Other Peoples Art – Claude Monet

A visit to Monet: The Late Years exhibit

A Springtime visit to the Monet exhibit at Golden Gate Park’s de Young Museum  (16 Feb – 27 May 2019) proved to be a refreshing and inspiring Friday afternoon.  As I entered the exhibit, I was pleased to see there was a healthy gathering of art lovers still interested in seeing the “real thing.” (One never knows in these days of cell phone addiction, whether anyone is interested in anything real anymore.) It had been some time since I had attended an art exhibit at the de Young, and I was pleased to notice that photography in the exhibit was neither forbidden nor discouraged. Everyone was snapping at these gorgeous works of art.  So below are just a few of my own captures.  For those able to make it to San Francisco before May 27th when the exhibit ends, I highly recommend a visit!

For those who are not able to come to this exhibit in person, I have posted just a few of the many paintings it included, followed by a close up detail photo from the same painting. As an artist I am always interested in technique and the close up photos help to reveal this. I numbered the water lily images below, but this was not Monet’s method, he just called all his water lily paintings “Water Lilies” it seems, so it was not possible for me to distinguish one from another by title. Since Monet also worked on several at the same time, it was also not possible to distinguish them by date. He seemed to dabble away at them over time until he was satisfied with the result. And his impressionist results are beautiful. Many consider Claude Monet (1840-1927) a leader of the artistic movement known as Impressionism, based on a painting he called “Impression Sunrise” that was exhibited in 1874.

A man takes a Selfie with Monet.
A man takes a Selfie with Monet.

The gallery of my Monet photos is below. The paintings in this exhibit included water lilies, iris, roses, the Japanese bridge, his home and other details in his beloved Giverny gardens. I cannot post all the photos I took (too many). But please enjoy the few I have edited to be included here in “My Monet Gallery”. Under that I have posted a few memories that I have of the De Young Museum in San Francisco, and some Monet resources and links.

My Main Impressions

  • The exhibit allowed an unprecedented opportunity to view selections of Monet’s late in life (and most celebrated) paintings on loan from a wide selection of museums and collections around the world. (All in one place = Wow!) There was an entire room of just the Japanese Bridge paintings. It was very cool to be able to compare them this way.
  • If at first you don’t see what you expected at this exhibit of impressionist paintings (for example a clearly defined water lily or bridge), just step back, then step back again, and then step back again….! Monet’s art comes all together in a more representational or recognizable way when viewed at a distance from across a large room. But close up you see the magnificent layers of color and brush work. And I love his use of simple dry brush technique in some of the paintings.
  • I marveled at how difficult it must be to stand next to a large canvas painting (like these) that you are working on in a close and intimate way, but that doesn’t truly come together except at a more distant viewing. Or to put it in another way, I would have needed to step far back a thousand times, just to see if my broad strokes and color work was coming together the way I intended. I suspect it would drive me bonkers, but I guess that is why it is Monet who was a master painter.
  • In short this is a very beautiful exhibit, and very worth coming to San Francisco to see and it includes a generous selection of Monet’s late years work.
  • Watch out for the cashiers in the museum store, they will hit you up for a museum membership. You may or may not be up for that.

My Monet Gallery

Monet Links

De Young’s Monet Insights presentation.

Main Monet exhibit page.

Musee Marmottan (the largest collection of Monet paintings), at: https://www.marmottan.fr/en/  

DeYoung Museum home page: https://deyoung.famsf.org/ 

DeYoung Museum, on wikipedia.com, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Young_Museum 

Some Memories of the De Young Museum

The De Young Museum in San Francisco brings up a certain amount of nostalgia for me.  The newly designed De Young Museum opened in 2005 and was built on the same land in Golden Gate Park as the previous museum (see pics). I do approve of the new building and I am glad it stayed in the park, because it always makes a refreshing visit when I can also spend some time in Golden Gate Park the same day I go to an exhibit. There are lots of other attractions nearby. 

I moved to San Francisco in 1977 and started working at the old De Young Museum in 1979, for the King Tut exhibit (which featured the spectacular gold mask). I worked in the exhibit’s special gift shop and bookstore; it was located in a large central space on ground level with Spanish tile floors.  I enjoyed working with a fun group of people (most artsy like me) and I made some good friends there. 

I loved eating my lunch in various spots in the park.  The de Young also had what I felt was a very classy outdoor cafe, in a sunny green garden area accented by white stone classic style statuary.  I’d have lunch there in good weather, when I could afford it.  Coming from North Dakota, I thought this museum atmosphere was all very cool. – And I recall the day an earthquake occurred when I was working there. We really felt it strongly being on the ground floor. It spooked me, and set me off balance, and I immediately ran outside after it, kind of surprised it was all ok in just a few minutes. I think it may have been the first earthquake I actually felt in California. After the King Tut Exhibit ended, my museum contacts helped me get a job at a Shakespeare exhibit starting up in the Academy of Sciences, across the music concourse from the De Young. So I guess 1979 was my Museums year, my attempt to find a job aligning with my interests in artsy stuff.

One of my favorite things about the De Young was the pond right in front of the entrance doors, and I loved to sit there and watch the turtles and birds, it was very pretty.  What I did not like so much working in the park was that some of the permanent museum staff and docents were a bit haughty and self-important. Basically I felt intimated by them, and being young, I did not know how to deal with how they made me feel. After that year in the museums,  I ended up doing legal work, where pay was better and there was health and vacation benefits. 

So even now, going to the new De Young still brings up a few nostalgic memories for me. I noticed on my recent visit that although things are much bigger and different now, and it’s all more clean and “modern,” there are still some things remaining the same, just in new surroundings.  After seeing the Monet exhibit I enjoyed a Croque Monsieur and cappuccino lunch, in the much larger new cafe. I later went out and sat at the new water lily pond at the side of the building, and took photos for my own water lily artwork. 

De Young Museum Cafe 2019
De Young Museum Cafe 2019
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The Mesmerizing Miss Lily

The Mesmerizing Miss Lily the Cat Girl
The Mesmerizing Miss Lily the Cat Girl. © Bonnie Follett

Just showing off my newest baby kitty girl. She was adopted in December from the SF SPCA and is settling in nicely, after a rough start with a curious but hissy boy cat.

She is tiny. She is tough. She is wild. Her cell mate in my apartment is now falling in love with her. He even licks and grooms her when he thinks I am not looking. They play and chase each other every morning before breakfast.

She is a kitty with a past. Born in Kings County, California, she struggled to find a home. She ended up pregnant out of wedlock and all alone, and having her babies in a shelter. Then she was transferred to a new shelter in San Francisco, where there was presumably better adoption possibilities. She nursed her babies until they were old enough to be “put on the block” for adoption, her tummy was shaved and she was spayed, and her babies were put on show at the annual Macy’s San Francisco SPCA adoption windows. All were quickly adopted out. I keep telling her what the SPCA staff told me, not to worry because all her babies have found good homes and her son Lief was their favorite at the shelter because he was such a fun-loving “character”. She missed her babies terribly when they were separated. But I make sure she knows they are ok.

Now her biggest problems are whether I am paying attention to her, whether her new boyfriend will play with her (nicely please) or go for a good chase with her from room to room, leaving the hall carpet runner all askew from the energy of the chase. And she is very vocal if she is feeling the need for a snack.

She is feeling at home at last in her forever home.

Why Rape Matters (Illustrated)

It has come to my attention over the past many months that people who have never been sexually assaulted really don’t “get it.” And despite the fact they don’t have a clue, they go right on ahead and post snotty memes about it. Many of these people are (right wing) women and when I see women spreading this stupid crap I find it mind-boggling.

So Why does it matter so much? Apparently some people think you should just go to the Police right away or just stuff it down and forgeddaboudit . . .  I even had one male relative comment that the damage from it was no more than a woman “getting her feelings hurt.” (Huh??!!) At the time that infuriated me into stunned silence. But let me just tell you now – if “hurt feelings” was all it was about there would be no #metoo movement. Women are far more resilient than men about getting their feelings hurt. – Just compare the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh at the recent hearings on Capitol Hill. Lots being said about that. I’m not sure I need to go into it here. (But what I saw was composure and grace in the face of pressure from the first person and totally unhinged outrage and a Drama Queen level of self-pity from the second person, the person who wants to – no expects to – be elevated to the Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment cuz his buddies told him he was a shoe-in.) But that’s a whole discussion by itself.

What I wanted to go into with this post is just this issue: What Rape does to the victim. And why that matters or should matter. I know a lot of people like to use the term ”sexual assault” these days instead of Rape, but I grew up with that word, and it relates to my own past experiences, so I use it here.

What Rape Does:

It tells you WHO you are.

It tells you WHAT you are.

It CHANGES you.

It does this and imprints this at the basic core of your humanity. It imprints so heavily at some concealed emotional core of your being, that no matter how you try to “get over it” or “put it past you” it continually rears its ugly head at every unforeseen opportunity anyway. It has lasting permanent effects, deep down effects.

In short, it tells you that WHO you are is NOTHING, a thing of no consequence.

And it tells you that WHAT you are is not a real Human, but a pile of GARBAGE or SHIT – that can be flushed away and forgotten, with no consequences to anyone but you.

It changes you. It changes who you were before the incident of your violation into something much less than what you were. It changes your basic sense of self.  Your “authentic self” gets lost and replaced with a “you are nothing but a piece of shit” self, or a “you are Damaged Goods self.” Then you have to try to hide that change  – if you can. Because if you do try to talk about it, you see that look on people’s faces, the one that tells you they now see you differently too.

Yes, rape/sexual assault is on the books as a Crime in most jurisdictions, but it is much more than that to the persons who have suffered this gigantic stumbling block thrust into their lives. You don’t walk out of the experience thinking “Well that was a crime . . . my feelings are hurt.” – No, you walk out in a daze thinking “My life has just been shattered…” or “Everything I ever wanted for my life was just splintered into a million pieces and I don’t know how to put that back together.”  It is usually mixed with violence or a threat on your life, but it is followed by a sense of supreme Loss, and your first reaction is to that Loss – maybe to grieve, maybe something, like this:

Overwhelmed woman - Why I didn't call the police.

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash @yrss (text added)

You will hear many rape survivors tell how they were in a fog after their incident.  Some will spend hours in a shower, others will spend hours or days in bed, trying to process the intense confusion they are left with. Eventually they try to figure out how to put on a “normal” face even though they feel they’ve just been changed forever.

I’m sure it’s a very individual thing how people react initially and later. It can depend on when the violation(s) occurred in your life (how vulnerable you were), and also what you were told to believe about it, what “instructions” you received from the perpetrator or others.  (Ex: “Don’t talk about this to anyone.”, “You know you like it.”, “It’s your fault.”, “I have to cuz you’re so cute or pretty.”, “It’s normal.”, “Why are you so messed up about this?”, “Men can’t help themselves.”,  “Hold still.”, “Be quiet.”, “But it’s our special time.”, “But look at what you’re wearing.” –  the list can go on, quite endlessly. ) – For more see:  https://freethoughtblogs.com/nirmukta/2014/02/22/how-rapists-manipulate-their-victims/ . The younger you are, the harder it might be to sort out what you are being told or even if it might be true. And maybe for some this is the only real personal attention they are getting from an adult. Circumstances vary, but these things will get tucked away in that little box of “Never look at this again.” Regardless of where it gets tucked away, it can still affect you later.

Maybe some things have changed with time and increased awareness of the criminal nature involved with sexual assaults. But in my time, going to the Police about it was not something you would think of as a solution to how you were feeling. And I suspect that even now, there are many situations where it doesn’t feel like an option to go to the Police. Especially with childhood traumas of this kind. The younger you are, the more confusing and deep seated the damage is. (It’s not something you can “grow out of”.)

So my main point is this: Suffering such an assault DOES matter (even if the victim can’t or doesn’t talk about it at first, early on, or ever). I thought I would attempt to show WHY Rape matters by illustrating with a few “Before and After” comparison pictures. They might speak better than my words. Look for what has been lost. (The individuals in the photographs may or may not have ever been sexually abused, this is meant to illustrate the effects, not to be a factual comparison.)

The Before and After of Sexual Abuse/ Rape/ Assault.

Happy Little Girl

Before – Happy Little Girl – Photo by Jennifer Bedoya on Unsplash @jennbdoya

Sad Little Girl

After – Sad Devastated Little Girl – Photo by Qasim Sadiq on Unsplash @qasimsadiq

Happy Young Woman

Before – Happy Young Woman – Photo by Christian Ferrar on Unsplash

Sad Young Woman

After – Sad Young Woman – Photo by Chau Luong on Unsplash @chouuu

Before - Happy Young Boy

Before – Happy Young Boy – Photo by terricks noah on Unsplash @major001

 

Sad Little Boy

After – Sad Little Boy – Photo by sohel yousuf on Unsplash @sohelyousuf1

Sad Rebellious Angry Young Woman

After – Sad and Angry Young Woman – Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash @raduflorin

I hope these faces have helped to illustrate what has been lost by survivors of sexual assaults. I prefer to see happy not sad.  Don’t you? Wouldn’t you really prefer that your child, your daughter, your son, your friend or your relative never had to endure the pain of an assault on their self-image, their hopes and dreams? Just so some asshole can get their rocks off? So let’s stop being jerks about it, and stop tolerating the perps.

To those who make fun of people who have gone through this and who like to post mean-spirited memes and jokes, or their support for the perpetrators on social media, please think again and show more empathy. You are lucky if you were not sexually assaulted. Because if you had been you would not be posting that crap.

 Oh, by the way, if you WERE sexually assaulted, went to the Police immediately and had a success story, feel free to post those experiences in the Comments to this post. I just have never heard of any “positive experiences,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. However, many “rape kits” (used for collecting DNA and other evidence) go untested and many prosecutions never happen.

To the would-be or past perpetrators – Please don’t be teaching your kids (or setting an example) that getting wasted and forcing yourself on somebody because you’re feeling horny is an OK thing, or an understandable thing to do. And especially not that sexual assault is a “manly” thing to do! Take a hint. It is not. It damages lives. Not to mention – somebody might come back to haunt you.

Newsflash for Perps: The 15 minutes of embarrassment or “damage” to your reputation (when your victim says something) does not – yes I use this word – trump – the damage done to your victim’s life.

I want little girls (and boys) to feel like this (below pic) and to keep that smile, their belief in themselves and their trust in the future:

Happy Smiling Girl

Happy Smiling Girl – Photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash @lorenmary

 

Thanks to the photographers on Unsplash for their contributed photos used above.

For further Republican Party (strange) views on this subject see: Did Republicans Actually Say These Things About Rape? (Snopes.com, fact check, by David Mikkelson, updated: 20 October 2017), at: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/personal-foul/ . (giving the politicians an opportunity to explain their views.)

 

 

The Boulder of Trump Anxiety Disorder

Is there a reason I haven’t added to this blog since Feb 2018 (Valentine’s Day) and before that, the last blog post since October 2017 (Halloween) ?  Why yes, I think there is… There’s been a big boulder parked in front of my mind and soul, a hulking impediment to my being, my freedom of expression, my creativity, and my willingness to put myself out there in regards to anything at all.  That big boulder blocks whatever’s in there that wants to come out (pointing to my head). And it’s been internalized, ready to wreak havoc on my mind and body.

boulder

I have known for some time that I need to address it. If for no other reason, because it’s been close to impossible to address anything else in the wake of its being jimmied up there, to shut me up. So try as I might to find the cracks around it, to spill out anything socially acceptable, I have failed. It’s there, stuck, a permanent fixture of my days these days. It’s been rolled up there slowly, since November 2016.  I can’t say I know when the job was complete, almost totally blocking my voice, by 98% or so. But I now have to seep through the tiny cracks along the sides anyway. I have to talk about it. I’m hoping it will push that massive thing back a few more centimeters, give me some breathing space. Let me out, dammit!

Why Do I feel this way?

So what do I credit for this condition? It’s not that I wasn’t previously a damaged soul, with a few odd neuroses here and there and depressions that came and went. But I had always moved forward inch by inch anyway and had many good days despite all of my “pre-existing conditions”. I found things to enjoy about life anyway. So what happened?

The Trump administration. Bit by bit (every day) it showed its ugly colors, eclipsing all my previously-expressed fears. Who knew it could be worse than even I had thought?  The only good so far, that I can tell, is that it provided a reason for many millions of Americans to re-think their patriotism and what it means to love your country, to re-think their own values and what they now think their leaders should be and should stand for in their leadership. And what’s loosely-called “The Resistance” has grown, but has proven to be very exhausting for many of us.

How long can you go on fighting “the new swamp” before you realize the people who should be listening aren’t, and the ones who are already with you don’t need to be told again why something the Trump administration is doing is wrong? 60% of us already know. What about the other 40%? – I’m now convinced they are people that fundamentally think differently about life in general. They “resonate” with punitive approaches, authoritarianism, and the idea that keeping some people down lifts you up in some way, and that being judgmental of people different from yourself has some sort of utility, and for some, that ridiculing them will serve some purpose. I have never thought that way. I don’t “get it” and don’t want to get it.

So back to the exhaustion of it all… the Trump Depressive Disorder or Trump Anxiety Disorder, or whatever the hell they call it now. You can ridicule me but I know it’s real.  I currently suffer from it.  I’m not asking that it be added to the Medical Encyclopedias or that I be prescribed meds for it. I’m just saying it exists. And some quick internet searches tell me that this is a real thing with other people too. We have lost what we felt America was all about, the advances we have made towards a fairer, more just, more responsible nation are being chipped away. We have lost a leader for our country: I cannot characterize what is happening in this country as “leadership.” So the rug has been pulled out from under most of Americans. The solid ground we thought we were standing on is gone. For now anyway.  And the prospect of wobbling about on shaky ground for the rest of a presidential term in office, or an additional term, silently witnessing the chaos, is horrifying. I just want some solid ground so I can go on with my life unimpeded by the boulder. But most of us in America are very worried about how long we can “give Trump a chance.” He lost some of us very quickly, but we’ve all been wobbling about ever since, a depressing damper on our days and nights.

But the other prong of this condition is what it does to our personal lives. How it affects what we once thought about the people in our lives that we liked and loved. The hate and divisiveness coming from the president and his cronies has spewed a poison into our lives. I have discovered it can still be sort of “fine” or “ok” with those people that think differently than myself… as long as I don’t talk about it. Just place a big old boulder instead. Talk about nice things… like Halloween or Valentines Day, cute kitties and doggies, what I ate today, manicures and pedicures, or even “what I did on my vacation.” But DON’T talk about Trump. And don’t criticize their new Messiah.

Well, I can’t live like that. I can’t breathe like that. And that’s part of the reason why I left my midwestern home a long time ago. I always craved communication, discourse, learning new things, seeing new places, meeting new kinds of people, finding avenues to grow, and most of all, learning how to support myself independently.  My midwestern home life was all about “the surface” and staying on the surface, not digging, not delving into the real things or the hard things, not talking about important stuff. Just skim along the surface, don’t ask too may questions. And if something bad is going on, don’t talk about it any more than is absolutely necessary. And to be precise, according to my family, very little of “the bad stuff” is necessary to talk about. Suck it up and add it to the boulder in front of your mouth. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

So I moved to California way back when, and have been here ever since, slowly developing a sense of what is possible in life and with our country. This state has been a land of opportunity for me and for others. A place where it wasn’t so weird to be the kind of person I was. And yes, as if you haven’t figured it out, I’m a Democrat. I will tell you that. No secret. Neither political party is perfect, but I could never be a Republican. I just don’t think that way.

But “Keeping Up With the Resistance”? That should be a sitcom. – But ratings would be bad, 40% of the country wouldn’t watch it, including some of my friends and relatives.  It can be depressing and exhausting. I applaud those who do keep it up however. There’s no other choice but to keep talking about our disagreements on what direction the country should be taking, what things are being ignored, swept under the rug, or are just plain immoral or illegal. But it’s sad our country is wasting so much time and energy, when we could be moving forward rather than backward. And I don’t call spending our tax money on “Walls” and “Space Forces” moving forward. Hey – did you know that more people are now entering the U.S. illegally from the Canadian border than from the Mexican border (those stats are said to be skyrocketing)? Betcha didn’t know that. Where’s the outcry for a Canadian border wall? Oh wait, I’m sure it must be next on the agenda. But I say the evolution of the human species or their migration patterns are not likely to be successfully walled in. But maybe if we put walls on our beaches too and a dome overhead. All of that might do it. For awhile.

Last thoughts, diagnosis, symptoms and treatment

Anyway, I gotta wrap this rant up a little.  Suffice it to say, the Trump administration has actually caused mental and emotional trauma to real people in this country – to the extent that psychotherapists and psychiatrists are trying to figure out how to deal with it in their practices. Distressed clients are coming in talking about Trump. And some health care providers even feel the need to disclose to their patients what their political affiliation is, in case the patient would rather see a therapist or mental health professional that shares their political beliefs. I call that pretty strange. It never happened in any previous administration. You just saw any old therapist as long as you felt it was helping you. Now the divisiveness is so bad, they have to address whether different political beliefs might affect the therapy!  So, yes, it’s a real thing. 

And the Symptoms of this disorder are being talked about: depression, anxiety, feeling stressed, lack of focus, sleep disorders, and aggravation of other disorders like high blood pressure, hypertension, heart disease, eating disorders, the list goes on and on.  Treatment: If you may be suffering from this disorder, see the How To Cope article below. Try to fight those feelings of hopelessness, keep talking, but also get outside more and enjoy nature, and the cute kitties and doggies.

Following is a list of some articles I found about this topic, in case any readers are interested.  And as always, I welcome any Likes or Comments (from real people please, not Troll-Bots sponsored by the Kremlin).

Sources:

President Trump actually is making us crazy, by Dana Milbank, The Washington Post, September 22, 2017.

Trump Anxiety Disorder: Is Trump Literally Making Us Sick?, by Catherine Giordano, Soapboxie, Dec. 30, 2017.

What’s Trump Doing in Your Therapy Room? by Bella DePaulo PhD, Psychology Today, Jun 7, 2018.

How to Cope With Trump Anxiety, by Steven Stony, PhD, Psychology Today, Apr 22, 2017.

Trump Trauma & White American Anxiety,  Tonya Tko Vlog, YouTube, July 8, 2018.

The Difference Between Honesty and Truth, by Jeremy E Sherman PhD, Psychology Today, Aug. 1, 2018.

Waiting For All Hallows Eve

Below is a Halloween poem to wish you a ghostly Boo! with screechy Halloween Hisses!

Halloween Friends by Bonnie Follett.

Halloween Friends: a witch and her feline “familiar” dreaming up mischief for 10/31. Photo © Bonnie Follett. All rights reserved.

Waiting for All Hallows Eve

by Bonnie Follett

Me and my dear feline know the score
Its almost Halloween
We’re getting ready for the gore

We’re plotting spells and sealing charms
It won’t be very long
Before we do some spooky harms

Think you’ve got some candy?
Check again –
Me and my dark feline
Snuck it just a round the bend

Vampires, witches, monsters and ghouls
We find October sweet things ever so cool

But when it comes to rising from the dead
We do prefer to leave that up to Frankie and Fred !

Happy Halloween!

 

 

The Tale of an Aging Artist’s Weekend Hangover

It’s still technically Monday morning as I write this excruciating tale – food for thought on the life of a rapidly aging artist type old lady. I am feeling wobbly, unbalanced, bruised and stressed. I guess it’s my old lady weekend hangover.

This tale will cover the following tragic elements:

1.  Recusal from jury duty

2.  An art scam

3.  A bloody fall

4.  A bruised ego

5.  The denouement: A Stunning Realization

Can you handle it? If not, leave this page now.

This Morning, Mon. 11:14 am – I woke in my bed with my head on a toweled pillow to catch any stray blood oozing in the night, and panicked that my cats may have been breathing their fowl breath on my head in the night. But oddly, the two were curled innocently on the other side of my queen size bed as if in unison, same pose, both facing the same direction. Snoozing.

According to my current retirement habit, I lay in bed for another hour pondering the universe, then one cat came over to breathe on my head from her bacteria laden mouth. So I got up, split a can of Fancy Feast between them, adding a subversive supplement called “Plaque Control” which is supposed to sweeten their breath. I still am not sure there has been any change however. After their food had been scarfed down in a mere 2 minutes, they remained at bowl side, begging not silently for the next course. The black and white one does the bitching, the half Siamese one waits patiently. This time I decline to be roped into giving them the crunchy morsels of dry food they expect is their right. The vet has told me the dry food makes them fat.

I walk away. To the computer. To describe my harrowing weekend.

Cat Breakfast

Cat Breakfasts involve two courses: wet and dry food. Do NOT forget the dry…

Friday – Perhaps it all started on Friday night. All week I had been on “call-in” jury duty. I was to call again after 4:30 pm. I called about 6:00. No need to come in and I was recused for a year. I had mixed feelings about that. As a hermit artist I had secretly been hoping I would need to go in at some point to the civil courts in San Francisco, not far from where I live. I had fantasized about being stuck in a room (jury pool) filled with human beings. Maybe I would even have occasion to talk to some of them. Maybe I would actually get picked for a jury and have the opportunity to put my legal skills to the test. But no, recused. But that was ok too, I would not need to leave my “comfort zone.” Just carry on. I was not needed, nothing new.

Saturday

About mid-day I checked my email. Lo and Behold (or Hallelujah?) I had an inquiry sent from my little art gallery website email at bonniefollett.com, from someone wanting to buy art for their wife who “loves your work” – now that alone should have been a tip-off, but we artists can always hope that someone somewhere will find our work online and actually like it enough to buy it. So it put me into something of a panic mode. They wanted to know which pieces were immediately available for purchase. I didn’t know. Some of my originals are in San Francisco but many or most are in my Arizona house. So this inquiry alone set me to updating my art logs and investigating what was where and that took hours. I finally decided to write this man a confirmation email that I would get back to him in the morning on Sunday, with a list of available work, and stating that some artworks were in Arizona and might take longer to get shipped. Then I went back to continue honing down what was where and how much I would actually want to charge for each original painting.

Sunday

I had another email waiting from “John Owen”, email address johnowen1000010000@gmail.com, in response to my last email.  No – no, he didn’t need to know everything available. He was in a great hurry and only needed to know what could be immediately shipped to be gifted as a surprise to his art-loving wife, therefore only my pieces with me in San Francisco were of interest to him. That was a relief, and by then I was able to send him a list of each piece available and prices, also providing a link to the pages on my website where there were images of each original displayed.

I then panicked again, not knowing which of the 7 pieces I had emailed him he might want to purchase. I knew I had to fully clean each of these 7 artworks. Most are tucked away collecting dust and grime after many years of neglect. The others were on my walls and very nicotine stained from a crazed artist smoking too much too often. So I set about first with cleaning the two watercolors which were framed under glass, taking apart the frame and meticulously cleaning everything associated with the potential sale.

While doing so I realized it was about time I did this cleaning task. How unprofessional of me not to be prepared for legitimate buyers of my art. And I decided to take new camera raw photos of my work if any were going to end up elsewhere. So I scrolled up my window blinds to get the best light possible, set up my tripod, and set about photographing the watercolors, first on iPhone (in the current framing) and then out of the frames to get the full CR photos for my records. By the time I got done and put the watercolors back in their new and shiny framing for potential sale, I was wiped out and took a break before I started in on cleaning the larger acrylic paintings with dust and nicotine stains. I finally decided I would wait until after I cooked and ate my dinner, since I had not eaten anything but peanut butter, crackers and coffee all day.

It was starting to get dark, so I knew I would do no more photographing that day. I started to let down my window blinds to the level where I usually keep them. In doing so there was one in the middle of the 3 windows where the blind slices at top were funky. Being somewhat anal, I cannot let this go.

The Fall

I quickly get up on a wooden chair and lean in to snatch that ugly stray twisted blind…

As my weight shifts, the chair flips violently out from under me, sending me flying backwards into a very cluttered space. I feel myself flying, then the jar of hitting my head on something sharp, then I am on the ground battered and bruised. I know enough to remain for a few moments to catch my bearings. When I do so, I notice blood gushing everywhere! Uh… blind panic!!!! This is why people have “life alerts” right? Not me, I’m still too young! So realizing my blood was getting all over my ONE nice oriental carpet, I try to gather myself up to find something to catch up all the blood. I trail blood all over my apartment not knowing what to use. What do I not care about getting blood on???? I decided on a towel and go to my bathroom (while dripping blood on the floors) where I have been using a conveniently shaded burgundy red bath towel. I still felt alert even though panicked. Should I call someone just in case I later lose consciousness???

I decide yes, so I call a friend who lives across the San Francisco Bay. I let him know what’s going on. He urges me to go down the street to Emergency at the local hospital. Good idea. I’m pretty sure by this time I do not have the medical knowledge to figure out how bad things might be. And well, I have seen lots of TV shows where someone is pushed and hits their head on a stone fireplace and then soon after they’ve passed out and died, and Jessica Fletcher (of Murder She Wrote) later comes in to the scene to realize that the police have it all wrong. I could be that dead person… not impossible, even though at the moment I seemed to be conscious.

So I tell my friend I will call him in an hour or so from the hospital. Naturally, since I am a hermit artist type, at 7:15 pm I am still in my pajamas from the previous night. So I have to try to clean up a little, get dressed, and then I noticed all the blood in the bathroom. I did not want my cats to get into that, or put blood paw prints everywhere, so I quickly tried to wipe some of that up while holding a towel to my very bloody head.

But I make it out the door and down the street as other pedestrians wondered why I was holding a bloody towel to my head. No one asked though. By the time I was at the ER in the hospital 3 blocks away I realized I had forgotten to take my phone, which was charging on my bed stand. My friend had told me he would drive over from across the Bay if he didn’t hear from me in an hour. Oh well… nothing I could do once at the hospital. I got checked in and sat by an older lady and started a conversation. She had suffered a black stool earlier and had gone to the ER to get herself checked out. She did not seem aware of my bloody head, she instead told me all about her stools. She was done and waiting for a cab. As she hobbled away slowly for the cab now waiting outside for her, I realized that could be me in a few years. In fact, maybe it was me now.

The Sunday Night Exam and Treatment – I think I’ll spare you some of the details. Suffice it to say, the staff was very attentive in their routine professional way. They took my blood pressure, a few details for the chart, and then sent me off to an exam room for treatment. A lot of waiting and staring at the curtains on the glass wall… and periodically someone coming in with a “poor dear” or “how’s the pain”. I had already told them there was no major pain (maybe a 3 on a scale of 10), just a lot of stinging. I am not much of a cry baby about pain until it hits up there a few notches. This wasn’t considered bad by my standards. I realized I do look like an old lady and they were trying to be nice. I was ok with that. They don’t know I am a bad ass.

The highlight for me was getting a gurney ride down the cavernous hallways to get a CT scan. I was impressed with the skill of the gurney driver, dodging all that stuff in the hallways. And I felt like a star on a TV show enroute to the operating room after a gunshot wound. The CT was whoosh whoosh whoosh – and then back to the room again. Eventually, a young female doctor (or tech?) prepped me for the stitches in my head. “This is gonna hurt!” But it hardly hurt much at all, just more like sharp pinching and stinging. I had a three inch laceration and got 8 staples in the head.

Before I was to be released they came in with a narc type pill for my pain. I told them I was walking home and could I take the pill once I got home and might actually start feeling pain? They said No, you have to take it here or not at all. I told them no, I would skip it, but was marveling at how easily they want to dole out pain drugs like this. And I wondered if that would be charged for on my bill, even though I didn’t take it. I am a cheap bitch, what do they charge for one pill anyway? I’ve heard: more than they should.

Head Injury Documentation

At home after treatment: Dazed and confused, bloody hair and head staples.

Back at Home – I should have probably gone to bed right away since it was after 11:00 pm, but of course, being a hermit artist, I am not glued to schedules. And I still had amazingly blood-matted hair, every which way and that, all very curly and encrusted. So I took a bath and enjoyed the rusty brown glow of the waters. I dried off and went back to the computer.

On the computer I decided I needed to work up a Certificate of Authenticity for the upcoming art purchase from ”John Owen” in “North Carolina”. So I research what to include, and started drafting my own Certificate – that of course I can use on all my many future art sales once Mr. Owen’s wife brags to her rich friends about the great artist she found online. Such a certificate helps with establishing the provenance of the artworks of any great artist like myself. So yeah, I get that going at 1:00 am with eight staples in my head.

Then I decide to check my email since John Owen always seems to write at a certain time of night. So yes, there was the expected email waiting for me, sent just a few minutes before.

The Last Email from the Purported Art Purchaser

After the first two somewhat legitimate sounding emails, suddenly things seem to have become very complicated with the art purchaser. I had told him shipping costs would be added to any purchase price once I got an estimate from my shipping service. But No, it wasn’t necessary for me to worry about arranging shipping. He would have his own shipper pick up the artwork at my address. And he was suddenly moving to the Philippines for his job, and he would therefore send a check in advance, and blah-de-blah-de-blah. By this time, yeah, I know. Not real. But I searched for “art purchase scams” online and got a whole slew of artists with the same experience or worse. (see links below for more info) In my defense, I had searched this guy’s email address and name online when he first wrote me. Nothing much there at first check. So I had thought maybe he was for real. But No, of course not. Another scammer with a fake name.  It was a psychic let down. Really? No one had actually liked my work after all? (How do these scams work? – They send you a check for more than the purchase price, ask for a check back from you for the mistake made and steal your artwork that they can apparently sell somewhere (at a flea market maybe)? Meanwhile gathering as much personal information about you as they can, that they can also sell off to unscrupulous beings.

certificate-illustration-bfSo I was freed before going any farther with falling for this art purchase scheme. I am still wondering whether I should write him back and give him a line of bull like he gave me. Not sure, but I am still composing that in my head. Most people recommend once you know it is a scam, drop all contact. But I think now that we’ve established a relationship, he might be interested in knowing that I was in a freak car accident and had to suddenly move to Venezuela or Nigeria (or someplace exotic) where my only living relative is and where they can care for me in my extended convalescence. Therefore I can’t have that painting available for immediate pickup. But part of me wants to get that big check too, so that I can frame it and put it on my wall.

So that was my weekend. And now it’s Monday. I am freed from having to do any more stressing about getting an artwork prepared for a purchaser or convincing them to use my PayPal account for payment. I would never had sent them anything before any payment was fully completed. But my advice for other artists is – BEWARE! Our fragile egos really want to believe that someone out there really does like our artwork!! And that someone would be willing to actually buy it! I sure did!! It was beginning to rejuvenate my faith that maybe I could actually sell my art after all. And maybe I should get back to doing more original on canvas or watercolor paintings. (I have concentrated more on photography in recent years.)

As long as I didn’t fall for the scam, the scammer did me one favor. He/she got me to thinking more professionally about the status of my personal artwork and on what I could be doing with my art. Sort of a “clean up your act” moment for me.

I think I promised a “Stunning Realization” above in regards to my Monday morning old lady wild weekend hangover. Hmmmm, maybe I stretched the truth about that, but there is that thing just mentioned about becoming more professional and doing more original paintings. Hermit artists (and I suspect there are many others like me out there) tend to find a “comfort zone” in being unsuccessful. It becomes your routine. And that IS my artistic comfort zone after a few years of only making very small commissions when my artwork is printed on products at fineartamerica or pixels or redbubble, etc. You don’t make a living on it. It seems you are lucky if you get anything at all for the many hours you spend on it. So I do need to adjust my comfort zone or at least be aware of it and that I could change what that comfort zone is for me. I guess that’s a realization.

Another realization – I was really lucky not to have had my “fall and damage head“ accident before my medicare and supplemental insurance had kicked in. Something as simple as getting stitches in my head could really have set me back financially. I’m not terribly old, but old enough to realize the aging process is speeding up rapidly. So it’s past time to be extra careful when getting up on chairs or ladders… I am not as balanced or aware of my body as I used to be. But is it “Life Alert” time? I don’t know about that. I fell, but I COULD get up…

As I sat in my ER exam room last night I also realized that this – that a “visit to the ER” is entertainment for lonely old ladies. Hurt yourself and go to the ER and get some attention and human contact. Cool! A new idea of FUN emerges as you get older and older, and older and older…, and older…. and fffttttt!!!!! You are gone.

Maybe a new dimension follows, one where people really do like your art and value something about you. Who knows?

More info on Art Scams:

Don’t be Fooled by Email Art Scams: How to Spot and Avoid Fraud

How To Recognize An Art Scam

 

 

The Partial Solar Eclipse in San Francisco

August 21st, 2017 was the day of the “Great American Solar Eclipse,” the first in many years where the path of a total eclipse of the sun travelled across the United States. Its path swung from coast to coast – from Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east coast before heading out to the Atlantic Ocean.

My town of San Francisco experienced a foggy, cloudy overcast day for what was only a partial eclipse here in California.   (I would love to have been able to travel for the “real thing” along the path of totality but didn’t want to face the traffic.)  Nevertheless, the intrepid local photographer (moi) persisted . . . and did what I could do here with photographing the partial eclipse in San Francisco with just my standard DSLR lens and a tripod.  So I walked down to Pier 14 on the San Francisco waterfront, where a small group of photographers, fishermen and eclipse-gawkers had assembled.

The moon started its transit over the sun at the top of the sun, travelled slightly left and down and exited its transit at the lower left of the sun. Here the sun was only 76% covered by the moon, no totality of darkness and no super-cool corona, but impressive all the same.

I hear that we will have a chance to view a total solar eclipse in California in the year 2045 on August 12th.  So if I can make it to age 90 or so, maybe I can try my hand at it again!  Here’s a sampling of the photos I took today:

Nine Phases of a Solar Eclipse

Nine Phases of a Solar Eclipse, by Bonnie Follett
Prints available on my Fine Art America profile.