Around 3:30, it was time for the big match - Kerry v Dublin in the Irish football semi-finals. If you're a regular reader of this blog (and yahoo! thanks if you are!!) you know I don't ever write about sports. My understanding of most sports is summarized in a t-shirt that reads: "Go sports! Move the thing to the other thing!" I don't know if it was the incredible fast pace of the game, Olive's enthusiasm and near panic from moment to moment, its combination of football-soccer-basketball-volleyball moves or the Kerry banners waving from windows and cars around town, but I am hopelessly hooked on the Irish football. Kerry made a good showing and the game was neck and neck. Dublin won, but if there had been one more minute in the game, it surely would have been a tie.
We ended our enchanted day with dinner in Ballybunion, where we stumbled upon our favorite musician, Mickey MacConnell, playing a set as we walked into the room. Serendipity? No, the magic of Listowel and of Ireland. Well, and perhaps a wave of the wand from our favorite Irish princess, Olive Stack.
We've got days left for painting and a few supplies to do it with. There are still sights to be seen and things to be done. I won't start with the ugly crying yet (with all credit to Emily Andress for coining that most appropriate phrase!) but I feel it coming - this place has taken a piece of my heart.
The exhibition of new works by Diane Pike and Jen Walls will be on display through Saturday at the Olive Stack Gallery on Main Street in lovely Listowel.
We'll be spending the day setting up for our art reception this evening. You'd think this would be the "main event" for a couple of artists spending a month in Ireland. There is so much more to this adventure than the art. The art, the blogs - they are a small attempt to convey the magic of a place far away from our daily lives, where we are now right at home, where "everybody knows your name. And their always glad you came. " Cheers.
"Catch a Falling Star" is the final piece of mixed media on reclaimed wood from the Jeanie Johnston replica ship. It will be on display this evening, from 6-8 pm at Olive Stack Gallery.
It was a beautiful night for a preview show.
The gallery was sparkling bright, every light perfectly illuminating the garden of art on the walls. The wine glasses glimmered and the ladies were dressed to the nines. Soft music surrounded the viewers, setting a mood which encouraged lingering and enjoying each piece of art. And they did.
Today's piece, "Ceili Rose", is the last of the works on large pieces of wood from the replica ship Jeanie Johnston. How serendipitous that she was completed on this day, dancing her way to the moon and back again...
Flowers, fresh from Olive's garden, brighten nooks and crannies in the gallery. One of them, a purple and green feathery plant named "Love in the Mist", is exactly perfect for the weather and the town. Misty and green, with bright spots throughout. Soft and beautiful, like the generous and loving people of Listowel. Check out this lovely plant in a time lapse video: Love in the Mist.
As we chatted with Olive at the end of the day, learning the story behind each piece of art in her new collection, I was struck again by the interconnectedness of people here. A place where folks still give their neighbors cuttings and seeds, where the irises blooming outside your window are likely from your mum's garden. Where fuchsia dances along winding lanes from your cottage to your neighbor's gate, and the whispering white roses began as cuttings from friends long gone. These moments led to the inspiration for Olive's new collection of work, and it is truly an art garden of love.
As I glance at the mound of art I have created so far, and the pieces in process on my work table here, I can see already the subtle changes taking place as my own heart melts into the love in the mist that is Ireland.
Not every day can be a touring day...so we got busy with the business of art. Preparing for Olive's big exhibition this Friday evening (and it is so lovely! I cannot gush enough about her new body of work. It is gorgeous!), and also beginning the plans for our own little show, which will take place next Wednesday. Yes, it is already time to think about the end of our time here (cue loud sobbing and gnashing of teeth).
The Twisted Chickens workshop will make its Irish debut this Saturday, and Tangled Botanicals next Tuesday. I am so excited to start a band of Irish rebel doodlers!
We ended a very productive day with our favorite pub theater at John B Keane's. It is the anniversary of Mary Keane's passing, but the show went on, "shop face" for everyone. Mickey MacConnell played a song new to us, "The Leaving." Here in Listowel, young men and women receive results of exams today which will determine their futures, many of them leaving to pursue higher education or apprenticeships. Today, my son moves into his dormitory at the University of Florida, and Mickey's song had me in tears from the first line.
But there were many lighthearted moments as well, including a gregarious Australian whose accent was lovely but a bit confusing amidst all the brogue, a muralist from New York who was enjoying her first taste of Guinness, and a fantastic performance from "The Field" in which the actor, playing the bishop, had Diane and I nearly confessing to a fictional murder.
I've rambled on a bit in this blog today. But let me leave you with this: we've been to pub theater time and again, sometimes to hear the same bits and songs. And with each telling, the stories get better, the jokes are funnier and the songs more moving. Because we are changing - becoming a part of the landscape, a part of the story, and because we now know (almost) all the words. This place has changed me, and I am so grateful.
The first of the large pieces on wood from the replica Jeanie Johnston ship. The dress is made of watercolor painted rice paper collage. Acrylic, charcoal and china marker used for the rest of the piece. And she so makes me smile! Again, huge thanks to Ann for providing the wood! Only one piece remaining to be painted. I may have to start begging for wood in the town square.
Yesterday was halcyon. Sunny, clear, breezy and warm. We stashed away our raincoats and sweaters, and made every excuse to go outside. So when local legend Damian Stack asked if we wanted to go touring, we didn't hesitate. Diane threw her painting gear in the "boot" (the trunk) just in case it became paint o'clock.
First stop, a local store where Winegums were on sale. Second stop, a famine cemetery which I previously saw at night, this time made perfect for photos by the setting sun.
From this point forward, the next three hours were a blur. Careening around blind curves at a million kph as we chased the sun once more, we leapt in and out of the car for pictures, dazzled by the shadows of 16th century castles and churches.
A brief tutorial on car parts as we zipped toward Lislaughtin Abbey - learning about "boots" and "bonnets". Damian telling Diane she locked his keys in the trunk at one stop. Ever the prankster. We'd seen the Abbey before, but on a rainy day. This time we were dazzled by the sun's glow through pane-less windows, mimicking the stained glass which was there long ago. Read more about the abbey and about Ballylongford village here: Irish Treasures