Monday, September 15, 2014

Rey Residency Day 14 - Lots of Drawings and A Daring Robbery!

Day 14 - My last day as Artist in Residence at the Margret and H.A. Rey Center in Waterville Valley is one filled with a surprising amount of emotion.

I'm primarily emotional about the fact that I have to lug all my stuff down three floors without being able to conscript my kids into doing it for me. Because they aren't here.

I considered calling the police to see if that's a service they offer here in town, but it seemed ill-advised for some reason. Especially after the whole Barbie thing.

As I packed up my belongings, I thought it might be fun to take a look at all the work I've completed here.

I began laying out my drawings on the floor. I had to push a table out of the way. Then a foot rest. Then a couch.

It was a lot of work.

Somehow, in between searching for garden elves, hunting for purple chairs, searching for letters in bottles, chronicling Barbie's last precious hours on earth, collecting bottles of wine, going to dinners, hiking mountains, and searching for elusive gazebos, I did a lot of work.

I could have done more if it hadn't been for that stupid Barbie and those enticing gazebos. Oh, and the wine.

I spent a lot of time during the residency thinking about what an amazing opportunity it was. I feel so lucky that I was able to spend two carefree weeks, focusing on nothing but my passion. By which I mean art; not wine. Wine isn't my passion. It's a hobby. There's a difference.

I cannot even begin to express my thanks to all the people who made it happen. The Margret and H.A. Rey Center Board of Directors, The Rey Center volunteers, the staff and students at Waterville Valley Elementary School, and all the new friends I made in Waterville Valley who showed me around, invited me to dinners, sent me on snipe hunts to find gazebos that do not exist, made me eggplant calzones, opened their homes to me, gave me wine, cleaned my house, posed for ridiculous pictures, and generally made this one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

I thank you all very sincerely.

I'm certain that I will never have any idea of all the work that went into making this all happen, but as the first Artist in Residence, I hope that this is the beginning of a long tradition. It was an incredible honor and an opportunity I hope many other artists are able to experience in the years to come.

As the last few items were shoved into the car and the bike was strapped on to the bike carrier, I went over to Chris and Len's house to say goodbye and thank them again for letting me stay in their guest house and for their incredible hospitality throughout my entire stay.

Chris and me. Len was taking the picture. We should have had the dog take it so Len could be in here with us!

I climbed into the car and, with one last photo of my lodgings, headed home.

Actually, I'll be back because I found out that I accidentally brought home a piece of Chris and Len's Tupperware. Sorry, guys! I'll return it sometime.

One last time, most sincerely, thank you all so very much.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 13 - A Narrowly Averted Kung-Fu Fight, A Call From The Police, Mysteries Revealed, and More Dinner

Day 13 -
I need to start this thrilling missive with what will most likely seem like a crass commercial. It is not crass, though if it serves as a commercial, so much the better.

I need to take a moment to briefly describe Chris, who, with her husband, Len, have been kind enough to open their guest home to me for these past two weeks.

They are consummate hosts: polite; thoughtful; considerate. Chris, to give you more of an idea about the kind of person she is, has traveled to Ghana on more than one occasion to personally oversee a charity she runs called ROUTEStoAfrica. She sells beautiful African baskets - the sale of each basket provides enough money to send a student to school for a year in Ghana.
1 basket = 1 year of school. So buy a basket!

I write this for two reasons. The first, to help spread the word about her good works. The second, slightly more pressing at the moment, is to give you an idea of what kind of person Chris is and to clearly demonstrate how out of character it appeared to me when she single-handedly stopped an invading army of tourists.

Kerri and I were enjoying our coffee this morning when I heard voices outside. Not unusual in this very outdoorsy town. But these voices seemed close.

Too close.

Looking out the window, I saw this:

An Asian assassin slipping stealthily from the street, through the bushes into Chris and Len's garden. The invasion had begun!

We shrugged and peered out the other window to see this:

Another Asian assassin, this one, a younger lady, complete with baby backpack and camera.

I've seen enough awesome kung-fu movies to know that something was up.

As a responsible guest in Chris and Len's home, I pulled up chairs for Kerri and myself and offered to make popcorn as we watched events unfold. Kerri thought that popcorn might ruin the taste of her coffee and suggested that perhaps I should alert Chris and Len to this infestation of tourists.

"Maybe they're Chris and Len's friends," I suggested as we heard branches crack in the driveway alongside our house. I jumped up to see the older guy, pedaling through the huge wooden gate, between our cars, and up into the garden between the houses.

Don't mind me. Just wandering through the yard.

Soon, the garden party was in full swing, the attendees posing for pictures, checking out the lovely plants and wandering down the large, wooden deck that runs from Chris and Len's house to the river.

Kerri did eventually convince me that I should probably call Chris and Len, which I did, albeit grudgingly because I was enjoying the show. I got Chris's voice mail and left a message calmly explaining that her backyard was being overrun with tourists who were surely amassing to take over Waterville Valley in a spectacular kung-fu war that none of us could possibly hope to survive.

My duty done, I sat down on the deck with my coffee to await further developments.

I had hardly had two sips of coffee when all the fun began. Chris - kind, polite, considerate, conscientious Chris emerged from her back door like this:

Git outta ma yard, ya varmints!

Kerri remembers it somewhat differently, but she's not here right now so you'll have to be content with my version of reality.

This is Chris and Len, explaining to the tourists that they are trespassing.

Git outta ma yard, ya varmints!
The people explained, rather feebly, that they thought it was a park.
"How could you possibly think this is a public park?" Chris asked. "You pushed your way through the bushes and walked through the gate and up my driveway!"

"Sorry, sorry, sorry," the people muttered as Chris did not brandish a shotgun like I wish she had.

This is the parade of would-be kung-fu assassins, slinking down the driveway in shame:


The third one skittered out so fast, she was a mere blur in the picture.

I assumed the thrills for the day would be over after that, but I was wrong.

That was just the warm-up act.

Soon, Kerri and the kids had to leave. I was naturally upset to see them go, especially because I was expecting a tour bus full of tourists to appear at any moment and I wanted someone there to watch my back.

As they were packing their things into the car, Chris called to tell me that the police had been at the Rey Center looking for me.

Naturally, I began speaking with a terrible French accent. "Marty? Ee Eez no 'ere. Ee as gone to Paree. Ooo la la."

Chris wasn't fooled and gave me a number to call.

"This is about that dead Barbie," Kerri suggested. "You're probably the prime suspect."

I tried to rush my family away so the children might be spared the sight of their father dragged away in shackles, but they would not not budge until I made the call.

Terror gripped me as I dialed the phone number with a trembling finger.

"Hello?" I squeaked. "This is Marty Kelley. You called?"

"Yeah. This is Captain Katsirebas. I have some questions about an outstanding warrant for your arrest."

I swear that's what he said.

Things got a little woozy for a moment before he laughed and said, "They told me you had a good sense of humor. Ha ha."

Turns out that Captain Katsirebas is the husband of a good friend of mine from high school, Deb.

"Ha ha," I whimpered, breathing slowly and steadily until my vision cleared.

He very kindly invited me to join their family for dinner later.

My family, seeming oddly disappointed that I wasn't going to star in COPS: Waterville Valley, piled into the car and headed home.

I sadly waved goodbye and got ready to head downtown.

I was scheduled to meet Maryellen at The Rey Center to pick up the artwork that I had on display. I left somewhat early. The weather was nasty, but I had my free boat ride coupon that I had fished out of the pond the other day and I was going to use it, doggone it.

I waved my coupon around when I arrived at the dock. "I have a coupon, my good man!" I announced. "Lead me to your finest sailing vessel."

If I was expecting to pilot a 50 foot yacht, and let's be clear here–I was expecting that–I tried not to let my disappointment show when I was lead to a small plastic kayak with a damp seat.

Look! I'm on a boat, yo!

I paddled listlessly through the water, making chugging noises and pretending, without much conviction, that I was piloting a 50 foot yacht through the Mediterranean.

I was headed out toward the far end of the pond when I saw it.
The Mysterious Letter in the Bottle! It's BACK!

I paddled furiously for the raft, grabbed the bottle, and read its secrets.

I had been hoping for something a bit more... desperate sounding.

The map inside, woefully inadequate, I'm afraid.

Despondent now about: No Kung-fu fight, no family, no yacht, no desperate soul in need of rescue, I paddled around the pond a few times.

Town Square, seen from a boat.

Town Square. Also seen from a boat.

The bridge, seen from a boat.

My shoes, seen from a boat.

I was headed back to the dock when I happened upon this large, plastic culvert.

I'm fairly certain that all of you would have had exactly the same thought.

"Can I fit my kayak in there?"

 Yes. Yes, you can.

Although once in, the excitement subsides rather quickly.

It started to rain pretty hard at that point so I headed back to shore to discover that the drain holes in my yacht were perfect for letting in gallons of water to strategically soak my ankles and both butt cheeks.

It was a soggy-bottomed, cold-ankled Marty who met Maryellen in The Rey Center a few minutes later.

We posed for some pictures and I said my good-byes.

Goodbye, Maryellen. Thanks for everything!

Can you find me? I'm drying off my pants by sitting on Curious George! Maybe I'll be a new character alongside The Man in the Yellow Hat. I'll be "The Man in the Soggy Pants".

 I waddled home to slip into something more comfortable and less wet before joining Deb, John, Megan, and Ethan for dinner.

Yay! Everyone else looks great. I look like a dork and you can see up my nose all the way to my brain. Such is my life.

 It was delightful to see Deb and her kids again and to meet her husband, John. It was even more delightful that at no point during dinner did a platoon of police officers spring from their hiding places, toss me to the ground, and arrest me for the murder of Barbie.

But I still have one more day here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 12 - Missing Gazebos, Giant Squids, and The Supreme Inadequacy of The Northern Lights

Day 12 dawned bright and sunny and I was eager to get in a lot of work.

And by work, naturally, I mean wandering around through the woods and looking for a gazebo and dipping my feet in the lake.

You will no doubt be delighted to hear that I achieved my goals and, in fact, exceeded them by putting my feet in the water more than once.

Three times. Because I am an overachiever, apparently.

Before heading down into the town square, I decided to find the last, most elusive gazebo in town. Being a hot-shot visiting artist guy, I have an in with Margaret, a town selectman, who sent me detailed direction to the hidden gazebo, which is apparently only known to a few people in the universe.

I followed her direction precisely–direction, which I feel I must say, included biking up a hill that was longer and steeper than Mt. Everest–and wound up here:

Private Property. Keep Out. We Mean It.
I gasped a bit, still catching my breath from the grueling bike ride up the hill, and poked around a bit, thinking that I may have overlooked the path somehow.

I followed one small trail a few dozen feet before it petered out. Not wishing to wander too far and wind up on the news (Stupid Artist Dies of Exposure 13 Feet From Huge House. And Gazebo), I grabbed my bike and headed back to the house to pack up my supplies for a few hours of work downtown.

Ready for action!
 It wasn't until I arrived in town that I thought that perhaps this was not the best way to bring my recycling to the recycling bins.

I stopped in the local bookstore and demanded to be allowed to sign books, whether they were mine or not. "I AM AN IMPORTANT PERSON! LET ME SIGN BOOKS!" I cried.

"Is that a bottle of wine in your backpack?" the kind lady behind the counter answered.

"I HAVE A PEN!" I bellowed.

It's lucky that they did have a delightful display of my books on hand, or I would have wound up signing some frightful diatribe by Rush Limbaugh or something.

After my grueling few minutes acting like a famous author, I spent a few hours alternately working and dangling my feet in the lake.

This is the dangling station. Please note the tragic lack of a message in a bottle on the raft. It is a loss that will haunt me forever. WHAT DID IT SAY?

This is my feet in the water. Because you needed to see that.

This is a close-up of my feet in the water because I have nothing else to write about or show you.

This is the water. At this particular location, it s full of weeds and probably 60 foot squid-like monsters, just waiting to drag me under and swallow me whole. Or not whole. It really doesn't make much difference at that point, does it?

A few people stopped and asked me about the boat rentals. I explained that I didn't actually work there, but when they kept asking, I offered to collect their money and send them off on the boats. Then they left me alone so I could work.

I was hard at work on my plans for starting a black-market boat rental business when Kerri called and said that she was coming up with the kids for the night so we could go see the northern lights.

I was, of course, delighted to have them come up, but obviously didn't give that impression. I may have stressed how easily I had adjusted to the life of a childless bachelor. I may have stressed it a few dozen times during dinner. Or a few hundred.

Despite my calloused disregard for the feelings of my nearest and dearest, they did not ditch me during the meal and we went off in search of a good place to view The Northern Lights or, as I now like to call them, The Whole Buncha Driving Around For Nothing Lights.

We did not locate them, although I did snap a few pictures of the night sky.

The night sky. Please note complete lack of beautiful lights.

For comparison, here is a photo I accidentally took of the inside of my pocket the other day.

My pocket. Please note spectacular display of colors.

Next time, I think I will just stick my head in my pocket and save the gas.

No matter how quickly I acclimated to childless bachelorhood, it was a great night with my family and I was delighted to have them join me even if they refused to put their heads in my pocket to see the awesome view.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 11 - Draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw...

Day 11 of my tenure as the Artist in Residence at The Rey Center was marked by rain.

Lots of rain.

I mean - lots of rain.

So, rather than idly wandering around town seeking out gazebos, wine, and drowned Barbies–as I had been squandering my time before–I actually buckled down and got work done.

A lot of work.

I didn't quite realize how much I'd done yesterday alone until I photographed it all. Sadly, the pictures didn't come out as well as they could have, but here's yesterday's output.

I did some work on an incredibly tasteless, fart-intensive personal project.

Then I finished up the last of the rough sketches for an upcoming book with Islandport Press.

Then I worked on finished character designs for that same book. I'm really happy with these. I tried to give an idea of the personality of each kid through the body position.

This is Albert, the main character.

I'm sad to say that the rest of these characters remain nameless, although I think the Asian girl should be named Kim, after my intrepid editor at Islandport, Melissa Kim.

Please feel free to send along name suggestions for any of the kids. I'm always happy to steal other people's ideas.

Is it you, Melissa Kim? Yes!

And, that's it for today, y'all. Seems like a pretty good amount of work for one day.

Tomorrow,  I'm off in search of the remaining gazebos in town.