The Portal Review

Polly Gaillard has reviewed my show Portal at the Southeast Center for Photography.  She is a wonderful writer and someone who looks deeply.  I am fortunate beyond measure to have her consider this exhibition.  Thank you Polly Gaillard and Michael Pannier.  Here is an excerpt but you can read the entire review here.

The exhibition is closely tied together throughout the space. On entry, Vrba's Mind's Eye hangs above her sign-in book (a vintage ledger from Ohio titled Record of Baggage Check Forwarded and Received).  Encountering the images and thoughtful installations as you walk throughout the gallery is something that can only be experienced firsthand, given the three-dimensional quality of much of the exhibition.  One will not only admire the quality of the silver gelatin prints, but also experience a dimension of seeing through round mirrors and magnifying glasses used as portals to reference another dimension of time and space.  You don’t get the idea of the depth of the work from Vrba’s website since websites are a place limited in the ability to demonstrate experience or three-dimensional space.  The show at SE Center for Photography is a welcome dimensional surprise.  My technical mind wants to know how Vrba managed the reproduction of imagery within or on mirrors, but the aesthetic is consistent and strong enough that I turn off my techno-logical self and think about falling through the space of Vrba's portals.


I met Mary Oliver once.  She was as big as a minute and dressed in black.  I tried to tell her how this one poem had affected my life, but I know I failed.  

Becki gave me a silver cuff bracelet a few years ago with the first words of this poem engraved.  I wear it every day on my left wrist.  I don't believe in luck so I wouldn't say it's lucky.  It's a reminder.

I read it all today for the first time in a long while.  It's just true.  Thank you Mary Oliver.  Thanks Beck.  Thank you my dear friend Jody for this image we made together.

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice – – –

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

‘Mend my life!’

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations – – –

though their melancholy

was terrible. It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice,

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do – – – determined to save

the only life you could save.


I am sitting in a North Carolina Drivers License Office waiting to renew my drivers license that expired 8 months ago. I'm waiting to take a vision test (yeah I got your vision DMV), and a test on my signage knowledge and then they'll want to take my picture. I am perfectly clear on my reasons for putting this off for so many months. The Buzzing Ultra Violent Lighting is ample reason alone.

I was determined to write an upbeat blog post.  HA HOW AM I DOIN'?

How about Spring? I would be hard-pressed to find any complaints about SPRING!

How is my Nest you ask?  She is amaaaaazing.  Thank you.

There.  I've righted myself.

So I've been in a pretty good place creatively.  THAT'S especially wonderful and noticed and appreciated.  Hey Art Gods, if you're listening to me type - Thank you and I'm not finished making stuff so keep it coming por~favor.

The ideas are coming faster than I can birth them.  And for the first time in my life, my dreams are filled with A R T...vivid, gorgeous, strange ideas all night long.  Last night I was successfully collaborating with Vic Muniz.  wtf.  Sleep has never been so fun.

Also, I've been thinking about the people in and out of my life.  I've lost more than my fair share of people as I've said before.  I do believe in the tight edit.  But lately I've been thinking about the relationships that remain tried and true.  I have a renewed appreciation for my collection of extraordinary human beings I am humbled to know as friends.  The last few months have brought this fact back into the good light.  I have done one thing very well.  I have found the best people.  They love me when I'm sad.  They still love me when I'm mean.  And they are cheering the loudest when I finally get my shit together and stop with all the sad and mean.

My invincible and amazing pal Eliot Dudik made the image here of me and my Nest with his big ass camera of course.  His patient and persistent support and wise council have been invaluable.  AND he made this photograph.  I mean...really.  


This just in...Mbuno from Nigeria of the NC Department of Motor Vehicles has decided that I know enough about road signs.  And she thinks I have vision.  And when I signed on the line for my new license she said, "Oooh I LIKE your signature! You an artist?"   heh heh heh

peace out bitchachos

give me a minute



As I begin typing here in text edit, without looking, I know it's been awhile since I've posted.  In the guttural voice of Bette Midler - belting it out as she was dying onstage in The Rose…     Stay With Me Baby …   yes, a bit dramastic for a blog post but I wanted to open with UMPHH!  (even if it is borrowed OK STOLEN from 1979)…stay with me?  baby? 

Creeping up on the end of February…the young year has been surprising.  I've been searching for my footing.  I've been editing my life.  I've been looking inward and further inward all the way to the earth's core and then back outward again to the handful of people I trust.  Looking to my better self.  And to the idea of Providence in my life. 

I can talk about the details of the events that have informed my first two months of 2016 but it would bore even me, so I'll spare you.  

Just first two months of the year have more to do with me living fifty-one years than anything else.  I have no time for bullshit.  I have less than no time for bullshit.  So I edit harshly and I'm not going to apologize for it because I Have No Time.  If now, you're thinking that I sound puffed-up and haughty…I'd like to suggest that we're not different at all.  You have no time.  No time to spare.  Breathe in Strength, Breathe out Bullshit.

My oldest son Aaron is in his Sophomore year at NC State University.  He is taking a Philosophy course and he knows I would love to be sitting next to him with my perfectly sharp pencils and even sharper mind… tuned-in, hyper-focused, and grateful to be there.  Aaron sends me bits from his notes that he loves and/or that he knows I would love.  This past Wednesday he sent a quote.  Reading this quote on the most perfect day I could read such a thing… I felt not only connected to him, but to the idea of providence…the wind at my back…the whole world pulling for me. my unique strength and energy.  that there are no coincidences.  that god is sometimes anonymous.  faith. 

here it is 

"I wish my life and decisions to depend on myself, not on external forces, of whatever kind. I wish to be a subject, to be the instrument of my own, not of other men’s, acts of will. I wish to be a subject, not an object; to be moved by reasons, by conscious purposes which are my own, not by causes which affect me, as it were, from outside. I wish to be somebody, not nobody; a doer – deciding, not being decided for, self directed and not acted upon by external nature or by other men as if I were a thing, or an animal, or a slave incapable of playing a human role, that is, of conceiving goals and policies of my own and releasing them."

-Isaiah Berlin 




Dear January,



Dang.  You've been amazing.  Can I just thank you Oh One for showing up with so much heart and beauty?  Like an answered prayer.  Like a granted wish.  Like a present and it's not my birthday.  January…I love you.  Two Thousand Sixteen…I freaking love you.

A last minute plane ticket was booked and BECK FLEW IN ON JANUARY 7th.  She's been my best good friend since the first day of the first grade.  She saved my life and still does.  We have been very good at loving each other well across the 1,177 miles over these past 8 years.  She's been here many times but this trip was one of my favorites.  Partly because I've missed her more than usual this year--rough year.  And partly because we  K  I  L  L  E  D  it.   We took a day-trip to Virginia ON HER BIRTHDAY (cue the romantic fog from 8am till sundown…it was ridiculous beauty).  We had a girl party here with girls and inspired readings and music and some hard core dancing.  We climbed into The Nest on the last day.  We could have stayed there forever.  It was a creative jolt…the best kind of high…pure joy and free for the both of us.  Never gonna forget it.  Nevereverever.

About a week later…we got our first good snow of the season.  If you haven't heard…I am shamelessly sentimental about snow.  I weep when my world turns white.  I am literally moved to tears.  I have only seen this sort of thing on big vacations.  I lived in SE Texas all my life.  When I wake up now in Carolina and look out MY BEDROOM WINDOW and the world has abracadabra-presto-change-o the world is white and weighted with cold blue…and nothing looks like it did when I fell asleep --- I am breathless and renewed.  I'll never get over it.  Don't want to.

So I've made soup and taken hikes and photographed The Nest (it's her FIRST snow) and I have felt grateful.

This morning my daughter Olivia came in while I was playing guitar in my office.  She is about to turn 15.  She is a force.  She's a cross-country runner on the Chapel Hill High team -coached by Joan Nesbit Mabe.  Google her.  Joan has lived large.  She is not only my daughter's coach but an Olympian and fireball-with-a-medal and a cherished friend of mine.  Joan should be my life coach. No joke.

SO---Olivia comes in today and says that she has to run and she asks me to go with her.  I'm deep into guitar and it's cold and icy and slick as sh*t out there.  I say I can't.  I'll fall and break something and I'm slow and I'm not a runner.  (I do jog on occasion but jogging is so 1978 --we can't even use that word)  Liv insists…she says…I want you to go and there's SNOW OUT THERE WHY WOULDN'T YOU GO-- YOU LOVE SNOW? !!

I thought to myself…'why wouldn't you go?'  If you're going to go--it's a good way to go.  

I said yes and bundled up and we headed out.

Now…she takes off running and we both understand that she'll run faster and she'll come back and then go ahead again.  So right away I see her ahead of me - as a woman- running.  And when she runs…even if she is running fast…she looks like a gazelle.  Running in slow motion.  She's way ahead of me and I keep looking for her through the woods.  It's stark and icy and I'm checking to be sure she's okay.  And then I realize that I'm also looking for her to inspire me so that I keep going.  Because it's hard.  And she's doing it so well way ahead of me.  She comes back and grabs my arm and pulls me with her.

I sucked in my breath when I realized how typical it is for she and I.  I'm checking to be sure she's okay because I am her mother.  And I'm inspired by who she is.  She has become her own woman.  And she lives a bold, adventurous, intelligent, curious, nurturing and intentional life.  I hope she sees anything of that sort in me.  I don't think she would say that now but I hope I'm living in her somewhere.  

No matter though.  Not now.

Today was beauty  on beauty  on beauty. 

Gratitude?   The Mother Load.