Ready to Reboot Your Creative Life? Check out ACN!

When we moved to South Philly in 2011,  we were lucky to stumble across two groups that provided us with both art inspiration and a wonderful circle of friends.

The first,  as you’ve probably guessed,  was the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers,  that inspired group of found-object artists whose homes and studios we profile on our Unexpected Philadelphia website.   (And,  yes,  there are more Diver home tours coming,  including — when we finally get around to it — our own.)

17_02_15-1-tracy-takes-another-chance“Tracy Takes Another Chance on Love” –  Kate’s found-object commentary on the pre-Dave dating scene.  Hmm — Should I take the “not quite divorced” guy for 50 points,  my cousin’s ex-fiance for a family-wrecking 30 points,  or “Mr. 93%-Right” for 100 points?

Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar introduced us to the free-spirited Dumpster Divers,  but his sister — dancer and choreographer Sheila Zagar — introduced Kate to its complementary and indispensable opposite:  the Artist Conference Network.

17_02_15-1b-kate-mellina-maryellen-plansKate’s “Maryellen Plans Her Day” because sometimes you just need to shake things up a little…

ARTIST  CONFERENCE  WHAT??

Founded in California in 1983 by painter and art professor  Beverly Cassell,  the Artist Conference Network (ACN) is the somewhat unpoetic name for a nationwide coalition of artists,  performers and writers who meet in local groups to set personal creative goals and encourage each other in their work.

17_02_15-2-lynn-denton-schell-st-cosmosPhiladelphia filmmaker,  painter,  mosaic artist,  sculptor and writer Lynn Denton with her “Schell Street Cosmos” mosaic.   Lynn founded Philly’s ACN chapter in 1994.

17_02_15-3b-lynn-dentonTwo more examples of Lynn’s prolific output:  “Throne Rug Study”,  a 2016 canvas,  and a still from “Clair-Obscur: A Film Performance” at the 2000 Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema.

DEFINING  YOUR  DREAMS

ACN members set annual and quarterly creative goals,  and coach with a fellow member by phone each week to review progress,  identify obstacles and breakthroughs,  and set goals for the coming week.

We also hold meetings every other Thursday in members’ homes to share work in a non-competitive,  non-judgmental atmosphere that recognizes each member as the sole authority on their creative journey.

17_02_15-4-chris-sheerinTwo recent works by ACN member Chris Sheerin,  a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

ABOUT  OUR  MEMBERS

Our Philadelphia group annually accepts between 12 and 15 members,  who commit themselves for a year each March.   Recent members have included painters,  photographers,   writers,  bloggers,  poets,  a singer and song-writer,  a dancer,  a filmmaker and sculptor,  a fiber and indigo dye artist,  a collage artist,  and a found-object and bead jewelry artist.

Some,  like Lynn Denton and Chris Sheerin above,  have formal art training.   Others,  like Kate,  are self-taught or hone their skills through workshops.

All of us are committed to helping ourselves — and our fellow members — expand our creative potential.

17_02_15 5 Rebekah Higgins.jpg“DNA” (graphite on paper) and “Portals” (oil on canvas) by mixed-media visionary artist,  art and design professor,  and ACN member Rebekah Higgins.

I  WILL  SURVIVE  THRIVE

Members are encouraged to set measurable goals that will really stretch them,  but have no fear:  The group will applaud your efforts whether you reach your goals or not — or whether you decide to pursue a completely different and better dream mid-year.

Kate’s ACN goals have motivated her (and Dave, her non-ACN co-conspirator) to establish our Unexpected Philadelphia website,  design a Fringe Festival performance,  create our holiday window and “flip the script” voting projects,  update the outside of our house with quotes and painted blocks,  and even lose 10 pounds.  (And,  yes,  that last goal was definitely Kate’s — our guy Dave barely casts a shadow.)

17_02_15-6-blaine-bonhamA photographer,  travel blogger,  and former executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society,  Blaine Bonham captures the essence of people,  urban and natural landscapes —  and his own back yard.

WANT TO LEARN  MORE?

Interested in exploring whether ACN can help you kick-start your creative goals?

Call Blaine Bonham at 215-280-4651.  Blaine can also tell you about our Thursday,  March 2 meeting,  where you can join us as we share work and celebrate the completion of our winter goals.

Hope to see you there!

Kate

 

 

The Women’s March on Philadelphia…and the World

2016 was definitely not our favorite year.

We cleaned out and sold Kate’s parents’ home.   We learned more than we ever cared to about hospitals,  insurance,  Medicaid applications and nursing homes.

AND  THEN  THERE  WAS….

….that endless election campaign.   Not even the fun of our non-partisan “Flip the Script” photo project could wipe out the divisiveness of a candidate who relentlessly belittled women,  minorities,  the disabled,  the armed forces,  immigrants,  prisoners of war,  our allies,  the press – seemingly basic human kindness itself.

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Dave, are you SURE we don’t have another comics section…..?

And by the time it all ended – amid reams of vicious fake news and a winner who lost by almost 3 million votes – we needed an extra-long holiday break.

BACK TO THE 1960s

So when we heard about the January 21 Women’s March on Washington – which rapidly morphed into almost 700 sister marches across all 50 states and every continent on earth – we quickly decided we were in – even if Kate  (perhaps fortunately)  had never learned to knit.

17_01_23-10-womens-march-dc_6845No badly knitted-by-her pink hat,  but Kate tries on a sign.

MARCHING  IN  THE  STREETS

So here’s our look at Saturday’s march on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway:   The sky was foggy,  but the vibe  (and,  happily,  the temperature)  was warm and upbeat,  and just what the doctor ordered….

17_01_23-20-womens-march-dc_6876On the march:  Part of the Philly crowd preparing to head from Logan Square to Eakins Oval.

SHOW  ME  A  SIGN

And,  yes,  we saw hundreds (and hundreds) of signs – from angry,  to heartfelt,  to pure thought-provoking fun….

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17_01_23-120-women-march-cm_6781

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17_01_23-125-womens-march-cm_6790Probably a smart idea…..!

THE  VIEW  NEAR THE EAKINS  OVAL  STAGE….

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17_01_23-480-womens-march-cm_2

17_01_23-390-womens-march-dc_6893

17_01_23-377-womens-march-cm_2

17_01_23-979-womens-march-cm_2A few more reasons to love our Philly guys!

…AND  FROM  THE  ART  MUSEUM  STEPS

2017 Philadelphia Women's MarchEven on a foggy day, you could see marchers and signs forever….

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And,  yes,  this is definitely one “Nasty Woman” we’d want on our team…

HEADING  HOME – BUT  NOT  BACKWARDS

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17_01_23 510 Women's March CM_2.jpg

A parting tribute by the Franklin Institute….

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WHAT  THE  WORLD  NEEDS  NOW

Uplifting?  Yes.  Energizing?  Definitely.   But neither of us was prepared for what we saw online when we arrived home:  Hundreds of thousands of women,  men and children, packing streets and holding signs in nations across the globe:

Pictures from Women’s Marches on Every Continent – The New York Times

And,  while we don’t know how long the New York Times will keep this remarkable collection of photos up on their website,  we hope you’ll take several minutes to see what a mutually supportive human race could look like – and to share that link with your friends.

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XOXOX – Kate & Dave

 

Flip the Script (Part 11): And So This Is….Thanksgiving

It’s been two weeks since the presidential election,  and we’d like to thank the more than two dozen artists,  writers,  and performers who offered words of pre-election encouragement from our South Philadelphia windows….

16_10_21-1-vote-tasker-side-dc_8280Click here to learn about the 28 inspiring Philadelphia artists who spent the pre-election month smiling  from our windows.

…and the hundreds more warm-hearted souls who let us photograph them for our blog….

composite-photoClick here to scroll backwards through all 11 of our pre-election posts,  starting with this one.

HOW  IT  ALL  BEGAN….

We dreamed up our non-partisan photo project this summer,  during a depressing campaign week that painted America as a failed experiment — with a candidate who somehow made it okay to overlook insults against minorities,  women,  the disabled,  the armed forces,  prisoners of war,  our allies – seemingly against basic human kindness itself.

And we did our best to put aside our own political leanings to remind people  (including ourselves)  of the goodness that built our country and the goodness we can still create together.

…AND  MOVING  FORWARD

But healing is largely missing from the holiday menu this year:  No one could have predicted that the candidate with almost three million more votes would be declared the loser,  and that the Ku Klux Klan would be planning a public victory parade – or that the election results would be hailed with racist graffiti and taunts against children and adults in cities all around America,  including our own.

This Thanksgiving  will be an especially hard one,  with families split along ideological lines and feelings so raw.

So where do we start?   There’s only one clear path….

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BRINGING  IT  ALL  BACK  HOME

And so this Thanksgiving – when radio stations all over the country traditionally play “Alice’s Restaurant”,  that rambling folk ballad – what better musician to quote than self-described “folkslinger”  Arlo Guthrie,  in a fun-but-true riff built off a comment by fellow musician Pete Seeger:

 “If the world was perfect and everybody had money,

everybody drove a BMW,  nobody was homeless,  nobody ever got sick,

everybody was smart and…happy all the time,

you’d have to go an awful long way out of your way

to make a difference in this world.  

You’d have to do a whole hell of a lot to improve the way it was.

“But in a world that sucks,  like this one,

you don’t have to do very much at all.

 ♦

“There was never a time in the history of the world

where you could do so little and get so much done.”

16_11_24-arlo-guthrie-alices-restaurant-tour-dc_4575
Amazing Grace”:  Check out Arlo Guthrie’s fun,  inspiring,  and always rambling riff here on YouTube .

Time to get moving again….!

make-america-kind-againAnd,  yes,  we’ve been handing out dozens of these pins,  available at Via Delia,  to make ourselves feel better.   Sometimes,  you just have to get back in the game.

Happy Thanksgiving to all,

Kate & Dave

Flip the Script (Part 10): Nov. 8 Is Here, & It’s Now or Never

Well,  it’s come down to this….and there’s no do-overs after Election Day….

16_10_02-4-passyunk-windows-cm_5590Corny perhaps, but indubitably true:  Click here to learn more about these smiling faces in our South Philly windows – and about the hundreds more big-hearted Philadelphians we’ve photographed for our blog this month.

And,  yeah,  it’s easy to say that both major candidates are flawed,  and you don’t want to vote for either of them.  But their agendas are polar opposites,  and one of them will be elected this week.

And you  – and all the other smiling faces on our blog – will be living with the consequences for years to come.

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Flip the Script (Part 9): 48 More Ways to Beat That Pre-Election Stress

Over the past four weeks,  we’ve photographed scores of optimistic Philadelphians in our home studio,  as part of our pre-election,  anti-angst photo campaign…

16_10_25-01-vote-corner-view-dc_0137Click here to learn more about the smiling artists in our windows at E. Passyunk Avenue & Tasker Street – and our quest to show hundreds more upbeat Philadelphians on our blog.

ON  THE  STREET  WHERE  WE  LIVE…

Today we’ll stroll our South Philadelphia neighborhood to introduce you to just a handful of the equally upbeat business people and customers we’ve met during our four years here….

Metro Mens Clothing,  Halo Hair

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Flip the Script (Part 8): Our VOTE Windows on ABC’s Nightline & philly.com!

They say that a bad day is when you wake up and find a  60 Minutes  crew on your lawn.

Fortunately,  the same didn’t hold true for  ABC’s Nightline  last week.

16_11_4-3-nightline-kate-dc_5307_No warrants in sight:   Kate (second from left) with Nightline’s Ignacio Torres,  Jasmine Brown and Dan Harris.

STRESS?  WHAT  STRESS??

Nightline co-anchor Dan Harris and segment producers Jasmine Brown  (the lead producer that day)  and Ignacio Torres were in town to gauge the pre-election stress level in our hotly contested swing state.   (Hint:  Think high – very high.)

They also offered relief in the form of a daringly co-ed  (i.e., mixed Democrat and Republican)  meditation session.

In between,  they talked to us about our upbeat South Philadelphia window display….

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Flip the Script (Part 7): 65 More Ways to Beat the Blues

When we dreamed up our anti-angst, South Philadelphia window project this summer,  we knew this election season was going to get rough.

16_10_21-1-vote-tasker-side-dc_8280Click here to learn more about the upbeat artists in our lighted windows at E. Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street – and our quest to photograph hundreds more smiling Philadelphians.

But we had no idea how ugly it was going to get….

16_11_3-kate-in-door-2-dc_1289Go away!   I’ll be out on Nov. 9….of,  uhm,  2020.

NO  RETREAT,  BABY….

But it’s hard to abandon all hope when you can still find such goodness right outside your studio door.

So we are especially happy today to share more photos taken during last Saturday’s East Passyunk Fall Fest — along with another group of artists we’d like to introduce….

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