Friday, September 24, 2010

Remembering Second Seating, One Year Later

Second Seating opened one year ago. September 24, 2009. Since it's nearly 1:00 a.m. on September 25, I've missed acknowledging the anniversary of the opening by an hour. Instead of posting on this blog at the very moment in time when Second Seating was crowded with people, I chose to spend the evening watching three episodes of Mad Man, Season 2 with Earl. Choices, choices. But, Second Seating has been on my mind of late. I guess that is what anniversaries are for. Remembering.
A year ago last Thursday evening, Second Seating opened with mariachis and speeches and was just about everything I hoped it would be. All three of my daughters were in town as were Queta and her mom and Lulu Bell.
Mixing and mingling in the crowd were the participating artists (except for Ted and Jose) and they brought their families and friends.
Funders and sponsors were there, officials, district board members, people who volunteered their time and expertise were on hand, so, so many good friends and and lots of interested folks who'd heard about the exhibition and simply 'showed up'.
So, all day Thursday and Friday as I worked on artist contracts for my new project and found myself in meeting after meeting, I wondered how to commemorate this particular anniversary. I thought about going to lunch with friends at Irma's and ordering the Second Seating Special. Would the staff at Irma's still remember what the lunch plate comprised?
I have reminisced about how beautiful it looked that first night and have thought about the many people who crowded the space. There was a certain electricity in the air, for me at least. For the run of the show, we scheduled a series of evening gatherings and field trips, hosting almost 2000 people who found their way to that metal building.
Some more things I remember? Moving Irma's canvas laundry bags over to the vintage linens table under the Clorox bottle chandelier, so those bursting laundry bags became part of the installation. I remember calling Carmella Rojas time and again to ask her to make just 'another three" and then just another 'four or five' filigreed Clorox bottles, so we'd have enough for that six foot tall chandelier.
The same music played day after day and I know some of the docents got really bored with the tapes, but I loved the songs and truly, I think I never tired of them because for me they spoke about the installation itself. I loved fiddling with the banquet table which was encrusted with bowls and jars and candles and fresh fruit and my sugar cathedrals and cazuelas filled with dried pinto beans and endless items I found at garage sales and The Guild Shop.
During the run of the exhibition, I even created a book on Blurb about this table called "Overheard at Second Seating" which was filled with word vignettes and images taken from the banquet table. I loved the light fixtures made with sections of Baker Hughes oil drilling pipes that sat on a a compressed ton of aluminum soda and beer cans.
I loved the thousands of oyster shells that I collected from Goode Seafood and then dried out behind the studio and which Alex washed and carted down to the space as we installed the show. I loved Gonzo 24/7's painted patterns on the chandelier that hung over a table encrusted with silver shell dishes and goblets and messages about the destruction of our wetlands and oyster beds (and this was before the BP oil spill).
I loved Mark Ellis' ingenuity in pulling this encrusted table visually closer to its chandelier by attaching dozens of pieces of the plastic that hold six-packs together. That was brilliant. And I loved the wall of plates because of the very scale of it, right there at the entrance.
As I write, I remember more and more. It was a terrific experience to work with so many talented people: the artists, the friends who sewed on that huge 10 x 14 foot patchwork tablecloth, the carpenters, electricians and lighting folks, the graphic designers, those that worked on the data base and invitation list, the show's docents and the several folks who kept the place swept and the wine poured. We got preparations for a party or a 'gathering' down to under half an hour.
There were so many evening 'gatherings.' I loved the gathering in partnership with Aerosol Warfare when Carolyn Casey made dozens of LED 'throwies' and as many as 100 people threw these tiny magnet lights on the wall of our metal building.
In retrospect, Second Seating was a labor of love from beginning to end. A series of creative acts by many, many people. Lots of time spent raising money. Lots of time spent 'asking.' 'Asking' became, perhaps, my most creative act.
Just thinking about Second Seating makes me long for another and yet another space where folks can gather and ponder and feel as if they are somewhere special, spaces that are light filled, a bit romantic, a lot nostalgic and certainly dream-making. Second Seating was all of that for me.
Thanks to every single person who made Second Seating a real place in time. Thanks to every person who crossed that threshold into a special space in time.
Perhaps at long last, after seeing these images again, I'll get to that last big task on my Second Seating 'still to do' list. That task is to finish the 'unfinished book' called "The Making of Second Seating." Begun in early 2010 with great enthusiasm, it bogged down because of problems moving 'selected photos' online to Blurb. My entire iPhoto collection of images was inadvertently moved onto Blurb and their 'Help' got back to me saying, "Once on, on forever." How easy it was for me to lose heart at the thought of beginning all over again, especially since I really like the parts of the book already laid out.
Then, of course, I got taken up with this new project called 'lead artist on the architectural team for the Houston Permitting Center and Green Building Resource Center" that feels almost full time.
However, I feel inspired seeing Second Seating images again. "The Making of Second Seating" just made it back on my list of things to do.
Life is so full.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Coffee Buffet Moves To METRO

At last, METRO installed Jesse Sifuentes' Second Seating coffee buffet and batik in their building lobby on Main Street. We talked about a move last fall when folks from METRO saw Second Seating. Seemed like a good idea as Jesse is one of their transit stop artists for the Harrisburg line. Good for folks to become familiar with his work and motifs. Good for public relations reasons. And good that the work won't simply be stored away in his garage for the summer. I'll have to take myself to METRO and see how it looks in the new digs.
Photos below are of Jesse moving the coffee buffet into the Second Seating space last September and then beginning to pack up the piece at the end of Second Seating last November after Art Crawl.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Clorox Bottle Chandelier, Second Time Around

Chandelier looks pretty good in this brand new house in the Heights. Hangs over the dining room table. Smaller than the one in Second Seating and has no mirrored twirling ball, yet it still works. That would be me up on the scaffolding adjusting table cloth knots so the thing is level.
Here's a photo of Carmella Rojas with her grandson with the original Clorox bottle chandelier at Second Seating. She carved so many of the Clorox bottles for the 'big one' at Second Seating. She had a very special talent for designing them with great swirls. She sure had her own signature.

Monday, March 29, 2010

More Video on Second Seating

Just received another video clip from Second Seating. Click on the link. Gonzo 24/7, one of Second Seating's artists, does a great job summarizing this exhibition and our LED throwie party that CKC produced for over 100 folks. Great evening.Here is Gonzo's table and chairs and one of Mercedes' paintings in the background. All beautiful work. Just seeing these photos and the video made me homesick for Second Seating. It was truly a wonderful space in which to spend time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

MOM 2.0 Summit: Noticing in the Moment

OK, just to let you know. More on MOM 2.0 Summit over on Rockbridge Times where it belongs.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Barilla's Share the Table Dinner

OK. All the great things I still have to say about MOM 2.0 Summit will be said on that other blog of mine called Rockbridge Times. Click over to see Barilla's Share the Table Dinner pix and more. And more.

MOM 2.0 Summit: Reflections on Day One

So, why am I writing about the MOM 2.0 Summit on Second Seating rather than on Rockbridge Times? Simple answer. I never got around to ordering those new Moo business cards, so all weekend long I'll be sharing Second Seating cards with other bloggers. That visual arts installation called Second Seating that permeated my 2009 is over and gone. New projects are looming and well yes, it really is time for a new business card.
I have to say that I am happy to be at the MOM 2.0 Summit. Friday's breakout sessions were informative and I met some really interesting women. And I sure was deluged with a series of moments exemplifying generational 'ah-as' and technology 'ah-as'. The whole day was like being surrounded by my daughters and their friends, all sleek with great hair cuts and wearing lots of terrific little dresses. No Chico's jackets that work because they cover so much.
The conference, in its second year at the Four Seasons in downtown Houston, brings together moms and marketers for 2 1/2 days of networking with a chance to mix and mingle with keynote bloggers like Douce as well as several dozen blogger panelists for the three-track breakout sessions. It works a little like BlogHer, but on a smaller scale and with a simpler focus.
Gwen Bell is a panelist. I met her at BlogHer in San Francisco a couple of summers ago and was floored by her 'web connectedness.' Katherine Center is a panelist, hometown Houston mom and author who went to school with friends of my daughters.
Gretchen Rubin, author and blogger of The Happiness Project, shared Friday morning's keynote with Heloise. Yes, that Heloise whom you can read about on Wikipedia. The lady who's been giving hints for over 30 years on spot cleaning and thousands of other topics we wished we knew more about. (That photo on the right was taken after Heloise removed a raspberry stain from this blogger's white pants. In the nick of time too. Just before her panel discussion.)Heloise's mom was the original Heloise way back in the day and after she died, this daughter carried on. She has quite a story and yet, I think it might have resonated more with women who actually lived those days when young women were urged to get a teaching degree so if 'they had to work, they'd have something to fall back on.'

Gretchen and Heloise's speaking styles were so generationally different. The 'turns of phrase,' their references, the context from which each spoke was a chasm apart and yet, both women did a similar thing. They each ran with a good idea and both reach huge audiences.
Gretchen Rubin speaks to the now and began The Happiness Project as a blogger, after serving as Sandra Day O'Connor's law clerk and writing two other books. They come with such different perspectives, grew up in such different times.
Heloise speaks from many, many decades of life and experience. She is of the Good Housekeeping era and is still a contributor to the magazine. Good Housekeeping was my mom's magazine for way more than sixty years. I am sure that the women at this conference read Real Simple.
Breakout sessions included topics such as creating a strategy plan for one's blog, using design as a core component of your brand, assessing usability and user perceptions of your website and then at the end of the afternoon, a session on clearing out mental clutter. This last topic was described thusly: "So many of us are rocking out on social media, but we are still struggling with managing a crazed schedule and creating a balanced life. News Flash: the world our Mother’s taught us how to be women in, is as ancient as the dinosaurs! Innovation is the name of the game when attempting to clear our schedules and our heads."
After sitting in on this session, I am not sure the program description is entirely on target. Dinosaurs? I am as crazed as my daughters, but without continuous texting or small child care. We'd all benefit from yoga three times a week and quiet moments each morning for setting our intentions for the day. However, the panelists for this session were great and so were the audience questions. Mental clutter is ubiquitous.

So, onward into the second and final day of the conference. We'll hear from Heather Armstrong over breakfast. Not a bad way to begin the morning.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The flight back from Seattle seems eons ago. Just looked at this downloaded photo. How beautiful it was to be flying over the mountains at sunset. And seeing it all from an upgrade into first class. I declined a glass of wine when offered, which was probably a mistake, or not.
Finally, I am getting some work done, after days spent in bed or in efforts to rehabilitate myself. I am totally, totally tired out. Without energy. All week long.
However, I spent the better part of this day with Melissa, pouring over the blanks on the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) final report form which must be filled in and gotten to Neighborhood Centers by mid-week. Then, they can complete their portion and send on to HAA for review. Finally, NCI should receive a check for $5000, the remainder of the special opportunities grant for which they applied and were awarded on my behalf last September. HAA doles out these grant funds in two parts. In my case, that is OK, as I raised so much more money that I used to pay invoices as they arrived. I cannot imagine what artists must do about paying folks and vendors in a timely manner if they don't have ready cash at the time of delivery. Whatever, tonight and tomorrow, I'll write the narrative and then on Monday get some advice from HAA staff on allowable categories for funding and then work with Melissa once again on the expenses pages.
After we finish the HAA final report, I have a second final report to give Diverse Works for The Idea Fund grant. It's simpler, but still, it has both narrative and budget information.
I suspect few if any thank you letters for Second Seating will be drafted until these two reports are wrapped up.
I am still pondering items to put in gift baskets for folks who did so much for Second Seating. "The Making of Second Seating" - that would be the book - is only partially laid out at, an on-going endeavor that will be finished even later this month. It's intended for funders and folks who might like a remembrance. And I think it will be a good item to put with new grant proposals, as they occur. At least, I think it will give panels and curators something concrete to peruse, for if I can make art, collaborate with others, raise funds, promote, give parties and generally create an all around successful project, funds should be granted. Enough.You probably suspect caffeine for this burst of words and you would be correct. Caffeine got me through the work of today and it's obviously still guiding my fingers on this keyboard. I finally unpacked my second suitcase this morning, though my dresser is loaded with stuff to put in a multitude of drawers, closets and other spaces.
It's still freezing outside and each day more plants shrivel and brown. I finally wrapped my little sea grape bush, the one which has been growing so nicely since early this spring. Its leaves are now frozen brown and stiff as paper. Hope the roots make it. Hibiscus is gone, as are all the potted plants. The croton plant, I've put in the screen porch. Trailing flowering vines are brown at the front of the house. Will those roots survive? Hope so. The evergreen wisteria is just that - green all over. Can't imagine that the Carolina jasmine will bloom in a few weeks as is it usual habit.
So, it's dark now and I need to check out the refrigerator for some supper and then, if I am still on a caffeine high, I'll get back to the HAA final report narrative. If not, I bundle into bed and read and wish I had some Netflix movies. I've sent them all back and the new choices from my queue are in transit. My bed is littered with books and newspapers. It's been a luxurious week, even though I've though I've felt absolutely flat, no pun intended. Talking about energy here.