Tag Archives: denver art blog

Dear Jon,

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We found our old camcorder this weekend and watched home movies from our wedding reception and when Milo was a baby. We stood there watching all of these moments of our life together getting all choked up. The fact is that Jon and I are giant, sentimental dorks. We say dorky things and look pretty dorky most of the time. But in the majority of the videos we’re laughing and that cannot be a bad thing.

Milo's first sale!

Being married to your best friends has its perks. There is someone there to tell you you have buggies or that knows never to leave dirty socks in the living room, someone who will say nice things to you on demand (although he might get sick of you constantly asking for sweetsies),someone who will be honest about your work, someone who will laugh at your really bad jokes and someone who will always be there to let you sniff their beard. But marriage ain’t always the easiest thing. Living your life tethered to someone can be the most comforting thing in the world and the most constraining. Sometimes you feel so close that you’re one person and other times you’re worlds apart, and that’s ok as long as you know that a life well lived is a life lived with your partner.

Thanks, shnarf. xoxo

Milo-"Mom, this is you when you were a little girl with glasses."

But that Jon Fessler, I’ve loved that man ever since I walked into the house on 13th st. Five years after I had first met him and he stood up when I came through the door and said, “Hi, I’m Jon.” in a super awkward way. We went to see Hot Water Music and he stayed in the under 21 section to keep me company. The next night he grabbed my elbow and asked me on a date. On our first date we drank a pitcher of PBR and ate bread sticks. The next day he brought a grocery bag full of daisies into the coffee shop where I worked and I was totally gaga. Before he headed to Alaska for the summer, he gave me his Super Friends pillow case and plastic mug with a smiley face and feet to remember him by. We spent the following summer totally in LOVE, exchanging letters and packages while Jon lived in a tent inside of a tent down by a river. You’ve never heard a more romantic love story, have you?

Love LOVE young love

Almost ten years have gone by. We’ve built a home and a family complete with a rottweiler and a shed made out of shipping pallets. He’s still my best friend and he still sometimes makes me crazy. We had a family weekend this weekend; bacon egg and cheese biscuits for dinner, checking on the art and picking up Milo’s first check, donuts and beer, bad tv (after Milo went to bed) and lots of chit chat with conversations that start with, “you know what would be awesome…” and planning our future in a million and one directions. All while drinking tea and snuggling our kids.

It can be really hard to remember that people don’t know what you need until you tell them. Men are from Mars women are from Venus…But, the weather is cool and the house is warm and we’re staying in. Love you Papa bear.

Day seventy-two

Day seventy-one

PS We’ve made some great trades so far, keep ’em coming!

Inspiring the Fesslers towards happiness

Inspiring aren't I?

When I was I college I took an advanced ceramics class. One day in class we watched a video on some ceramicist (I can’t remember his name) who talked at length about what makes a really great ceramic drinking vessel. We had to examine our concept of a just-right vessel. Does it hold the right amount of liquid? Does it feel right in your hand? Is it weighted properly? How does it feel when you hold it to your mouth? Does it keep your coffee or tea or whatever the right temperature for the right amount of time? What is the glaze like? Does the shape appeal to you visually? All of these things suddenly mattered. A mug. I have a few perfect vessels. One for tea, one for coffee. My tea mug was made by a mentor teacher and I formulated the hideous glaze. The mug feels light but substantial, it keeps my tea warm for a long time, the lip of the mug is not too fat and not too thin, I feel at ease when I have this mug in my hand. My coffee mug is a standard issue diner style coffee mug that we got on our honeymoon from the bed and breakfast Jon used to work at in Alaska.

Day 57

Day fifty-seven

Day fifty-eight

Day fifty-nine

 

 

 

Finding the perfect mug is like finding home. You know it when it’s right. I have been thinking a lot about the concept of domesticity and the idea of having a home, not just living in a house and having stuff rather, having a space where your life happens. Home is the center of our existence and for Jon and I it always has been. I think that’s why we’re so good together. We both know that our home is not just a place but a life being lived. It is where we make or choices that will trickle out to the rest of the world and create some sort of change.

Milo, Day 57. "This is a window and me and Uncle Tony looking out."

Milo, Day 58. "This is a silly mountain."

Milo, Day 59. "Shh, he is sleeping and he has buggars."

Now that Milo is getting older and Wyatt is here, home is even more valuable. I could not even begin to put a dollar amount on the time I spend making home. Being the stay at home parent this year has gotten me thinking about how we address home life. It is so easy for women and men to get into the “house wife syndrome” of being completely unfulfilled by domestic and childcare responsibilities. Since the industrial revolution domestic life has become centered on consuming things rather than creating them. I fell so easily into the emptiness of going to Target, buying things and consuming them. By the end of the summer I was downright sad. I felt empty and guilty for feeling so empty. I knew that I didn’t need something outside of the home. I needed a new perspective; I need to feed my home and my life with some creativity. Ever since I started this project I am not sad every day. I don’t feel so  empty and I no longer feel like I’m watching my life happen to me while I drink coffee from a mug that doesn’t feel right.

A very serious post for a Halloween weekend. Sorry folks, let’s lighten things up with a few good Halloween photos…In 3rd grade I was Tammy Fae Baker (my mom has a wicked sense of humor), this year Milo went as a Rescue Hero (or a member of the Village People). He won win 3rd place at the coffee shop costume contest and we didn’t spend a dime on his costume!

P.S. Check out our pictures from the I Am photo shoot

Tammy Fae Baker

Rescue Hero Milo

Hula hooping leads to job offers

 

Get your nerd on

World's smallest sundae

 

 

 

When I was in college they opened an Ed Debevic’s here in Denver. For those of you who have never been to one, it’s a 50’s theme diner where all the wait staff is surly and rude and everyone is in costume and covered in flair. I was so excited. It was a childhood dream of mine to work there and serve the world’s smallest sundae. I went to the auditions and go the job based on my extraordinary hula hooping skills. That job was so damn fun. I had two personae, a nerd and a house wife ( a real stretch for me) complete with wigs and vintage circle skirts, and no less than 15 pieces of flare (you can give the screen the finger now). I even got to DJ a Motown night on Fridays. Every so often, we would have to hop up on the counter to dance. Proud Mary just came on and I can remember every step.

 

Day fifty-two

Day fifty-three

Milo, Day fifty-three, Lily Pad

Milo, day fifty-four

Typically, I’m not really a very spontaneous person. I like to know where I’m going, how long it will take to get there, what time we’re supposed to arrive and how long we’ll be. Fun right? All of my recent perfection posts have led me to this one. Now that my house is clean and in order, I have more time for spontaneity .This on e is about saying F-it and doing what you want.

day fifty-four

Day fifty-five

I want to be a working artist. I want my work in galleries and I want people I’ve never met to look at my work and want to buy it. So how do I make that happen? Sadly, my current approach of sitting on my couch hoping that somehow my phone will magically ring and it will be the Guggenheim on the other end has not worked out so well. Guess I’ll have to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I’ve finally realized that nothing will happen to me if I don’t get gallery representation or if I get rejected. Life is pretty darn good, I’m happy with my work and I’m willing to put in the leg work to convince strangers to believe in my art. I don’t think I’ve ever had this feeling before.  Something about being a mom, I think. I’m down to fail and I’m down to succeed. I’m just not down to sit around and wish I had tried.  I wouldn’t want my kids to have regrets, why should I?

I do all my correspondence with this elegant cobra pen

Hot toddy, check. Banana bread and orange, check. Poorly organized checklist, check.

Milo, Day fifty-five, Our House

I called a bunch of galleries and figured out the submission process for a bunch more. Now for the tedious task of finishing my artist’s statement and sexing up the ole’ resume. My prestigious showing history of one coffee shop/restaurant/bar show per year for the past seven years should really entice those collectors. We’ve all got to start somewhere.  I’m taking it up a notch, time to hula hoop for my life.  I can also roller skate, I wonder if that’ll come in handy?

FYI readers:

From now on I will be posting on Wednesday and Saturdays.

Virtual First Friday on Nov. 5th (free shipping if you pre-order anything from days 31-60! Just message me)!

“Ms. Holton,you have the hands of a man, I never noticed that about you.”

Martha would be so proud

Scrumptious

Being perfect is exhausting! Since my last post I’ve tried to improve my domestic capabilities and I’ve cleaned the $%#* out of my house (Milo washed the baseboards and Jon vacuumed, of course). My hands are all cracked and gnarled, which is actually pretty typical. I was once told by a student that I have the hands of a man but, I digress. Domestic perfection has left me feeling partially brain dead from bleach fumes, tired and not very creative. In the same breath I will say that I like when the house is spic and span and I like when I can find the bills that need to be paid. I even kept up on the laundry, made this beautiful fall display, and used my aging bananas to make a healthy whole grain banana bread with walnuts and raisins.

Day forty-nine

day fifty, woot!

When I was a kid, nothing would make me writhe on the floor dry heaving in disgust more than the smell of banana bread cooking in the oven. My mom was shocked today when I told her what I was baking. It actually took my fantastically gay 50 something neighbor to bake the most delicious banana bread and share it with us while we were walking by his garden this spring to break me of my childhood disdain for all things banana related.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Wednesday was the halfway point. I have now painted everyday for 52 days. I did a little happy dance and thought about getting some over the hill decorations and baking cupcakes with black frosting but that wasn’t in the Your Home and You book so I just went about my business of trying to be perfect. I am happy to say that painting has once again become a habit in my life. Even when I’m beat and think I would rather be watching Dog the Bounty Hunter, it still feels so good when I’m done. I actually like my work.

Milo, Day 51. "It's a bed with a big tent. It's really comfortable."

Milo's art caddy. Don't go to swim lessons, the park or the grocery store without it.

As for Milo, he’s probably drawing at least two hours a day and he’s drawing people and beds and tents and all sorts of things that now look like things. I love seeing how he’s grown in just the past two months. With kids, growth is so much more apparent than in adults. He says that making art makes him feel calm, I’ll second that. So stay tuned for the final 48 days of our project. I can’t promise perfection but I can promise you some damn fine looking work from a three year old and maybe a few more pics of things I bake while avoiding other less desirable tasks.

Day fifty-one

Dry erase, scheduled, organized, perfection...where did I put the dry erase markers?!

Wally and the Beav

Circa 1960

Day forty-six

Milo, day 49, Mommy and Little Wyatt

Day forty-seven

Like looking in a mirror

Milo, Day 49, an alien with sunglasses

day forty-nine

The actress who played June Clever died over the weekend and it got me thinking about domesticity. I love to say that word, domesticity. Anyways, a while back, my mom gave me her home economics text book from the 60’s. The first time I looked at it I was prepared to be offended over and over again but what it really was was a practical guide to being thrifty, clean, cooking nutritious meals, caring for one’s self, family and community. It was like a guide book for everyday life. There’s even sections on sewing buttons, canning fruit, managing your time and what colors to wear with what skin tone. We don’t teach our kids most of this stuff so well anymore. A quote from the first page, “Not only are your physical characteristics determined by your parents, but also many of your traits of character are acquired at home. A good home is built on love and kindness, forgiveness, unselfish giving, and sharing. In the family you learn to assume responsibility for your actions.” Well put Your Home and You Textbook from 1960.

I am pretty darn good at some domestic tasks; I can sew, I can cook, I can care for small children, I do however suck at laundry and keeping a really clean house. It’s not too bad but I have too many junk drawers and I’ve begun to notice that the doors are dirty. Who knew you have to clean doors?! I don’t look like June Clever did either. Most days I don’t get a shower, I am certainly not wearing a dress and pearls while vacuuming (let’s face it Jon usually does the vacuuming and he’s not wearing a dress and pearls either) and I’m not rushing to freshen my make up before Jon gets home from work expecting his slipper and paper. I live in a real house with too many art supplies, kids, a dog and a dusty husband who, get this, actually participates when he’s home. Milo’s even been into folding the laundry lately. Maybe he’ll take over and I’ll never have to match another sock!

Things are just plain not like Leave it to Beaver and probably weren’t even back then. My friend Jessica pointed out the other day that Valium use and teen pregnancy were at all time high in the 50’s.The glossy perfection of the 50’s has its appeal and because Tuesdays are now also for perfection, I’m more inclined to work myself up about my domestic shortcomings. I do however, like June, have a pretty sweet apron collection. I like my domestic world, it’s a good home and we try to be kind, forgiving, to share and to be responsible for our actions.

A note on being weird

Yup, that's me. Age 12.

Here's to wierd

Day forty-three

Day forty-four

Milo, "Do monsters make art?"

Day forty-five (this is one of my favorites so far)

Having been strange my whole life I feel like I am well equipped to parent a weird kid. I’ve always been the “artsy” one. I think that’s a nice way of saying that I’m a bit weird.

I do think that all kids are weird in fantastic ways. That is one of the best things about being a teacher, especially an art teacher. I get to be privy to all the weird things kids come up with. First grader jokes are among the best. Milo is no exception. He is super weird. He just decided that he is not a person who wears socks. He’s had a scribbled on receipt from pizza delivery taped next to his bed for a year and would be devastated if we tried to take it down. We’ve already discussed his obsession with pens.

For kids, weird is fine, it’s widely accepted at least until school age. We let our kids wear Robin and Superman costumes day and night, we let our kids read books in cardboard boxes. Then we do something to people. We shame them into hiding the things that make them who they are. How sad. If you went to middle school, you probably remember someone being incredibly unkind to you because you didn’t do something the way they expected you to. It takes a super weird person not to give a *%^& when this happens (thank you with all my heart to one Ms. Rebecca Rubel). I taught middle school for one year and that was quite enough for me, thank you. I went running and screaming back to those weird little first graders. I would much rather sit in a tiny chair with a crayon in my hand hanging with silly, imaginative little kids anyday.

We all want to be part of the tribe but we need to be who we are. Think about the people you are drawn to the most. Are they the safe, beige people (I just looked down and I’m wearing a beige sweater, damn it.) or are they the little-bit-weird folks who seem to take a few more risks than you do, say what they mean a little more often, and seem to live in their skin a bit more comfortably? I’ll take the later.

Let’s keep it weird people. What was your favorite weird kid memory of yourself or your own kiddos?

I’ll go first:

Me: I had an obsession with the author Roald Dahl. When he died I was in the third or fourth grade. I cried tears and was so grief stricken that I insisted that the librarian let me create a shrine to him in the library. She begrudgingly agreed and I painstakingly recreated a bunch of his illustrations from the BFG and the Twits and turned the whole thing into a huge display with stand up cut outs and a backdrop. Can you say dork?

Milo: I think this week’s pictures speak for themselves.

Loving Milo's monster art

Milo, Day 44

Dig a little faster and a little better

 

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel

 

 

Day forty

 

 

Ah, to have an encouraging audience

 

 

Day forty-one

 

 

Milo day 40, PlayDough sculptures

 

 

Day forty-two

 

 

Milo, day forty-one. "This is for the mailman, he has a lot of brains."

 

Milo’s Grandma Lori and Grandpa gave him a book a while ago, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. Milo loves this book. In the story, Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne are at the end of their career, they are being  out performed by diesel powered diggers. Anyways, Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne take one last stab at greatness and offer to dig the cellar for a new town hall in just one day. The town’s people agree to let them dig it but everyone seems skeptical. One little boy and his dog come to watch. Mike Mulligan says to the boy that the always dig a little faster and little better when someone is watching. Soon the townspeople, the school children, the fire department and folks from the next town over have gathered to watch Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel. When the dust settles at dusk, Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne had dug so fast and dug so well that they finished the job.

There is something to be said for being accountable to others. I can tell myself to do something all day long but when I make a statement that I will accomplish something, it takes on a life of its own (insert my secret love of strategic planning here). If I’m not just painting for lil’ ol’ me but I have made a goal to put it into the world, I dig a little deeper.

A mom at Milo’s school was telling me that they like my project and my work. Was I gracious? Probably not, I was probably more awkward than anything else. I need to work on that. Great. Now I’ve said it, it must be done. I will get better at taking a compliment and talking about my work face to face with people (Is that like using the Secret? Do I have to get a bulletin board?)

I’m on day 43 of this project and I am pretty pumped about things. I’m starting to realize that I can put it out there and not have any pretext about it.  That I can accomplish this. I don’t have to sell every piece (although that would be nice) I don’t have to blow up al a Julie and Julia (although that would be nice too).  I know a few people are looking and listening and that this is somehow more for me and for Milo than anything else.

I want Milo to know that he can finish what he starts and how important it is to do what you love, work hard, do what you say you’re going to do and to share it with the world. Just call us Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne.