All work and no play

It feels weird to start another post of the subject of hobbies, but dudes, they’re important.

We’re at the point of really refining what gets to come with us in the Chinook, and it’s not going to be a whole lot. One thing that IS coming, though, is the Art Box. (Other Boxes of note: Dog Box, Tool Box, Office Box.) At first glance, I think the Art Box seems frivolous, like there’s something more important that could go into the space that it’ll take up.

But the thing is this: Art is important. It’s important culturally, and individually. I can’t thrive when I feel like I don’t produce anything. Working on creative projects helps keep the brain flexible, in the same way that riding a bike makes the body better able to do the work of carrying a baby.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I always read this as meaning that Jack was dull to be around; that having no fun outside of work meant that Jack couldn’t relate to other people. I still think that’s true, but it’s not the whole meaning. All work and no play makes Jack less sharp, less shiny, less bright.

I think that people who make a craft (rather than a “fine art”) as their creative output get a little more leeway from the judgment that “art’s not important.” My friend’s dad is a recreational cabinet maker; another friend has gotten deep into tailoring her own clothes; occasionally I finish a knitting project. These creative outputs tell other people that we’re “doing something” when we’re doing something creative.

Lately I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up on Saturday morning and putting on my trail boss pants, driving the men of the house outside to work in the yard. Part of it is necessity – five adults in one house gets to be overwhelming, and making the backyard habitable relieves some of the pressure of close quarters. It’s practical, too, beyond just necessary: clearing the ivy from the broken fence so it can be replaced, taking last years fallen leaves to the compost, reducing the number of hazards to both children and unprotected feet. But even beyond that, I do it because it enables me to force them to work on something good.

After days of hauling out leaves and unneeded branches and that stupid ivy, I dragged my dad out there after work one evening. “Come to the yard and let’s talk about your trees.”

“I don’t want to talk about the trees!” he said, as if that were even remotely true. But it didn’t matter, really. The trees are there because he planted them, because he needed them, and they still need him. So I dragged him out (that may be a little melodramatic, yes), and made him spend a few quiet minutes discovering what the yard has been up to while he’s been busy elsewhere. I showed him the tiny, perfect red maple seedlings hiding under the crab apple (RIP, crab apple). We talked about the trees after all.

I do the same thing to Joe – I drag him out of the house, into the sunshine, into the yard where he gets to climb and destroy things and find weird shaped pieces of wood. I drag him outside because it’s really hard to force someone to paint, but it’s easy to say “I need you to help me with some work.” “Come keep me company while I clean the garage, and oh, incidentally, let’s talk about art projects!”

I don’t think of myself as an artist, particularly not a good one, but I love nourishing the artist in other people. During an argument with Carlos, I told him, “What I want is for you to finish the ukulele you’re building me!” It wasn’t because I need that ukulele, but because I want him to spend time making art.

I want all of us to spend time making art, in ways that are appropriate to ourselves. We cannot go live our life on the road without bringing with us the tools to improve and maintain our souls. So we’ll bring fewer pairs of shoes or whatever, and make a little extra room for the screenprinting gear. It’s a trade that is entirely worth it to me.

Apropos: As I was writing this, a smart friend shared this video. I LOVE IT!

Watch Mayim Bialik: Blossoming To Science on PBS. See more from Secret Life of Scientists.

My friends are awesome.

On Friday, during my scoot-around-town with pie cookies, I made a stop to visit a couple of my favorite people in Seattle. Jen and Rudy are expatriated southwesterners like myself and Mr. Pie, and though we tweet at each other pretty frequently, it is always too long between visits.

On Friday I imposed a little on their hospitality, because the best place to take refuge from the rain is with people you like, right? I <3 them! They were among the first people to know about Grumpy Pie, and have been awesomely supportive of our adventure. It was good to see them on Friday, and I left savoring the happy feeling that comes from time spent with good people. I was still savoring it several hours later when I checked my email and was floored by how awesome they are. I left them with my cookies, and Rudy made photographic magic with them. OMG. I’m only showing you a couple, because I don’t want to BLOW YOUR MINDS (as mine was maybe a little bit blown).

I have a particular fondness in my heart for Rudy’s recent photos of his drive from Colorado to Seattle, but I think I’m going to indulge for a moment in the narcissism of my own work being treated so lovingly. Thank you, Rudy!

Look out for art!

I’m making pie, but it’s at the ‘really boring to look at’ stage right now. Let’s talk about something more interesting, shall we?

Art (and craft) never exists in a vacuum, and the art of Grumpy Pie is no exception. While I spend my creative energy throwing fruit at spices and seeing what sticks, the very talented gentlemen of my household tend to be a little more traditionally ‘artistic.’

At New Year’s, Mr. Pie & I made the same resolution: Make More Things. Turns out, I made a lot of pie, and some knits for babies, and a lot of mess in my kitchen, all without any particular sense of schedule (except the pie). He took a different approach, and has endeavored to produce something tangible every month. This month’s undertaking: The 30 Day Art Challenge.

The challenge? Thirty days, thirty pieces of art. At the end of 30 days, the finished canvasses are returned to T-K Artist’s Lofts, and hung in a group show. Mr. Pie and my brother are both doing it, which means that my house is a big old mess of canvasses and paints, and every day I’m worried that the dog is going to cause a disaster by taking out someone’s easel.

The show opens December 1, during Seattle’s First Thursday Pioneer Square Art Walk. Put it on your calendars! This year has seen a huge number of participants, and every piece of art they produce will be available for a flat price ($40, I think). Please come out and support your local artists!