Thursday, September 14, 2006

My Patron Saint

My first art patron, Shari, models an art piece that augured Halfland's Tree.

My beautiful friend Shari and I have known each other for more than 20 years now. Twenty years full of life and learning, each in our own way. I lived with her in 1990 after my first divorce, crushing hard on the man who is now my husband, and completely adrift in terms of career, interests, direction. I was a meek, eccentric, capricious, frivolous, slightly delirious, irresponsible, flaky woman (I'm only one of those things now, guess which.) who felt a deep desire to express creativity and had positively no clue what that meant. Somehow, at that point, Shari commissioned me, my first, bless her heart, to create a fantasy soft-sculpture jacket for her.

She gave me a blank jacket she no longer cared for, scraps of fabrics, including bits of lace from her wedding gown with leaf shapes, and a snip of mink. As if a foreshadowing, I chose to make a woodland faery tree with and caterpillars and a tubby mole that is being hoisted up into the tree by faeries with wings made of pearlized plastic (new at the time). Again a tree. Again fanciful creatures. Hmm. This predates New York and the genesis of Halfland by far.

In any case, Shari paid me a lot of money to embellish that jacket for her at a time when I had never really made anything before. Her confidence and appreciation gave me validation and pride in what I could do. Inexplicably she has always been a champion of mine, a splendidly supportive friend. I guess that's what a real friend is. She saw something in me well before I could ever see it in myself.

She brought that jacket out during my visit to her home this afternoon, proudly pointing out the small details to her precious young daughter and son.

Thea models her mother's coat while all the creatures admire her back.


  1. Nice work Shelley! I love the little one peeking over the shoulder :)

  2. Thank you both very much.

  3. This is the most wonderful fantastic work, truly wearable artwork!
    What fun that must have been to make. Your lucky to have such a friend and visa-versa. I bet she gets tons of compliments whenever she wears it.

  4. Oh gosh, thanks, Mark! So kind of you to say this.

    I'd like to add here that I cringe a little looking at it, as the person I am today could do it sooooooooo much better now. I guess it's generally embarrassing to see work from so long ago, well, for me it is. One thing about it is that I didn't stop to imagine the CONTEXT for its use when I made it. I was just thinking of the fantasy of the forest tableau. I do not think it is in fact something one would love to wear anywhere. The only context I can imagine it working in is if Shari was doing some kick ass storytelling gig somewhere for kids. Now that would be great. It's the perfect thing to wear as a story teller. But beyond that, I think it only serves as an art piece artifact or display in a child's room? I dunno.

  5. I think this is just amazing!!! I would love to see more details. Do you have other photos??? It really fortells what you are working on now. Incredible!

  6. Gosh, thanks, Ulla! I'll post the photos I took Thursday to a flickr page and send you a link. They'll be higher resolution than the ones posted here. There are a couple additional angles, although I snapped just a few. I'll try and get a close-up of the tubby little mink mole, he's got darling expression on his wee face.


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