Tag Archives: Topper

Timeout for Art: Just Art?


collagraph, Touch Point

In response to my request for ideas to fill these pages every day, one friend suggested that I just post a picture of a piece of art:

“Just the art. No description needed. Just something you did. That we can appreciate (because we will!). Let us see the art and add our thought/feeling that it provokes……”

Well bless her heart! That sounds wonderful! Not only would I not be needing to make art to talk about, I wouldn’t even need to talk…or write.

But is it cheating? Unfortunately, it feels kind of like cheating. If I commit to writing a blog a day…and then manage it, through hell and high water, for one hundred and forty-five days…I don’t want to take the chance that someone will pull out a rule book and tell me I failed because a blog means words or some such nonsense. So i will write, dammit, even if it’s foolish drivel like this.

Another friend suggested that I post a piece of art and talk about it:

“How about talking about one piece of art that you created per week and any memories surrounding that piece?”

Well, just to avoid the “foolish drivel” designation, let me give a little background.

This is a collagraph print. It is made using a collagraph plate that I created when I was a graduate student at Michigan State University. I was in a not-always-successful relationship; I had two teen-aged daughters; I had a killer schedule of work and classes; I was often desperately lonely for my home on the island. In the middle of a long winter, I got a card from my friend, Topper, on Beaver Island. He gave me all the “news” from home, most of it lies and invention, and it made me feel connected when I most needed it.

I made the collage from his card and letter: I cut the heart from the card stock; the envelope contributed the rectangle shapes; some worn out sandpaper scraps formed the wing-like bits on either side of the heart. Drops of glue march across the top border. It makes me think of a stage, with the curtains pulled back…and there is the heart, exposed, open, sharing.

I titled it “Touch Point.”



blog books 001

All it took was one casual mention by my husband of moving to Beaver Island to set me off in a frenzy of making plans.

Paper, for lists. Graph paper, for plans.

Books for inspiration. Garden books, cookbooks and lifestyle books were now read through the lens of our imagined future on Beaver Island. The Second Tree from the Corner by E.B. White was a collection of essays written when he’d moved his small family from New York City to a saltwater farm in Maine. I read it again and again. The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder became, one chapter at a time, bedtime stories for my daughters.

We told our parents.

My in-laws were horrified. We had depended heavily on them for everything: companionship, advice, help with our little girls, jobs and monetary assistance. I’m sure they wondered how we would possibly get by without them. I wondered, too, but felt that we had to give it a try. Our habit of always going to them for help whenever we got in a bind had become a real sore spot in our marriage. It was time to stand on our own.

My Mom didn’t think it was a wise move and – more importantly – told me that Dad didn’t think it was a good idea either. My Dad broke his rule about no interference to voice his disapproval. “Winters are awful hard on Beaver Island,” he warned. We listened and sympathized and did our best to reassure…but we didn’t change our mind.

We made four trips to Beaver Island that summer, to secure jobs and housing. My husband would be working for one of the island builders. Stanley Floyd, an old friend of my father’s, introduced me to Barb Beckers, the owner of the Shamrock Bar & Restaurant. She offered me a job, and sent me to talk to Carol LaFreniere about help with child care for my girls.

Topper, another old friend, introduced us to Johnny “Andy” Gallagher, and tried to convince him to rent us his little house on the Back Highway. No luck there, but other introductions led to other leads. We finally secured a place to rent, though it wouldn’t be available until the end of October. My Aunt Katie, who had inherited the farmhouse when Grandpa George died but had not yet retired or moved into it, agreed to let us stay there until we could get into the other place.

The plan was this: I would move to the island with the girls before school started, get Jennifer registered for first grade, get settled in at the farmhouse and start my job. Terry would finish one last big job (sounds kind of like he was a bank robber but, no, he was a roofer) to pay off some debt and give us a good start. He’d join us before the month was out.

Despite all of my lists and graphs and plans, when it came time to make the move, I had done very little packing. Our furniture – that hadn’t been loaned out or given away – needed to go into storage. Walls had to be cleaned and repaired to get our security deposit back. I’m pretty sure there was still a mound of laundry and other stuff in the basement. I left all of that for Terry to deal with. I’m fairly sure he handed it off to his mother.

So much for our big push toward self-reliance, independence and adulthood!