sundaym.continentalshims c 1I grew up in Marshalltown, Iowa in a house designed for my parents by Frank Lloyd Wright—surely an imprinting experience on a mid-century, Midwestern childhood. Just as important to my artistic beginnings were a home life rich in free time, outdoor space and materials from the creek bed and surrounding woods. In summers, there were arts camp with sun-rise yoga, dance workshop intensives, and later, South Bear School for the Arts near Decorah, Iowa, where Joseph Langland compassed body, landscape and song in teaching the making of poems.

These experiences found shape and discipline at the University in Iowa City, with majors in Art and English, an Honors Exhibition in Printmaking and placement in Iowa Writers Workshop Undergraduate classes. An MA followed from Iowa’s Printmaking Department, with Mauricio Lasansky and Keith Achepohl active in the training of artist-teachers.

The 80’s brought work as itinerate college professor, gallery director and curator; successful fine press wood engraver (Manhattan, poems by Amy Clampitt, 1990); and exhibiting oil painter. The decade was productive, though decidedly not gainful. So once more I matriculated—this time at University of Wisconsin, where, supported on wings of the Graduate School, I enjoyed a provocative knuckling-down with Walter Hamady in the Book Arts/Letterpress Lab. I left Madison with food in my belly and MFA in hand.

My next prospect, a short-term teaching job in Pennsylvania, converted unexpectedly to an expanded package in the person of Pete, Guru of Spheres Binary, friend and spouse. Together, we migrated to Greeley, Colorado, where I headed Printmaking and Book Arts at University of Northern Colorado from 1993-2001; and where our daughter, Svetlana, came into being. Today, as Svetlana thrives at Mount Holyoke College, we keep our home base in Greeley and thrive, a little family of broad leanings.

When asked to talk about my art, observing now from well outside the portals of academe, I say—“I don’t know what it means, but I’m having a blast”—which is what it means—devising richly worked tapestry weavings; obsessively filling sketch books from the shotgun perspective of road trips; putting together a teaching residency in Maine; making poems, flower beds; order out of chaos, and chaos where a pinch of it might set the balance of the universe a bit more true… having a blast….

photo credit: detail, ‘Continental Shims’ by john blake