Getting Back to Business
Blog #6
Posted Jan. 9, 2021

By Emily Stehle

I’m a former newspaper reporter, and I avidly follow the news. Three days ago, our world changed. It was supposed to be an orderly process of the counting and certification of electoral votes for President-Elect Joe Biden. But, thugs who wanted to throw out the results attacked and ransacked our Nation’s Capitol. Five people died. I watched my TV with disbelief, horror, anger, dismay and sadness. I wanted to scream.

This has been a terrible week. And Jan. 6 is probably the worst day in our modern history (so far) – that showed how divided a people we are. It is unsettling and unnerving.

Time off taken for Christmas and ushering in the New Year made me lazy and hopeful for 2021. Turkey for days on end (we do like leftovers), a heavily stocked refrigerator, gifts and chocolate charmed us into complacency. But we saw how ugly people can truly be on Jan. 6, 2021.

I’ll write our people in Congress to voice my thoughts about their actions that occurred afterward. Yeah, I’m still angry and disappointed. Some of them spouted stupid platitudes how “now we have to work together” when up until two days ago they supported what became the attempted coup at the White House.

Enough anger…I will write those letters this afternoon. It’s time for me to get back to writing this blog to tell you more about my “business” of creating art and how this great adventure gives me much to ponder… and remember that it gives me much joy.

Every day…every way

Music heals. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the chorus of the Bachman Turner Overdrive song of that title.

And I’ll be taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
I’ve been taking care of business (it’s all mine)
Taking care of business and working overtime, work out!

Since my last post, I had (up until Christmas) been busy planning two related works for the Creative Pinellas Gallery. What did I do? What happened?

  1. Spoke to (texted) Tabitha Cervantes, our grant administrator and cool person with pink hair (!), who is guiding us through this creative process. Scheduled meetings on my 2021 calendar. Our Emerging Artist exhibit has been rescheduled from May to July-August.
  2. Texted and met Danny Olda, our calm and ever patient exhibit curator, to check out the gallery space.
  3. Yesterday (Thursday afternoon) went back to the Gallery and met Fred, an artist and Creative Pinellas volunteer, to measure my “proposed space” and determine sight lines for my project.
    Thinking of a walkway or path that you follow that is 8 ft. from the Main Gallery entrance and in this space

    I have been making non-functional baskets for some time. People have asked what were they used for (“they’re baskets, containers aren’t they?”). My reply, always with a laugh, “Well, they hold air!” The baskets and weavings for this exhibit will be hanging “in the air.” I kinda like that as a private joke (although it’s not so private anymore).
    : The next three items.

  4. Reinforced my thoughts about color and emotion.
    My color palette for the hanging weavings triptych: red (with yellow and orange), blue and green and black (with brown, red). Red = anger, danger, passion, aggression. Blue/Green = stability, balance, calm, trust. Black = all things negative such as death, evil, anger, fear, despair, sadness, emptiness.
    Comfort baskets made with containers/boxes, etc. from the comfort item. All are lined in lime green = hope, renewal.

    The start of the Blue/Green “panel”

    Lime green lining peeking out represents feelings of hope and renewal.
  5. As suggested by Gabriel Ramos, my mentor, read about Mark Rothko and how he used color…or how it was interpreted. I’ve got to go back and read those online articles and critiques.
  6. Realized that I can’t count. My Covid-19 baskets of Comfort. 41 baskets for 41 weeks in 2020. All along I was thinking of 5 long strings hung with baskets; 4 with 10 and one string, the “center” one with 11. Now tell me, that is 51! Funny but stupid, huh? I can’t count! It will work out.
  7. Attended two National Basketry Organization Zoom meetings: One was a Dec. 10 Teachers’ Zoom meeting moderated by NBO Executive Director Pam Morton. It is a place for basket folks to chat and keep in touch with each other.
    Although I’m not a weaving teacher, I asked to be put on the attendance list. The basketry “tribe” (like my uke friends) is very friendly and supportive of all. Camaraderie with strangers…who aren’t really strangers but give comfort.

    Meeting with basketmakers from all over the country who teach on Zoom

The other: Dec. 17, NBO Presents Materiality: The Art of Repurposing, a fascinating talk with three non-functional, sculptural basket makers. It was fun, like eavesdropping on a group of friends.

But, in this case, it was David Chambers, Elizabeth Morisette and Emily Dvorin who don’t know each other. Their conversation: How they started their basketry careers and their material(s) of choice. David gets his supplies from the hardware store. He designs the basket and then scours the aisles looking for parts. Elizabeth uses found objects (fabric, notions, odd stuff). Emily uses found, particularly items with a specific use that are repurposed to an art basket.

  1. Current events: I got mail! Three days ago, a big box showed up on my doorstep. A Fellowes Powershred 70S, a medium duty straight cut shredder. I’ve been wanting one of these guys for years! Waiting for the lubricant sheets to arrive. Then it will be time to start heavy duty shredding.

    This super-duper shredder arrived at my door this week. Thank you, Creative Pinellas!

So my work is cut out for me for the next few weeks. Connect back to Gabriel to discuss my latest plan/layout (time to draw/sketch), keep sorting my paper (cardstock) colors, start gluing together 7 ft. long strips of blue/green strips (paper already shredded), look at Mark Rothko’s works, rework the Comfort Baskets layout/configuration, copy 11 music song sheets at Staples on the backs of (recycled) posters and make the 11 baskets.

Play ukulele. Perfect some songs using banjoleles.


A bright spot: Last month Mike and I gigged at SPACEcraft, a traveling art project created by Carrie Boucher, Bridget Elmer and Mitzi Gordon as Two Happy Ukers. The pop-up program is supported by Creative Pinellas and funded by Pinellas County. We had such a blast playing our regular ukes, cigar box ukes and banjoleles in a shipping container! (Great acoustics for playing and singing).

What makes us happier are three new bookings we have now at John Chestnut Sr. Park in Palm Harbor. Announce dates later!

Please stay well, everyone.






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