Where did we leave off? Right. I was picked up at the bigger than big Las Vegas airport by Ron Spears, fellow Hartford alumni, illustrator of fame for Magic Cards and for the gaming industry. I had the best time chatting with him about his life, his painting and art, his life as a teacher and mentor to students, and his hopes and aspirations. Impressive and smart, Ron can do Anything...so watch and wait. He is filled with ideas, passion and hope. His work is taking off in the world of galleries and patrons as well as other opportunities. All exciting to me.
We drove 2.5 hours through sage and rolling desert to arrive at Cedar City, a tidy town--not too big, with an impressive University made of brick the same colors as we see in the desert. It does not feel like a college town, or at least the ones I am used to--with a boho college town, joints open late until the wee hours with used bookstores, coffeeshops and asian restaurants dotting the landscape. It is quiet and things close down around 7 p.m. and entirely by 9:30. It has some retail, but everything is very new and sparkling. Everyone is very kind and says hello on the street.
After a little break, Ron picked me up and I did a little show of magic tricks with illustrator (making brushes, making 3D stuff, making symbols...) for about 3 hours with some clever and funny students. We had dinner at a fun woodfired pizza shop with students and another Hartford alum teaching at Cedar City, Val Taylor. It was so lovely, and everyone was so fun and funny, I can see why this teaching thing can get under your skin. Made me feel positively lively.
Thursday, I got up early and looked at my slides again--editing a bit more and went to breakfast at the El Reye Best Western. I was stunned at the crew eating cereal and sipping tea...it was like the British Embassy with all of these beige clad older people chatting up a storm, talking about which tea bag they liked in the offering and talking about the text messages from their families and the little walks planned for today. My guess is that El Reye was the center point for their sightseeing--and a good idea at that. I saw that this might be a tour (as a sleek white bus was hidden in the parking lot).
At 8:30 a.m. I was whisked off by Ron for another session with SUU. I talked to the same group of illustration students for 3 hrs. (unscripted) about getting your work out and how I do it. I took two boxes of brooches (food and cameo) and offered them around to the students who promptly pinned them on their shirts and hats to my delight. I started with googling myself and pecking through all the venues I use to post my work. Then it was the scroll down of my favorite promotional vendors--and some chat with students who were involved with the various Cons in the area (which, my guess are quite a few with Vegas nearby). Lots of good energy. I just wish I knew them better so as to really be able to be more focused and more revelant...but the energy was pretty high so I wasn't an entire lead balloon. I had the chance to admire and see some independent projects the illustration students were doing as a collaborative project about an undefined Moon Goddess which were thoughtful, beautiful and smart. These 11 illustration students wanted to have a collaborative project just like other art schools, so they just decided to do it. I love it. Ron showed me a case of both his students' work and Val's (Val is teaching graphic design) and I was delighted to see such strong and thoughtful, well crafted work. SUU is doing well with our Hartford boys
After lunch, Val Taylor took me on a 10,000 ft above sea level field trip to see Cedar Breaks (about a half an hour outside of Cedar City). See picture above. We saw amazing rocks and rock formation, gorgeous mounding sage brush, yellow flowered Rabbit Brush, and Pinon trees. Val told me that he puts on gloves and collects pine nuts from the Pinon trees (pignolas) and gives big bags of them to his children for the holidays. It was great talking to Val and finding out more about him, his knowledge of native people and traditions, and his vast understanding of people, things and places around Utah and the West. It was such a gift he gave me of time, thought and ideas, I am so so inspired beyond the incredible work he produces as an artist and illustrator. After this bonanza of beauty, Val asked if I wanted to see some petroglyphs!! How did he know? So off we went to the Parowan Gap, a gap in a mountain that native people left notes, messages about where water was, where people could stay, and where the cave was between the hills. We traveled out to Parowan, a very small town with lots and lots of ranches and agriculture, with one lane roads that as Val told me, you could go for at least 30 miles without seeing anyone. Little brick houses...charming little houses with pents and little porches nestled in the town...and then the sheer vastness of the land.
I was stunned by the petroglyphs and their random power. Forget the Egyptians! I am so grateful and delighted by my afternoon with Val. It was wonderful visually, intellectually and filled with happy friendship. I am so blessed.
I spoke to the students in the basketball stadium with an enormous screen and podium. They loved the loot (tattoos and stickers) and I think they liked me. It was fun. Dinner with Ron, Val and students at a cute Thai place. Today I get my wits together and Val graciously is taking me back to Vegas.