Category Archives: Art

Alphabet Soup Challenge:”J” is for Jerilyn

August 17th would have been my friend Jerilyn’s 60th birthday. She passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, in Wisconsin, shortly after Hubs and I moved to Colorado, 4 years ago.

She left behind her husband of 25+ years, 2 young adult sons.

Jerilyn ready to pitch in at a food bank during a mission trip, 2007 ish

I was reminded of her birthday when I checked Facebook that day. Some may feel it’s morbid to keep someone’s Facebook page alive after they have passed, but I don’t. It warmed my heart to see all the comments from the many folks who loved her.

I think we should all strive to touch people’s lives in a way that they can’t help but honor them in some way on the anniversary of their births after they are gone. Like I saw with the feed on Jerilyn’s Facebook page the other night.

Jerilyn was a creative, intelligent, witty, kind, spiritual, playful, ambitious, loving, charasmatic, and strong woman. She was a force of nature who lit up a room. I will never forget her. I was so appreciative of her supportive words when Hubs and I were struggling with the challenges our teenagers presented us with. She was a great sounding board for us, especially because she had taken the time to know us and to know and love our kids.

Jerilyn was one of those people with the rare ability to question one’s thinking in a loving and respectful manner. I think that was due to her great sense of curiosity.

She and her husband Brad were the most dynamic of duos. They were the people at the party who you sought out to converse with. The couple who knew how to laugh together, work together, and play together.

One of my fondest memories of the two of them was at an outdoor concert. That weekend we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and I seem to recall theirs was coming up soon as well. When the 80’s cover band played George Michael’s “Freedom” the four of us laughed and danced like we were the only ones at the party. I think if Heaven is real, she’d be dancing on the clouds with George Michael to this song. Along with David Bowie, of course.

The woman had fabulous taste in music. She loved many of the artists that I did (and still do), like Elle King, Alicia Keys, and the aforementioned British gents.

Jerilyn was the Director of Christian Education at our church during our kids middle school and high school years. She loved each of those kids and they loved her. She listened to them without judgement. She mentored them and guided them. She was a talented planner of things such as youth mission trips. She had terrific communication skills with both the adult chaperones and the kids, so everyone understood what was expected of them.

Jerilyn was a very talented artist, on top of her many gifts. As a person who essentially has two thumbs when it comes to creating tangible pieces of art, I admired/envied this about her. She did a lot of tapestry art. Beautiful works made with colorful pieces of different textured cloth and other materials that could be hung prominently on a wall.

I had this vision in my head that I would commission her to create a work of art using the well-worn but still beautiful hand-made quilt made by Hubs’ then-boss’ wife as a wedding gift. I know she would have done a spectacular job with it. I kick myself for not jumping on that idea while I had the chance.

I took this picture at a gift shop in Minnesota a couple of years ago because it reminded me of her. I thought it was amazing that there was another “Jerilyn” who created beautiful pieces of art using cloth. I think our Jerilyn would have gotten a kick out of this too.

There’s so much more I could say about this truly awesome human being. She was a treasure and my life is better because she was in it. For that I am so thankful.

Talking to strangers and art appreciation

Hubs and I are back from our trip to Washington DC now.

What I didn’t do

In case you were wondering, no, I did not find myself swept up in a crowd of protesters demanding impeachment for our Bullshitter-in-Chief.

We did not make it to the charming Mrs. K’s Toll House for dinner. The only option for reservations for the night we wanted to dine there was 7 p.m. and that is just too late for supper for the two of us. Next year, we told ourselves, we will plan ahead to ensure we get a table there at a reasonable hour.

What I did do.

While Hubs was busy with work meetings, I embraced my lazy side relaxed. As in, woke up when I woke up. No alarms were set. Took my sweet time getting ready for the day. Indulged in some writing and reading. Caught some morning tv while sitting on our king-sized bed. Probably consumed too much HGTV.

I also talked to strangers.

One morning after breakfast, I chatted with a red-headed woman, her husband and probably 21 year old daughter on the one working elevator. I saw they were heading to the 9th floor, just like me, so I struck up a conversation. Asked them if they were here on vacation. Woman said they just came to see a concert the previous night and are heading home that day. The concert was “The Cult” (an 80’s band, the woman told me; despite being a teenager in the 80’s I’m not familiar with their music) and “Spirit Animal” which she and her daughter just started getting into. I got so lost in the conversation that I almost followed them to their room. It was an “Ope, wrong way!” sort of moment.

I’m guessing they were from New York or New Jersey based on the woman’s accent. I wondered if they drove here or flew. I wondered if this quick trip was planned months and months ago or if it was maybe more spontaneous, like last week. Maybe the daughter was online and happened to see that “Spirit Animal” (she was wearing their shirt) was on tour in DC last night. Maybe she showed her mom a video of one of their songs and mom said “let’s do it!” and off they went to share this experience together. I think they have a close relationship. I hope they appreciate it, because the fact is many people don’t share any closeness with their adult children.

While in line at Burlington Coat Company, a hispanic woman showed me a package of lotions and body sprays she had purchased. She said she was going to break them up and re-package them for 4 people. I told her that was a smart idea. She noticed right before she was going to check out there were holiday gift bags hanging on racks for purchase. She briefly considered it then said “no, I’ll get those at the Dollar Store”. I told her that’s what I would do. She thanked me.

Later, while shopping again (this time at Marshall’s), I was behind a middle aged black man in a leather newsboy cap. He asked the cashier if the color of the winter coat he was about to purchase was blue or black. He said he’s colorblind. I piped up and said I often couldn’t tell the difference between navy and black too; however this coat was definitely navy blue. He went on with his purchase and a couple of moments later, asked me if the gray towels he was going to buy were gray. I told him that they indeed were.

The art I saw

One of the days I was there, I took the Metro into DC to do some exploring. I found myself looking at a lot of art. I don’t think I fully realized just how much I appreciate art until this day.

I snapped pictures of the pieces that I especially appreciated. The ones that made me think. The ones that drew me in. Here’s a few samples:

Magnolia Blossoms by Josephine Joy. She was born in 1869 and grew up on a farm in Illinois, where she loved sketching things in nature. She did not follow her artistic calling however, until 1927, after her children were grown and her husband had died. By the early 40’s, while she was in her early 70’s, she became a nationally acclaimed painter.

The sign next to this piece states: “African Jungle Picture: If the ladies had knew the snakes wouldn’t bit them they wouldn’t have hurt the snakes; if the snakes had knew the ladies wouldn’t hurt them they wouldn’t have bit the ladies”. Food for thought, right?
This piece, called “Healing Machine” was created by a guy named Emery Blagdon, at his Nebraska farm over the course of three decades. He used found materials like hay bailing wire, magnets, and remnant paint from farm sales. He also included special ingredients and other “earth elements” from the local pharmacy in this piece. He called the individual pieces in this piece his “pretties”. He believed in the power of “earth energies” and in his personal ability to channel these forces in a space that through continuous tinkering and “aesthetic power” could alleviate pain and illness.
This piece is called “The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly” created by James Hampton over the span of fourteen years. He based it on religious visions, prompting him to prepare for Christ’s return to earth. Many of the elements in this piece he handcrafted from cardboard and plastic, adding structure with found objects such as old furniture, jelly jars, and light bulbs. He utilized shimmering metallic foils and other materials to evoke spiritual awe and splendor.

I also visited the National Portrait Gallery, enjoyed a delicious burger and beer at Dogfish Head Brewery with Hubs and our friends John and David, and visited The National Museum of Women in the Arts, where I was awed by an exhibit from Judy Chicago entitled which depicted Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief. Click this link for more info if you are so inclined: https://washington.org/event/judy-chicago-end-meditation-death-and-extinction It was absolutely stunning and emotionally moving. I’d share picture of it, but photography was not allowed at that exhibit.

The most important “take away” for me from this trip to our nation’s capital is that I must return there next December, as, thankfully, this is an annual work trip for him.

Me and Hubs in the lobby of our friends condo building .