Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sure Signs of Spring

I was walking down the street and got that sweet, strong whiff of doo doo. People with kids and dogs know that smell. Looking around, I spied that a crew had spread new peat around the trees by the sidewalk. Aaaah! The peat signals that someone has expectations of growth. Winter tension just unraveled from my shoulders. Left it on the curb.

I stepped off the train. Warm air. Blue skies and an air of bonhomie. As I descended the flight of steps, a tickle started in my heart. You know it's spring when a young lady's thoughts turn to cute shoes and pedicures.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Good morning, Sunshine

Another space shuttle mission is underway. The mission crew along with the space station personnel are going to add the first part of a Japanese module to the station. Also being assembled on the outside of the station is Dextre. He's a Canadian robot with arms and gripper hands. He'll cut down on the amount of time a EVA takes up. (E.V.A. - Extra Vehicular Activity or a space walk.) His first arm was attached yesterday. Three of his robot friends showed up at the shuttle launch to celebrate his trip to space. Although some grumbling about the Three Laws of Robotics and equal rights were heard, the mood was cheery.

Songs that have been used to wake up the space crew:
"Linus & Lucy" -- A Charlie Brown Christmas
"Godzilla" -- Blue Oyster Cult
"Turn, Turn, Turn" -- The Byrds
"We're Going to Be Friends" -- The White Stripes

I tried to decide which song I would want to be awakened with in space, and here's what I came up with:

"Take Me Home (Country Roads)" -- Toots and the Maytals
shout out to my Jamaican and Pennsylvania roots

"Cherry Bomb" -- Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
yeah, i said it!

"Heartache Tonight" -- The Eagles
I'm ret and rarin' to go!

"Return of Django" -- Lee Perry & the Upsetters
Jamaica, again! Plant the Black, Gold & Green, guhl!

"Turn Me On" -- Nina Simone
"like a lightbulb in a dark room, I'm just waitin' for you to turn me on..." how apropos, non?

Holey Moley! How could I forget?

"Pennsylvania Polka"
shout out to my home state, y'all!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meeting President Susan Scrimshaw

After the first forum meeting to discuss the hate mail (see previous posts) sent to a Simmons professor, I made an appointment to meet President Susan Scrimshaw. Only ten minutes were allotted for the time with the President, so I wanted to have at least three points to bring up from my side of the table. This is what I came up with:

  1. The library is not an unwelcoming place, at least, not fundamentally. I have observed with my own eyes and ears how every librarian from the top down to student workers strives to make the library inclusive and easy-to-use. So, if there's a negative perception about the library, I wanted to zero in on what was causing the perception and change it.
  2. A forum such as the one that happened the previous week needed to be repeated for students. The response at the forum was extremely positive and displayed strength--not the intended result of whoever authored the hate mail.
  3. The culture of micro-insults that exists in the hallways wasn't limited to just race and gender--ageism exists at Simmons, too.

With those talking points burned into my brain, I met President Scrimshaw. She's awesome. We discussed what was said about the library. She clarified that she believed the unwelcoming attitude and atmosphere were being created before guests were entering the library. The guests in questions were teenagers participating in a summer program using Simmons' facilities. I remember that Upward Bound used the library a lot during the summer; and foreign exchange students made their home at Simmons at the same time. Usually, these groups are given an orientation and tour before their programs begin--much like the admissions tours that go year-round. My suggestion was that the tour guides feel free to stop at the circulation desk and introduce their group to the desk workers. Especially during the summer, the patron traffic is infrequent. Stopping for a moment to exchange greetings with new patrons wouldn't be a big deal.

Then, I reiterated that a forum for students should be organized. Lo, and behold! The Diversity Council and the Office of Multicultural Affairs were hosting a forum the next day. President Scrimshaw mentioned green fliers around campus (yes, I saw them afterward--easy to pick out by the color, but teeny-tiny type and not easily scanned). After the meeting, I noticed that the event was posted on the Announcements web page on MySimmons. That one was easy.

The rest of our meeting turned to more personal topics. Honestly, I was impressed. I was cautiously hopeful about how the incident was going to be handled after talking to President Scrimshaw. Cautiously--because I'm big believer in waiting for action and not betting the rent on just talk.

The coolest thing about the meeting was the example of leadership that President Scrimshaw provided. She was open, confident and ready to exchange ideas. It was very different from the last experience I had with a college president. I "hung out" with the president of my former college. We tipped a pint back together--he was awfully diffident, awfully British. I definitely wasn't inspired, just disconcerted. I was a true freshman back then. Back to the future, President Scrimshaw gave me a template of the kind of leader I want to be.

Before attending Simmons, I sort of pooh-poohed female colleges. My take was you eventually have to join the world of men upon graduation, so you might as well get used to them. I've changed my stance a bit. At a women's college, you get to see women leaders close-up not compromising themselves or accommodating the male prerogative that is embedded in US society. And, a light goes on, "Oh! That's how you do it." I don't think I would single-sex my kid's entire education, but I definitely see how there's an advantage for girls to get rid of the boys for a while.

[I will post about the student forum soon.]

Monday, March 10, 2008

Essential Blog for MA Artists & Art Lovers

I discovered a new blog at the Massachusetts Cultural Council called ArtSake. I've already discovered two great items: weekend passes for the CRAFTBOSTON show will be available at 200 public libraries AND the heartening news of a grant for women artists over 35.

First Item

Thanks to a very generous donation by CRAFTBOSTON, 200 public libraries throughout Massachusetts will have 10 weekend passes available for their members to attend the CRAFTBOSTON event March 28-30, 2008 at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. CRAFTBOSTON is sponsored by The Society of Arts and Crafts.

Link to Pass Out on ArtSake

Second Item

I am proud to report that one of our commonwealth’s very own, Jill Slosberg-Ackerman (Drawing Fellow ‘06), has been awarded a prestigious grant from the foundation Anonymous Was a Woman.

If you are not familiar with the foundation, its name refers to a line in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. As the name implies, the nominators and those associated with the program are un-named, and artists are unaware that they are being considered for the award. The program was started in response to elimination of National Endowment for the Arts grants to individual artists. Awards are $25,000 each and recognize the work of women artists over the age of 35.

This year’s other winners include Miriam Beerman, Lois Conner, Petah Coyne, Agnes Denes, Diane Edison, Paula Hayes, Joan Semmel, Leslie Thorton, and Carrie Mae Weems. 121 such awards have been made over the past 12 years.

Link to Who Are You on ArtSake

I think it's awesome that CRAFTBOSTON is making free passes available through public libraries. If you want to find out which Massachusetts public libraries have the passes go to CRAFTBOSTON's website and sniff around the News Room page. The list is part of a press release. I will say that the BPL is well-represented--shout out to Main Branch and West End--and passes are available at the Brookline Public Library. You have to be a member of the library to check out the passes. If you're not an official member already, bring a picture i.d. and some mail with your address to the relevant branch. 1-2-3, presto! You should be hooked up for an awesome day of crafts browsing (sorry, Etsy, sometimes you just gotta see and touch it in person). A birdy told me this year the Society of Arts & Crafts will provide a way for people to identify immediately the affordable items at a vendor's stall. Start stuffing the cookie jar for a springtime splurge, y'all.

I love that there's a stealth grant exists for women artists over 35. Like the flying finger of fate, BOOM!, twenty-five grand lands in your lap to get you to the next stage of your artistic growth. It's very hush-hush because I couldn't even find a website for it. Foundation members' identities are secret, and the artists don't know they're being nominated or considered until they get word about the check coming their way.

I only found two web articles via Google about the foundation--no serious search using my super-powered e-databases at my college library. If you want to search for yourself, keep the verb tense correct: 'was,' not 'is.' If you use the present tense, you're bound to find a personal blog and whatnot. One of the articles, found cached on, uses the grant recipients' own words to illustrate how necessary and wonderful this grant is for women artists.
Another previous recipient explained, “For a woman things don’t get easier as one gets older, they get harder…[I]n my experience, the backlash becomes stronger and stronger against those women who have chosen or fallen outside of societal norms in terms of career, marriage and family. I’ve never felt the weight of society’s judgment more since I turned forty...

The other article provides some background information about the grant and can be found by clicking this link. (I didn't link the article because I think Google has cached it and therefore pulling it up can be sticky, but not impossible.) Both articles are from before 2005, and I find it fascinating that there's nothing more recent about the award and the recipients. Let's get out there and promote these women artists! Why? Because one of them, Petah Coyne, is a favorite of mine.

I discovered Coyne at the Chicago Culture Center. She was on the top floor gallery in a splendid Beaux-Arts ballroom. Her accumulative sculptures entranced me as I wandered among them. They were familiar to me on some level--awake or asleep, I don't know. A woman came up to me, and very sweetly informed me she recognized them from nightmares. She was a complete stranger, but shared this personal information with me anyway. [I was compelled to take a vocational test sometime during high school. According to the test, the two careers for which I'm best suited are advertising account executive and priest.] I replied with wide eyes and pleasant sounds. To me, that's a successful gallery experience.

Congratulations to all the recipients of this year's award from Anonymous Was a Woman! I will soon be looking for you on the web and in the library.


Dates and Hours

Friday March 28, 2008 10am - 6pm
Saturday March 29, 2008 10am - 6pm
Sunday March 30, 2008 11am - 5pm


Seaport World Trade Center

200 Seaport Boulevard
Boston, Massachusetts 02210

The Seaport World Trade Center is wheelchair accessible.

Admission Prices

  • General Admission $15
  • Senior Citizens and SAC Members $12
  • Children, 12 years and under Free
  • Admission tickets valid for readmission throughout the weekend.