Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The resolutions WILL be publicized

It goes without saying that I want to make my best art (so far) in 2009. Here's a very early sketch for the next project.

Every year, I post my New Year's resolutions publicly so as to keep myself accountable. Normally there's some sort of ritual (such as writing my inhibitions and burning them on the solstice) to give the vows life. As rituals are typically handled by countrymouse and since are stuck in the City this year, there may not be any pagan activities (though we're always game for them if the right opportunity presents itself).

Whether because of those psst rituals, the abundant scrutiny resulting from my very public resolutions, or some kind of mental fortitude I may or may not possess, my past resolutions have generally been pretty successful even though often quite ambitious. The next post will evaluate last year's projects.

Enough blah blah blah. Time for the meat of the post. Don't worry though, I keep a few projects secret--no need to share all of my emotional laundry with the blogosphere.

Get back to kicking ass.
I see now that my recent bout of illness was preceded (perhaps caused) by some serious emotional lethargy. Time to get back to work.

Get a Manhattan gallery with a global reach.
Obviously not the best time for that but in good times and bad ya gotta keep pushing.

Sleep8 hours 4/7 days.
Good sleep is key and the best way to get sleep is to get into bed early--so that will mean bed by 11.

Eat a salad or greens every day.
This resolution from last year worked out quite well so we're bringing it back for a second season.

Pivot problems into opportunities.
Interpret that however you wish.

Make sure city and country mice both get what they need.
Be proactive--don't wait for the wigout before skipping town. So this vow really should be more like "get Countrymouse into the country on the regular so he doesn't get ornery and start ranting about how much he hates the City."

Continue run-run-recovery plan.
Take an active recovery day (swimming or something like that) every three days with two quality runs in between. That means no--or few--"easy" runs. It's unconventional but it seems to work for me.

Improve last year's Boston performance.
Read the gory post-mortem here.

Find a balance between desire to improve my position and a very hearty appreciation for what I have.
I think the latter is the more difficult.

Take-no-prisoners approach to networking.
Approach social networking situations like a ship full of vikings would an unsuspecting village.

Update: I've posted my evaluation of the 08 vows here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The coolest part of the highlight of a nice holiday weekend

There are plenty of familiar faces at the Yousuf Karsh retrospective at the MFA.
Karsh, Estrellita Karsh, 1963. (MFA via Time.com)

On Boxing Day, Cole and I left the Booga with his grandparents (we were staying in Rhode Island) and spent a date-day in Boston. I wanted to see several shows at the MFA followed by some strolling, casual coffee, opportunistic post-Xmas recession sale trolling, dinner and
conversation. Just a nice day together, which I'm sure the parents among you will appreciate.

We had a nice lunch at the museum's mid-casual cafe between the excellent Assyrian show and the promising Karsh photoretrospective. We sat next to a striking older woman I was sure I had seen someplace before. She was eating with a younger woman (perhaps my age) who kept thanking her profusely for something (we could not hear what). She personalized a catalogue from the Karsh exhibit and Cole glimpsed the name Karsh in the signature (we were sitting that close).

Later, after the nice Rachel Whitetead installation, we took our time and took a quality look at the Karsh show. After all the famous portraits--Einstein, Jackie-O, Mother Theresa, we saw one that positively made our jaws drop: his widow Estrellita, the woman from the cafe! It was only then we noticed every piece in the show was "courtesy Estrellita Karsh." That explained some things.

I love it when I catch a personal glimpse at the invisible bonds that tie the universe together, an artist's version of "dark matter." I love to witness capital moments and I love it when some instinct alerts me to that moment's importance. It was cool that I was able to share that moment with someone who knew how to fully appreciate it.

On a wonderful day that was the best part of the holiday weekend, that moment was the highlight, the beating heart that sent the blood of inspiration coursing through my soul.

Postscript: I crossed Bedford Avenue to write this entry at the Rabbit Hole, which has become a sort of writers room for both Meredith and me. The writing took a lot longer than expected because an excellent band was playing (they've never had music there before): Brooklyn
, one of my favorites. Turns out their members are from Charlottesville. A thousand more dark matter threads to explore there if I wanted to...

But it's late, we're all tired, the cafe is closing and it's time to file my missive. They'll be back next Saturday...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays

City Mouse and Country Mouse join to wish you a joyous holiday season full of music and bird song, stimulation and contemplation, peace and nergy, and the sublime Joy of Living.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The End is not the End

If you can only go to one gallery-closing party/wake this weekend, this is the one: death is not the end @ 31grand. They do death exceptionally well and have found a way to make it a cool mini-genre. More importantly though it will be a good party and no one deserves a toast (or a hug) than they do.

Hope to see you there.

Info: http://www.art2bank.com/press/breaking-news/31grand-death-is-not-the-end-c.php

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grass Clippings approach the cost of Weed

Editor’s Note: We try to limit CountryMouse to just a few anti-New York rants per year. It’s hard enough to live here without being constantly reminded of the dirt, pettiness, corruption, trauma, and various indignities that punctuate daily life here in Gotham. In this case though, we determined that since Country’s diatribe is not limited to New York and because there are broader points contained therein, we should run the piece and let the pieces fall where they may. Enjoy.

I stopped by the local health food store yesterday to pick up some vitamin C packets to help nail the coffin lid on my broncitis. I shop at this place because it’s the closest thing to reasonable in the neighborhood. For example Kombucha costs $4 there, which is the prevailing market price in the City, but a dollar less than anywhere else in the hood. Nothing can be described as ‘cheap’ around here anymore—except the quality of the new construction, which is more like ‘shoddy’ anyway.

Well I had paid my $1 for three Emergen-C packets and turned to go. The guy at the juice counter put a tiny (1 oz) paper cup in front of me, with a thick green liquid. Thinking it a free sample, I swigged that little shot down. (My assumption was not unreasonable based on the tiny product size and the fact that there’s usually some kind of crumbled nutrition bar on a little plate at that spot). On my way out, I asked the juice-barista what it was and he told me "wheatgrass."
Not unexpected at a juice bar.

As I reached the door, the store’s only other customer, a thickly-bespectacled hipster from England yelled, "Hey! I just paid for that!"

"How much?"

"Two fifty," replied hipster and cashier in unison. "It’s really good for you, full of antioxidants," added the man whose morning concoction I had inadvertently swiped.

"It had better be at that price," was my grumple (a grumpy rumble).

Of course, it's a fad-inflated supply-demand thing just like the kombucha. Still, its a sign of a dying society that folks pay the rough equivalent of $40/pound for grass clippings and then drink it. Sebastian goes most days without seeing a single blade of grass, apart from what I grow in my flower box to keep the soil conditioned. I can never shake the contrast between that and the amount of time I’ve spent mowing, playing on, and rolling in the green stuff.

I think humanity’s future is an urban one, characterized by much increased density. Yet the human need for green is irrepressible and comes out like, well, grass through cracks in our paved lives and this is a pathetic response to that need.

I’m sorry: I know you may like your wheat grass shots in your custom juice drink and I may have offended you. I myself have written many times in praise of chlorophyll’s nutritional benefits. But a little drop of sunshine on your tongue a few times a week is no substitute for clean air, a sky that you can actually see, and a soft earth to lay on. No wonder everyone around here is in therapy.

But ya know, it doesn't have to be like that...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

i'm baaaack!

In an art fair that's really an art market, you'll see few risks. Not surprisingly, many of the most interesting projects were not in the Convention Center big-top or the various side-show tent fairs but rather along the Midway outside. Among the best, Ana Linnemann's Invisible (the spinning palm tree below).
I had a great time in Miami and my next post will tell some of my impresssions. First though, I wanted to let everyone know I got a new phone so I'm reachable again.

My last day in Miami was reserved for the beach. It was perfect: bright, sunny, and in the eighties. And down there, the beach you get when you walk out the door rivals anything I've seen on the East Coast. Just beautiful!

Imagine my sadness when I stepped out of the plane that afternoon at Laguardia and was greeted by 32 degrees--a full fifty degree drop! I came down with a chill that very instant, curled up in the back of my cab and I still haven't quite shaken it.

Why do we put up with this ridiculous weather? Someone really ought to say something...

Friday, December 5, 2008


I've felt very disconnected since losing my phone!
Denise Prince at the Bridge Art Fair Miami Wynwood

D@mn! I lost my brand new iPhone as I was walking on the beach my first morning in Miami. It's locked and cannot be hacked and plus it has my name and email address. So there's every reason to think that it would be returned if discovered. Therefore I can only conclude that it got washed out with the tide and is now home to a hermit crab.

Worst possible timing, I've lost my portfolio, contacts, email and telephone in the midst of a marketing extravaganza. Needless to say I'm pretty bummed.

Trying to stay philosophical about the whole thing, I remind myself that it's just a toy (albeit one that cost a few hundred bucks) and that just a few years ago I managed to live without it just fine. Its an opportunity to be resourceful right? Depend on my friends' good will and the kindness of strangers, and they've really come through.

That part's pretty nice actually.

So forgive me if you can't reach me. I'll get a new phone next week and I'll be call ya right back!