Wind Storm-Power Outage-Blizzard

Those of you who have been paying attention know that I have two solo shows scheduled for February. I prepped and mailed 17 pieces to the Wiseman Gallery in Grants Pass, Oregon for a show called The Art of the Grid.

I spent all of this week steadily stitching a couple of new pieces for the show Cut Stitch Press at the Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer, Alaska.

It has been a long year of truncated nights and endless days behind one sewing machine or another. Finally, on Thursday morning, I packed my car with quilts and headed down the highway. I was going 220 miles down the coast to Homer, Alaska. There was great mid-morning sky for the road trip.

Anchorage Sky February 6, 2014Every state has a capitol, an urban center, and a funky art town. Homer is our funky art town, and I couldn’t be more excited to show my work there.

I arrived in good time.

Bunnell Street Arts CenterAsia Freeman, the Executive Director of the Bunnell, and Michael Walsh, the Artist in Residence Coordinator, and I got down to the business of hanging the show. I brought plenty of work with the hopes Asia could help me edit the exhibit into a cohesive visual statement. We spent a lot of time moving the pieces around and discussing how to transition from one piece to the next.

Maria Shell Work on the FloorMaria Shell Work on the Floor of the BunnellMichael and Asia worked out the spacing while I ironed and removed lint.

Hanging Cut Stitch Press by Maria Shell at BunnellWe hung everything that could be hung for the day. I had finish work to do–this is the story of my life. But with a full 24 hours until the opening of the show, I was confident things would fall into place. I set up a mini-studio and went to work.

 Maria Shell mini-studio at the BunnellIf you had happened by the Bunnell on Thursday evening and looked through the front door, this is what you would have seen.

Mini Studio at the BunnellI spent the evening stitching and then went to bed at a very reasonable hour. I was staying upstairs at the quaint Old Town B&B which is also run by the Bunnell Street Arts Center.

Old Town B&B Homer, AlaskaOld Town B&B Homer, AlaskaDuring the night, I woke several times to giant gushes of wind. If this were literature, and it is not, you might think that this is a rather crude attempt at foreshadowing, and it is.

I got up early and began to quietly stitch on hanging sleeves. The wind continued to howl. I should have gone downstairs and fired up my sewing machine, but I didn’t. I focused on handwork.

At about 10:30, I met with Asia and Michael to figure out our next step. All of the staff was marveling at the gusts of wind rattling gutters and flinging roof shingles. The stop signs outside the front window of the Bunnell were speaking in tongues while others simply fell to the ground.

Wind Storm in HomerAnd then the power went out.

Unbelievable. I have dealt with this plot thickener before when a massive windstorm left us without power for days on end while I prepped for the Bellevue Arts Museum show with a generator powered sewing machine. It is a good story now, but at the time, I thought I might fall apart and not be able to put myself back together again. Fortunately, this is a different show.

I continued to stitch in the dark while Asia and Maura the caterer, who was also without power, mapped out a Plan B.

Maria Shell Stitching in the Dark at the BunnellStitching in the Dark at the BunnellWe decided to drive across town and reconvene at Asia’s home.

Driving in the BlizzardDriving in the BlizzardThere Asia and Maura would wave some wooden spoons around and create magic in the kitchen.

Maura and Asia Cooking for the BunnellAnd I would set up my second Homer sweat shop at the dining room table.

Sewing at Asia's HouseThe wind whirled, and the snow accumulated.

Snow Storm Homer, Alaska 2014While most of the town remained without electrical power, we had a little fully charged hen party. It was quite delightful. We talked about art, and craft, and movies, and food, and community. Once Asia and Maura finished cooking, they began painting, and all the while I stitched.

Hen Party at Asia's HouseAsia and Maura PaintingThe other art organizations in town called to say they would be canceling their First Friday events–its kind of hard to see art in the dark.

And that is the story of how my first solo show opening was cancelled.

Strangely, it was not a disappointment. In fact, it was a totally fun adventure. I got to interact with the Bunnell and its people in a much deeper way then if the power had stayed on. And I am grateful for that.

Here is the Bunnell when I arrived on Thursday afternoon. Homer had just experienced its warmest January on record. All the snow had melted.

The Bunnell Street Arts Center Homer, AlaskaAnd here is the Bunnell this morning, covered in a beautiful layer of fresh snow.

The Bunnell Street Arts Center Homer, AlaskaWind Storm-Power Outage-Blizzard means the First Friday opening of Cut-Stitch-Press has been rescheduled for Friday February 14th from 5- 7 PM with an artist talk at 6 PM.

Maybe you will join me? I hope so.

PS Who knew windstorms and power outages would become an ongoing trope in my life.

This post has been linked to Whoop Whoop Fridays and Off the Wall Fridays where you can see what other stitchers from around the world have been doing this week.

This entry was published on February 8, 2014 at 7:45 PM. It’s filed under Just Plain Stories, News And Events, Quilt Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

14 thoughts on “Wind Storm-Power Outage-Blizzard

  1. What an adventure! Attitude is everything and you’ve got that covered. Good for you, Maria!

  2. pmgarrett2 on said:

    I love you and your sense of adventure Momma Maria. love, grandma patt

    patricia garrett, lcsw box 671643 chugiak, ak 99567 907-854-7288

    Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2014 03:46:00 +0000 To:

  3. pmgarrett2 on said:

    this is such an awesome post girlfriend. I just read it again. p

    patricia garrett, lcsw box 671643 chugiak, ak 99567 907-854-7288

    Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2014 03:46:00 +0000 To:

  4. Loved your story,Maria..except for the show canceling part.The writer in you is wonderfully apparent.You do have a great attitude about whatever you do.Hope next week has a better ending.At least you won’t have to hang the shoe again.

  5. Wow; what an adventure and positive attitude. Are you staying in Homer for the entire week? I think you must have really enjoyed the time around the table, stitching and chatting with the other ladies. Wishing you the best when the weather permits for the opening of your show!

    • Mary- I am back in Anchorage. I would love to stay in Homer for the week, but I still have deadlines ahead of me. I know you might think that is a long trip to make again this week, but it is a beautiful drive and we Alaskans are used to long drives to get places. When we lived in Valdez, I used to tell people that we had to drive 300 miles to get to the nearest Costco or McDonalds!

  6. my favorite post of yours!

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