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Dont trust people with neat yards…

the side yard at the House of Joy Bordello Boutique

This morning as I was musing about what inspires me, my thoughts turned (once again) to Jerome, AZ. Obviously, I love that town — it has such spectacular vistas, interesting buildings, colorful history and quirky galleries. When I visited last February, I was very drawn to one place in particular, the House of Joy. The owners have created a whimsical assemblage of curiosities and “junque” along the balconies, patio and yard (not to mention the amazing collection of vintage goodies that they have in their gallery! Words fail, just go). It is beautiful and bizarre, and a perfect example of the kind of found art that I envision in and around that dream house that I keep yammering about.

front patio at the House of Joy in Jerome AZ

When we passed back through in November, I had to show this place to Robb. As we giggled and wondered about the various piles of “trash” and treasure, an older gentleman emerged from the house. R took that opportunity to ask the man about his yard. His reply was so awesome that I had to write it down. I wasn’t able to do so straight away, so I’ll give you the disclaimer that this is paraphrased (and Mr. Dempsey, if you ever read this, I hope you will forgive me if I’ve bungled your words) hopefully I managed to capture the essence:

meeting this man was one of the highlights of our trip

“I don’t trust people who keep neat yards. You’ve gotta have some individuality. People live in these places where they want to tell you how tall your house can be and what colors you’re supposed to paint it, and it makes them small. When you live in a place where everything looks the same, everyone starts to think the same too. Soon, you just stop living cause you’re so busy worrying about who has a bigger car or a better house.”

He talked at length about the value of individuality, and also about the importance of knowing your heritage. He is proud to be of Mexican descent, which is one of the reasons that he has an ornate shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe on his front balcony. He gave us a wry smile and told us that he wanted “to be sure to remind everyone who was here first”.

Lady Guadalupe presides over the balcony

We chatted with Mr. Dempsey for some time while he gave us an impromptu tour of the town. I was honored when he went back to his yard and brought me out a handful of crystals and iron slag from the old mine. I used them to build a tiny shrine on my desk, to remind me that one day, I’ll have crazy art gardens too 🙂

He’s an excellent storyteller and a pretty deep guy; we felt very fortunate to have bumped into him.  So when I thought about an inspirational subject to write about today, I remembered this fabulous yard and its owner. What a character — I can only hope to be that cool when I grow up!

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Raina’s Ravens

“Raven Night” by Raina Gentry

Got back in to town late last night, and I’ve been a zombie all day. So much so, that I nearly forgot about the fact that I’m trying to make a habit of these “Inspiration Wednesday” posts. Fortunately, I remembered at the 11th hour, and it didn’t take very long to find something inspiring to write about…

We recently purchased a new print by Raina Gentry. It is similar to the raven shown at left, but not identical. I saw these prints for the first time when I visited Jerome last winter, and they really stuck with me. When we visited again in fall, I made sure to stop and get one.

I was pleased to find that my partner likes Gentry’s work as well — in fact, we had a hard time narrowing it down to just one print. While I’m in love with the ravens and women that she does, he’s very drawn to her heads and faces. We’ll definitely be buying more of her work in the future. In the meantime, I “liked” her fan page on facebook so that I can enjoy updates of her new work.

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Day Trip and Daydreams of Jerome AZ

“House of Joy” Bordello Boutique

I recently took a road trip through Arizona. One of my favorite stops (besides the Bead Museum) was the town of Jerome. It’s an old mining town, build along the cliffs overlooking Sedona and the Verde Valley. The town has a colorful history. In its heyday it was a bustling mining town, and a hotbed for drinking, gambling, gun fights and brothels (that’s the “Reader’s Digest” version — you can read more here and here ;).

balcony at the House of Joy

Around the time of the Great Depression, the mine was nearly tapped out and ore prices dropped dramatically, so people began leaving in great numbers — in the 1920’s, the town’s population dropped to a whopping 50 people. In 1952 the mine officially closed down, leaving Jerome a ghost town.

Connor Hotel

It was rediscovered in the late 60’s by a group of “counterculture artists” (hippie freaks?) who moved in and began to restore the old buildings. They revitalized the town, and over the years it became a haven for artists, writers and musicians. These days it’s a little touristy, but not obnoxiously so. The quirky town is filled with great galleries filled with original art and craft. It’s a beautiful place with a funky, colorful vibe — an old west gambling town turned artists’ haven.

We only spent a few hours there this time, but that was more than enough time for me to fall in love with the place.  I moved away from Arizona over 15 years ago, and despite the fact that I still have family there, I’ve never really wanted to move back. This visit to Jerome made me re-think that. I doubt I’ll be moving back to the southwest any time soon, but if I did, this is where I’d want to be. I’d love to open a quirky gallery/bead shop in one of the funky old (haunted?) buildings, and enjoy the panoramic view of the sunset over the Verde Valley every day.

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More on The Bead Museum of AZ



In a previous post, I explained that The Bead Museum of Arizona is in danger of closing unless they get some financial help. We’re talking serious financial help. The numbers are somewhat daunting, but the Bead Community simply cannot afford to lose our oldest and only remaining bead museum.

The deadline for their fundraising goal is quickly approaching ($100,000 by April 30th) so I’ve posted a few benefit auctions to help out. You can access them from my eBay About Me page . Just scroll down to view my listings, and choose from the 10 or so listings that say “BMAZ Benefit” in the title.

These listings have low starting bids, which gives you the opportunity to get some great beads at a great price and contribute to an important bead charity. There are 2 lots of size 16/o vintage microbeads (one in a warm palette, and one in a palette of cool colors), several hanks of vintage seed beads and 2 assorted lots of vintage cabochons and cameos and West German glass stones.

The two auctions for stones and cabochons should be really fun. I plan to add more pieces to the lot as the bidding goes higher. So the more that people bid, the more cabs/stones the winner will receive! :o)
50% of the proceeds from these auctions will go to The Bead Museum of Arizona. As an added bonus, shipping is free. Please check them out, and bid generously!
(Note that ONLY the auctions that say “BMAZ Benefit” in the title will contribute to the museum – the others are my regular weekly auctions. )
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Support the Bead Museum

As Michael Kaiser explains in this Washington Post article, many of our arts organizations are struggling in today’s economy. The reality of this hit home when I read Alice Scherer’s recent letter to the Bead Community, which asks us to come forward and help The Bead Museum of Arizona before it’s too late. This sad news caused me to reflect on the impact that this resource has had on my life:

* I first became a member of the Bead Museum at age 18, which was (eep!) 20 years ago. Prior to that, I’d worked in isolation with relatively little exposure to other beadwork. The museum’s newsletter and collection opened my eyes to the use of beads and beadwork across time and culture.

* At 20, I moved to a small town on the outskirts of Prescott, Arizona. My trips in to town always included a visit to the museum. I often dragged my family along too, and in doing so, I was able share my love of beads and beadwork with them.

* My mother has a substantial collection of my work, but her all time favorite necklace features a lampwork focal bead purchased at the 1993 Contemporary Beadmakers exhibit.

* My beaded Doc Martens, “Mama Wears Combat Boots” were shown at the Bead Museum as part of the “Beadwork II: The Embellished Shoe” exhibit in 2002.

* When I had a crazy dream of creating a memorial quilt for those affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bead Museum got behind the project. Their support played an enormous part in making the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project a reality.

These are some of the many ways that this museum has affected my life – it doesn’t begin to describe the influence it’s had on other bead artists, researchers, collectors, vendors and educators. It doesn’t touch on how the museum has fueled the development of the Bead Community, nor explain the outreach programs that educate non-beaders about the significance of beads and beadwork throughout history.

That said, I’m going to pony up for a family membership, which is $55. I’m an artist/student, so it goes without saying that I’m not a rich woman – but I can dig deep and find a little extra for an important cause. Please do the same (you can even donate to the museum online!) and also pass this information on to your local bead stores, beading groups, and Bead Societies. This museum has had such an incredible impact on the Beading Community. Here’s our opportunity to give something back and ensure the future of this important resource!