Storytelling in Clay and Metal

Margot McMahon

I mentioned meeting the amazing sculptor Margot MacMahon at a Chicago Literary Hall of Fame event earlier this year. She impressed me with her insight into raising children and making time for Art. I have to admit that I didn’t know how incredibly talented she was, and the extent of her work that is collected internationally. I believe that as artists we encourage and challenge one another: our peers, our contemporaries, and those who come after us. Margot McMahon has definitely inspired me.

Executive Director Donald G. Evans is highlighting some of the whos and whats of the upcoming ceremony on the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame blog.

The first person to be featured is sculptor Margot McMahon, and it’s well worth your time to check out the blog and learn about this Chicago artist. I sincerely believe that McMahon is one of the artistic giants upon which the future will build their own inspired creations.

Here’s a taste:

My first impression of Margot McMahon’s sculptures was life. Like all great art, her three-dimensional representations give more than illusion—they allow the viewer to enter into the world of the subject,

suspending the knowledge that this is plaster or clay or bronze and seeing not only what’s there but what’s not. Her sculptures suggest motion.

Boy Gardener, by Margot McMahon

There’s hardly an artist better suited to creating our statue, and the fact that Margot has taken on this project will help make that moment special.

“I’m treating this award as a sculpture,” says Margot. “I want this to have a contemporary look, an active look. The gesture of the hand captured in the sculpture is in a thoughtful pause, the most active part of writing that gets us to the idea. The idea is what the writer is about, and the idea is what the reader is about.”

Read more on the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Blog.

Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky

So many updates, so here they are abbreviated in lieu of a proper post that may never come.

The summer is nearly over, and while I’m not a summer person I do enjoy the freedom from schedules and routines afforded by kids on summer break. I still sometimes feel as if I’m grasping at the wind while is rushes by. Only a few weeks until they go back, schedules will shift again and one kid of freedom (from classes and activities) will be replaced by another (a few hours to myself for the first time in years as Lana goes to preschool).

Alison and the boys are back in Paris. It was a wonderful visit, and we were sad to see them go. We’re already looking forward to the next time, probably on their side of the Atlantic.

She left me with wonderful memories and this amazing spread, Speculoos by Lotus.

(Sorry for the fuzzy MacBook photo)

Speculaas is a type of shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked during the winter holidays, but in recent decades it has become available all year round. I fell in love with these cookies while living in Germany, and now Alison has introduced me to a spread made of this stuff! It’s lovely on crusty bread (or at two in the morning eaten directly off a spoon as I did right before this photo was taken). Good stuff!

[info]Focals kindly agreed to help me to hand out vouchers last Sunday at the Borders Benefit Day at the Michigan Avenue store. We handed out nearly 400 vouchers. I’m hopeful that we were able to get quite a few people to turn in their vouchers and raise some money for CWA and the Hall of Fame. Also had the chance to meet three other Chicago writers: Gary W. Moore (Playing with the Enemy), Michael Weeks (The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide), and Arnie Bernstein (Bath Massacre). Lovely men signed my books and were in good spirits even when most of the hoard that swarmed the store passed by their signing table.

I toured a print shop this morning thanks to a connection from my friend Melissa, and I learned about the modern process of printing and binding. Fascinating! I love the sounds and sights of the print shop: all the machines, the paper, the potential! I wished for a camera (and the skill to use it) to photograph some of the machines, especially the older ones with their gears and levers. They fed my imagination.

Many recent projects have been revolving around the release of The Silence of Trees. Working with the talented Madeline Carol Matz on the cover (I am confident it will be the first of many projects we will work on together).

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame ceremony planning is in the works (did I mention I’m now on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Writers Association?) as we contact special guests, entertainment, and hopefully sponsors. This deserves its own post at a later date. I hope that some of you can make it to Northeastern Illinois University on November 20, 2010.

I’ll be teaching an online Writing course this Fall, so I had to rethink my syllabus. I’m excited to teach again, but a wee bit nervous about the change in media. So much of my teaching was in the delivery and discussion. We’ll see how to translate this into an online experience.

Mark and I continue to work in the yard. Recent rains left us with a pond over half our property. We’re trying to figure out the best ways to deal with recurring water issues. The current plan is to plant many water loving trees and shrubs. We’re ripping up grass and planting things most nights after dinner before putting the kids to bed. We’re also planning a rock garden for the back near the shed. Slowly it begins to take shape.

If globes were square

I should know better than to write that I will update my blog more regularly.

I returned home from Arizona into a whirlwind of cleaning and rearranging. After the wide open spaces and skies of Arizona, the flow of the living room felt off, cluttered. We moved one of the bookcases up to our bedroom and shifted the furniture of the living room around so that it now feels more airy.

My friend Al and her two boys arrived from Paris, and the older kids attended science camp, while the younger three went to summer camp. This week we have free to explore Chicago and have random kid-generated adventures. It’s good having them here. I miss our lazy sleep-deprived afternoons in Frankfurt from oh-so-many-years ago, and I’m grateful for this time to reconnect.

Then the Fourth of July brought family aplenty at a bbq/family reunion hosted by my parents. Good to have chats with cousins I haven’t seen since the last family shower. Kids and cat survived nightlong fireworks well enough, although I fell asleep in my youngest daughter’s bed with contacts in.

This week brings decisions about the cover and release party for The Silence of Trees, calls and emails to secure special guests and entertainment for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, and preparation for an online class I’ll be teaching it the Fall.

I also plan to start reading my next book to the kids (S.C.). It’s the first that’s age appropriate, and though I tell my children stories randomly on walks, at bedtime, and so on, I am excited to share my written words with them. We’ll see what they think.