Living at home with Mom and 2 cats

I am one of those people, who paid off the 30 year mortgage.  Two houses on one lot. And today, landlord obligations and neighbor have me hobbling over on sprained ankle to see about some new posts for the fence, something I can do and not leave to my property managers.  Met up with my fellow construction and development project manager friend from my last job,  over the weekend, at music event, where I got to note I was doing pretty well since mental health drafted me, and had this little project to attend to.  And, while I’m at it, take care of fence post here where I live at mom’s house, also paid off, as part of my rent.  Taking 38 days off due to injury on some of the household projects has taken its toll on my room, the garage/studio, yard work.  I still managed to get us to the store for groceries, strained the ankle again to get the car fixed walking to from the 1.0 miles to the shop as part of my physical therapy. Festival has new rule, no volunteers or crew over 55 on ladders….

Life here at the garage studio, laundry room office, dining room gallery is pretty good. Shows the expansion of my range living here at Mom’s house, where it started with just the spare bedroom.  I hadn’t wanted to move in, but was prevailed upon to do so in 2001 due to problems with bipolar.  When I lecture on mental  health recovery, some of what I get into is “other people’s problems” That’s a big part of mental health, including how you live with others, get through to family that you can still do things, actually getting better. You learn to teach them how to notice, as you learn to notice that same thing yourself. .  I’ve been lucky though, moving in with mom, may not be ideal in my vision, but the tradeoff has worked out as we’ve lived now over a decade with it.  My house gets the rent I needed to pay off the mortgage and pay my bills, and I was here for mom’s heart attack and adjustments to her life in the octogenarian age group.  She quit driving a couple years ago.  Glad my girlfriend took it upon herself to get us over the staying over at mom’s house, as she credited with saving mom’s life with the cardiac 911 call.

With my sprained ankle done falling off a ladder at a festival, I was unable to get some my festival volunteers to pay attention to some things they needed to do for me, vis a vis the injury, and what needed to get done I couldn’t get done. And I had to remember they’d never done these tasks before. This gave me some insight into some things I know frustrate my mother.  Interesting with the injury, to have to use the walker for while, the cane, the handrails, go slow, and racing each other on canes around Savemart, gives me a new appreciation for the ADA handrails and standards I built into our projects, and leaves little sympathy for Ripon and Manteca on the lawsuits they have going on.  I am sympathetic to the onerous penalties, but in each case the standards clearly not done and I’ve been out of the business over 13 years and had 20 years of standards to build to before that, and so this should have been accomplished so lawyers not feed off it. 

The routine here, is I get up, make the coffee, read the newspaper, let 2 cats in and out, and then mom up for coffee, and cereal, read the paper, and the two feline vultures descend and wait on the cereal bowl, Cindy first, and always leaves a little bit for Sam.  Then Cindy is back up on the couch, taps mom on the shoulder while staring at the Modesto Bee, signal for treats, and always from Mom’s left side.  To the right on the floor Sam awaits patiently, and the split of Whiska’s treats thrown, usually in equal quantity, after mom takes her pills.  Routine every morning.  At night, they know with the first glass of red wine for the cardiac patient, same routine.  I’m lucky to live here, return the favor when I couldn’t do it for depression reasons, to try and keep the household afloat. But understand the annoyance on healing time warning of “at your age”  yet to be 60, healing would take longer and watch for clots.  Understand how my dad felt at near same age to be listed “elderly” at 61 on his cardiac evaluation from the set of heart attacks that knocked a 220 pound man to 125 at death at young age of 62.  The evaluation to see if my former CEO and Stanford MBA who had worked since childhood could get a smidgen of his SSA benefit before early retirement eligibility at 62.  He collected 8 months.   I am currently on a diet, not just ankle rehab.

It Started on Bar Napkins

Back in 1980, before I got married, I was invited to a party by a friend to her sort of friends house in Modesto who I had never met.  Place was nice and in the hall way on way to bathroom, there was a frame, with three bar napkins.  I’d drawn on these bar napkins, but these folks weren’t who I drew. Images of a pretty singer friend of mine, the crowd and some suggestive caption.  The collectors finally met the artist, who said it had been a special night, came across the drawings, and took them home.  The singer in the band and I had apparently left.

Starting conversations, like drawing on the bar napkins, or place mats, sometimes far easier in crowded bar and been good for business.  More than one place has picked me up for doing menus, posters, art stuff, and posted the bar napkins.  Current spot is the Speak Easy, as I sometimes need to entertain myself with my comments on Open Mic Comedy, when out with Jennifer when she has sets.  First one at Speak Easy, one of Jen Eros, and posted behind the bar.  Minnie’s in Modesto used to have a lot of my drawings, each posted with a dollar.  I just supplied the napkin drawing.

My cabinet maker, sometimes kidnapped me in his van to get one of our jobs done, only to sidetrack to a stripper bar.  While he and crew would offer various denominations of bills to try and wrangle phone numbers, or more, I would be using the sharpie and napkins to do impromptu life drawing. When my steel crew stopped in one day to same place over in San Ramon they saw the dancers had posted clearly the bosses autographed drawings around the place, and reported in accordingly.

If you can draw on a beer or wine or water soaked bar napkin, with any sort of pen, you learn the spread of the ink, a sense of touch and viscosity sensitivity, how not to ruin it adding more spillage to soak it, and how to pass it over to those who want to view it.  I’ve likely done thousands, and be fun to do a show on bar napkins people have collected.  Friends of mine have held to some as long as 30 plus years now.  #artview #modestoview #JimChristiansen

Art View, my column in Modesto View every Month

Here’s the link. http://www.modestoview.com/artview-july-2014/ for my July 2014 column, usually found on page 7 in Modesto View.  If you aren’t familiar with the free publication, its been around awhile, started by publisher Chris Murphy online in 1998, then started up the in print publication.  I started writing as a blogger online, then asked to do the art column in November 2007, and been writing this one ever since.  500 words more or less, usually on what’s coming up or recent events as not a lot of room for editorial comment.  Modesto View as a concept is that it is written primarily in the promotion or participation of the events they are writing about.  As such, our month free entertainment orient mag, often better and more accurate for event dates, times and ticket costs than the daily Modesto Bee, as we’re the promoters.  Lately, Modesto View staff and publisher have been winning design awards and other citations.  My last journalism award, part of UC Riverside Highlander 1974 staff when we won First Award in Tabloid weekly University newspaper category, with bonus points for graphics.  I’ve written elsewhere, but this is likely my favorite spot to pass the time in Modesto, on something I enjoy, art.

http://www.modestoview.com and of course found on facebook.  I don’t exactly get paid to do this column, save the irregular staff parties on Chris’s tab, the occasional photo shoots with other staff writers for covers, and the occasional beer as publisher and art columnist sit and draw bands together at Blue Monday or similar, or the free ticket in to cover some event (often worth it) and the Modesto Arch Acrylic, purchased by friend Chris and displayed in his offices at Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group, same business that generously supports the magazine Free to public.

The popular online image and me.

A couple of images come up when you look for me on google, etc, that must be among most viewed of my work.  Blues Guitar Player, the Riverdance Farms Pick and Gather flier image, Pawn Shop cartoon, but the image most looked at on fineartamerica profile is “Woman on the Beach with Umbrella” a water color I still have and done a number of years ago now.  761 views there. It got good notice at the UC Riverside Alumni Center solo show in 2011, but is also the watercolor most entered in shows around the local region to be rejected of any I have, and that’s the category I win awards in.  Go figure.  I like it.  Artists sometimes notice their own personal favorites tend to stay with them, no matter what discounting of price or how often and how long the piece is up for sale, and some that we don’t even understand or get ourselves, the first ones out the door to a new home. That’s not always the case, but happens often enough to be noticed by me, several of my friends.

The next image close to this one, is a nude done quite a long time ago on manila paper, india ink, done of a friend on a beach, Jewel on the Beach.

 

Image can be found at http://james-christiansen.fineartamerica.com or come by the house sometime, say, the 2015 Stanislaus County Artist Open Studio Tour.

Link to Jewel on the Beach which is a life drawing nude plein air, is http://fineartamerica.com/featured/jewel-on-beach-james-christiansen.html

 

From Boring, to number worst, and 22 things to antidote

Today, there is a discussion http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/event/how-should-we-balance-access-and-excellence-in-the-arts/  Regarding Art and Excellence, for and about Modesto, CA,  put on by Zocalo Public Square, James Irvine Foundation, moderated by the Editor Modesto Bee, with MoBand Director, my friends Patty Castillo Davis – singer/songwriter and Dellanora Green, Street Singer, i.e. sing all day/night for tips to find money for motel room.  This is about funding, and choices of does the money go to certain artists, organizations, or everyone.  As the grant market not granting a lot last few years, but also this is underserved area in many ways in California, the Country, and locally the emphasis on music, I suggested they add a visual artist. There is  only one city oriented visual art non-profit usually at end of gravy train behind music here, and the music tradition goes back 80 years. Is it just talk, or do we find a plan in this exercise?

I’ve attended other such forums in past, inspiring for a day, but usually not much as result.  I’m not planning on attending, so am likely part of the problem of long time resident, but born out of town, frustrated by some of our economic, crime and attitudes who likely feels any experience on my part, trumped by I’m not a native.

I suppose that’s because my Hometown, Riverside, California, was rated the most boring place in the country last month.  Boredom is my worst enemy, but Riverside isn’t as boring to me as the raters found it.  I embraced it, but was annoyed that San Bernardino didn’t hold this spot, was only 2 further down the list.  After all, they’d gone bankrupt, Riverside boringly had money in the bank.

My chessplayer brother from Boring, lives in Cambridge – continually bombarding me with the real estate market stats noting Modesto has all this gang stuff the Bee doesn’t report.  Higher density of sex offenders per capita, and nearly half  that of Stockton.  Surprised he didn’t send me the Street article regarding advisory, Modesto the worst place to start a career for educated 20 somethings, or even regular ones. This is a real estate tied blog, and the rating methodology I understand, as used to have to read this stuff a lot in former career, but this stuff is read by the out of town investors, rest of the country, and I reposted the thing, for lively FB frenzy of comments. Many of my friends, can’t understand why I’d repost such negativity, we should all be positive, and things will improve.  Would explain the next topic, but here is the Street link. http://www.thestreet.com/story/12765384/2/5-worst-cities-to-start-a-career-in.html  I objected to only one of the data points, the lack of sufficient, or lower than average arts/leisure spots per capita.  After all, I write for Modesto View, know the staffing at City, usual performance of same outside town, and suggested that was officially under-reported.  When I shared the link, I also headed it with comment for people who were considering starting career here, “we need you to come anyway, to improve our ratings.” Truthful positive spin.

After you read that dire thing, a new one in long litany like that stat my bro sends me, the Number 1 in Auto Thefts, The highest density of low wage workers in the country, 13.8 percent unemployment rate (still current) and fact Petaluma is where George Lucas filmed American Grafitti, Modesto counters with, (and my beef with it, calling it lame, is this is marketing intended to appeal to people outside Modesto to move here) is this MOVOTO.com segment, titled 22 Things You need to Learn About Modesto before you Move There.  It scans over many of the things, like we have the Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team, and Cars, and art show, and…. restaurant that is good, with the classic Modesto residents drinking at a party…. but I don’t know if what was posted appeals to younger ones in my family out of town to come here, that is primarily because Grandma lives here, or my brother’s friends, or seniors like my mother, who wonders at 87, just how is it we came to live here, and moved away from Boring. ( She’s from Oregon originally, and the family from Denmark on Dad’s side, married in Manteca, career move to Palo Alto to raise family and Stanford before our split off to Boring old Riverside before coming to Mo-Town)  I didn’t think the MOVOTO.com 22 things, an effective counterpoint to the dismal The Street article 5 worst.  I think it needs to be less boring, but then I come from boring.

The Street article, notes one real culture issue, the really low vs elsewhere problems in education in our ranks of citizenry.  We aren’t a slum, and maybe the lack of funds is egalitarian, but as a UC graduate, who lived here before UC Merced, I was appalled to see a NO UC Modesto movement that won out over locating that campus here.  For all the good small town things I enjoyed right off here, there are these less than stellar promotions of Modesto I’ve had to endure.  For all the great stars, talents from here, they tend to stay “from here” rather than live here.  And the locals odd relationship to its most successful employer, is one I’ve noted.  Gallo been very good to the place and I like the wine, whatever label..  But success envied, or taken for granted.  And sometimes, because they don’t know you, though you’ve lived here a long time, you don’t get the memo.

But, booster that I’ve been to improve local visual art opportunities here (selfish, as I’ve been stuck here, similar to CCR song Lodi, without funds) support friends in music, make the place more fun for me to live here, it seems I can’t get into our negatives, as that is almost traitor to our good stuff.  Well, I’m one who thinks to remodel Hell, you find out how it is, to improve it….. which if you look up my old My Space blogs, was the topic I wrote under.  #modesto #modestoview #economics

Evidently, my Boring Roots, and Worst thing, identifies my intent.  I’m an artist.  I believe in rabble rousing and right to complain, as sweetens the cheerleading I do with a sense of authenticity.  I still think Modesto could do more to promote itself, than click its ruby slippers and cheer “There’s No Place like Home” but then I know geography as a native California, and don’t think Stanislaus County anywhere near Kansas.

Blue Monday Jam

Waitress takes your order at Blue Monday Jam.  I do sketches at various restaurants in Modesto, CA and anywhere else I’m at with a drawing pad.  Blue Monday Jam is a regular music event, where I try and catch the band, the staff, audience, the details of the venue.  Many of these sketches at Barkin Dog Grill end up in the gallery in the back hallway by the boss’s office and bathrooms, so actually seen.  I started the Blue Monday Series, back at Thymeless, now closed, then Clayton’s and Jax on H both closed, and now where it lives on at great burger and dogs spot, Barkin Dog Grill on 11th Street in Downtown Modesto.  I have a  lot of these posted on my facebook, and on my http://james-christiansen.fineartmerica.com portfolio of over 476 images.