Poem for Today

A Place Without Words

I am there now,
a place without words.

In between white socks spread 
across the laundry room counter. 
There are too many
to count. 

Brown toe
with stretched heel.
Green stripe
and yellow toes. 

Who belongs to these socks? 
They do not belong to me.
So I move from one place without words
to another. 

Like Sylvia Plath 
without a typewriter
or Kurt Schwitters hiding 
under a table in a concentration
Waiting for scraps of food
or paper to fall. 
to make art
out of nothing. 

To make art out of something
that someone else
has thrown away. 

Is there an end
to the poem?

I don’t know.
I am in a place 
without words. 

by Pam RuBert 
aka PaMdora

Open Air Art Gallery at Inspiration Arbor

The LAWN Art with Neighbors project came at an opportune time. I had been thinking about the old arbor in our side yard ever since the COVID-19 Stay At Home orders came down — how nice it would be turn it into an open air art gallery. So this is the story of how the exhibition of Springfield artists in Windows, Wind Chimes, & Whimsy was created.

LAWN Art with Neighbors is a community public art project May 1-10, 2020. Anyone could apply to participate if they followed stay-at-home order, social distancing rules, and used materials that they already had to create art on their lawn.

The reason I thought that our arbor would be perfect, it’s already perceived by our neighborhood as a community site. I often see walkers in the Rountree/Meadowmere Place area stopping to go inside. Or families with small children exploring the little hideaway.

The History of the Arbor

The arbor doorway faces the street and there is no barrier between the street and the entrance. The reason it’s sited so unusually, is it was built in 1908 by William Howard Johnson. He lived in the house across the street, before there was a street. So actually it faces his house.

William Howard Johnson built the arbor in 1908

Then Weller street was paved, and the arbor ended up on the other side of the street, in our yard. Johnson also built many other houses in the neighborhood and planted all the trees that are now over a hundred years old. He made enough money doing that, and then he went down south and built the small city of Hollister. You can see the same signature rock work there in the Old English Inn in downtown Hollister.

The arbor in 1908 before Weller Street was there

So he probably didn’t mind losing the arbor. I’m glad we got it. It’s sort of a magical little place. Feels like a secret room with windows open to nature. When you are inside it, you feel safe, protected, and peaceful.

Over the years, the vines had become shaggy, the paint peeled, concrete cracked, and rafters rotted. I’d been wanting to fix it for years, but it seemed like an overwhelming project.

Then L.A.W.N. Art with Neighbors came up fast, and there is nothing like a deadline to get motivated!

Ralph Lanning Outsider Art in the Arbor

I got some help replacing the rafters, so the wood was the only thing we bought. Getting them up there was a little tricky, but with Russ’s jacks and some ingenuity, lifted the vines, slid the new boards in sideways, and flipped the boards.

Next we pruned the vines and pulled weeds, uncovering Ralph Lanning sculptures that we had placed there years ago – a little concrete church and carved stone bear.

Here’s a blog post I wrote in 2011 about the auction of Ralph Lanning’s sculptures, most of which were bought by Missouri State University and how we got some of them. Also about his naked man sculpture controversy.

Concrete and stone sculptures by self-taught folk artist Ralph Lanning

Then we invited artist friends from Paint Club and ideaXfactory to bring art to exhibit. I encouraged them to only bring or make art that was weather-resistant. Paintings on board were fine, but I told them to remember that once installed, both sides might show.

The Artists featured in Windows, Wind Chimes, & Whimsy

Dana Neuenschwander made a wonderful two-sided painting that spins in the wind. One side is a landscape, the other a snail. She calls it Riparian, and says it was inspired by a short stretch of water near Delaware Town:

“When I was a young girl, I lived near a river and was fascinated by the thousands of fossilized shells in the limestone rock that covered my front yard. The intricate patterns that hundreds of shells made in one slab of rock were beautiful….The snail is the perfect example of how a creature can always be moving but be right at home. Like the mollusks, we may be receding into our homes to protect ourselves during this pandemic, but we adapt to find ways to navigate many obstacles.”

Jo Van Arkel brought a beautiful painting with floating dreamy images of a chair, table, and windows which she titled Stay At Home.

Christie Snelson has been experimenting with painting on glass inside old window frames — perfect! We named the exhibition “Windows, Wind Chimes, & Whimsy”, because of course, Inspiration Arbor is the place, not the exhibit. We may have other exhibits with other names in the future….

Christie’s window inspired me. Windows I thought are so important right now, how we see out of our stay at home shelters.

I had photos our local historian Richard Crabtree had sent of the arbor with Johnson and his children and a drawing of the arbor before it was built.

We printed those large and framed them in old windows that I had been using for several years as make-shift cold frames to protect my plants in winter. Windows through time.

Meganne Rosen has been painting on acetate for several years as she completed her MFA and current gallery shows, so that was a perfect fit.

Russ RuBert’s sculpture Twist is installed right next to the arbor, and gleams at night with two-colored led night lights.

Keith Ekstam brought several wonderful clay landscape sculpture that look like they were made for the pedestals in the arbor.

Keith Ekstam’s sculpture Carrot, Amy Wright Vollmar’s poem Coloring

Cherri Jones helped me make the embroidery hoop mobile using vintage doilies I had been collecting for years. And the wind chimes came of an ideaXfactory workshop called Whimsical Wind Chimes that we created for the Southwest Kids in Action, an organization that organizes social activities for kids 8-18 who are blind or visually impaired.

Paula Rosen made a needle-felted garland that shows the phases of the moon, so appropriate for a structure that is a great spot for viewing the moon at night.

Paula Rosen’s Phases of the Moon

That led to the night-lighting. A bit tricky to balance the lighting that makes you able to see the art and read Amy Wright Vollmar poems (from her new book Follow: Poems published by Cornerpost Press 2020), but not be too disruptive of the night-time nature environment.

Jo Van Arkel’s painting Stay at Home, historical photo by Richard Crabtree

LAWN Art with Neighbors ends today, but we will keep our Windows, Wind Chimes, & Whimsy exhibition up through May. It’s already weathered some pretty windy rainstorms, and the neighbors approve. I’ve even had one neighbor tell me it’s almost like date night to go there after dark!

LAWN Art with Neighbors ends today, but we will keep our Windows, Wind Chimes, & Whimsy exhibition up through May. It’s already weathered some pretty windy rainstorms, and the neighbors approve. I’ve even had one neighbor tell me it’s almost like date night to go there after dark!

How to Find Inspiration Arbor

Inspiration Arbor located at the corner of Weller and Meadowmere, Springfield, MO, at 1507 E. Meadowmere. Please practice good social distancing when viewing this exhibition.

Sewing Video – Face Masks for Hospitals

A Facebook group called Ozark Face Masks for Cox and Mercy Hospitals is organizing volunteers to sew masks for our local hospitals using kits with materials they provide and that the hospitals know can go through their sterilization process. They organize curbside pick-up of kits and drop-off of the finished masks at churches in Springfield and Branson Missouri.

You can also make this type of mask with you own non-woven fabric. One type is called OLY FUN fabric, and it’s the same type of fabric that a lot of cheap tote bags are made from.

When I got my first kit, I was pretty frustrated trying to sew the polypropylene material because I am so used to sewing cotton fabric that I can iron and pin. Luckily my friend Emmie sent me a video that helped me get started, and then I developed a few techniques on my own.

Now I’m trying to help other volunteers to learn, some of whom haven’t sew in a while because, it’s all hands on deck!

So I made this video showing how I make the masks, with a few basic sewing tips added.

Important update: I made a mistake at the end of the video when I said the finished mask should be 4 1/2″ – it should be 3 1/2″.

The main part of the mask is a 7” x 8” rectangle and the two tie-on strips are each 1/2” x 36”. The finished mask should be 7″ x 3 1/2″.

Cutting the sections is a little tricky because the fabric came to use in big sheets, blue and white, joined together at the sides. We separate the two sheets for single layers, and then it doesn’t matter which color you use for either sections. But the blue sometimes has a lot of tape on it, which can’t be removed without tearing the fabric.

We can cut around the tape, but I prefer to cut the strips from the blue, leaving the tape in place and discarding any strips that would have tape near the face. The material can also be wrinkled, so it helps to have sewing tools like a cutting board, ruler, rotary cutter, and clips to hold the fabric together while cutting.

Here are the kit instructions and the template to mark the pleats.

I’m also a part of another Facebook group started by art quilter, photographer, and web designer Gloria Hansen called Sew to Stop COVID-19. The group has been exchanging mask patterns, sewing and material tips, and call of need from hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities across the county.

Gloria has done a wonderful job of organizing all the information on a website that went live just this week. It’s a great resource and there is an interactive US map showing Calls of Need, and anyone can submit facilities that they know are asking for help.

Sew to Stop COVID-19 website

Now I’ll go back to my sewing machine to make some masks for my friends and family using my own fabrics.

Tulips in the Garden

I planted a lot of tulips last fall. Well actually, a few in the fall and a lot in the winter. For a while I was driving around with boxes of bulbs in my car and kept meaning to plant them, just never seemed to find the time. So I guess it worked, the freezing thing that tulip bulbs need to do over the winter so they can bloom in the spring. They just did it in my car. Transient bulbs I guess.

And it did work pretty well until a gang of deer showed up for brunch. They ate a lot of the newly sprouted leaves, and then dug up and stomped on a whole bed of specialty tulips that I had ordered from from some catalog. Those probably would have been really nice, sigh.

I tried putting some of the car-frozen bulbs into pots to see if I could force them. They did sort of grow, but weakly. I guess I should have talked nicely, instead of trying to force them. Then I tried digging up some of the blooms and put them into pots. They were all floppy so I used wrapping paper and ribbon to hold them up. Too much work!

So tomorrow I’ll just cut a bunch, stick them in jars, and deliver to quarantined neighbors like I usually do. But TULIPS! 🙂

Harter House MisHaps

So I went to Harter House today to get a few things…and noticed the checkout guy didn’t seem to know what he was doing. He would sort of act like he was scanning stuff, then stand around and pass the item to the bag boy. For the produce, he didn’t even try to act. Just sort of stood there and mumbled about stuff, then passed it to the bag boy. So you can imagine my bill was pretty low. Until he accidentally hit the button for 162 filets.

Beer Sampler at Mother’s

Thursday night I went to hang out with my friend at Mothers Brewery, a Springfield Brewery that makes lots of popular beers that all have custom names and labels. For instance in the 1950’s there was an exotic pet store that 9 cobras escaped from, and the resulting scare was legendary. So they have a beer call Cobra Scare.

But Thursday I drank Mr. Pumpkin, one of the seasonal beers, and we sat and listened to John Paul play the guitar with two other people because that’s why Stacie was there, and I was there to keep her company. John Paul is her husband, and we ate the pistachios I had in my car. Because Mothers doesn’t serve food but they let you bring your own.

Changing the World, One Letter at a Time

I blame it on pancakes. It changed my world when I discovered at an early age that pancakes weren’t PaMcakes and named after me. At least that’s to what I attribute my fascination with changing ‘pan’ things to PaM things.

I suppose there are lots of pan things. Pandemics, pancreas, pandemonium… But I really only have a couple of things under my belt. The PaMcakes (literally, under my belt, get it) and PaMdora I made up some years ago when I first started making quilts. She’s had lot of adventures, from Christmas aerobatics to banana split yoga.

She always finds herself in unexpected or ironic circumstances and has always looked at the world with some sort of permanent angst. Sometimes that doesn’t seem like enough these days. So I’m working on a new quilt called “It’s Dark Out There – Keep the Light On,” and this new character I’m thinking about calling PaMic, as in PaMic Attack. But maybe her hair should be red.

Working on the stack of books now. I think I’ll put titles on them of stuff that keeps me up at night, things like Alligators. Plastic in the Ocean. That Guy in Colorado. Is My Sunscreen Expired. And, That Awful Noise Down in the Basement.

I might make some pictures for the wall behind the bed too. King Kong on the Empire State Building. A Mushroom Cloud. A Weird Alien and Scary Lizard. What keeps you up at night?


Getting Back in My Groove

It’s been a long time since I laughed while making art, but it feels good to do it again. I’ve done a lot of things over the few years past years, but not much blogging. I won’t go into it all but everything feeds into now, and I’m in the mood to write again.

I’m listening to Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever while working and it’s so good, it will definitely rank up there with the music that get me in a working mood like the Kinks, B-52’s, U2, or Talking Heads so that I listen to the same album over and over for a whole quilt.

I’ve finally got a pretty good little mini studio set up in on the first floor of our art retreat house at Tablerock Lake.  I’ve mounted design boards on the wall and found these wonderful LED track lights at Home Depot. They can be hard wired, but you can also buy an adaptor to add a plug with a 15 foot cord and on/off switch so the strip can be mounted temporarily anywhere that needed.

When I created PaMdora ten years ago, her expression was one of permanent angst. But now she seems dated. My newest character I’m working on is somewhere between high alert and total panic. Trying to think of a good name for her.


As for the Roses…

As for the roses….

Unfortuately the deer and maybe an armadillo ate my specialty roses last year. One of the four made a good effort at returning this spring. It grew out a new long stem with a bud on the end, so I was excitedly waiting for it to bloom. But then a dog or some animal broke that stem. Now it seems like it’s given up this time for sure.

So I started buying larger rose plants because I thought if they were more established when I planted them, then the animals might not be able to do so much damage!

Over the winter I bought some salvage windows because I saw some fun-looking greenhouses on pinterest built out of old windows. But I’m sure that’s a long term project that I’m not ready for yet. In the meantime I tried to build makeshift cold frames over my herb garden. There’s Misha supervising the work in progress. I was worried she might walk on the glass windows, break them and hurt herself, but she left them alone.

Over the winter, Russ put some color-changing LED lights inside and they were beautiful in the snow and frost. The cold frames weren’t perfect but I guess they did some good because my herbs survived the winter and even a lettuce plant came back in the spring. Some kind of broccoli plant survived too, and then this spring sent out this amazing tall shoots. I don’t know what it is doing but its very pretty lol.

So I have a head start on the herbs, and now I’m working on weeding the upper beds, and adding some new ones in places that just weed patches now but get great sun.

“No Strings Attached” at Sky Gallery

Last Monday we hung a fiber arts show at Sky Gallery at the Springfield-Branson National Airport, a beautiful venue to highlight the work of seven fiber artists working in southwest Missouri:

Marty Corcoran – weaving
Stephanie Hornickel – quilts and mixed media
Rachel Denbow – weaving
Paula Rosen – needle felting and weaving
Dani Ives – needle felting on embroidery hoops
Janice Casey – nuno felting
Pam RuBert – art quilts

The exhibition “No Strings Attached” will be on exhibit until February 22, 2016, so if you’re flying over the holidays, allow a little extra time in your travel plans to see the artwork space through the public areas of the airport (before you get to security). Even if you’re not flying, the airport is open 24-7 and you can park in short-term parking for up to 30 minutes for free.

Thanks to Kara Reminigton, graphic designer for the Springfield-Branson National Airport and Sky Gallery director, and Stephanie Cramer, education and exhibitions director for the Springfield Regional Arts Council for putting together this exhibition! Also to Meganne Rosen O’Neal and Larry Askren for all the help installating the show:)

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