absorbing, and creatively satisfying, but I cannot help but be jealous of the art majors. Many of the topics I study in communications are serious, and although art can also be serious it also can be pure play and I need some of that! My undergraduate degree is in fine art. Shortly after starting my studies at Webster University, every now and then I would walk over to the art building to see what the students were up to and to find out if there were any art shows that were open to all students and not just art majors. I found two in quick succession and to my great joy made new work and was accepted into both shows. One show was meant to be one night only, and the other show, “Back To Our Roots” was intended to be up for some time but was shut down early twice, the second time due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m about halfway finished with the Master’s degree right now. I’m using the skills as I go, so I’m not putting undue pressure on myself to hurry to finish. Also I have taken a break due to tragedies in my family at the end of last summer that caused severe grief and trauma that are still greatly affecting my productivity. I’m going to resume taking classes again when I’m sure I can handle the course work. I’m getting there, but there are setbacks along the way that cause me a lot of frustration, as well as to other people who want or need something from me. I feel really guilty when I turn down any work that people want, or set any kind of boundaries. This inappropriate guilt causes me a great deal of distress that I’m trying to work through, but boundaries are necessary sometimes so that I can get my trauma symptoms under control. The art piece of mine that the judges selected for the “(all the) Feels” show is about this discomfort and guilt. It contains parts that I began earlier for a different reason, but that is what the final result is about.
One of the best ways I know to process difficult and complex feelings is to make art. So this spring I joined Art Saint Louis and have been making more art to enter into their shows. I’ve been in a few of their shows in the past but was never a member before. A friend asked me a few weeks ago why I was doing this – we were at a party, so I didn’t want to explain at that time and place that I was kind of doing it as therapy. Yes, entering shows is good for promotional purposes for myself and my work, I can practice and improve my communication skills, I might get a sale, I might even win a prize which would be good for my show history. But much more important to me is motivation to finish some pieces so that I process what is going on inside me. I’ve been through some life-changing events and personal turmoil, as many of us have. Yes the resulting feelings and symptoms are unwelcome and difficult, but I can’t just wish them away. I have to process them, and art is one of the great gifts from God that I’ve been blessed with that helps me do that. I am very grateful for the opportunity to express and exhibit.
One of my favorite ways to relax is to cut up some old magazines and make collages out of them. One reason why collages are so relaxing is that I can start them without a pre-planned project in mind and just let my subconscious and the random materials in front of me suggest the theme. Stress is a common theme, because I tend to start them when I need to work some stress out of me. Another reason is that so much printed media, like all media, is filled with images that scream out desperation.
Most media has been on a trend during our lifetimes to become more and more extreme in intensity in order to feed what some people call the “attention economy” or the “addiction economy”. Many media companies rely on an intangible resource to generate revenue – that resource is our eyes on their content. Whatever distraction can direct our attention to them and away from real life is how many corporations generate revenue now. We are not people to them, but a resource to be exploited to fullest extent possible.
A lot of friends pass old magazines on to me to use in collages, and somehow, I don’t know how or why, I’ve been getting US magazine in the mail. The theme of a lot of my art and writing is media analysis, so I don’t mind getting these magazines to see the bizarro world that some people live in and the desperation on display when celebrities need your eyes on them in order to make money and promote the bizarro world agenda. Excess can be both entertaining and disturbing. I’ve done some study on what kind of toll it takes on the people who view it, and I plan to write more in that vein on an ongoing basis. Paging through the celebrity magazines, I also thought about the mental health of the people who go to extreme measures to remain in the top echelon of attention grabbers. Surgeries, diets, fashions, casting couches, drugs, abuse – what won’t they put themselves through in the quest for status in an insulated and dehumanizing system? When they break down, how do they feel about entertaining the masses with evidence of their pain and destruction? When they look at images of themselves, are they looking for signs that the cracks are showing, knowing that untold other sets of eyes are looking for that too and hoping they find some? When does what is on the inside start to show on the outside?
To make this collage I used a stencil I have that looks like a film contact sheet to make a grid in pencil on a plain piece of white cardstock. Using a template I made with a window opening the size of the rectangle openings in the stencil, I started building up images on separate pieces of white cardstock. After adding images to each rectangle, I added textures from stencils and an a black outline with markers. I used a gray marker to add some lines to the background, and gray and black markers with the stencils to add some more texture on and around cut out words, rearranged a bit.
I deliberately tried to choose less than flattering celebrity photos on which to glue mismatched facial features to make them look more “crazy” to show how I feel about corporations and government trying to use media and celebrities and communications professionals to try to force me to accept a bizarro world as my world. The Urban Dictionary states that a bizarro world is a place where everything is the opposite of the word used to describe it. For example, “good is bad, wrong is right, white is black, logical is illogical, giving is taking, insanity is sane”, etc. It’s one of my theories, shared by many, that those who start out relatively mentally healthy generally pay a price on the inside for living in a bizarro world and being coerced into propagating its false values. Picking up one of these magazines, no I don’t believe some of the messages it’s trying to send me. Ugliness is not beauty, exploitation is not empowerment, sickness is not health, artificiality is not freshness, materialism is not happiness, and celebrities are not just like us! And no, war is not peace, freedom is not slavery, ignorance is not strength. And I don’t love Big Brother either. So there!
When I started the collage, I initially intended just to have some silly fun with some silly magazines and not necessarily think about such serious topics. I can’t seem to stop analyzing media when I see it I guess. I hope my next art or craft project will stay more on the lighthearted side!
Here are links to the stencils I used, on sale in my store:
In 2013 I wrote an article for the first issue of a personal e-newsletter I used to publish. The newsletter was called Carolyn’s Creative Connections. Other than a typo or two that I fixed, I didn’t change anything since I originally wrote it.
“Creativity, Eco-Chic and the New Frugality
As a retailer and business person, it’s not really in my best interests to discuss hard economic times. One would think I’d be more likely to try to persuade you that employment is going to go up and taxes are going to go down and prosperity is just around the corner so you’ll spend money on what I’m selling. I wish I really believed that, it would make the future seem a lot brighter and the daily tasks I need to perform in order to try to grow my business and that of my employer would weigh on me a lot more lightly. The human capacity for creativity has a way of working around obstacles put in our way. I don’t know if there has ever been a more important time to nurture creativity in our society and apply it to issues that we have to deal with.
DIY culture has always been popular in certain segments of society – hippies in the 1960s, punkers in the late 70s and early 80s, zinesters in the grunge era. DIY culture might have to become more mainstream for survival reasons. I hope I’m wrong but all indications point to survival rising by necessity to the top of more and more peoples’ priority lists.
So I find myself as a purveyor of goods and services in 2013 in the paradoxical position of urging people to be more careful with their resources and to consume less! In my opinion the key is not to stop consuming entirely because you can’t do that and remain alive, but to consume more intelligently – and to consume in ways that make you stronger and better able to face the challenges we will have in the future. My personal experience has taught me doing something proactive to alleviate whatever events or conditions that you fear makes you feel stronger and more capable. There are some things in life we can’t control but in some cases I believe people have been brainwashed into believing they are more helpless than they are.
According to Thomas Jefferson, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.”
If you find yourself unhappily in the position of having no choice but to be frugal, creativity can make your situation a lot more palatable. Loss of income is associated with a loss of status in our culture, but frugal practices are often beneficial for the environment so you can disguise your frugality by being eco-chic, an attitude made fashionable by entertainment elites. In a culture where the appearance of something is as good as the real thing, the celebrities only have to appear to be eco-chic but in your own life being more environmentally aware has real benefits for you. Take control and use eco-friendly practices to gain more autonomy in your life.
Here are a few examples and suggestions:
Frugal and Survival benefits:
High quality nutritious food and herbs filled with vitamins and free of poisons is added to your diet and improves your health.
Improving and caring for your soil helps make up for the choice farmland we’re losing to urban sprawl developments.
Knowledge of how to grow food is preserved to pass on to future generations.
If you open pollinate and seed save, the genetic diversity of seeds may save our lives if something affects monoculture crops.
Good soil and reduced use of chemicals contributes to a healthy life-sustaining water supply.
Physical activity – a stronger body is less prone to injuries in riots, natural disasters, etc.
At least there is a chance of some kind of food supply being available if roads are impassable, there are fuel shortages or there is civil unrest.
Plants reduce erosion and preserve soil.
Plants reduce urban heat sink effect and reduce air conditioning bills.
Contact with nature beneficial for mental health.
Less chance of food contamination and tampering.
Healthful foods more available in areas where there are no grocery stores such as depressed urban areas.
More diverse stock of plants adapted to your specific climate or microclimate conditions will be developed.
Plant stock and seeds can be used as barter if there is currency trouble and food shortages.
Helps sustain wildlife (if you garden organically you will be sharing at least a little of your harvest!).
Not going to the store as much reduces packaging materials and transport fuel consumption.
Less dependent on food produced from genetically modified seeds.
Children who observe you gardening learn about where food comes from and the importance of healthy soil, air and water.
Plants absorb CO2 in photosynthesis if global warming is something you worry about.
Composting reduces waste going to landfills.
Raising a serious amount of food, especially organically, is not an easy task. I myself am in no position to have a self-sustaining garden for all my food needs – I’m not even allowed to grow vegetables in the ground where I live (I can grow them in containers on the deck but don’t have enough sun). But I’ve always believed it’s better to do somthing than nothing, so I have an herb and wildflower garden. I save a lot of money on herbal tea and fresh herbs for cooking, I’m as certain as I can be that my herbs are not contaminated with anything and I’m providing a home for lots of beneficial insects which have reduced the amount of pests in my immediate vicinity – that makes life better for humans and wildlife around me due to the reduced need for chemicals. If you have a yard or even space for a few containers on a porch or windowsill, you can make a difference. Aquaponics and hydroponics are also possible indoors if you can manage the lighting requirements.
Making crafts from repurposed items
Frugal and Survival benefits:
Creative outlet improves mental health.
Gives resources that would otherwise be wasted an economic value.
Better lifestyle for less money.
Cottage industries help provide income for people who have lost their jobs.
Improves hand skills.
Keeps resources out of landfills.
Reduces the need for new goods which these days are often poorly made in countries with environmental laws a lot less stringent than ours (if they have any).
Shows off your committment to recycling and being “green”.
Fewer trips to the store mean less fuel consumed for transport.
Natural products very fashionable.
Refill your own containers and reduce the need for packaging.
Fewer harmful substances go down the drain and end up in water supply.
I used to work at a large retail store and was appalled at what constitutes a celebration of the birth of Jesus in today’s society – waiting in long lines to buy cheap junk made in other countries employing slave labor. Borrowing money to pay for things beyone one’s means – believe it or not after all we’ve learned about the consequences of too much debt you can still hear ads on the radio at Christmastime encouraging people to mortgage their home to buy Christmas gifts. Trampling people to buy cheap junk (yes someone was trampled at the store where I worked but not injured fortunately). Extra security guards on duty – what does that say about the Christmas spirit?
Frugal and Survival benefits:
Creative outlet improves mental health.
Avoid stress of crowded roads and crowded stores.
Avoid disease from being in crowds (yes there will be more diseases rampant as our society deteriorates, for example the current TB outbreak in California).
Improves hand skills.
Fewer trips to the store mean less resources used on packing and less fuel consumed for transport.
Teaches the value of homemade things.
Emphasizes the Eco-chic values that Jesus taught – keeping in mind the welfare of others, not placing too much value on material things, the value of humble and honest labor, the meaning of a gift being the love and caring that went into it and not the monetary value, etc. Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, I’m sure you can think of eco-chic ways to enhance your religious and cultural activities.
Cooking meals at home (Some of my favorite recipes)
Frugal and Survival benefits:
Creative outlet improves mental health
Can choose more healthy ingredients
Catch fewer diseases from food preparers, salad bars, buffets, etc.
Families that eat together have healthier relationships
Fewer disposable containers consumed
Can make your own sustainable choices of ingredients
Those headlines sound alarming. No one can predict the future, but if you are concerned and as a result are inspired to grow more food or in some other way become more self-sufficient, here is good news. There is no down side to growing food even if the predicted food shortages don’t happen. You’ll be better off either way, and healthier as a result of the activity. So if you have any interest in growing food or gardening at all, when has there ever been a better time?
If you would like to read all the issues of my old e-newsletter Carolyn’s Creative Connections and it’s predecessor the Carolyn Hasenfratz Design Newsletter, here is a link:
I’m also adding to that page the newsletters of my former employer Webinar Resources that I designed and wrote some of the articles for. Some of the graphics will be missing at first until I can do some fixing. I’m mostly doing this for my own reference since I’m currently dusting off some of my old social media marketing skills and seeing what is still relevant and what has changed. It helps me study marketing techniques.
It’s been awhile since I updated the Schnarr’s blog calendar with gardening events. For the last couple of years most events have been cancelled or online. But a few in person events are starting to happen again, along with a lot of webinars and online sessions.
In the St. Louis area where I am, it’s a bit rainy and cold right at the moment and it’s possible that tasks you were looking forward to doing in the garden might be postponed for a few days. If you’re forced to be more indoors than you’d like, maybe some online gardening content will help you maintain a healthy state of mind. Enjoy!
This past Saturday my Dad and I blew some of the winter dust out of our bodies and minds by volunteering at Fresh Starts Community Garden. It was Dad’s first time here while I’ve been to this garden a couple of times before. It was uplifting as always to spend a little time with the inspiring and kind leader Rosie Willis and the other volunteers. I get praised a lot when I volunteer, but it’s likely I get more out of it than I give – gardening makes me happy wherever I do it! And it’s always uplifting to be in the company of people who are working hard to help their neighbors.
This week those of us who are St. Louis Master Gardeners got some nice validation by getting the Master Gardener 2021 Impact Statement PDF document in our email. If you would like to see what we did in 2020 and 2021, check out these links:
I’ve been reading in the last year or two about biophilia – in so many words it is the human tendency to feel a sense of well being while exposed to nature. As I’ve learned from reading horticultural therapy books, in addition to spending time in or around actual nature, pictures, video and sounds from gardens can make people feel better mentally and physically. I hope the resources I’ve linked to can help give you some good feelings immediately whether you have to be inside or outside.
Here is a link to my photo album on Facebook of some of the past master gardener activities I’ve enjoyed since completing my training in 2016.
When I was Creative Director for my former employer Webinar Resources, we built QR codes, that is Quick Response codes, into many of our campaigns. I liked them so much I made a header graphic for our Facebook page meant to celebrate their functionality and their high-tech look. They appealed to me for design reasons as well.
We put QR codes on any surface we could think of – door knockers, cards, posters, electronic slides, buttons, t-shirts, holiday wrapping… I’m probably forgetting some. Eventually I even had a rubber stamp made of a QR code for my online store! I also made some graphics at my boss Mark Rice’s direction along the way to try to show how they work.
I thought for awhile that it was difficult to get people to adopt QR codes and that they might die out. That possibility was disappointing to me because they are useful and a lot of fun. But while working on Marketing and Communications homework for my classes at Webster University recently, I’ve snapped some pictures while doing research that make it look like QR codes are here to stay after all. It’s possible that the COVID-19 pandemic may have helped speed up the adoption of QR codes a bit because they provide a quick way to disseminate information without people having to touch anything. QR codes are also easier to access now because in many cases you don’t need to install a special app – on my newest iPhone the QR code reader is built right into the camera.
I have a client who is appearing in a live performance in two days in Scottsdale, Arizona. This morning I took some graphics off of some of the existing promotional and ticketing web pages and made a collage of some of them with a QR code on it. My intention was to make something fast and easy for people to share if they are inclined to, with the link built in by way of the QR code so that people who are interested can get to the ticketing page easily no matter how the graphic is shared.
There is a lot you can do with QR codes if you build them into campaign planning at an early stage. Even when you are under a time crunch, incorporating a QR code into a shareable graphic for social media is a very convenient way to spread information.
On Saturday, March 19, 2022 my Dad and I drove from St. Louis County to Sullivan, Missouri to attend a neon sign re-lighting ceremony at the historic Shamrock Court. The Shamrock Court is being restored and plans are to re-open it as a motel in the not too distant future. Members of the Route 66 of Missouri and many other volunteers are helping to restore the property, with labor, fundraising, and other opportunities.
The Route 66 Assocation of Missouri Neon Heritage Preservation Committee (“NHPC”) has assisted a lot of historic property owners in various ways to get their neon signs restored. Here is a web page with a list of some of their neon sign success stories. It’s customary for Route 66 Association of Missouri members and allies to get together for a celebratory re-lighting ceremony whenever a historic Route 66 property in the region lights up the newly restored signs for the public to enjoy. March 19 was the Shamrock Court’s turn to shine.
Route 66 events often incorporate car shows, and this night was no exception. Cool cars and trucks filled the parking area in front of the Motel and spilled over into the adjacent street, appropriately named Shamrock St. In keeping with the motel’s theme and proximity to St. Patrick’s Day, it was also a St. Patrick’s Day party complete with Leprechaun, Lucky Charms, wearin’ o’ the green, and lots of Irish luck bestowing fine weather upon us.
On a day so beautiful, my Dad and I left early so that we could go for a hike on the way there. There are lots of choices of places to hike between our homes and Sullivan – we are very blessed to live in Missouri which has abundant parks and trails. We considered several locations then decided on Robertsville State Park. It’s one of the closest State Parks to where we live, but since when we drive by it we are usually on our way to somewhere farther away, believe or not neither of us had ever been there! The one previous time in all my years of 66-ing (23!) that I tried to take a short detour off of historic Route 66 to check it out, I had to turn back because of a flood. So we decided now was the time to try something new and go finally go there. We drove around to see what the park contained and chose two short trails to hike on.
The park was perhaps not in it’s full glory two days before the start of spring, when there is almost no green vegetation to see yet and the ground is saturated from late winter and early spring rains. Nevertheless, we found plenty to appreciate. I have not lost my childhood fascination with ephemeral spring pools. I’m intrigued mostly because I like to look for frog eggs and tadpoles, but they also have quiet beauty in their own right. They are usually clear and still and any vegetation or critters in the water look especially beautiful in such water bodies. As a special treat for me, one of the pools we saw did contain many masses of frog or toad eggs, and some free-swimming tadpoles! I looked at one mass up close to see the different stages of development of the tadpoles. They ranged from little dots to almost ready to emerge, with feathery gills developing and eyes looking right at me! I returned the egg mass to the water and prayed that they would all get a chance to hatch while the pool is still wet.
There is something to enjoy in every season in the magical Missouri Ozarks!
For more information about the re-lighting event and the Shamrock Court project:
In early 2020, I participated in an art show at Webster University called “Back to Our Roots”. I dedicated my entry for the show to my late friend Mark Reed who passed away in 2018. At the time I was in this show, I started an artist statement to go along with my entry and I put it on one of my web sites. Like a lot of my projects, it grew bigger and more elaborate than I planned at first, and is still in progress. I ended up including grief about several other things in the process which is one of the reasons the series got bigger and bigger. It’s expanded almost to the size of a mini book, kind of like a mini memoir using my art journal and artwork as a jumping off point to write about my life so far.
My original intention in starting these pages which I’ll link to below was to help me process my grief over Mark and explain what my art journals were all about. At the “Back To Our Roots” opening I included little pieces of paper with the QR code to my web site so that show visitors could access the artist statement in progress from smartphones. The show was forced to close early, first from vandalism and then from COVID-19, so not very many people were able to see the original show.
Since I began the project, I have experienced more grief of an even more serious magnitude. It was caused by the type of trauma that when I hear about similar things happening to others I ask myself “how do people live through that”? I’m doing a lot better, thanks to therapy and a lot of writing and art making. While I’m getting better, there are people I know getting one piece of bad news after another. I just heard this morning from a friend whose family, like mine, has recently been impacted by suicide. For all those out there who hear bad news and wonder “how do people live through this”, or are wondering how they are going to cope with something in their own life, maybe my artist’s statement ongoing project will help.
If you would like to read what I’ve written so far, here is an index to all the existing “chapters” in progress. Just click the “back” and “next” graphical buttons to navigate forward or backward.
The 2022 Winter Olympics are going on right now. When I was younger, I used to really enjoy watching the Olympics. It was inspiring to watch a competition from beginning to end knowing that for some of the athletes, the years of dedication were going to pay off for them in a big way. These days I’m not tuning in because apparently it’s impossible to watch a whole competition without buying a subscription to something I don’t want, or doing something shady with VPNs. It’s not worth the hassle.
Fortunately, I was able to experience the inspirational side of sports by going on a road trip with Tom to Indiana University for a track meet in January. Tom sometimes takes jobs as a track meet official on weekends. I had a great time watching Tom and watching some of the competition. I needed to get some walking in to help recover from my recent broken foot, so I walked from the hotel to the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse where the meet was taking place. Along the way, I noticed a lot of fine limestone sculpture and limestone architecture.
I was reminded of one of my favorite books from when I was a pre-teen – Breaking Away. I bought the Scholastic Book Services version of the novel and later on I saw the movie. Indiana University is the setting for the book and the movie. In the Breaking Away story, the local young people were looked down on by some of the university students. They were nicknamed “cutters” as an unflattering reference to limestone quarrying being a major industry in the area. When I saw all the limestone, it brought back memories of the book and movie. Tom and I are going to be going back to Indiana University again, and when we do I hope to do more exploration of the stone architecture on campus. It’s really impressive! I might even see if I can get Tom to watch the movie before we go because I know he would enjoy seeing where some of the scenes were filmed.
After the track meet, since it was January and not the most comfortable time for leisurely strolls around campus, we went to the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art for some indoor art viewing. There is a lot to see in there. We toured it for three hours and didn’t come close to absorbing everything to my satisfaction, so I’ll be back. There is also a greenhouse on campus you can tour which I didn’t get to on this recent trip. I want to visit more indoor and outdoor sites the next time we go.
Seeing the college athletes competing helped inspire me to work hard to overcome my injury, and the wonderful art fired up the creative part of me. Overall, this trip was a huge boost to wellness. A road trip sure helps uplift my mind, body and soul. I’m looking forward to doing it again soon!
To see the pictures I took along my walk and inside the Field House, go to this photo album and click the right arrows: