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This image of The Great Lakes from Mars in January of 2014.

This image of The Great Lakes from Mars in January of 2014.  Yahoo News

Greetings.  Please, get a sweater.  Our winter isn’t over yet.

I wanted to share images, thoughts, and even some video, from my 2014 Winter odyssey towards Buffalo, NY and the environments of the Great Lakes.  I was going to represent my work and the infancy of the Sewing Forgiveness piece, that was to be shown at the U of Buffalo Art Galleries, in the show titled Yoko Ono Fan Club, juried by friend and then curator, Julie Rozman.  Most fellow northerners I know were escaping the record temperatures and ice and headed somewhere south.  Of course, often feeling like I am swimming upstream, why would being in the coldest winter on record, send me to warmer climates too?  I rented a car (Hey!  It had a heated steering wheel!) and headed to Buffalo.  I made plans and reservations for Buffalo a couple of days.  Then, a Fluxus friend and his wife offered their home in Toronto, since I wouldn’t be far.  I committed to little, other than penciling off nearly a week away, and being with myself for most of it.

Driving long distances in February may not have been very smart in hindsight, but I made it there with little sliding around, one speeding ticket (Indiana) and a reason that revealed itself mid route.  I was driving, incapable of syncing my cell with the rental car’s system, trying to connect with dear humans while enroute (with no success) wind blowing, bitter cold all around.  Eyes watering up for the feelings I was having about my own judgement.  Wondering about the sanity of this trip and my ability to make other healthy choices in my life.  You know, that crazy making place we go sometimes when we want to beat ourselves up with the hammer of self doubt.

Then it hit me.

I would/could/should be near 4 of the 5 Great Lakes on this trip.  I followed so much of the weather patterns last year, its effect on the region, the water, our lives.  It was my way of embracing what was squarely in front me.  I came across the Yahoo image (above) from Mars, of the Great Lakes, sometime in early January of 2014.  I immediately thought “I need to render that feeling in porcelain.”  This road trip was weeks later.  I knew that I must supplement the piece,  presently only existing in my head, with melted snow and ice… from each Great Lake.   Of course!

Now the trip made sense.  Purpose, along with folly, mixed in with some risk and discomfort, and add good humans.  Now this is a road trip I could sink my cross country skis into!  I began mapping in my head, and later that evening in Buffalo at the Holiday Inn, and felt at peace with the New York state winds, snow, and the sense of possibilities ahead.

Another inspiring image of one of my favorite lakes.

I knew paddleboarding at Montrose was a far of dream.

I knew paddleboarding at Montrose was a far off dream.

20% of the world’s fresh waters comes from these beauties.  I can’t help but be in awe of them.

Here is a map along with some stats from a year ago, further affirming the uniqueness of our experience last Winter, and what has now proved, to be another, albeit waning, very cold, winter.  Note:  this is from 2014

Great Lakes Frozen 2014

and this comparison of 2014 and 2015 with more information here.

2014 and 2015 comparison with more info on the link below.

2014 and 2015 comparison with more info on the link above.

I think of my father this morning.  Today would have been his 81st birthday.    He is with me every day but especially when I see a swallow in flight.  Happy Birthday Dad.  I still miss you.

Watch for more on the final work, Polar Vortex.  Thanks so much for reading.

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I want to share so much today that I am not sure where to begin.

cups for Potable – Rock Springs

As the gesture Potable – Rock Springs, WI unfolds I wanted to firstly share the invitation to join me somewhere in Rock Springs or Reedsburg.

Here was the invitation I compiled for the opening of Watermark at Woolen Mill Gallery in Reedsburg, WI.

The cups are on exhibit with some wonderful artists that have made a career of making works related to our world’s water.  A link here to my Facebook images will give you a feel for the works at Watermark along with the opening reception.  The show was wonderfully received with Michael Frels and Hyeon Jung Kim present to celebrate our works and the works of the other artists unable to attend.

I dutifully laminated an invitation, just like the Potable – Pryor Avenue Iron Well in Milwaukee, and placed it near the (public access) well in Rock Springs prior to the reception.  I went to the well with Michael and Hyeon to collect water for the reception too.

Here we are at the well last month…

Hyeon, me, and Michael

at the Rock Springs Well

Husband Paul and I visited the well (me for the first time) last summer per the request of Jay Salinas of Wormfarm.  The well has a history with Paul as he took an across the state bike tour with some good friends in high school back in the 70’s.  They were riding to LaCrosse, WI and came upon the well and drank voraciously. It continues to be a fond memory of his.

Also, here is the well filmed and described on the FindASpring site.

So, on to the present day situation.  I received this email the day after the reception:

************

Ms. Schwalbe-Bouzide,

Your sign was brought to my attention today.  Even though the free flowing spring water is available to the public this location is on private land. Because this is private land you are not authorized to sell or give away any merchandise.

Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers
Rock Springs Artesian Water Corp.
PO Box 181
Rock Springs, WI  53961

***************

And then moving backwards in time from August 5th…

***************

Ms. Bouzide, Ms. Neuwirth and Mr. Salinas,

Thank you for your letters.  As indicated in my daughter’s original email this is my private property and the only activity I have authorized to the public is the collection of water. Consequently, I will not authorize any other type of activities including those discussed in your letter. I ask that you respect my decision.

Sincerely,

William D. Stoeckmann

***********************

From: wormfarm <wormfarm@jvlnet.com>
To: Catherine Bouzide <casbah3d@gmail.com>; Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers <dmschalmers@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 4, 2011 6:34 PM
Subject: Re: Terra Cotta Cups

Ms Stoeckmann Chalmers,

We are writing on behalf of Cathy Schwalbe-Bouzide and her proposed Potable Gesture intended to be realized August 13 at the Rock Springs well head. Her intention is to simply fill plain yet beautiful hand-made ceramic cups from the free flowing well and offer them to passers by. She will neither sell nor distribute any merchandise or literature and may engage in pleasant conversation with anyone who stops.

Cathy is a talented and thoughtful artist who has worked with the Wormfarm for 3 years now. Her work both as an artist and curator addresses a range of issues, pertinent to agriculture and rural life in ways that are thoughtful, express respect and curiosity and that have been profoundly moving.

In 2010, she curated “Women and Grains” at the Woolen Mill Gallery in which artists from across the country converged on Reedsburg to create and exhibition that reached beyond the walls of the gallery and had lasting beneficial impact on this community. The Potable Gesture has the potential to do this once again. If there is anything we can do to help facilitate this by speaking to the regulating authorities and securing all necessary permissions and assurances please let us know and we will comply.

Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas
Co-Founders
Wormfarm Institute
culture/ agriculture
608 524-8672
wormfarm@jvlnet.com
http://www.wormfarminstitute.org

***********************
—– Original Message —–
From: Catherine Bouzide
To: Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers
Cc: wormfarm
Sent: Saturday, July 23, 2011 11:21
Subject: Re: Terra Cotta Cups

Dear Ms. Stoeckmann Chalmers,
Thanks so much for your communication regarding the Potable Gesture scheduled for August 13 in conjunction with Watermark at Woolen Mill Gallery.

Please accept my sincere apology for not having contacted you prior to posting my invitation.   It is my hope that I will gain your permission, or permission from whomever necessary, to celebrate this wonderful artesian well.  Please know that I was made aware of the Rock Springs Well last year during an art exhibit here in Reedsburg through the Wormfarm Institute, Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas.  Looking the well up on line via Find a Spring,   I was unaware of any permission that might be necessary.

I am an artist who has donated her time, resources, and creativity towards contemplative events, such as Potable, that call attention to agriculture and water use.

You may look at my blog entry here from a similar gesture in Milwaukee, WI in September 2010:
https://casbah3d.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/potable-realized/

Again, it is my hope to gain your permission to complete my art piece Potable – Rock Springs with your generous permission.

Thanks so much for your contact.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Cathi

c.a. schwalbe-bouzide
casbah3d@gmail.com

http://www.casbah3d.com
https://casbah3d.wordpress.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/casbah3d/
http://www.lillstreetstudios.com

************************

Well (no pun intended), that is where it all stands today.  I am not sure where the gesture will take place.  On the public access road near the well, back at the gallery with pitchers of Rock Spring Well water back at the Woolen Mill Gallery, or an as yet undisclosed place in between.  I know that if you are still reading this you wish this project well in every sense.  If giving away handmade cups is a radical idea and gesture then please count me in.  Please look forward to more images as the weekend unfolds.

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Today is day 6 of my time here in Stillman Valley with The Fields Project – Bringing Art and Agriculture together.  It is in fact my 8th year here after much counting and recounting with Anne Leuck Feldhaus.  (She gave me her application in 2004).  Thanks Anne!  I will be forever grateful.

As the previous post stated… My piece is titled TRUTH at Walnut Creek Farms.  I am staying with Ned and Lyrah Bushnell (they met at the first Fields Project 13 years ago!  They shared their medium format cameras with each other – so sweet!)  Ned educated me last year while here about soil, tilth, friability, no till vs. till, and so much more.  His appreciation of the stewardship of soil was palpable and impressive.  As an image you will see later advertises, Walnut Creek Farms won the Governor’s Award for soil conservation.  Needless to say, Ned is  a no till farmer.

Ned took me for a ride into the water ways last year and pointed out some clay veins not too far in to their fields.  I have been thinking of that clay since last June and have wondered about its use, the geological formations that gave it its color, and wondering about its ability to withstand a firing, possibly at a low temperature for sculptural works.  As Summer moved into Winter which moved into Spring it became evident that I wanted to created a time based work, with the local clay, in the script of TRUTH.

With great thanks to the Bushnell’s for their willingness to share their home, Ned’s farm equipment and time, the amazing meals in Lyrah’s “Test Kitchen,” and the best conversations with them both.

Enjoy some of the videos and images since my arrival.  Look forward to a final image when I have one!  Husband Paul is joining me tomorrow to dig the last several buckets of clay and place the clay on the “H.”  We are both looking forward to it.

Walnut Creek Farms, Stillman Valley, IL with guest appearance – Sidney the black lab.

Getting started, wonderful clouds, and the front loader…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Here I am again… enjoying the wonderful mash up of art and agriculture with Ned and Lyrah Bushnell of Stillman Valley through the amazing organization that is The Fields Project.

TRUTH is my project this year.  Looking for TRUTH.  Finding TRUTH in soil.  Engaging others about their TRUTH.  TRUTH in my own life.  I asked about TRUTH on Facebook a few months ago having the a world I thought I knew turned upside down.

  • Dee BouzideWhen one has one’s hand full of truth it is not always wise to open it. ~French Proverb

    February 27 at 4:08pm · Like
  • Cathi BouzideLove to you Dee.

    February 27 at 4:10pm · Like · 1 person
  • Dee BouzideDitto Cath! ♥

    February 27 at 4:10pm · Like
  • Alexis Ortizit is a constant choice to see the beauty in the world (gift, not burden)

    February 27 at 5:05pm · Like
  • Shellie Schwalbe OlsonCatherine, my sissy, I am sighing right now…

    February 27 at 5:55pm · Like
  • Rosy O’GradyCalvin Klein sells Truth in a bottle. 🙂

    February 27 at 6:01pm · Like
  • Roberta Ulrich-de OliveiraWhat is truth?

    February 27 at 6:07pm · Like
  • Geoffrey BoveSometimes the truth sucks.

    February 27 at 6:12pm · Like
  • Lee Tracyare you looking for truth that comes with proof?

    February 27 at 6:24pm · Like
  • David Todd TrostTruth is overrated, well-formed lies are far more compelling.

    February 27 at 6:56pm · Like
  • David Aprilhere is some “truth in advertising”…http://www.lostateminor.com/2011/01/08/when-candy-wrappers-tell-the-truth/

    February 27 at 7:20pm · Like
  • Michael A. FrelsI tried finding Truth and Happiness on Google, but could not find the correct keywords to get the results I was looking for. I didn’t find it in the news, though I read it over at least five times today. I didn’t find it on facebook. After planting potatoes, spinach, and onions in the garden this afternoon, I took a walk.

    February 27 at 8:59pm · Like · 1 person
  • Rebecca MolinarI can assume you’re talking about Ron “The Truth” Killings, the professional wrestler. Not to worry – he’s currently signed with WWE under the handle “R-Truth,” and appears on “Monday Night RAW”

    February 28 at 9:54am · Like
  • Lee Tracytry Al Jazzera – english.

    February 28 at 1:21pm · Like · 2 people
  • David SchwalbeThe truth is:to thine own self be true…The check is in the mail….trust me…

    February 28 at 1:43pm · Like
  • Shellie Schwalbe OlsonOh Gravy, what’s a sister to do… 🙂

    February 28 at 2:39pm · Like
  • Wm StevensGravy is Truth, and Truth, Gravy. Rich, scalding gravy so thick that when you pick up a piece of meat the plate comes with it.

    February 28 at 5:08pm · Like
  • Sarah McNaughtonHere’s my take: John 14:6

    February 28 at 8:21pm · Like · 1 person
  • Paul BouzideIt’s there love, underneath all the horribleness that sometimes obscures it.

    February 28 at 10:24pm · Like
  • Lee Tracy cathi, here is a song. i was listening to it and thought of you.
    http://blip.fm/~12b9zbnight! xxx click on the youtube vid to see a beautiful scenery.

    February 28 at 11:22pm · Like

What is this thing called TRUTH that we are so confident that we know?  I ask you, dear reader to explore what you know as TRUTH and assume nothing.

Such an array of responses… I will end here and try to post more tonite.

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Hi All.

I wanted to share with you an upcoming talk at Women Made Gallery in April.  Please consider coming by.  I will be talking of my work.  Things that are inspiring and we will be making seed bombs.  Would love to see your smile out there.

Invitation to upcoming talk at Women Made Gallery in conjunction with their 14th International Open

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A detail of a mat

It has been quite a year for many engaged humans in the long term care communities of Chicago thanks to Ruth Wertler, Life Enrichment Coordinator, and her residents of Bethesda Home and Retirement and many others who have been inspired to make.  You can check out another article of many about this special community and others inspired to change the culture of elder communities.

One year ago was the launch of the Chicago area New Life for Old Bags (NLOB).  As of January 4th there were 137 mats completed (with approximately 95,900 grocery type bags rescued from going to landfills) and distributed through area soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

So many gatherings, counted hrs and uncounted hours of purposeful engagement of elders in a long term care community.  Purposeful.  Not a “sense of purpose” but purposeful as Ruth reminded many of us during a presentation of the NLOB project to those of us also working in long term care.

The project is wonderful and mindful on so many levels that it is difficult to share all of the human connections this project embraces.  Corporations, churches, schools, staff, families, restaurant of an art center, and neighbors all have been educated about the project and have assisted in some way and so many ways over the last year.

Some statistics were shared at each table (and during each presentation) that Ruth has conducted:

Statistics of Homelessness in Chicago in 2009/2010

Here is  a quick slide show of some of the images taken today (think this X many hands, many people many locations and you will have a small grasp of this herculean project):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The benefits to this project are truly endless but as an artist and a recreation therapist I can’t help but share a few:  social engagement, physical benefits, earth benefits, creation of a broad sense of community and our place in it, anticipation and cognitive stimulation, and just plain old FUN!!!  One cannot also help but mention what the excessive use of plastic does for our environment so the benefits for our environment are huge also.

A recent client of Cornerstone Community Outreach was observed with his mat under his arm while waiting in line for healthy food.  This is the quote from the email from the staff member at Cornerstone “Ruth, last Friday when I was serving lunch at Cornerstone, a guy came in line with one of the “bag mats” rolled up under his arm. I asked him about it and he smiled so wide as he said that it was fine and he was glad to have it. It is so humbling to think that this man who has to carry all his belongings with him considers that mat something of such value that he is willing to carry it everywhere he goes. Tell your NLFOB crew that what they do does make a difference. Thank you!”

Ruth honored many participants today at her community and I just had to share some images and videos of the event.  Several people in attendance couldn’t even take a break and kick back, they had to keep their hands busy making more plarn, mats, and friends.  Special thanks for First Slice Pie Cafe for the wonderful treats served for everyone.  A partner in caring for people less fortunate too.

Here are some of those in attendance working…

and

and here the crocheting…

It is an honor to know Ruth Werstler and I look forward to Ruth and many others leading the way to a purposeful life no matter one’s age.

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Non Potable spigot Paulina Station CTA

I wanted to share some sentiments from an unprepared but inspired participant in the Potable gesture in September.  He captures much of what I was trying to communicate and so much more.

Michael Blahy writes:

“Hi Catherine,
You might not remember me from September 28th, but I was the person who came to the Pryor Avenue Iron Well with the big five gallon bottle (and was too camera shy to get photographed!). I am a graduate student at UW-Milwaukee and am currently working on my Master’s thesis. I have been mulling over my essay for some time now, when I realized last night that there’s something particularly significant happening at the well that your Potable Realized project helped me realize (I am so thankful that you extended your experience and thoughts from the well to your blog). The iron well is just as much of a neighborhood gathering place as any of the corner bars in Bayview. For people like me it has become a quotidian experience to fill up and quickly chat with anyone else visiting the watering hole. It is so casually nestled in our neighborhood that it is easy to forget its long history and, more importantly, the connection it provides city residents with local geography and natural resources.
My concerns about the iron well arise out of a narrative I constructed about another vernacular landscape in the area–that of Hubbard Park in Shorewood. I trace its history back to the 1800s when the land hosted a mineral spring resort. Over time the landscape morphed from a rustic park in the country to an amusement park, a train depot, and, finally, what it is now, a residential/park hybrid. However, with the site’s evolution, each layer of history has been slowly erased. The landscape’s rich history is only acknowledged by a few plaques–kind of a let down considering the significance of the geography of the site.
Anyway, it seems to me that the Bayview iron well, in general, and, your artistic project, specifically, have done a better job of inscribing a sense of place that is alive both in its present, day to day form and in its history and geography.
I apologize if I rambled on for too long here, but, if you’re at all interested in discussing your experiences further, I would love to talk more.
And thank you for the wonderful drinking cup! We are enjoying it very much here at home!
Michael”

Michael and I spent some time on the phone with his prepared questions relating to my project and his thesis “In Small Urban Places.”  From his viewpoint I learned and I will be forever grateful.  An artist and one who responds is a true gift.  There are so many of us that make work day after day, year after year and wonder about making an impact.  I am honored by Michael’s thoughtful sentiments and how they might relate to his own discoveries about community.

From Michael’s thesis draft:

“It is so casually nestled in our neighborhood that it is easy to forget its long history and, more importantly, the connection it provides city residents with local geography and natural resources.  Artistic endeavors such as “Potable” literally help one to realize the significance of the place.  It seems to me that the Bayview Iron well, in general and, Schwalbe-Bouzide’s project, specifically, have dona a better job of inscribing a sense of past that is alive both in its present, day to day form and in its history and geography.”

I have been researching other possible site for Potable events in the future.  You might enjoy following this blog:

Find a Spring.  Michael and I both have!

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