Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Most Holy Theotokos Shrine in Eklutna, Alaska

As I’ve said before I love graveyards, on my way to Anchorage there is a charming little cemetery in
Eklutna Alaska This village has been inhabited for over 800 years. In the 1840s Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived and blended their beliefs with the Athabaskan traditions. Resulting in this unique cemetery More than 100 brightly colored "spirit houses" are on the burial ground, a custom that combines Athabaskan and Russian Orthodox practices.

I stopped in for a visit the other day on the way to Anchorage and discovered my favorite little chapel Most Holy Theotokos was torn down and a new one being erected. This was a little sad because as I understand the spirit houses are left to the elements, year after year and eventually they fall apart and disintegrate into the earth symbolizing the cycle of life, from dust we came and from dust we shall return.

I entered through the open gate on the side and was approached by the monk there. He wanted $5.00 admission; well I didn’t want to give him $5.00 for a 5 minute visit so I told him I’ll be on my way. Once when I offered to paint an icon for their gift shop he looked at me and said “I’m not sure we could have one painted from a person such as you.” ???!!! INDEED!

Some day I would love to retire in Mexico and paint icons all day. I know that according to strict protocol laymen such as myself are not supposed to paint the sacred icons but still I love to try. There is a monastery on Douglas, Alaska Island. I have contemplated going there for a retreat and learning how to paint icons, fasting and praying. Alas I have my family and my responsibilities here and must stay apart of this world. Plus one small detail I'm not Orthodox.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nikki and the Volcano

A group of artists were invited to show our art at the 2nd annual Make a Scene Music Fest I borrowed these easels from Teresa Ascone and choose 5 of my larger pieces it made an impressive display.

Nikki and the Volcano
SIZE: 40"X30"
PRICE: $1300.
They say the heart of the earth is made of Fire- It is held imprisoned and silent. But at times it breaks through the clay, the iron, the granite and shoots to freedom. Then it becomes something like this.

Some people say my art work is strange and weird. They ask me where I get the ideas for my paintings, they say things like "I'd like to spend some time in your head, or I'd be scared to spend time in your head."
Nikki and the Volcano came directly from a dream. It was one of those dreams when I awoke bathed in sweat and my heart pounding: There was a party of people in the glass walled observatory at the Haleakala Crater in Maui. Suddenly pandemonium as everyone rushes the door to escape, the paralyzing fear rising in me as I fought for control. With all my will power I forced myself to turn around and look, what I saw rising over the mountains was a fiery volcanic eruption and a terrifying red face rising. People are screaming, "it's the end of the world" and I say "some of us will survive" then I awake drenched in sweat.

Now, I don't share everything with everyone that asks for obvious reasons. But if my art gives the viewers a strong feeling I've accomplished my mission. Art can be a way to portray the inner psyche without wordy explanations. Some people relate, some are offended, repelled, insulted, sometimes it pulls a heart string, or triggers a memory and sometimes it brings joy. My art has an emotional quality which I endeavor to share with others.

The model for this painting was my daughter Nikki she looks just like I looked 20 some years ago so in a way it's a self portrait also..

Friday, July 27, 2007

Governor Sarah Palins Picnic at Wonderland Park Wasilla, AK

There hour is late and I had a big day at the Governors Picnic. Only in Alaska can we get so up close and personal with a governor. Sarah was in Kuwait this week visiting the troops from Alaska and she was back in time for her picnic. I'll bet she has jet lag. She came, she spoke, cut her cake and left just like a rock star.
I was there along with other artist friends displaying some work and networking.
Governor Sarah Palin

Judy V.

Linda Henning

Mike Erben, wildlife Artist Palmer Alaska


Talya Johnson forget me not

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

You've got a lot of Wabi-Sabi girl

Imperfect beauty aged to perfection. Wabi relates to things that are fresh, new, and simple. Sabi is a quality of having age or history. Sabi can be an irregularity or flaw such as a chip, crack or discoloration caused by age or use.

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete; of things humble, earthy, and unpretentious. It is an appreciation of the minor details of everyday life, the inconspicuous and often overlooked aspects of nature.

The idea of wabi-sabi however goes beyond appreciation of physical beauty and is even a way of living. One lives wabi-sabi one enjoys a simple unencumbered life, finding wealth through the spiritual richness of beauty present all around us. It is a paring down to the essence without removing the poetry of life, finding the delicate balance between pleasure we get from possessions and pleasure we get through freedom from possessions.

Oh I think understand wabi-sabi, my art is wabi-sabi, and since I've been doing Yoga I'm feeling alot more wabi-sabi. I am doing 90 exercises in 90 days. This is day three already I feel the benefits of stretching, breathing and gently challenging my body. 90 and 90 is always a good thing to try if you want to break a habit and create a good habit. So here is to Wabi-Sabi.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Yesterday Was Sunny - Today it's Rainy

This is what I was working on for my demo, it's not finished but more interesting than the last two. Don't you think?
I spend twelve hours on my feet yesterday demonstrating encaustic wax painting. The weather was perfect for a garden show blue skies 70 degrees. But I was inside the Craftsman home by the tall windows with the sun beating in so combined with the heat from the wax I was so hot I felt like a wax figure at Madame Tussards Wax Museum : Help I'm melting, melting. Or better still a wax figure I commissioned of me. How bizarre is that? If I left, my wax figure could stand in for me.

While there weren’t hordes of people at my demonstrations the people that came totally intrigued with encaustic wax and asking tons of questions. I am doing my part to spread "The Cult of the Wax" (I coined that expression). There was a sign up sheet for people interested in the workshop I plan to have one day soon. I collected quite a few names. I talked to a lady from Germany whose adorable granddaughter about 9 years old did the interpreting. We chatted gleefully about Encaustic Wax the wax techniques she used. Basically drawing on heavy stock paper with wax crayons and heating it with an everyday iron pushing the wax around. From what I gather encaustic wax is very popular in Europe. I love encaustic wax painting and I am enthusiatic about showing what I've learned and finding out what others do. I even wanted to raise my own bees but after I watched a bee keeping demonstration and a dry lecture I am not as excited to keep bees in Alaska. We have own special problems like long dark winters and the angle of the sun white snow and dark skies make the bee fly upside down and in the cold their muscles won't let them fly then they freeze.

I did not sell anything yesterday but that was not my goal. I am not heart broken. Then today Briony Fryfogle called me and wanted my art in their gallery and asked permission to put some photos my art in their local magazine Make a Scene. Like Carmen said: We'll all do a little "cross pollination" and make the valley Bloom even more.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Need A Personal Assistant

I used my stop watch today to see how long I devoted to art and art related activities today. I stopped it each time I did something else, empty the dishwasher, load the washing machine, etc. and started it each time I worked on art. It was four hours and fifty six minutes I spent working on my art. It would be a luxury to step away from all the day to day business of running a household and the details of my art business. I could have a personal assistant do the day to day tasks, I would ask him to hold all my calls. When I take a break from my painting it would be to walk, nap, dance, do yoga, well you get the idea.

Honey Comb, Bees, Wildflowers and Wax

I have a friend Jeannie whose opinion I trust so I showed her my piece from yesterday, "Home Sweet Home" and she didn't like it, she said whats that? Why don't you stick to your style? Well I just thought it was nice folk art, cute and kitchey. Well none the less I reworked the piece. I picked windflowers from her garden and fast dried them in the microwave between paper towels. This is an experiment the flowers may not be dry enough so the art may deteriorate in a short time. At least it's all organic. What is your opinion? Was yesterdays piece shit or should I have stayed with the first piece? I liked them both.
The whole thing started because I want to make a sign for my self that says.

This is Jeanies gazebo. She is such a nice relaxing person. I went by today just to drop off some directions. When I left I did not believe the time and had to check three clocks to convince myself that it really was 2:00. I felt like I had only been there a short time but was there well over two hours. I felt so relaxed and at ease there that I truly lost all track of time. Problem was I had somewhere else to be at 12:00. Oh well life is short stop and smell the flowers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Home Sweet Lake Home

Title: Home Sweet Home
Medium: Encaustic Beeswax, Glass bees, bee hive drawer
Dimensions: 9" X 18"
Artist: Judy Vars
Date: July 17, 2007
Price: 65.00

It was in the 70s today and not a cloud in the sky an uncommonly gorgeous day for Alaska. I was on my back deck with my encaustic paints creating, my neighbor was having a garden party it was fun to hear her boasting about the lake, her garden and the ladies sitting on the lawn chairs cackling like hens and enjoying the warm sun and the lake. For every ones pleasure the muskrat strolled past, the loon family swam nearby singing their beautiful sad song, the ducks landed nearby for a visit, the fish were jumping, the chipmunk chattering, the dragonflies mating and right on cue the eagle swooped low by the shore. Home Sweet Home was what I was thinking.

This was my creation today. I will be at the 2007 Alaska Garden and Art Festival at the Palmer Fairgrounds this Saturday demonstrating encaustic wax and selling some of my art in the Craftsman House at 11:00 am to 1:00 p.m. and again at 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. There will be loads of people and interesting demonstrations, music, story tellers. I am interested in beekeeping, introduction to Bonsai and composting. I look foreword to the event and hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stop the Insanity or Shut the F$#K Up

As i sit here wasting time on my computer eating ice cream and smoking cigarettes. Oh how I hate cigarettes and ice cream and all the things that I am addicted to.
I find my old friend Suzan Powter. Remember STOP THE INSANITY she's baaaack. I even signed up to get the updates on her new site, fabulous. Check her out. She is so cool and smart. I wonder if she really did weigh 260 pounds in Garland, Texas. How old is she anyway if shes 56 I'll shoot myself. The other day I read the Enquirer (another one of my vices)they had a spread of movie stars in their swim suits some were flabby and had cheezy butts and some were in great shape like Sharon Stone she is 53. Shit I'd love to have her body. Well the only answer to that is get hell off my ass and exercize or just shut the frick up. I know I am hard on myself but my mothers voice still rages inside of me. Someones got to tell me like it is. STOP THE INSANITY

"Rage is not a stage. It is transformative focusing Force that awakens transcendent E-motion. It is my broom, my Fire-breathing, winged mare. It is my spiraling staircase, leading me where I can find my own Kind, unbind my mind."

Mary Daly

Saturday, July 14, 2007

In Service

The last few days I have been taking care of my little old lady Goldene. We watched Quigley Down Under with Tom Selleck and Sabene a spaghetti western with Lee Van Clef (angel eyes) I love those western flicks and so does Goldene.

Since I saw her last she let a little white cat into her life. The cat just came to the door and waited until someone let it into the house. Sassy is a odd looking white cat with a gray striped tail. It's just like a little angel what a precious gift. This morning Sassy bought a live bird into the house, I think it was a gift for Goldene. Sassy sits on her lap and lets her dry the rain off her fur and sleeps and purrs. I can see the smile on Goldene's face and the way the cat relaxes her and brings her some joy.

When I stay with Goldene I slow down and take the day at her pace and it helps me appreciate life more and teaches me patience and compassion.
Last year I cared for her husband of 60 years in the months before he passed away of cancer. She is alone now expect for the caregivers and her family she is very fortunate to be at home and surrounded with such love and caring daughters. Goldene is a little spoiled and that's a good thing.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Time away was well spent I took pretty pictures, sketched, did yoga, wrote in my journal, and recharged my batteries. Then BAM upon returning to the city frustration! It was time to take down my show at Bagels Alaska and the Palmer Museum. At the museum I was late so no one knew where my art was at. No worries, I am sure they locked it up somewhere. But at Bagels Alaska one of the employees maby a manager had an issue with the way the artists come in and hang the art and was very high-handed with me about it. Apparently, she said, we stack it in front of the silverware trays and work stations so they can't get around. WHAT? Well I really don't like confrontation so I diplomatically told her perhaps we could do the hanging after business hours and that we would do our best be less intrusive.
Then she said there is no information about the VFAA if people ask. The information is hanging on the wall. So I pointed it out. I was beginning to feel annoyed with her manner so I told her to take it up with the president of the VFAA (Valley Fine Arts Association)Lindsay Shelley the lady that I did my show with, she will be there shortly to take down her pieces.

When I got home I noticed several pieces of my art work had been scratched with a nail, fork or some other sharp object. Mary Mother of Jesus her belly had been scratched, my Raven and Skelton had a big X scratched in its eyes.

I am turned off by this experience the deli holds no responsibility or liability as far as I know. The artists provide an ever changing supply of art to dress up the establishment draw in people who enjoy looking at art. It helps their business immensely and benefits the community. The workers are not expected to sell the work nor do they try, they ask no commission so it is a compromise for the artists.
Ok it's understandable they are selling bagels, pizza and coffee not fine art. So there is the rub. Is it better to show off your talents in a nice uptown gallery where they are getting a large commission 50 to 60 percent or other less traditional venues.

I recently read an article about a violist the recent experiment done by the Washington Post. The brilliant violinist Joshua Bell, fresh from a performance at the Library of Congress with the Boston Symphony, played for free during the morning rush at a Washington Metro station. Of the thousand-odd passersby, only a few stopped, or even paused, to listen. Small change fell infrequently into his open violin case--the very case that holds his $3 million 1710 Strad. Most were oblivious to some of the most beautiful and difficult music ever written for his instrument.

I just want to comminucate through art and share my creations with as many people as possible and be compensated for my blood, sweat and tears.
This experience is causing me to rethink my approach to marketing and selling.
My mantra was:
"The more people who see your work, the more people there are to love it, buy it, and collect it."

Well many great artists have been defamed and their art vandalized but it's like getting hit with a rotten tomato when you're giving your best Auria.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I'm packing my backpack, making a list and getting organized to take 24 hours away from phones, television, radio, computer. Just me, the yurt, my sketchpad, my journal, some groceries, and bug dope. A tiny respite away from responsibilities and expectations yours and mine. I will find my quiet place and strengthen my relationship with my higher power and hope that I don't meet a bear.

"I now choose to rise above my personality problems to recognize the magnificence of my being. I am totally willing to learn to love myself." Louise Hay

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

ART FOR SALE - Please Go Take A Look :)

I received an e-mail from a close sister/friend Laura who gently chided me for the sad state of my web-site. I haven't updated it for more than 2 years.
I feel so embarrassed. I have tons of excuses:
1. I DON'T KNOW HOW! I didn't build it.
2. I only know enough html to make e-bay pages from a template.
3. My son took a web design class at my suggestion but still is too busy to help me.
4. I want to completely revamp my site and look for a brand, I need inspiration.
5. I need a web-designer to help me make it perfect.
blah, blah, blah

So as an alternative I spent the day getting on board with Boundless Gallery. Check the sidebar. This is a good solution to offer my art for sale on line with a minimum of hassle. They only charge you their commission when the art sells, unlike e-bay who has the whole thing rigged in their favor, like the slots in Vegas.
They have cool features like a color picker, you can upload a photo of your own room and see how the art will look in your living space. How trick is that.

Boundless Gallery has some drawbacks however; I cannot link to my home page within the web site because it's against the user’s agreement. They only charge a commission on sales made through boundlessgallery.com so they view links to other sites as potential lost sales. I understand the logic. I can direct people to the homepage but to find me Judy Vars one must search in the browse and shop categories under artists.
They have 2,300 + artists. I should find out how many art buyers they have.

Still my old web web site Cabin Fever In Alaska needs an overhaul sigh.......

Also I got together the artwork I am taking to Girdwood Forest Fair this Friday and I even got some laundry done and made dinner. Now I'm going to watch Americas Got Talent. CUDOS for me. Did anyone reach the bottom of this blog?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The High Priestess,Sacred Mother,Goddess,Crone and Friends

When my dear friend Michelle called tonight from Hurricane, Utah we talked for at least an hour, my friend is a beautiful spirit, with so much goodness and light and I miss the warmth of her hearth more than I can say. I met her in church. I'm what they call a C & E member (Christmas and Easter) otherwise I tend to leave religion alone preferring to muddle along in my own way. But because I was in need of friends in Alaska I went to sacarament that Easter Sunday angling for an invitation to Easter dinner at someones house. Michelle sat next to me sharing my hymn book and singing like an angel, she invited us to dinner. Michelle and I grew up in the same culture with the same teachings and because we are both a little "different" and look at the world and our religion with a unique perspective. We became immediate friends just as if we knew each other in our pre-existance. We would sit on the grass read poetry together, talk about our lives, share our secrets and solve the mysteries of life. We were both fond of the writings of Carol Lynn Pearson.

Years before we met I took myself and my daughter so see a one woman show "Mother Wove the Morning" this was more than a play it was a sacred event about 16 women in history searching for the female face of God. This mind blowing play was written and performed by one woman Carol Lynn Pearson. She so impressed me being at least 6 feet tall is a very formidable woman who also grew up in the Mormon Church. The Church which abounds with subliminal messages that it's a mans world. Here is a woman who stands up and proclaims the High Priestess, the Sacred Mother, the Goddess, and the Crone. She speaks to the spirits of women and reminds us how powerful we are.

Dear God,
I would not turn
From the test of fire.
No flame burns
So hot that
I would leave Thee.

But often,
At weary bedtime
I cannot hold
My knees to the floor
So Cold,
So very cold.