Witches: September Gallery

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September Gallery via their Facebook page

Sometimes living in hipsterville has its benefits: September Gallery is definitely one of them. They only opened last year but they’ve already won a fan in me with this show. Witches brings together a variety of powerful works by women. Marjorie Cameron‘s name drew me in, but there were other pleasures to enjoy. It was wonderful to see her drawings up close and marvel at her fine lines and free compositions. Stunning and powerful.

Her work was surrounded by contemporary artists animated by the same questing spirit. Laurel Sparks describes her work a kind of sigil magic, overlaying a dizzying array of colours, textures and materials in her Magic Square series. They sparked some ideas in me. Rosy Keyser’s work likewise mixes materials and colour but in a more abstract way. I loved her Terrestial Mime which hangs materials on a wooden grid with wild layers of paint. It feels like the work behind a painting made visible, a sort of swirl of anarchic energy summoned.

Marianne Vitale’s Very Fine Gander has a whimsical charm, like toys made giant — but charred, too. So there’s also a feeling of something horrible gone wrong. There’s a great description of it in the exhibit essay by Susan Aberth (who wrote that fabulous book on Leonora Carrington — but argh! ‘The Burning Times’ and the Middle Ages are not synonymous. The height of the witch hunts was the 16th-17th centuries: the Early MODERN era).

I was absolutely bowled over by Anna Betbeze’s untitled sculpture of burnt objects on a rug. It felt like an artefact from the past, like a fire that consumed the witch who summoned it or what was left of the village after a curse. Like her piece Howl the literalisation of burning anger feels great.

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” ― Maya Angelou 

Best of all, the show culminated in a performance night last Saturday. I arrived to find the place in darkness as it had already begun (so much for being fashionably late). Melinda Kiefer led the audience in an opening ritual “to create [a] sacred yet wacky” atmosphere. Then the fabulous Pam Grossman (who probably alerted me to this show via her blog Phantasmaphile) gave a short version of her talk on the image of the witch in art. She was the organising genius behind the Occult Humanities Conference and exhibit last year that’s still resonating loudly in my head. I was glad we had a chance to chat afterward.

Shanekia McIntosh gave a wonderful performance with amazing code switching in a story about her family and the power of premonitions. There was an interesting Sonic Sigil piece, an invocation and prayer to Hecate by Sarah Falkner, Rebecca Wolff and Jonathan Osofsky (I liked the use of flags). The band Dust Bowl Faeries performed and wow! I was sharing pictures from their show with the Folk Horror Revival group because I knew people would dig it:

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They’re playing Helsinki Hudson on the 7th of May. Be there!

Laurel Sparks wrapped up the evening with a performance that had us back in the dark while she paced a circle around us, reading from huge slabs and then painting herself in dayglo colours with a kind of ritual precision that managed to be both humorous and compelling without ever giving in to the over-seriousness that performance pieces can fall prey to. All in all a fantastic evening.

Panel Tonight: SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY

marque-3Thanks to Peg Aloi, I’m going to be appearing with her (and possibly some other folks) on a panel tonight after the documentary She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry on 2nd wave feminism of the 60s & 70s. Join us for a lively discussion. See The Linda’s site for more info.

Write 4 a Day: 23 April 2017

Write 4 a DayDon’t you deserve at least one day to write?

Write 4 a Day is a new series of monthly one-day writing retreats in upstate New York. While I shall be hosting the events, let me be clear that there is

  • no workshop
  • no agenda
  • no required activities
  • no assignments
  • no schedule
  • no WiFi

Write. Don’t write. Think. Daydream. Doodle. Outline. Come for the whole day or just for part of it; network, collaborate or write solo; wander the woods, hills, fields and streams of Universal Pathways for inspiration (bring sturdy shoes) or sit in a comfy chair and brainstorm. It’s up to you.

WHO – you!

WHY – because you deserve a day to devote to your writing (or daydreaming or sketching or scheming or knitting or…)

WHAT – $22  (cash/check/PayPal – $20 for HVWG members) and a dish to share or your own lunch

WHEN – Saturday April 23, 10am-5pm

WHERE – Universal Pathways, 692 Pleasant Valley Rd, Berne, NY 12023

*Co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild

Signs of Spring

I expect things will be well beyond just hints by the time I return to New York — the forsythia was beginning to bloom I noticed as I headed to the airport — but just last weekend, there were the first signs that really, maybe spring was finally here after the persistent winter.

Ca’ canny an’ flee laigh

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Henry Meynell Rheam: The Sorceress (1898)

The Scots Language Centre posted a photo this week that gave me a new motto:

This windae is in a leebrary in Aigle (‘Edzell’) in Angus. Caw cannie an flee laich is an auld saw that micht be set in Inglis as “Go carefully and don’t take on too much.” Tak tent that the ‘apologetic apostrophe’ kythes in the spellings here. The spelling laigh shuid be soondit as ‘lay-ch’ (wi the ‘ch’ as in loch).

Photie taen bi Steve Murdoch.

The Proverbs of Scotland give a slightly different version:

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And I was struck by a similar note in Jessica Abel’s email today (if you’re not following her posts on making a success of your creative life, you’re missing out) lamenting how easy it is to forget these resolutions:

 I keep telling you that taking on too much is a recipe for things not happening, so why do I think I’m immune? I’m coughing my lungs up; I’m clearly not immune to anything. Life has taught me this lesson over and over again. When will I learn?

I am doing better on the whole at not taking on ever-more stuff. I know that seems ironic given yesterday’s announcement, but the way I’m handling that project is the model for how to do things now: clear timelines (giving myself space to finish what I’m working on  now), careful collaboration with trusted people (knowing you can count on people is half the battle), not doing everything myself (this is opening the doors for others).

But there are always temptations: the more I delve into Medieval Scots literature and culture, the more intrigues I find, like Nicnevin and the Weird Sisters…

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Call for Submissions: My Wandering Uterus

medieval pilgrimThe fabulous Byron Ballard (forensic folklorist & village witch) suggested putting together an anthology of women’s travel writing to be called My Wandering Uterus. And while I continue to say, ‘No more editing jobs!’ somehow I have been roped into this project. So here is the call:

We seek essays, stories and poetry about your experiences of being a woman on the road — the joys, the perils, the lessons, the changes. Whether a spiritual pilgrimage or a forced evacuation, in pursuit of opportunity or escape from your past, travel broadens. What have you learned?

We would like to see a diverse treasure trove of entries from women across the globe from every walk of life and as many different experiences as possible. If you no longer have a uterus or were born without one, never fear: all women are welcome.

Submissions should be:

  • Previously unpublished anywhere
  • Not submitted anywhere else
  • Length 3-8K
  • Formatted: Times New Roman, regular, 12 point; 1″ margins; 1 space after full stop; lines spaced 1.5; use paragraph formatting to indent first line not tabs; no header/footer
  • Identified with a title, your name (and pen name identified as such), working email address on the first page: the file name should include your surname & the title
  • Submitted in DOC, DOCX or RTF format via email to victoriasquid at gmail with your name, the story title and total word count included in the body of the email; make sure the Subject line includes “Submission: Traveling Uterus” + your name
  • Due by July 1, 2017.

We will ask for world-wide print & ebook rights for a year and pay at minimum $10 via Paypal plus give you a copy of the book. We hope to do some fundraising to make the payments more generous but that will be determined as we go along.

Good news: we have already hired the amazing Stephanie Johnson to do the cover art!

If you need a little background on the concept of the ‘wandering uterus’ as a diagnosis to control women, please read this wonderful piece.

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Snapshots from Brigadoon