Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mingle with the Masses at a Flea Market

Today I mingled with the masses. If you want to know the true heartbeat of a community, spend an entire day at a down and dirty flea market. In Fort Myers, Florida, go to Ortiz Ave. they have it all. We're talking 100+ spaces, all outdoors, of good flea market junk, plus fresh produce, green peppers the size of grapefruit 4 for $1.00, Plant City (they are famous for) Strawberries $1.00 quart, live chickens (sadly, I had to resist causing a distraction so that I could free all the chickens), gardenia bushes, blue jeans, tires, washing machines, shoes, DVDs and well, back to the good flea market junk. If you know what to look for there were some extraordinary bargains on antiques, framed prints, and solid wood furniture. Or, if you're there trying to stretch a paycheck, 50 cent clothes and $1.00 sets of dishes were happily being bought and sold, left and right.

I enjoyed my finds and also the food. I noticed many people walking past me, gnawing on a roasted ear of corn with the husks and corn silk singed and pulled back as the "handle". Buttery stuff was squirted on the corn and then sprinkled with really hot paprika. It was adorable to see many small children happily munching on their corn treat (perhaps without the paprika?) as if it were the best lollipop in the world. Just outside the grounds of the flea market is a popular eating place, La Mexicana. It is a grocery store, bakery, and hot food line that is simply delicious and very reasonably priced.

I love the international flavor of flea markets. So many languages and music are heard. It is a very entertaining place to be. Watching people from behind my sunglasses keeps me quite entertained, but there are actual singers, guitar players, and people who will inscribe your name on a piece of rice. What's not to love?

This was my grubby and sunburned adventure today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bonita Springs National Art Festival

This event was held March 14 and 15, 2009. The Art League of Bonita Springs hosts these festivals twice per winter in a nice setting along Hwy. 41, (otherwise known as Tamiami Trail) in The Promenade. Most of the artists are from far away places, the North, and enjoy getting away to the tropical paradise of Bonita Springs, Florida.
When I attend a show, I tend to zone in on the photography exhibits. At least a dozen photographers participated so I had lots to look through. There were many Italian street scenes, lots of doors and windows and laundry on lines, and Greek Island scenes with lots of blue. Also purple French lavender and a few kitties. I did not see a lot of people portrait work.
Since I am handy with a 35 mm camera, myself, I truly appreciate photographs that I could not capture personally; those one time circumstance shots when all things just happen to come together, the subject, the setting, the lighting. A moment has been captured that is now past and in that moment there is a story. Those are my kind of photographs.
At this show, I found one such photo taken by Patrick Whalen. The scene is a grand home in elegant Italian decay perched alone and abandoned on the edge of a cliff over looking the ocean. Not too far out to sea you can see Mount Vesuvius with a cloud formation that looks every bit as good as volcano smoke. The home is abandoned, it's last use as a restaurant. Indeed, very small in the the corner of the photography there is a table with a white tablecloth close to a guardrail. And very minute, in front of the house, facing Vesuvius is a swing, empty on an A-frame stand.
I purchased this photo and on the back it is labeled St. Agnello, Italy. Perhaps one day it will be an adventure to go and see this setting/sun/yellow stucco house for myself.
I looked up Patrick Whalen's website and it is nice. Another favorite photograph is the hot pink Italian house with character. I encourage you to look at the sight and hey, purchase a piece of photography art.
Another stop that I made at the show was at artist Jan Peng Wang's space. FABULOUS oil paintings. The talent is phenomenal. His portraits of people, young girls, family scenes, the faces, the highlights, the shading, the eyes. Think "Girl with the Pearl Earring". I almost feel that it was a privilege to view his work at such a humble setting as an outdoor art show. I see his work in the Louve perhaps as a more fitting setting. Strangely, however, when I went to his website, the images there did not make the same impression on me. They were more like sculptures. The work he displayed in Bonita was emotional. I was thrilled to be able to buy three little signed notecards of reproductions of his works, since I could not buy the real paintings. Sigh. Two of my prints have a girl and a young lady with what Hungarians call a babuska tied on their heads, apparantly also a tradition in Tibet where some of the subjects live. The third print is of a young girl seated and her mother and sister braiding her hair. Simple scenes captured in glowing, rich oil paints. Seeing his work is truly a treat and I can at least check out the website to see where he might show these treasures again. Mr. Wang is from Canada.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Clear the Clutter

Saturday, March 14: Gave a lecture on "How to Clear the Clutter from our homes, once and for all" at Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, Florida as part of their non-credit classes. It was a good morning and I hope all enjoyed the class as much as I did. It was established that we "clutterers" are in good company because clutterers are highly intelligent, creative or artsy, know the importance of recyclying and may very well be perfectionists.

Some of the highlights: 1) We need to have a vision of what we want our homes to look like. It may be a luxury hotel suite, a model home, our Grandmother's house from way back, or a picture from a decorator magazine. Visualize that environment where there is "A place for everything and everything in it's place." Keep this vision in mind the entire time we are de-cluttering. This is our goal, and we can achieve.

Where to start? Start in one corner in one room. I suggest by the front door. Work your way around the entire room, looking at each and every item, piece by piece to determine is it ???

1)Trash. Immediately put in trash can or recycle bin and get it out of the house.

2) Donate. (find an organization that you can be passionate about helping with donations, such as a no-kill animal shelter, a shelter for women and children, etc..., then you will be happy to give useful items to them and letting them go.) Put the donations in your car today and drive them to the thrift store.

3) Give away. If you are saving things for your children or something would look perfect in a friend's home, give it to them now. Make them come and pick it up today.

4) Sell. Plan that garage sale or find a consignment shop or place the item on immediately. Give yourself a dead-line of when these items need to be gone, such as 3 days. Consignment shops will only want items valued at more than $5.00. so that will help in your sorting. Resolve to not bring anything unsold back into the house after the sale, load them immediately into a car or truck and drive to donate that same day.

5) Keep. Just because you've always had something doesn't mean that you need to always keep it. Look at each item in your home with a fresh eye. Do you love it? Does it bring happy thoughts to you, and not negative ones? Is it useful? If it is clothing, does it look fantastic on you and flatter you? (And, that is you now, not the size you want to be in the future.) Does it have monetary value? Do you have a place for it? Will you need to store it? (not good). Take it to it's new home, immediately.

Never sort into piles on the floor. Sort immediately into the final containers, in the above categories. Do not wait to go through the entire room or house, before you make the trip to the thrift store for your donations, or start selling items, by then it is too overwhelming again. The reason this de-cluttering method is successful is that you spend part of your time, whether it is 10 minutes or 2 hours per day sorting, but you allow enough time for packing up your car and driving the stuff to it's final destination that same day. You begin to see results immediately.

There is so much more advice, it definitely takes a full two hours of seminar to cover it all, but I thought that I would share at least some of the tips to get you started if you happen to be searching for a path out of a cluttered environment.