It’s almost halfway through the month, and I’m just getting around to recapping April. If that alone doesn’t tell you what you need to know, then I’ll just say our pace has kicked back up to pre-pandemic levels.
Last month, I stayed in Airbnbs six nights of the 30 and covered a large part of the state of Tennessee, as well as headed up to Pennsylvania. I was also away from SVV for just about the first time in a year; after spending 24/7 together this entire pandemic, it felt weird being apart, even though our whole relationship was born out of long distance 15 years ago.
We’ve now taken six flights in the past three months since being fully vaccinated and have booked a couple more for late summer and fall to California and Iceland. Traveling is a whole new world, and we wrote about the challenges and what to expect from air travel right now.
We received the Tennessee DAR Award for public relations and media. After a very successful Walls for Women run last year, our nonprofit was recognized for our contributions to the state consistent with the Daughters of the American Revolution’s mission in continuing historic preservation and education. We accepted the award at a very safe and controlled hybrid event in Franklin a few weekends ago with my mom and sister accompanying us. We also announced our next two Walls for Women cities: Columbia and Jackson!
We went to Philadelphia for four nights. Prior to the pandemic, we had planned a board retreat in Philly that never happened, so after getting vaccinated, it was the second trip we booked. And holy mother of public art, I’m in love. How you guys let me make it 38 years without exploring the City of Brotherly Love (and Mecca for murals) is beyond me!
We spent a few days in Sweetwater. This week, we’re installing our first NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) grant project, so we spent three days in Sweetwater in April painting one wall and pressure-washing another in preparation for one major mural.
I attended the launch of Company Distilling Co. in Blount County. It’s so fun seeing several friends team up to create the ultimate whiskey experience in the Smokies, slated to open later this summer. If you’re heading to the mountains sooner rather than later, I wrote this wildflower guide to the Smokies just for you.
I also popped on over to Knoxville while there. We’re doing another mural with Paris Woodhull, this one for the University of Tennessee (Paris’ and my alma mater!), and while we’re still nailing down the location (the hardest part of the process), we have an approved design by Paris and I couldn’t be more excited to get that wall going.
We had our spring board retreat and launched a graffiti abatement program. Our town’s downtown is littered with (bad) graffiti, some of it lewd, other scribbles just gratuitous. Inspired by the work Philly has been doing for decades now, SVV came up with a graffiti remediation program where we use our reserves to hire artists to paint small vignettes over existing graffiti with the blessing of the property owner of course. This first diptych was created by Jenalee Tirpak as a way to bring the museum experience outdoors.
We went on an adventure day with Charlotte. Nobody loves the murals we have installed more than this three year old, and while Emilie was down from Minneapolis for our spring board meeting, she and I took Charlotte out for a Sunday morning of murals, donuts and “special drinks” (pink lemonade) from Starbucks. If you want to recreate our adventure day in Tullahoma, we have a handy map for that.
We’ve got so much public art in the works. We’ve got artists booked for Columbia, Jackson and another TAC grant project launching in a matter of days, and we’re just waiting on a bit of red tape to be able to move forward with Lawrenceburg. We’ve also had a few smaller towns reach out and have almost successfully reached their fundraising goals for us to be able to bring public art into their communities. Murals for all, we say! Our loose count is 10 projects we currently have going on this month through later in the summer.
I got to photograph some sweet, sweet friends. One of the best parts of being home so much this last year is the ability to take photo gigs I’d had to turn down in the past. This past month, I did a couple family shoots, an engagement shoot and 27 kiddos’ portraits for their school photos. Here are a few of my favorites from my time with Jimmy and Krysten. I can’t wait to shoot their July wedding!
Our backyard is a mud pit. This year, we’ve made some serious progress on the house, though the weather has hardly helped our timeline. We hired an awesome masonry company to rip out the half-done English garden we inherited when we bought the Cedar House—as well as all the river rock rimming the house—and cover it with dirt and straw. Well … the weather in Tennessee is hardly predictable, and they started a month ago and haven’t been able to finish yet. So in the meantime, our backyard is hog heaven—if you’re an elephant (or an elephant in a cat’s body).
They did, however, get the concrete pad poured, and I cannot wait to see this all finished! Eventually.
And while our lives have seemed to resume some sense of normalcy, we’re not letting our guard down. We are terrified of what’s happening overseas, we’re fearful for all of our friends in India and other nations like the Seychelles where the variant is raging, and we’re really hoping that every one of you gets the vaccine if you haven’t already. Science is amazing, but it only works if we all play our part.