Supporting art

Last week the sun popped its head out here and there. I blame it on the energy those sun breaks gave me, but I felt like getting out in the world and supporting my friends and husband in their artistic endeavors. Granted, I’d try to do that no matter what the weather was like, but this week and into the weekend was a busier one than normal.

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The first event I went to was called Object Stories and was held at the Portland Art Museum. My friend Justin had an exhibit there and all of the object stories were about hidden disabilities. It was a powerful message, especially when the artists got up to talk about their pieces. It made me think about how I approach people and the judgments I oftentimes automatically make about them without understanding the full picture. I think it’s natural to have a gut reaction to something someone says or how they act. However, taking a step back and being aware of those reactions, pausing, and opening myself up to a truly open conversation and experience with people of all types is something this exhibit reminded me to do on a regular basis.

In addition, there is an awesome YouTube channel where the artists talk about their pieces as well. I highly recommend it.

IMG_8644The second event I went to was my husband’s show. He plays in a band called Body Mask and they played the art closing for Joey Maas’ pop art show at Ace Hotel. I’ll admit that I’d had a bad day and didn’t feel like going, but I dragged myself out and it was SO MUCH FUN. As you can see from the photos, the art was super smart and all the connections it made (someone had to make a few of those for me…) regarding cultural and social commentary felt like a valuable contribution to the world as we know it today. In addition, the band brought a lot of energy and fun to the event. Also, BALLOONS! Overall, it was a good night that lifted my spirits exponentially. Great art all around!

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The last thing I’ll say about all of this is, go out and support your people! Art is important for so many reasons and whatever your reason is, go support your friends, strangers, and loved ones. It makes me feel so good when someone comes to one of my readings, it makes me feel like what I’m doing is worth it and valued. It’s just an extra good feeling that your people know how important your art is and why you do what you do. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to get out and go, but make a point to show your appreciation for the artists in your life.  HUG them, but also go to their shows.

 

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Review: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Picked this up randomly at the library. So glad I did. An unexpected gem! Review to come.

Review

I picked up Heidi Durrow’s, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (2010), while browsing the fiction section at the local branch of my neighborhood library. Generally I put books that I know I want to read on hold there and then go pick them up. It has become exceptionally rare for me to simply browse the bookshelves at the library and try something based on the cover or inside flaps.

Honestly, I don’t know what made me pick it up. Was it the cover that boasted “winner of The Bellwether Prize in Fiction?” I don’t even know what the Bellwether prize is or what criterion is used to determine the winner. Or was it the favorable blurbs on the back of the book that includes a quote from a fiction teacher that I recently took a class with? Or was it the simple description on the inside cover about a bi-racial girl of Danish and Black heritage that gripped me? Probably all of those things. I also liked that it was a debut novel about society’s idea of race, class and beauty as the back cover pointed out. Of course, it was much more than that.

Since I live in Portland (I’m going on fourteen years) I felt a kinship with the story in a way that I didn’t expect to. Durrow paints a picture of familiar places around town in a way that I hadn’t seen them before. Since I didn’t group up here, it gave me a glimpse at what it would have been like to be a teenager here. We are taken to the Salvation Army where one of the characters works and then to a familiar park I’ve visited many times. It surprised me to feel such a close connection to the setting of a novel. I felt that it gave me more insight than the average reader because I already knew the setting and the type of culture that the narrator was surrounded by.

Another surprise was the slow and eventual realization that the main character, Rachel, a young girl and the most central character of the novel, had arrived in Portland from Chicago because of a tragic accident. Durrow does an expert job of slowly revealing what those events were and how they left her without a mother or a father to care for her. I’m not giving anything away by saying this. The haunting tale of a past that follows her throughout her life, in both tangible and intangible ways, carries the reader through this novel. Durrow shows us Rachel’s growth over time with all types of growing pains. She meets a boy and he reminds her of the Danish heritage her mother gave her. She speaks Dutch with his mother at a dinner she is invited to. But the boy also reminds her that she is black and that he has never slept with a “black girl” before. She’s a smart girl trying to figure out her complicated place in the world. There is a lot going on in this book. It has a layered effect that is only enhanced by the multiple points of view this story is told from. Each point of view reveals more and more layers of the story.

Durrow is precise when it comes to shifting character perspectives and voices. I was worried that I would eventually feel lost, but I didn’t. Not once. I wanted the novel to go on a bit longer, but it was mainly because I liked the characters so much, not because she didn’t do a good job of letting us figure out the rest of the story. I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful debut novel. I think she balanced plot (the action in the book), story (the emotional lives of the characters), and characterization perfectly.

I’ve always loved learning about people and their experiences⎯different ways of doing things, of being in the world and coping. This story made me want to sit down and talk with every single one of her characters and hear more of their stories. That’s a good sign from a book I randomly picked up at the library. A fantastic book.

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