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_23-125-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

 

A Match Made in Heaven

It’s not often that an artist and a composer meet at a Bar Mitzvah,  and the result is a song destined to greet thousands of cathedral visitors during a papal visit.

But when artist Meg Saligman described her vision for a collaborative art installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia,  Betsy Alexander could almost hear the musical accompaniment playing in her head.

The result was “Help Us Mary”,  her hauntingly beautiful complement to Saligman’s  Knotted Grotto.

MEETING  BETSY

We first introduced you to Betsy Alexander this summer, when we toured the fabulous home she shares with her artist husband Burnell Yow! and a phalanx of cats, including internationally celebrated Nora the Piano Cat.

15_09_29 0 DC_5299(Betsy at the keyboard with Nora, left, and Max) Continue reading

Where There’s Life…There’s Pope

With our cars safely parked and no festival tickets in hand, we had no intention of joining the teeming mob around Pope Francis this weekend.  But, hey:  After staring out at the half-empty South Philly streets on Saturday  (“Just look at those empty parking spots!”),  we couldn’t sit home any longer.

IS  ANYONE  OUT  THERE?

So at 4 pm,  we headed up eerily traffic-free Broad Street,  past the National Guardsmen,  souvenir hawkers,  concrete barriers,  and (even more) blocks of port-a-potties,  until we reached the Jumbotrons heralding the Pope’s visit to Independence Hall…

15_09_27 1 Jumbotron CM_7015(A crowd gathers at Broad and Lombard Streets with City Hall in the background
to watch the Pope arrive at Independence Hall.) Continue reading

On the Pope Festival Trail…Without the Pope

Like most South Philadelphians who didn’t get Festival tickets or flee to the shore,  we’ll be home clutching our parking spots this weekend.

But before our Broad Street Subway entrance closes — and the security checkpoints click in around the “Secure Event Perimeter” (aka the “Pope Francis Festival Grounds”) —  we headed to the Parkway on Wednesday evening to check out the preparations…

I  THOUGHT  THERE’D  BE  CHEESESTEAKS….

  15_09_25 00 Banner_6640   15_09_25 01 Visitors DC_9971(One of the hundreds of banners lining the route from city hall to the art museum.  And, yes, these World Meeting of Families visitors were noshing on Subway sandwiches by the fountain.)
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