epic proportions: 6x6x30.

bspitzIMG_1454I remember last year’s 6x6x30 Art Show, hosted by Spitzer Art Center, more vividly than I remember most things these days. Maybe that’s because experiences that evoke an emotional response take root in one’s memory, and one’s heart, more firmly than superficial, run-of-the-mill events. And that show was anything but ordinary. I remember seeing thirty of Trip Madison’s iconic ships lined up in rows together — a massive, colorful fleet. I remember Brandy’s daring and innovative experiment in which photography met needlepoint — thirty photographs, printed on fabric, enhanced with bright stitches. One of them was a photo of me, my earrings embellished by vibrant orange thread. I remember Denise Allen’s collection of thirty paintings — my son was one of them! I remember Jewel Hertzler’s glistening encaustic paintings — especially the ones of owls and trees. Trees are my people. And so I remember all those images, burned into my frontal lobe, easily recalled from the deepest regions of my memory — not the same feeling as remembering something because it’s been scrawled on a post-it note and hangs on my computer screen. I remember it because I want to, not because I have to.

When Spitzer’s 6x6x30 show rolled around again this year, I decided to give it a try. I knew going in that making one six-inch-square piece of art every day for thirty days would be intense, especially given that I’m not an artist, I’ve had very little experience making art, I’ve had absolutely no training, I had limited supplies and budget, and as always, time would be a huge factor. The biggest lesson I learned over the course of the thirty days is that I was indeed capable of completing the task — even on time! — and so can you. My exhibit was not nearly as breathtakingly beautiful as some of the others, and that’s okay. No one can expect to produce veteran-quality work their first day on the job. And hanging my work next to the work of those veterans, being invited to participate, being welcomed into the fold of all those beautiful people, was truly humbling.

Envelopes by Katie Mitchell

Envelopes by Katie Mitchell

At the start I wasn’t exactly sure what my abilities were, so for my exhibit, I avoided things I KNEW I couldn’t do. Oil painting — forget it. Realistic drawing — nope. Watercolors — uh uh. Anything involving clay — haha!! But… I’d been making and decorating envelopes for my pen pal for a few months and I felt okay about that.

burgIMG_1424Each of the thirty days, after tucking my kids in for the night, I would unfurl my giant roll of white craft paper that I’d pilfered from the kids’ easel downstairs, cut out the shape of an unfolded envelope, fold it to the proper dimensions, and glue the seams. Then I’d sketch (ha) a rough outline of the image I wanted to achieve and rip up random pages of discarded magazines from my school library, gluing down little bits and pieces until it sorta looked like what I’d imagined. For some of the envelopes, I did very rudimentary drawings colored in with marker or colored pencils. I decorated both sides of the envelopes (though not evenly) and invited exhibit attendees to handle the envelopes so they could see the front and the back.

burgIMG_1431 burgIMG_1432 burgIMG_1434I also learned that I am capable of improving. The last envelope I made features a guitar fashioned out of tiny bits of National Geographic magazine. The guitar’s neck wraps around the the back of the envelope where I included a line from the song “Crazy Heart.” The first envelope I made, on the other hand, features an awkward, crooked, wonky-looking record player. Ugh. Despite that frustration, I got better and more efficient at the craft each night. I also got farther and farther behind with EVERY OTHER part of my life. I avoided cooking so I wouldn’t make more dirty dishes, clean clothes were out of the question, and sleep was whittled down to a 4-hour nap each night.

Finally, the day of the opening arrived. The show was so huge — 47 artists and 1410 works of art!!! — that no downtown location could host it. Instead, Park Gables Gallery, on the campus of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, graciously offered their walls. Each artist had a wooden panel on which to display all thirty pieces. The panels hung throughout the spacious gallery, each accompanied by an artist bio/statement. Hundreds of people attended. Hundreds. Throngs, if you will. The opening was 5 – 8pm but easily could have gone later. So, so much beauty and talent and ding dang perseverance to take in — more than can be digested in one evening. It’s a good thing the show will remain up the rest of this month.

burgIMG_1339 burgIMG_1342 burgIMG_1351 burgIMG_1352 burgIMG_1354As you can see from the photographs, artists used a variety of media, techniques, and themes. There was charcoal and acrylic and vintage fabric. There was photography and watercolor and pastels. Magazines, needlepoint, pencil drawings and mandalas. There was even melted crayon + nail polish, fused glass, and cyanotype photograms on watercolor paper. There was calligraphy and handmade tiles and thirty sculptures made of things like screws and rebar and hooks! Themes ranged from spoons, hands, and plants, to pugs and bunnies, to the story of Creation.

photos by Brandy Somers

photos by Brandy Somers

Collage by Cindy Greene

Collage by Cindy Greene

Cindy GreeneIMG_1451

Collage by Cindy Greene

Encaustic Painting by Jewel Hertzler

Encaustic Painting by Jewel Hertzler

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Paintings by Padma Jennifer Ann Kockim

Paintings by Padma Jennifer Ann Kockim

Fused Glass by Rebecca Brydge

Fused Glass by Rebecca Brydge

Pugs by Zach Gesford

Pugs by Zach Gesford

Pugs by Zach Gesford

Pugs by Zach Gesford

And the evening would not have been complete without awarding much deserved prizes. First place, sponsored by Blakemore’s Flowers, went to Brenda Hounshell.

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

2nd place, sponsored by E. Miller and D. Albright, went to Erin Murray.

2nd Place Erin Murray

2nd Place Erin Murray

2nd Place Erin Murray

2nd Place Erin Murray

And 3rd place, sponsored by A Bowl of Good, went to Barbara Gautcher.

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

The show is still up, and will remain up until the end of the month, so there’s still time to get in there and see it. If you’re interested in purchasing art work, please check with the receptionist at the desk just to the right of the staircase near the entrance. This is Spitzer’s biggest fundraiser of the year; twenty percent of art sales from the 6x6x30 show goes straight to Spitzer Art Center so they can continue providing art to our local community and support to our local artists. It’s a small investment with hefty dividends! Yet another night to remember, another opportunity of a lifetime, a thousand more notches in my prefrontal cortex — all right here in our little Burg.

Here’s a list of all the participating artists. Join them next year!!
12783821_686493941492926_4507401052391555101_o
Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

from the grounds up: lucas roasting company.

lucas roasting company signA few days ago I told a friend how much I love my dishwasher. Not because it’s fancy, or super-quiet, or even new. As far as dishwashers go, it’s pretty ordinary. But it washes my dishes. I HATE washing dishes. And every time I empty the dishwasher, I thank whomever it was who invented that miraculous thing.

The dishwasher is just one of many modern conveniences we perhaps take for granted. Power tools are another. Recently Michael and I were assembling a loft bed for my son, and we must have drilled at least a hundred holes. I said, “Remember back in the day when people had to drill holes with that hand crank drill thing?” Of course, there are still people who appreciate the craft of old-school wood working… taking their time, using their hands and primitive tools, and savoring the hard-earned end result. I love meeting people who do things the “old-fashioned way,” because I’m more likely to pack my dishwasher to the gills and turn the knob, hit the button on the Keurig, and sit down for some online shopping. Oh, instant gratification. You’ve made us all so damn impatient.

If you can stand it, patience and perseverance usually do pay off.

father and son fist bumpRecently, Troy and Jennica Lucas invited Brandy and me to their home for coffee. If you know them, you know they’re bona fide coffee roasters. So we knew there’d be no Sanka involved. Unlike most friends who invite you for a cup of automatic drip-pot coffee, the Lucases painstakingly craft theirs from the raw bean all the way to your cup. Also unlike any of my friends EVER, they served us from their very own coffee truck.

It started as a hobby in 2002, Troy and Jennica roasting their own beans in hopes of finding a good cup of coffee. It was then that the idea of starting their own roasting company began. But baby Quinn arrived in 2003, and the idea had to remain a hobby for the time being.

Everything made from scratch takes a little longer, and in 2007, Lucas Roasting Company was born, and since then this family of four has been working hard to turn their caffeine dream into reality. Now six years later, they roast and sell several varieties of coffee, from Brazilian to Nicaraguan to Indonesian and more, plus flavored blends, online and at various locations throughout the valley. They even have a Halfway to Heaven blend — the Steel Wheels signature blend — which will be offered to hordes of concert-goers at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival coming up July 12 – 14!! And served straight from their new coffee truck. :)

Halfway to Heaven Steel Wheels blend coffeeThe day we were there, Troy and Jennica showed us the new truck and their roasting facility and told us their inspiring story while their two kids — Kade and Quinn — played with our four. I’ve never, ever been inside a coffee bean roasting room, and let me tell you — it smells GREAT in there. There were sacks upon sacks of raw coffee beans and this big Deidrich roaster… bags and scales and everything in between, and it wasn’t until we entered that room that I realized just how hard these people have worked to achieve their goals. Here’s this family, living in a little community, running a business from their home. Troy calls it a “small family business,” and maybe it is when compared with large, national or global businesses. But the “small family business” is the one that has more to lose. More invested. More blood, sweat, and tears. And therefore, requires more bravery. Maybe I’m getting a little away from the story here, but standing in the roasting room was humbling and inspiring, and really brought to my full attention the devotion and sacrifice required to do what they — this family of four — have done.

deidrich roasterAnd they’re just regular people (ha ha). At one point, Troy was making us a couple cups of coffee using the Clever Dripper… a one-cup-at-a-time brewing system that produces a great cup of coffee with none of the Keurig trash… and as he explained the process, I could hear Jennica addressing one of the children: “What’s wrong with your face? …Pull up your hair… You look dirty but I don’t see any wounds…” A family business indeed.

clever dripperclever dripperAfter Brandy and I got our coffee fix, Troy and Jennica had all the kids line up outside the truck and place their orders, which ranged from Italian root beer and grape sodas to a delicious caramel Java Blender.

kids lined up at coffee truckgirl getting soda at coffee truckboy getting drink from coffee truckhappy customers at coffee truckOver coffee I got a bit more of their story. Troy came here in 1997 with the Brethren Volunteer Service to work on a project at Brethren Woods in Keezletown. He’s also worked for Habitat for Humanity, the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, and the JMU coffee shop, Taylor Down Under. At some point he injured his back and ended up at a chiropractor where Jennica worked. After a couple months of her healing touch they were engaged, and not long thereafter they tied the knot. Jennica’s from New Hampshire (in fact, she and Troy lived there for a bit before returning to the valley), and she currently works for the Park View Federal Credit Union.

woman and girl sipping coffeeAnd little by little, with the same patience required to brew a great cup of coffee, they have built their life together, a lovely family, and their business. It’s taken eleven years to go from a coffee hobby to a mobile full-service coffee company… but it’s better to gain strength by climbing a long, sometimes steep hill than to be a flash in the pan. They’re a committed bunch. They know how to go the distance, where others who need instant gratification might tire out. It’s the same concept as instant coffee: sure it’s fast, but it’s just not satisfying.

lucas familyCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.