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...jen o'connor's...Artful Adventures & Daily Inspirations

I Love Art, Adore the Handmade and Treasure the Vintage. I am the Fun Mom, the Silly Friend and the Writer who wants to make more room for beauty in the everyday.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat Town

In jolly New England, where the leaves are ablaze,
we take our Halloween traditions quite seriously. And little Warwick, New York settled in 1760 and full of American traditions -- like Halloween itself -- embraces the holiday with all its might.

Michelle joined us from Texas for the festivities to march in the Annual Halloween Parade with the rest of us. About 600 little ones parade down Main Street and through the oldest of the Village's neighborhoods where the homeowners play host to the trick -or- treating fest! (Said with New York accent as one word, very loud, and very fast, " trickatreet".) Homes get "haunted", with shutters asunder and ghosties wavering in and out of garrets...dead trees and bushes are piled on lawns to create an unkempt look of decay and abandonment...

We brazenly weighed our haul of candy as kids, toting the apples in our buckets and bags for nothing else than their weight. The mini "Hershey" bars were the yummiest of goodies, and I loved the old ladies on the block who always gave pennies....and sometimes a nickle. It's the same with my little ones now who can never keep up with their big cousins,
though they try!

The sweet afternoons and evenings of Halloweens past are a treasure to me. I was a City kids and loved the excuse to leave the block, cross the avenue and ring doorbells from school's dismissal until the sun went down.
Those with my little ones, in this little town are sweeter.

....tell me how you celebrated...please email jpegs of you or your kiddies in costume...I'd love to post a gallery of images for all to see.
Trick or Treat

Monday, October 29, 2007 has begun

We have begun the install for the "Beneath the Willows" Show that will open this weekend at The Country Life Gallery. I am always amazed at how much goes into preparing for such an event. The workload that an artist undertakes to create a themed body of work is astounding... and the raw logistics to mount an exhibit can be daunting unless done in good spirits, and with an abundance of love and patience for the task at hand. fitting Laurie brought her husband kids to share in the effort!

Along wiht hubby Bob, son Jacob and daughter Sophie, Laurie arrived last night in a van loaded to the rooftop with paintings. We began to hang her fabulous mixed-media creations as the last of the daily shoppers left the streets. Darkness fell, and curious folks watched us go back and forth to the van for what seemed like 3,000 times and said trips up and down the stairs to the gallery. Working late into the night, I was often distracted by the fabulous colors and textures of the pieces I was handling...
Laurie has expanded upon her favorite palettes and explored new shapes and themes. My favorites are her urns of flowers sparked with mica and laden with ephemera for texture. The new farm scenes have me smitten.... the architecturals are unsurpassed.
Laurie's new work exceeds my expectations in every manner.

Cheryl Kuhn arrives on Thursday and we will complete the install with her assemblage and mixed media pieces. I cannot wait to see Cheryl again and I am eager for her first visit to Warwick and the chance for her to spend time with collectors and friends.
We do hope those of you who are nearby can attend the festivities on Saturday...they begin at 11am and continue until 7pm as we open
"Beneath the Willows".
Chat soon
xxoo Jen

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wearing Art Year-Round

A rainy day here, and I am puttering about, happy for the peaceful afternoon...As I change out my closets from summer to fall, I cuddle my favorite sweaters hoping for frost and and switch around my jewelry to keep it all fresh and fun. My chunky woollen Lynsey Walters necklaces have surfed to the top of the drawers in my many jewelry boxes (I use old dolly dressers), and I've pulled out anything orange and the beaded necklace pal Moy made me for her 5oth Birthday! (She gave everyone else presents...such a classy babe!)

I wear art every you? is the link to the post where I first asked the question....

"Do you wear art?"

So now, I ask again six months later. Do tell...
I hope by now I have convinced even just a few of you to get out those baubles, bangles and beads...
It feels great to don those beauties them year round
and make a little noise!

Pretty things do cheer!
enjoy your weekend
xxoo Jen

Thursday, October 25, 2007

much fondness

...thanks to all of you...

your emails of condolence and your thoughtful blog comments mean the world...they help to celebrate Jude and help us to heal...

with much fondness and appreciation for your friendship
xxoo Jen

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

yo yo Mom & Jude

Do you have that eccentric relative? The one that lives beyond the pale, marching to the disparate tune of a whole different band?
Not just a black sheep who heard a different drummer,
my Aunt Jude had a rare gypsy soul.

She lived her life on her terms, and hers alone. She collected experiences, three husbands and circles of friends that bifurcated every social strata and subgroup. Over time she was an auto-mechanic, a jeweler, a painter, a worker bee for the telephone company, and a barmaid. She was constantly re-inventing herself, not in search of glory, but just perhaps in the hopes of illumination. She lived in posh condos, in trailers and, she drifted... from one side of the country to the other searching and perhaps even sometimes, running from herself.

She laughed loudly, drank her coffee black and ate dessert first. She made bad decisions, broke hearts and had hers broken. She was generous to a fault. She drove an orange "Gremlin", crocheted with lightening speed, rode motorcycles and gave fabulous foot massages...

Strange and sometimes estranged, she always came back to my Mother's door. As a child I knew she was my Mom's favorite of her eight siblings and for this alone I would have held her in deep affection.

Here are the sisters in my back yard last summer one magic afternoon.
My Mom Rosie is in the pink, Jude the black.
We took Rosie's yo-yos out for the fun of it...Jude loved the many hues, the textures and the patterns of the quilts.
How grand we stole the afternoon in full color memory.

With tremendous grace, my cousin Shelley took Jude in four years ago when she could no longer care for herself. We saw more of her than we had in decades. My children got to love her and she them.

Though Alzheimers had already begun its steady theft of her memories, judgement and vitality, she welcome work and liked "a project". I loved that she would sit at my kitchen table, eating cookie after cookie and tying strings to the tags for Debbee Thibault's creations or coloring with the kids while I tapped away on the keyboard as I do now.

She fell down a flight of stairs last week. This seems such a simple end to such a complicated life. But I think a slow surrender of her free spirit to a failing mind and body would have been far worse.

I am so glad that so many of you got to know her... and to see her at Jennifer Lanne's gallery event. She and Shelly were there to take in the colors... to enjoy the afternoon. Jude was having one of her "good" days and we got to share it.

I pain for my Mother who will miss her sister with the dull ache of age and the burdensome gift of wisdom. So steal those afternoons...
and celebrate the free spirited among us.

xxoo Jen

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wisps of Halloween

...greetings to all of you who are just finding your way to this blog
via Jane and "Country Living"...

Welcome...I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into the art and inspirations of Earth Angels, and that you'll be able to visit again...

...and to all my pals in blogland who check-in regularly, if you haven't seen my post as Jane Dagmi's "guest blogger" on the "Country Living" site, please do...and thanks so much to my pal Jane for the chance to invite you all on my jaunt to "Halloween & Vine" -- the fabulous folk art show that celebrates the spirit of the season through the art I love!

Here's a link to the post...

...thanks all and chat soon
xxoo Jen O'Connor

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Beneath the Willows

"Beneath the Willows" will go up at The Country Life Gallery next week...

For Laurie Meseroll preparing for this exhibit has been an experience of renewal. Her new mixed-media paintings are imbued with an energetic, yet peaceful palette that surpasses any prior work I have seen Laurie do...These new creations are made in her Woodstock, NY studio to which she returned this past summer after a long absence. They are deep and mystical, borrowing dreams and singing songs from the past Hudson River Schools.

Cheryl Kuhn has been consumed with the creation of a body of work that will hold together in texture and story. The opportunity to see so many of her pieces at once, and to spend time with this poet-artist is thrilling.

We hope you can join us for the Gallery Reception and to meet the artists...

Saturday, November 3rd from 2-7pm.

We will also host a private event that morning for all Earth Angels friends (yes, that means you) from 11am-1pm to preview the work.

Help us celebrate Laurie and Cheryl. All are invited to attend.

And many thanks to our hosts, Debbie and Ken of The Country Life Store, for the fabulous opportunity to show our Earth Angel artists in downtown Warwick, New York.

See my post "Mud-Cakes on the Hudson" from August 15th for more about Laurie and her inspiration for this show...

See my post "The Bon Vivant of Poems" from April 28th for more about Cheryl and her fabulous work...

Hope to see you at the gallery!

xxoo Jen
Earth Angels

Friday, October 19, 2007

Moments of Beauty

Nicol Sayre simply cannot seem to make anything I don't love. And I mean, love. The first time I saw her work, it reached far down in me and pulled forth a sweet and sincere sentiment. Laced with nostalgia, her dolls left me smitten. I have been lucky to see many of her fabulous creations in person, and they each offer me a moment of beauty.
For this, I am ever grateful.

Her simply sculpted dolls pay homage to the creations of the 19th Century. Nicol is most fond of the mid 1800s and showers her dolls in delicate details of these days. She uses materials not dissimilar to those used by the dollmakers of that time period, and the results are incredibly compelling. With gently sloping cheekbones and wide-eyed, placid composures, they boast amazingly complex up-dos, where sausage-like curls abound! Day dresses, stomachers, full skirts, petticoats, shoulder-bearing frocks, kid leather gloves, cunning little heels, striped stockings, frothy hoop skirts...ohh these fashions are just divine!
Nicol's aesthetic is finely tuned and dare I say, unmatched. She never overdecorates, yet, she never leaves a piece wanting for an appreciated flourish. Her work is immaculately crafted, deliciously appointed, and full of a definitive and fetching style that comes from many years in the study and making of her dolls. What she sees and pulls forth from papier mache and cloth is an art all her own. In simple materials she sees loveliness, and in her hands there is the sure talent to craft them into moments of beauty.
If you have visited my home in person or on this blog you know, her dolls are among my personal favorite most treasured objects.
Nicol is my friend. When I look at her work, I think of her. This adds a depth of character to her creations that I cannot measure.

Nicol is also a wonderful business partner to me, allowing me to present and sell her work. A box of beauties is on its way as I write...
She has also just promised to attend another signing...this time around, our First Annual "heART of Winter" Gallery Show.
So mark your calendar to meet Nicol as one of our featured artists -- along with Stacey Bear and Debbee Thibault -- on February 2nd and 3rd
at The Country Life Gallery here in Warwick, NY.
Nicol is working on some exceptional pieces and she will try on some new ideas for the gallery space and event! To add to the excitement of the weekend, she has agreed to host a very intimate luncheon for 25 collectors on Sunday, February 3rd...
Reservations are required and all attendees will receive a favor made by Nicol...We hope you can be a part of the festivities.

Many thanks to you Nicol,
for the beauty your work has brought into my life.

xxoo Jen

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Best of the Best

Here is my favorite little spot for a lunch date. If you've come to visit me, then perhaps you're already in the know....

Just 50 miles north of Manhattan, this award-winning tea shop deserves a day trip. Charlotte's Tea Room is located in downtown Warwick, New York. Recently award the "Best of the Best" in the Hudson Valley and a "Reader's Choice Award" from the Tea House Times, the signature soups and scones of the day make my mouth water.

How can I not brag about this gem of a spot... it's owned and run by my very own sister-in-law, Joanne. Jo married my brother John 29 years ago. When the oldest of their four children was about to start high school and their youngest kindergarten, it was time for her to make
a dream come true.

The penultimate hostess, she has designed a menu around good taste, seasonal offerings and her own great dining experiences. She spends her days at the tea room helping customers "make friends one cup at a time"... just like the menu says. Regulars, along with visitors to our historic, scenic and well, adorable little town, have given the tea room a resounding "thumbs up"! (See the rave reviews on TeaMap...the tea enthusiasts site.)

I like the intimate tables in the Chandelier Room best, but Charlotte chose to have her 3rd birthday tea party in the Harlequin Blue Room and Rory has a favorite spot on the deck where he can
feed the ducks in the creek below!

Mary, the tea room's adept waitress, takes great care of me when I visit. She knows I need my "Paris" tea and that yummy curry chicken salad. Each day Mary wears a different vintage apron from her enormous collection...If the kiddies are in tow, Lynne, ever wonderful in the kitchen, makes a
"wee tea" with tiny P.B.&J.s cut into heart shapes.

Join me in raising a glass...or congrats to Jo on this wonderful achievement of style and savvy! If you are in the area, do stop by for the food, the ambiance and the shopping in Joanne's adjacent store,
"Greetings & Salutations".

...hope to see you there
xxoo Jen

Monday, October 15, 2007

Platter Serves Up Re-Do

The inspiration...

The before...

...the before...a Halloween haven 2000-2007

The after!

...times does my decor. In fact, I am happy to confess an obsession with redecorating, or curating, new rooms and realms within my home. After all, it is my castle and I rule it with pure abandon for color and texture, encouraging vintage castoffs to cozy up with folk art beauties. I have no qualms about hanging an original painting next to my $1 find from a yard sale. Things are always moving about. This keeps displays fresh, decor fun, and helps me make room for new finds.

This time the victim was my upstairs hallway. It connects the bedrooms with the kids' bathroom and flanks the railing overlooking our den. I pass through it a million -- well at least 20 times -- each day.
For a space so visited, it was well overdue for a re-do.

For six years it paid homage to my obsession (yes, there are many) with Halloween collectibles and art. Affectionately referred to as the "Halloween-way" and then....Jennifer Lanne painted that 30x40 egg platter....And I began to think and to lust. I was a good girl, really, I was. I let it hang in the gallery for 4 weeks and then, I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to have it!

Now.... where to hang it....finding a blank wall around here involves moving and adjusting my many treasures and cherished art... A HA!! There it was, the perfect wall in the upstairs hall. But... the floor, the color, the accessories....all wonderful, but not suitable companions for my new painting.

I think of it as the "Helen of Troy" platter. After all, if one face could launch 1,000 ships, than a fabulous painting could certainly determine our Saturday plans, "honey-do" list nd the decor of a hallway...

Here's the before and after pictured above...
(silly me, I should have taken more before shots, but I was too excited to get to'll get the idea and so many of you have been here....). We left all the furniture in place... and, thanks to one gallon of Benjamin Moore's "Shanendoah Grey", a few boxes of Mannington's "Butterscotch Hickory" laminate, and several pots of coffee...
we made the magic of a one day re-do.

I loved pulling together a new color palette of chocolates and blues. They sing with black and white accents. My beloved "I Love Lucy" lamps (found at "Home Goods" years ago for $39.99 a piece) remained, as did one of my most favorite Nicol Sayre pieces in the whitewashed clock case. My chalkware dogs moved in, along with some of my antique children's shoes, and my favorite wedding picture. The Halloween goodies were relocated and a few treasures from Laurie Meseroll and Kitty B were added.... VOILA!

What do you think of the results? I would love to know what inspires you to re-do...Is it that one new piece, a nagging hunger for new color...or just "time" for a change???

I am thinking of a rug I have had rolled up for 6 might just get me going on re-working, re-decorating and re-vitalizing my four-year old daughter Charlotte's bedroom.
If I go for it, I sure will take images to share!

Chat soon
xxoo Jen

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