Sea of Creativity: Emily Merletto

Emily Merletto is one of my favorite local artists here in Chatham County, North Carolina. Her artwork invites me to come closer, study it intently, and it often makes me feel like I am welcome to enter. I first became familiar with Emily’s work at a local exhibition a few years ago. I have been a fan ever since. Naturally, I asked her to write a bit about her sense of creativity…

I live in a world comprised of structure, rules, and parameters. Rubrics, laws, and codes of conduct dictate daily life. The internet and social media spout common norms that box us in to what is clean, accepted, liked and safe.

Creativity releases me from these boundaries. It frees me -making way for limitless expression- it erases suffocating societal constraints, judgments, and fear. The only limitations set upon my creativity are those that my mind allows and my palette possesses. Creativity opens the door to reinventing myself over and over again. It uncovers the childlike imagination buried deep within. Creativity saves me from the monotony of routine. It harbors me in a cove of wonder where infinite possibilities surpass the number of stars in the night sky.

A reverberating energy bubbles just below the surface; pulling and tugging on the inner workings of my heart and mind. Creativity releases this energy and breaks the accumulation of mental and emotional grime that builds daily. Without it, I would be a prisoner of my own volition –attempting to stop the moon from controlling the highs and lows of the ocean tides.

I find beauty in the natural world around me- losing myself in the myriad of colors, patterns, and textures of life. I paint in homage of earth’s wonder- in reverence to the astounding conscious experience of being human and all the pain and beauty it bestows upon me. 


Find Emily on Instagram @_emerlettoart_

A Woodstock Exprience

In homage to the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock, I’m re-running this post from my dear friend, Wendy, who attended this spectacular music event.

September 4, 2015 – Visiting Blogger: Wendy Raven

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Last month, I noticed that my friend, Wendy Raven, had posted on Facebook that she had experienced Woodstock first-hand. Being that some of you may remember the time period and that, to some of you, this is a historic occasion passed down through the generations, I thought it would be interesting to visit the Summer of 1969 from the perspective of someone who was there. So, I invited Wendy to share her remembrances of that weekend of music.

Enjoy!

♥Barbara

I Basically Had to Be Dragged to Woodstock – by Wendy Raven

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I well remember the day my friend came to me wondering if I wanted to go to the music festival at Woodstock. While I was certainly a Hippie, I also didn’t like being around tons of people and even back then preferred to be deep in the forest alone rather than partying with others of my kind! So it did take some convincing for me to agree. Reluctantly.

We set out, 4 of us, in two different cars. I drove my Volkswagen Beetle and our other friends took their 56 Cadillac…..a very cool ride! The friend I drove with in my car was told by her very right- wing father he would disown her if she went. My father tried hard to discourage me from such a venture but he never had any control over me before that, so it was fruitless on his behalf. (I think my mother was envious!)

We made the trip as far as the NY toll and my VW decided to expire right there in the toll booth after I paid! NOT an auspicious beginning clearly! So I left it there, extremely reluctantly, and joined the others in the Caddy. Which was a cooler ride to show up in clearly, though it was hard to stop thinking about my VW back there at the toll house! I don’t remember much of the ride but I sure do remember our arrival. We never got close. Like thousands of others we were halted outside the concert grounds and had to trudge a very long way to get there, but it was quite amazing. People living on the road came out and dragged hoses for us for water, they set up lemonade stands, they offered us food….here we were converging by the thousands on a sleepy neighborhood where I bet nothing more than a passing excitable skunk shook up the monotony! It seemed like it was miles later that we got there. Now I should also mention we decided we would get in free (we had done it for a Creedance Clearwater concert, a Jimi Hendrix concert, so why not?)….and so did thousands of others…the Peoples Free Woodstock Concert! So many climbed fences, in fact the promoters, came on the loud speaker and announced it was now a free concert! Yee hawww!

Finding a place to put up our tents proved frustrating, and we ended up quite far from the actual site. As the concert started getting close to performance time, we hiked the long way to it, past thousands of others…and I will never forget the sight of 3 naked people in a boat, paddling around the one body of water available for 500,000 people — the water was the color of coffee with a ton of milk! No getting clean with that water!

We found a spot to sit near the stage, over to the right of it, and about 40 or 50 people to get past to find the bathrooms (lawdy, was that awful to endure: the walk, the waiting, the portapotty smells, the endless “excuse me’s” trying to get out of the throngs of humans to even GET to the bathrooms). And not long after that it began to rain….and it barely ever stopped raining…it was pretty miserable frankly. But once the performers came on, it was all ok….one after another of the most amazing musicians of the 60’s…people I had been listening to for soooo long, and there they were…right up there in front of us…it was indescribable…500,000 people feeling pure joy….solidarity….accord….no fighting, no fussing, no bitching, no selfies, no cell phones being constantly monitored….just fun…love….music….and mud! Lots of mud…and no way to get clean….

Around the concert area were all these booths set up — food, weed, clothing. As a small town girl, I was floored to see signs such as “ACAPULCO GOLD GET IT HERE”, “COLUMBIAN GET IT HERE” and on and on…boldly set-up booths selling weed! People dancing everywhere…children, teens, elderly…all together and many naked! AND NO POLICE! No police presence at all….

By the morning of the third day, we were exhausted from little sleep, wet, dirty and grumpy. So it was time to depart. Seeing the mess as we left was a stark reminder of how people can really mess up the planet. Too many did not clean up their messes, and that kind of pissed me off, frankly — all these so called “aware” hippies and too many acting like spoiled kids. But that was the downside of this event…there is always a downside. There was one more: it cost me 50 dollars a day for the “impoundment” of my VW, then a return trip to pick it up and tow it home. So in the end, I paid for that concert many times over. But it was worth every single dollar. Never in the course of history here in the States have we EVER seen such a peaceful event. So so many people gathered together in love and solidarity…no police, no need for them because we were a different breed…we were hippies…long live hippies!

Wendy

Spirituality of Art – JR Butler (Part 2 of 2)

JR Butler is a muralist, sculptor, potter, painter, digital artist…you name it! He is also a good friend of mine and an integral part of the Siler City and Chatham County arts community. I recently asked him for his thoughts on creativity and his creative process. Here’s a continuation of what he had to say…

JR Butler welcoming visitors to his NC Arts Incubator exhibit, 2018. Photo by Barbara Hengstenberg
Digital art by JR Butler

I barely make it by some days fighting poverty and mental illness but art is the one thing above all others that rejuvenates my desire to live! It is what raises some mortals up to a higher understanding. Just to clarify though, I am not saying being an artist will make you a god. No. But it does have a spirituality about it that I believe can bring people closer to their vision of enlightenment. Consider also that aside from the act of creation, it is also one way to live on past your days on this physical plane. Living on not only in the memories of family and close friends but in those whom your art has touched. For a person who doesn’t feel they have much value, this is a treasure that no one can take.

Sculpture by JR Butler
Sculpture by JR Butler

I feel that we are approaching an exciting place for art which only makes me want to continue on this path even longer. The addiction gets stronger the longer I go. What I see though is a younger generation of artists who are hard wired to do something entirely different than most generations of artists and I plan to stick around for this ride into the future of art and ultimately humanity. It is upon us, friends. I see things I had only dreamed of in the work of young artists. Art is a language that has the ability to transcend all differences and I see new artists speaking that language with more fluency everyday through social media and other outlets. I’m so excited with all the new ideas about living well and enjoying the arts and humanity with less boundaries. And for this I will continue to savor every breath I take even when I feel suffocated. It’s what makes me who I am and allows me to take my art to those who understand and need it. It is for me, but it is also for them. The fact that some get what I’m conveying encourages me that there are people like myself in the world. Sometimes I wish there were more like me even if some social ideals may disagree with having more people with mental issues. I’ve got news, you’re not excluded! I don’t care who you are. Please recognize that we all have different struggles and try to respect and help each other. That’s part of the message I am getting the most from today’s youth, too, globally! I want to stick around for the dismantling of outdated ideas, for people who are looking at the creative possibilities for the future but recognizing some of the practicality of older technologies and ideas from our global history as a guide to more informed solutions for a healthier future for all that exists on this plane.

Detached by JR Butler
Mother by JR Butler

I am all about continuing to learn to evolve and hopefully provide an outlet as well as a voice for others who share similar mental health and social struggles. I want to have a voice for myself that hopefully helps others to find their voices. I advocate for the kind-hearted people who are marginalized or struggling, I advocate for the starving artists who create for their own well-being and the well-being of others. I advocate for the mentally ill, who struggle to continue on despite their challenges, as well as those who’ve lost the battle trying because they were not able to get what they needed here. I advocate for those people who try to help others with the knowledge that there will be times when all their efforts may not change the outcome. I advocate for those who find themselves in poverty or chaos who strive even though the odds are stacked against them. I want the world to know these people and start to recognize their worth in this world just as I want to be recognized by my worth as a human being — a worth that has nothing to do with our financial status but is founded on mutual respect for one another as fellow thinking and feeling entities.

These are all things that shape me as an artist but also as a human being. For me, they are one in the same, my life is just as much my art as any physical object I create.

Pottery by JR Butler

Creativity Is My Voice – JR Butler (Part 1 of 2)

JR Butler is a muralist, sculptor, potter, painter, digital artist…you name it! He is also a good friend of mine and an integral part of the Siler City and Chatham County arts community. I recently asked him for his thoughts on creativity and his creative process. Here’s what he had to say…

To me, creativity is a passion to recognize the possibility of presenting unique, new ideas and using whatever means to bring this vision forward. I feel grateful that I possess this passion. Creativity is like a hypothetical muse that exists in my mind. It is the voice I hear most clearly in my head; it is my voice. When I’m able to use it to speak out loud, it is the truest, rawest expression of me. When I truly expose my creativity through art, I feel the change in energy from people who experience it. I know that my creative energy has caused them an emotion that is real. This is what motivates me above all things to create: to know that I have created an experience that has an emotive quality that resonates with the viewer. That they have felt me for the moment through my art. When someone truly appreciates my creativity and my art, it’s as if that voice has become a part of me that the viewer will take with them…a part of me that will live on with them and in others who view this work.

I am affected by the emotional energy of others every day. This is the best way I know to share those feelings with others. They may not always know what the art is about, but if it has made people feel my emotions like I feel theirs, then I feel good about that transfer of energy.

Mural by JR Butler, Siler City, NC

My all time favorite movie is the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and my favorite line in a film is delivered in that movie by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka: “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers in the dream.” This is my mantra. So when people want to blame Ozzy Osborne for my actions…(((buzzer)))…the correct answer is Willy Wonka!

As an artist, a dreamer, a creator, I believe those of us who create are on a quest to find what is closest to godliness…and it’s not just cleanliness, folks. It also has to do with the act of creation and the ability to live eternally, just as the pharaohs sought and have so far attained with their artistically elaborate tombs. It is art.

Some would argue that art is one of the differences between humans and animals. However, if you have not seen art in nature made by animals and the forces of rock, you haven’t seen our world. I am an artist and I am here to help open your eyes. Art is not only what we have placed our claim on as humans. I can show you art I have collaborated on with a dog, insects, and nature. We have only just scratched the surface on knowing what art is and what it can be. I have been on this quest for as long as I can remember and I will continue on this path. As long as there’s another breath, I will be reaching for it to make my art.

Diversity Mural, by JR Butler, Siler City, NC

Writing for the Animals

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As the Writer-in-Residence at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, it is an honor for me to sit and talk with the residents, and to be allowed to tell their stories.

For example, sitting by the duck pond one day, the peace and tranquility of Dexter Duck and Channing Duck’s lives here at the Refuge brought to mind memories of a younger me swimming at The Lake….

“Closing my eyes, I listen
Comfort surrounds me
Cooled by the breeze as its feathery touch pushes aside the warm sun.

Bullfrogs croak their deep baritone greeting
Ducks quack like old friends gossiping over tea
Talking over one another
Their voices converging into steady harmonics….”

Read more…

Garden Peace Pole Project – Part 2

Part 2 of my Garden Peace Pole Project appears in my Mother Earth News blog.  Follow the link below…

For me, garden art creates natural balance. The flow of creating a piece of garden decor, especially from design to development, enhances my life balance. Seeing garden accessories sprouting in the midst of plants provides a personal human touch to my natural world…  (Read more…)

 

Garden Peace Pole Project

Seems I’ve always been a gardener. My earliest garden memory: building rock gardens with Mom when I was a wee one as my two older sisters went off to school. Warm spring days found the two of us collecting pebbles, stones and rocks(Read more here)

My first blog post, Part 1 of Regaining Balance By Making a Garden Peace Pole appears online on Mother Earth News!  

WARNING: 100 Days of Welding Will Lead to More Days of Welding

I started following Mara Strayer’s 100 Day Challenge on Instagram a couple months ago.  I soon learned she lived within 10 minutes of me, and we’ve become good friends.  Always up for a challenge, we are currently undertaking the daily #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge (ending on the first day of spring), which you can follow on Mara’s Instagram page, as well as on mine: @SparkworkStudio and @WildesArt

Mara’s 100 Day Welding Challenge was very inspiring, so I invited her to be a guest blogger.  Enjoy her story, as well as some of her beautiful creations!

Barbara


I met Barbara Hengstenberg only very recently on Instagram. She found me somehow and seemed interested in my project at the time, #100DaysOfWelding2. As it works sometimes in social media, we started to form a relationship and discovered we live very close to each other, so, we met for coffee.

Barbara is such a kind, inclusive and positive person…she just makes you smile. She asked me if I would write a guest blog for her site to describe what #100DaysofWelding is and how I decided to do it. I thought it might be helpful to have a little background information first!

So, a brief history is that many years ago I graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in both Graphic Design and Metalsmithing/Silversmithing. I enjoyed careers in both fields but life went along and my husband and I decided to start a family. We decided that what was best for us was for me to stay home with our girls…and the years went by. In fact, it was when my oldest was 18, I realized that it was now time I find something for myself.

I stay motivated with goals. I have done this my whole adult life. It’s kind of a strange thing but if I have a goal, I will get it done and if I don’t have a goal, I will waste my time. The key for me is to set realistic goals so that I can actually meet them. Then, I feel satisfied and can move on to the next. Some are big and lengthy and some are quick.

So, I decided on a big goal: obtain a welding certificate. I went to a local community college and completed a one year program. It took two semesters while my daughters were in their Senior and Freshman years of High School.

I learned to mig, tig and stick weld, plasma and oxy cut among many other things. I completed this goal and got my certificate in May of 2016. I could have easily been satisfied with my accomplishment and welded just for me and just for fun, but that’s not what I did. I set a few more goals to keep me moving forward. I opened an Etsy shop, got my work into a local shop (Chatham Home in downtown Pittsboro) and got into my first juried show at The Arts Center in Carrboro. I felt that proud sense of accomplishment after meeting each one of these.

I do, however, still have a house and family! And, off course, sometimes too easily, I put off my welding to do the day to day things that seem more important. The meal planning, shopping, laundry, errands and carpools seem endless and still need to get done. Consequently, my current projects tend to get shoved further and further down the list. I needed a way to get and stay motivated EVERY DAY!

One day, while browsing around Instagram, I found a possible solution. An artist had challenged herself to 100 days of creativity. She had created a hashtag: #The100DayProject and asked others to join her. This artist, @elleluna , works mostly with paint, but suggested that each participant creates their own individual hashtag and join the community. It was a lightbulb moment for me, the perfect way to find a little creativity every day. So, I did it and created the hashtag #100DaysOfWelding , which amazingly had not already been used. Some days I would post pictures of a finished piece and other days it would be a work in progress or a sketch. As long as I was working each day, it was forcing me to focus. I met quite a few other 100 day participants along the way and a new community was formed. Many of the followers I gained were fellow 100-dayers. A few would like every single one of my posts and comment with words of support and encouragement and I did this for them as well.

On day 100 of the challenge, there was much celebration. I felt both a sense of relief and accomplishment.

But, something else happened, I saw the final post of one of the artists who had also taken the challenge. Cate of @lets_make_a_ruckas is a needlework artist and posted a small round finished work every day. On the last day of the challenge, she posted a picture of all 100 of her perfect round pieces all together and it blew me away. It was so awesome that she had this plan from the beginning and so was able to finish with a huge impact.

So, of course, I had to do this too.

I planned it out and this 2nd time around with my #100DaysOfWelding it would be #100DaysofWelding2 . Each day, I posted a finished charm. Each different but all 3” round. I planned it so that on the final day, January 1st 2018 symbolizing a New Year and a “Fresh Start”, I would post a picture of all 100 pieces!

Here are a few of the individual posts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the whole darn thing altogether!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       I met my goal!

During that recent coffee date with Barbara, we planned a new challenge of our own. We decided to work every day towards a finished piece that would be unveiled on the First Day of Spring, April 20th! We are calling it the #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge. I would encourage anyone looking for inspiration to challenge themselves to their own #100dayproject or something similar. Whether you are stuck in a rut or needing to stay focused, it will feel good to be a part of a community and work towards a destination.

Follow on Instagram @SparkworkStudio or Twitter @SparkworkStudio

A Day with Eric Sommer: My Kind of Music – Slapping, Sliding, Stabbing

Ever hear a musician for the first time and say, “Wow, I could listen to this music all day!”? For me, it’s a rarity. I consider myself a music snob…I know what I like, and that’s that. (I’m also a comedy snob, but that’s another story.) Back in October, Bill and I were headed to a Halloween festival. We had read about the performer, Eric Sommer, whose music was billed as folk/blues/Americana/rock influenced by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Steve Howe, Randy Travis, and Elvis Costello. Wait a minute…really? A favorite guitarist in our household is Steve Howe. We were intrigued, yet skeptical that perhaps there was some hyperbole in this write-up.

Indeed, we were blown away on that Halloween evening, listening to Sommer’s music and banter with the crowd. There was no exaggeration in that initial write-up. Bill and I knew right away this was a musician who belongs on WildesArt and whose music deserves to be heard by the masses.

Fast forward two months, and I find myself reflecting on a day spent video-recording the awe-inspiring singer/songwriter and guitar master, Eric Sommer. Setting up in the old Chatham Mills building in downtown Pittsboro, North Carolina, Sommer strolled through the door, a black Vivian Westwood fedora atop his head, carrying guitar upon guitar: a Jay Tercer parlor guitar; twin black and white checked Trinity River guitars; a Taylor acoustic embellished with mother-of-pearl inlay; a 1951 Sears Silverstone that looked as though it was once strummed in the doorway of an Airstream trailer on a lazy summer afternoon; and the Holy Grail of guitars: an ageless Fender Telecaster, worn from years of use, its fret-board patina announcing a history of glory days.

With steel finger picks on each finger of Sommer’s “strumming” hand (I use that term lightly, as his playing is better described in terms of slaps, slides, and stabs), one foot on a volume pedal and the other foot tapping out the beat on a kick box, Sommer drove us through a catalog of songs. These are tunes that tell a story…some are epic poetry laced with a guitar riffs and chorus. Others are fusion instrumentals or inspired by old-time Americana and bluegrass tunes. These songs will never fit into a one-hit-wonder mold. For instance, the song, Do Re Mi, played on the Jay Tercer, is not your kid’s note-scale music lesson. This song touches upon the psychedelic, using frequency waves a la Jimmy Page, and glides to superior riffs reminiscent of Steve Howe. Then, turning his instrument face-up flat, Sommer punctuates with a jolt of guitar bongos.

After eight hours of filling the old brick and wood warehouse with instruments and video equipment, the air still vibrating with music, it was a wrap. Eric will soon be setting off on national and European tours, and Bill will be working his wizardry on editing and packaging this collection of music videos. And I will be anxiously awaiting the release of each of these creations. Stay tuned…you won’t be disappointed.

Visit Eric Sommer’s website: www.EricSommer.com
Follow Eric on Facebook:  @ericsommermusic

Subscribe to WildesArt and to our WildesArt YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on new releases.

Special thanks to Chatham Mills.

Creative Treasure in Siler City, NC

Chatham County, North Carolina, is teeming with creativity.  Creative people, murals, artwork, art galleries…  You name it, and it seems like we’ve got it.  And if we don’t…we’ll create it!  But finding the space in which to create can be difficult.  I’ve carved out a room in our house for my studio, and I know others who love to paint, draw, or write outside…plein air…  

Then yesterday, I ventured out to Siler City, known as the last home and burial site of Francis Bavier (a.k.a. Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show).  The more I travel Route 64 West, the more I fall in love with the scenery:  dairy farms, open space, a stained glass warehouse, and an alpaca farm.  Once I reach the city limits, however, it looks like Anytown U.S.A., with a Walmart, gas stations, convenience stores…you get the idea.  

Yet, driving just a mile or so into “Historic Downtown Siler City,” sits this humble small city, subtle in its beauty.  At least 9 murals decorate buildings within walking distance to one another, with more being planned.  And in the heart of it all is the NC Arts Incubator.  

I met with the Incubator’s new director, April Weaver, who took me on a tour of this impressive space.  Within these walls is housed a retail gallery, a new exhibit gallery,  studio space, workshop space, and a coffee shop.  This is a colorful, warm, and inviting place.  April took me downstairs to a large clay studio, where I was lucky to see two clay artists at work. Afterward, when we entered  the painting cooperative studios next door, the smell of oils and acrylics piqued my desire to put paint to canvas again.  Anyone who is looking for affordable, cooperative studio space, this is the place!

I’m looking forward to getting more involved with this non-profit organization.  April, the board, and volunteers have great vision for this space, and I encourage folks to go visit and see what they’re up to…and maybe buy a piece of art while you’re there.  

Their Holiday Art Market is open November 17-December 29. This is a chance to shop for handmade holiday gifts by local artists. Art such as paintings, pottery, jewelry, fiber products and notecards will be available.  (I’ll have some work available for sale, too.)  Opening night is Friday, November 17th during the 3rd Friday Artwalk. There will be live music inside at Courtyard Coffee and the Holiday Art Market in the PAF Gallery. The perfect opportunity to Shop Local!

Holiday Art Market:  November 17-December 29: Wednesdays through Fridays 10-6 and Saturdays 10–4. 

If you see me there, please say hi!

Visit: NC Arts Incubator:  223 N Chatham Avenue, Siler City, NC 27344  (919) 663-1335

www:ncartsincubator.org   email: info@ncartsincubator.org