New year’s journey to Greenfield

Watercolor journal and painting

Watercolor journal and painting, with book as inspiration

As I traveled to Greenfield, Iowa last Friday, I was feeling anxious about the time and getting to my destination — until I drove south of I-80, and the countryside made me feel like I was coming home! The anxiety dropped away as the rolling hills reminded me of going to visit my grandparents’ homes in Indiana. The sense of welcome continued as I arrived at the Warren Cultural Center and met Catherine Howe, with whom I’d been planning some new year’s journal-making workshops.

At the workshops we made pop-up journals in watercolor, starting with “What’s in my closet” — what are our hidden treasures, what do we push back/hide, what do we need to throw away for 2013?

Watercolor reflecting on "let pain be pain"

Watercolor reflecting on "let pain be pain"

Participants brought quotes that were meaningful to them, and used them as inspiration while quietly painting. They used very simple symbols to paint their reflections. The painting in the photo is a reflection on Thomas Keating’s book Heartfulness, and Matthew Fox’s concept of “let pain be pain.” You come out of the light, you go into the dark, but there is still light flickering (depicted in the painting by using salt with the watercolor!) and you come through the pain — you don’t forget it, but it’s not so painful because you have dealt with it.

The Warren Cultural Center

The Warren Cultural Center
(photo from the Warren Cultural Center – click image to visit their website – note: music will play when page loads)

The Warren Opera House (founded by Edward and Eva Warren) opened in 1896. Last year, after 10 years and $6 million in renovations, the opera house and adjacent buildings re-opened as the Warren Cultural Center, with a concert venue, gallery, offices, meeting rooms, and retail space. The renovation has been featured on local television and radio. In between workshops, I stayed upstairs in the guest rooms, where everything is appointed much like its original Victorian era, down to the accurately restored colors and wallpaper. I could sit in the turret on the corner of the building, drink tea, and look out on the town square – it’s like going back in history! I could feel the long skirts, the parties, the life in the building from when it originally opened.

Ed & Eva’s, a gift shop in the very large space that used to be the Warren Dry Goods Store, has a great deal of artwork from Iowa artists. (I think they will carry my Nudes in the Kitchen cookbook, which has a tomato bisque soup recipe!) A few pieces of my artwork are on display in the Cultural Center’s gallery, and more of them will be up after January 10 or so (after a prior exhibit is taken down). If you’re thinking of a visit, there are even more things to see in Greenfield!

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