Sunday, July 31, 2011

It Was A Delight To Meet Both Her And Her Work At the Same Time

It has been hot and humid in St. Louis for what seems forever. But once upon a time it was cold here. Now people complain about the heat. Then they complained about the cold and the lingering ice. In that time of cold and ice on my dark winter night commutes home I would often see lights in a building at the corner of Shenandoah and Compton. It was both comforting and heart warming to know an artist was at work as I worked my way home. Each time I passed I would wonder about who this artist was and about her work. I knew her name was Carol Carter, the building had given me that much. I realized only after I met her that I could have "googled" her name, but I didn't think of it at the time.

Recently, as I rode Billie, me wee chariot, toward home in the long light and heat of a July day I noticed a poster in the window of the studio where I had seen those lights last winter. It announced an Open House on Saturday July 30th from10am to 4pm. I made a commitment to myself to be there.

It was raining as Heather and I made our way to the Open House. The rain was nice enough to let up as we arrived.

I like this building. I think the balloons wilted in the humidity.
We opened the door and walked into a studio both sparse and filled with color. The woman we would soon learn was Carol welcomed us even as she spoke with others already there. We wandered around, and on what I suspect was an inspiration wall I found a very good omen.

Yep, a flamingo.
When we did get to talk with Carol I told her I rode by her studio on my daily commute to work. I told her of seeing her in the studio during the winter as I rode home. I, also, mentioned to her I had a blog and was interested in learning more about her. She went over to a box and looked for something to give me. She handed me a magazine. It was the December 2009 issue of American Artist. She had it open to an article written by Stephen Doherty about a series of portraits she had done of her son as he grew from two weeks after his birth to young adulthood.

People were coming and going. The Studio had a wonderful feel to it. 
Heather took this picture of Carol.

On Carol's blog under the heading Things You Need To Know is this statement: "Painting my whole life--watercolor especially...." From being in her space I sense this is certainly true.

As I watched Carol being a gracious host to strangers and welcoming dear friends, I knew I was having an experience that I'm doubtful would have happened if not for my commuting to work by small motorcycle rather than car. Billie by her nature keeps me off the expressways, places me in neighborhoods, and demands my attentiveness. I by my nature find myself increasingly caring about these neighborhoods and meeting more and more of the folk that give these places life.

I loved Carol's use of color to open up the familiar and make it fresh. I'm very glad she has a  website, but I'm glad I didn't think to search it out before. It was a delight to meet both her and her work at the same time. That said, I hope you take a look. It's really good stuff.


  1. Wonderful article about a wonderful person and artist!

  2. Great blog mate, the wonders of biking, which can not be explained to the disinterested, is the amazing people you meet an places you see. This is such a moment. Good stuff.

  3. kae:
    Welcome. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Carol's work is wonderful and she seems a true soul.

  4. Roger,
    Thanks for your kind words. Yep, this was one of those moments.

    I do so love being able to ride, explore and discover; but I think I like most when stuff finds. This was one of those being found moments.

    It is still hot here. How's the winter thing going for you?

  5. Cool story! Good job on following up on the little light in the window. I've already bookmarked her website to explore later. She has a flamingo - 'tis a sign! :)

    So true about traveling by car vs. two wheels and missing these little snippets of life. Traveling on two wheels is a good way to catch those little things that cars rush past.

  6. Hi Keith great story! I love when my scooter literally takes me to new places & meeting interesting people. I think you are so much more in touch with what's going on in the world around you when you ride a scooter or bike. Life seems less hurried to me and I tend to really see everything.

  7. Funny how when it is cold we complain about it and when it gets warm we complain about that too. I have promised not to complain about our heat this summer since we had such a wet winter and spring and the rest of the country is suffering such extreme heat.

    It is wonderful that you were able to meet Carol and see her gift for artistry. It is the little things we notice on a motorcycle that help with the everyday humdrums of life.

  8. You've nailed it on the two wheeled thing, I think. We need to tune in to the world around to ride well. Interesting what comes along when we're open for it, isn't it?

    Glad you are riding again after the car incident. Inline skating, huh? You scooter people are certainly a wild lot!

  9. Keith:

    sort of like yourself, I stop at photo galleries to get inspiration. I could never be an artist as I am not that creative. I can only show "what is", not what our minds conjure "what could be" . An artist's path is not an easy journey but I notice she is very creative.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  10. bluekat,
    I think you will like her work. Very vivid colors. I'll be interested to hear your reaction.

  11. Dar,
    We both ride scooters/bikes that keep us slow. For me this slowing down has been part of the seeing more. There is a participation with my surroundings that I can seem to find when I'm driving a car. With this in mind I'm trying to learn to drive a car all over again. I'm suspecting there is too much history to undo, but I'm trying none-the-less.

  12. Trobairitz,
    I must say that there are very few folk here that are looking forward to cold cold temperatures. Most given the choice seem to lean toward warm. That said, today it was dangerously warm. I was grateful to have the "Cool Vest" to wear. I'm warming to this vest :)

    Oh well, you are due for some good riding time. May it be so.

  13. Irondad,
    Thanks for your words. Yes, it is amazing what comes along when we open up to welcome it.

    Yep, I'm back to riding. I've not skated yet. I've recovered enough, but I'm still replacing my gear. I've a new helmet and new skates. I'm waiting on the knee guards and elbow pads. The wrist guards held up okay. While I came out great, my gear didn't. I guess that is the way it is supposed to work. I wasn't surprised when I went back to work at the number of people who assumed I was on my bike when I got hit. Sadly, I think a few of them were disappointed I wasn't. No surprise -- here are some who think I shouldn't be riding.

    Again, that's for the comment.

  14. bob,
    I really appreciated her work. I really felt better for having been in her space. I'll be looking for the next open house. I might even stay longer next time. I can't comment on your self-judgment as to your lack of creativity. I do know this, you have a wonderful eye. I appreciate you sharing with me your seeing "what is".

  15. Dear Keith:

    Now this was a cool blog episode... Have you thought of setting up a grid, using your bike and a map, and meeting all of the artists with galleries within a certain area of St. Louis? It might make an interestig article for either a motorcycle magazine, or the art section of your local paper.

    I went to Catol Carter's site and took my time looking at her paintings.
    Some were rather soothing, and others had a way of takimg me to "someplace else."

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  16. Great post. You are right, it is fun to see more and more of your neighborhood. Discovering it as it wants to be discovered, not forcing it by googling it sometimes. She has some great work and I look forward to spending more time on her site.

    Glad that you took the opportunity to meet the local artist.

  17. Jack,

    I only found out later when looking at Carol's blog that there was a number of artists having open houses on this same day. It was tied together as a "Tour." I definitely have this on my radar.

    By the way, I really liked the "Swimmers" series.

  18. Lori,

    " . . . not forcing it by googling it sometimes." What a great line! Exactly.

  19. Keith,

    This is true, the bike makes for such easy interactions and interesting encounters. We were in Seattle just a couple of weeks ago, and got lost on our way to a friend's place. We found a courier on a dual sport and asked directions at a stop light. No sooner was that conversation over than at the next stoplight did another guy pull up next to us on an 1150 BMW and chat us up. He offered to drive us through town to the neighborhood we were looking for.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  20. Keith, I love your masthead picture. Where exactly was it taken?

    Scootin' Old Skool

  21. Orin,
    Thanks for stopping by.

    I'm glad you like the picture. It was taken on what I suspect is called eastbound I-70, but at that point traffic is really southbound. So, I would have been approaching the Arch from the north. I loved the way the sun light was hitting the Arch and got lucky.

    By the way, I never miss a post on your blog. I seldom comment. But I'm always there.