I don’t walk into situations blind; I do my homework. I knew who the four panel members would be – liberal lawyers.
I sat at a table looking at these women and instantly thought “they could all be my friends”. There they were, set up to interview people who applied for grant money from the William Male Foundation. They were there to pay it forward – to enrich other people’s lives, and to honor a man who had devoted his life to the arts.
The first question asked was, “Tell us about teaching at Donovan” – I looked at them and thought I was going to cry, they cared.
For the first time in I don’t know how long, I felt valued. I felt heard. I felt special. They were looking at me with interest, and not a passing by interest, genuine interest. I didn’t feel like a failure for not having “enough”, for not being big enough, for all of those “enoughs”. My words were being heard. We talked about humanity, art, travel, the type of person Bill Male was and how he contributed to the arts. I walked out of the room knowing that no matter what the outcome from this meeting, there were people out there who cared. For that I will be forever grateful.
I applied for this grant money with the intention of taking a break, taking a time-out and refueling. I needed to be thrown a bone. I was beaten up, exhausted on every level, and losing a bit of myself. I was asking for money to go to Europe, to look at art, to do some art, and to party with my friends.
Shortly after this interview I was handed a check – trip on!!
Immediately I reached out to friends to see who would be around and more importantly who would like a guest. Ystad, Orland, Stockholm, London – all secured. The plan was to stay with as many friends as possible and say yes to every invitation offered.
I booked a one-way ticket and landed in Copenhagen June 21st – just in time to cross the bridge/tunnel to Ystad, Sweden for the midsummer celebration with a bunch of impressive academics. Party party party - songs, drinks, food (thankfully not all pickled herring), laughter and light. The sun barely set which was perfect for jetlag, the answer was simply not to sleep. I spent a week biking and sketching around Wallander country; I toured the Viking ruins Ales Stenar, walked the fields and beaches, watched the women’s world cup soccer games, hung out with Catarina’s lively and wonderful family and friends, sat in the courtyard looking at the cherry tree and contemplated life.
From there I trained it to Copenhagen with the intention of spending one night but was so enthralled I ended up staying for three days. My first stop was the Louisiana Museum, a 30 min train ride out of the city to this gem. Honestly, I was a tad bit sick, summer cold, and a bit tired from the party party party; I was lagging when I got there and started looking for a space on the grassy courtyard to collapse. As I willed myself to see some art before I napped, the gods smiled on me - the first exhibition was literally an installation piece which consisted of twenty beds, with lovely, soft pillows, in a dark room, and a video on the ceiling…not kidding, I had found my mecca! I crawled onto a bed and when I was not sleeping, gave my full attention to the video. I did go see all the other great art as well, but I kept returning to various beds as I got even more acquainted with the ceiling art, it was brilliant!
After the museum, I trained it back to the city to find a hotel which proved a bit of a challenge since it was after 6pm, the tourist offices were closed, and I don’t speak Danish. The wifi in the country was suspect but on the trains it was awesome; I enlisted a teenager sitting across from me to help me find a hotel – actually more like a dorm room - which I could afford. I was set. From there I walked the city and explored. One adventure was locating a graffiti art show at an old factory building in the “dodgy” part of town. I was directed by two self-confessed crackheads who eventually gave up trying to explain anything as they pantomimed that they were too cracked out to think straight; got to appreciate their effort. I did find the gallery, they were actually sitting next door to it, and it was the cleanest, most sterile photographs of graffiti I have ever seen - some of the pieces were framed. It didn’t seem real to me and this was the only art that bored me. I left quickly and kept an eye out for the gritty, more interesting people of Copenhagen, but they were nowhere to be seen.
I headed back to Ystad. Next up - road trip to Orland.