Alchemy’s Daughter isn’t here quite yet, but some awards are

When I started working on Alchemy’s Daughter when my son was still in pre-school, I never imagined it would take fourteen years before I would hold a printed copy of the book in my hand.  But as I’ve said before, good things take time.  Like other artists I know, sometimes I second guess my path, wonder if spending so much time writing novels about alchemy and the lives of women who lived long ago is folly.

But just when the doubts start to creep back in, subtle and not so subtle messages seem to arrive from the universe.  All things arrive in threes, and so arrived the early book awards for Alchemy’s Daughter, forthcoming in May 2015.  Thank you so much, Literary Classics for the gold, Paris book festival for the grand prize, and Hollywood book festival for best YA.

Dreams come true when you persevere, not for weeks or months, but for years and years.  Although it can be tough to stay the course when you feel lost at sea, it’s so worth it when you reach a welcoming port, especially if the port happens to be Paris. :-)

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Why can’t I be more like Louisa May Alcott?

My copy of Little Women and a photo of me in 7th grade

During her 55 years, Louisa May Alcott wrote more than 30 books.   The first one, Flower Fables, was written when she was just 22 years old.  Little Women, one of my girlhood favorites, of course followed, as did Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. As I approach another birthday and the age of 55 no longer seems so far away, I sometimes lament my lack of prolificacy.

I started writing the  novels when my son was in pre-school.  That boy is now a junior in high school, and only one of my novels (Nonna’s Book of Mysteries) has seen the shelves at Barnes and Noble.  I’ve been fiddling around with my second book,  Alchemy’s Daughter, on and off for more than a decade.  (There really is another book, I swear.)  Sure, I’m a single mother and work part-time as a nurse, but Louisa May Alcott had other responsibilities, too.

Alcott’s family, although well educated and friendly with the likes of as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, was poor.  So at a young age, Alcott had to help support her family.  At various times she worked as a teacher, seamstress, governess, and domestic helper.  Although she never married, she raised her niece following her sister’s death.

Louisa May Alcott stayed on course with her writing, no doubt, because her stories quickly became successful and writing became a lucrative livelihood.  These days, when writers as well as publishing outlets abound, it is perhaps harder than ever to make a living as a writer.   Most of us hold day jobs in order to survive.

Almost daily, I say to myself, “I wish I had more time to write.”  I am constantly sidetracked by family commitments, cooking, cleaning, running errands, email, not to mention the paying job. There is always something that needs to be done.  Nevertheless, I do find some time to write.  A little bit of writing time each week, added up over the years, has cumulated in two novels.  While two books are well shy of Louisa May Alcott’s body of work, two books are better than no book.

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Don’t forget the National Museum of Mexican Art

Painting by Sergio Gomez at the National Museum of Mexican Art

Last Sunday, instead of working on my novel,  I visited the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.  I love this museum, and I’m always surprised that more Chicagoans don’t know about this treasure in the Pilsen neighborhood.

Years  back I saw the Frida Kahlo exhibit there. Currently the museum has several great exhibitions on display including “Open Doors,” by SergioGomez, and “Outside In,” about the Mexican-American street art movement in Chicago.  The National Museum is carefully curated, so you don’t feel overwhelmed, parking close by is easy, and there are great Mexican restaurants down the street!

Panel (right) by “ZORE,” Mario Gonzalez Jr. at the National Museum of Mexican Art
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Some really good sites for book lovers

Nothing’s better than reading a physical book, but there are some really great websites for book lovers.

From Flavorwire, here are the 25 best websites for literature lovers.  I will probably be spending a lot of time here instead of working on book 3 of the Alchemy Series.  But then again, taking in new material is part of the creative process.

Books of my dreams

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The world is beset by many problems, but there are cool sculptures along the lakefront

About a year ago I started writing short articles that featured, for the most part, Chicago artists.  In my year of exploring the local art scene,  I’ve discovered that our city is teeming with  unsung artistic talent, largely ignored by the media–which feels obligated to hype the tragic, the violent, and the already rich and famous.

In my small way, I’ve tried to bring attention to some brilliant but lesser known artists.  My mother, Loretta Bloom Bohaty, was an incredibly talented but not well known painter, so in some ways my cause honors her memory.  While there are so many more artists to discover and write about, I will soon be moving on to another topic–that of my next novel, Alchemy’s Daughter, forthcoming in spring, 2014.

Hawk and Dove by Margot McMahon

For today, I offer another piece about two extraordinary Chicago sculptors.  They also happen to be strong and independent women who have done it their way.

Last chance to see Chicago Sculpture International Outdoor Exhibition

Summer is fleeting and so are the sculptures that dot the lakefront parkland from Belmont Harbor to Grant Park.  The Chicago Park District Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, which opened in August of 2012, will remain on display only until autumn 2013.  The juried public exhibition—the largest Chicago exhibition of outdoor sculptures in over a decade—highlights the work of many local sculptors as well as several from out of state and one from Scotland.  Chicago sculptors Margot McMahon and Ruth Aizuss Migdal are two among the sixty-four featured artists.

Learn more about Margot and Ruth in the Examiner.com here.

Celebrate by Ruth Aizuss Migdal

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Jason Brammer’s Sea Fever

Writhing Water XIV

Like the English poet John Masefield, Jason Brammer has heeded the call of sea.  The Chicago artist’s new solo exhibition, “Into the Deep,” explores the hidden mysteries down below in works inspired by nautical maps, navigational instruments, and medieval bestiaries.  The show runs from Friday, June 7 through Friday, June 28 at Adventureland Gallery.  There will be an opening reception on Friday, June 7 from 7-10 p.m. with the artist in attendance.  AdventureLand is located at 1513 N. Western Avenue.

Creature of the Deep IX by Jason Brammer

FYI, AdventureLand Gallery was created with the help of renowned local artist Tony Fitzpatrick and with the aim of helping out young and upcoming talent.  Brammer, whose work is now featured in restaurants, recording studios, private residences, and the LinkedIn offices downtown, is relatively young but beyond the point of emerging.  His approach to his craft is intensely disciplined and focused, in no small part because his wife, Erin Brammer, attends efficiently to the equally necessary business of marketing the art.

Read my article on Jason’s upcoming show, as published in Newcity, right  here.

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Off the grid with chainmaille artist Sky Cubacub

Sky Cubacub wears leather holsters that hold her Lindstrom pliers. Essential tools at hand, she is ready to chainmaille at any time. “It also makes me feel like a cowboy with his guns, ready for the quick draw,” says the petite young artist.

Read the rest of the article about Ms. Cubacub in this week’s edition of Newcity Magazine here.

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Marco Nereo Rotelli illuminates the façade of Northwestern University library

Poetry illumination by Marco Nereo Rotelli

Poetry illumination by Marco Nereo Rotelli

Poetry and light installation tomorrow at 6 pm at Northwestern University Campus!  One of Italy’s most famous and popular artists, Marco Nereo Rotelli, is here in Chicago, and he is creating a stunning display on the University’s library.

Light installation by Marco Nereo Rotelli

Light installation by Marco Nereo Rotelli

Rotelli, who is best known for his dramatic light installations at landmarks across Europe, such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Petit Palais in Paris and the Venice Biennale, promises to create another splendid spectacle.  On Tuesday, March 12, the University’s historic Deering Library will be transformed into a luminous page of poetry, a projection of the work of eight Chicago poets.

Read the full article on the Examiner here.

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I just bought a ZORE

Original work by Mario Gonzalez Jr., ZORE

Painting by Mario Gonzalez Jr., ZORE

I would not call myself an art collector, but the walls of my home are filled with paintings by various artists.  My mother, Lori Bloom Bohaty, was a painter, and so her work is well represented.  There are also a several lithographs, a religious icon, a sculpture of welded iron, and a stained glass window.  It might be true that I didn’t need any more art.  And yet, when I see a piece of art that belongs in my  home, I somehow know it.  That’s why I bought a piece by Mario Gonzalez Jr. AKA ZORE, this week.

Painting by Mario Gonzalez Jr., ZORE

Painting by Mario Gonzalez Jr., ZORE

An original piece of art transforms a room in a way that even the most beautiful set of furniture from Room and Board cannot.  When the energy of an artist mixes with his medium, a mysterious alchemical transformation occurs.  The resulting work of art imbues the space it occupies with the the living spirit of creativity.    Every time you look at a piece of art you love, it reminds you of what it is to be alive.  For we are all here to create, to be artists in whatever it is we have chosen to do.

In my humble opinion, the mass-produced prints available at IKEA or Target might be somewhat pleasing to the eye, but the feeling they produce is just not the same.  And if you can afford a big screen TV, an iPad, or a smart phone, you can afford original art.

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Chris Silva and the collaboration of Chicago artists in the era of gridlock

Before you settle in with the big screen and chicken wings tonight, have a healthy taste of art.  You can read about Chris Silva and the collaboration of Chicago artists in the era of gridlock on the Examiner here.

Chris Silva is the artist who created the stunning mosaic mural of birds in circular flight from heart to heart at the California station on the pink line.  He also, along with artists Anthony Lewellen, Brian Steckel, David Cuesta and John Heenan, crafted an award-winning installation that won the 2012 ArtPrize in the 3D category.  The three-dimensional sculpture is ingeniously embellished with light and sound.  Fabulous.

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