Sunday, February 21, 2010

Catching up again! (from Kate)

Well, despite my early warning that I may not be able to devote much time to this blog, I feel guilty about neglecting it.  I haven't done much reading in the book, but as Robin alluded to, just pivoting around the book has been a good catalyst.   I haven't been able to write much about what's been keeping me so insanely busy and distracted over the last few weeks, but now I can!

I had been interviewing for a job in San Francisco with a very interesting company called Linden Lab.  The artist part of me was quite intrigued because they make a platform for a virtual world called "Second Life" in which everything, essentially, is artwork created by 'residents'.  And I was drawn to their very generous and creative team too.  Part of me wanted to get back to the bay area to be near to family and friends there, and to also be more connected to the plein air and other art stuff in Marin - a rich community and very friendly.

Then, just after a first round of in-person interviews in January, I spotted a job posting within my current company here in Austin and thought it sounded good, so applied.  The more I learned about the team and the projects, the more I liked this option.  Then, the capper came when the hiring manager offered to allow me to work out of the Berkeley office if I wanted to after six months or so - whenever I'd have ramped up sufficiently on the job and connected well with all the team in Austin.

So I accepted that job on Friday and then felt this surge of relief about staying in Austin, which surprised me.  I think I'd been holding everyone at a remove because I didn't know if I was staying or not.  Now I have at least six months and that justifies reconnecting, so suddenly I feel open to people again - and it feels a bit like waking up from a restless sleep.  I happily signed up for a painting weekend with Plein Air Austin in April and joined a few gals from my new team for a "drink" (grapefruit juice for me, margaritas for them) at 5 on Friday.  It was lovely and I thought, hey, it's like I'm a real person again!

I'm curious to see how all of this will play out, of course.  And it will be a direct impact to my art life - one of less disruption, I think.  So seems to be I got the best of all worlds really.  Imagine that? :)

A couple of other thoughts here.  I don't know if readers will understand how they are connected to my creative process and artwork, except that everything that I get really interested in becomes material in some way or another.  So, recently read Temple Grandin's latest book called "Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best life for Animals" and was totally absorbed and motivated to think more deeply about what goes on for non-human animals and how they are thinking and feeling.  I've always been an animal lover and interested in what makes them tick, what is ethical with our stewardship or relationship.  And the book really takes on a lot of that. What would it be like to be a prey animal?  What can we do for dogs if they can't be roaming around with us all day for miles and miles? 

So, having that on my mind, I attended an equestrian competition in Waco yesterday.  Where normally, I'd have been focused on whether I understood what made for good riding or not and whether I looked as though I fit in, I found that at first I was captivated by the shapes and gestures of the horse and rider, but then, after being there for a bit, I was really bugged by a few things.  One, they were blasting rock music into the arena.  (I asked my friend why, and she thought it was because it kept the audience from being bored.)  I feel like the riding is completely interesting without the cacophony.  And started thinking about how the horses probably were unnerved by it too.  Then, as the women did their various riding exercises (reining), their teammates on the bleachers yelled out whoops and "yeah girl" and the like.  Again, wouldn't that be totally nerve-wracking for the horse?  Thirdly, the Baylor mascot being a bear, there were huge yellow bear eyes painted in several places along the railing of the ring.  Now, if I'm a prey animal like a horse, I would find that disturbing too.

I'd love to see how the horses might perform in a nice quiet arena with no bear eyes glaring at them.

Since I have no budget or expertise to do that kind of experiment, how do I address that concern?  Write a letter to Baylor?  Do a painting?  Seems rather impotent.  Hmmm.  Something to ponder.

--- Kate 


Camille LaRue Olsen said...

I think about these exact same kinds of things when I see captive animals. It's admirable that you'd even consider trying to do something to improve their situation. When I drive by a field near us that has cows I'm always horrified to see that 3/4 of this field is muddy and has cold standing water. I think about the cows' hooves and how they would leave that field if they could, for drier ground with a contained water source. Ugh. But so far, I haven't done anything. :-/

Lynn said...

One thing we can all do to help animals is to write or call our representatives and be a voice for animals who suffer in every corner of the world, from factory farms to backyard dogs deprived of water, shelter, chained and neglected, to horses being whipped by egotistic cowboy types. None of this makes sense, yet it seems we humans forget that we CAN be the change. Call the SPCA or other animal rights groups in your area to report abuse and neglect. Raise your voice to inhumane treatment of animals because they cannot. Thank you Kate, for paying attention and for saying something about it online. BTW, there is one man in Canada who does beautiful animal paintings and donates the proceeds to animal shelters, so even that can be done.

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