Sunday, July 30, 2017

Last Day at Homestead National Monument

(Above:  Two pigs at the Gage County Fair, Beatrice, Nebraska.  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

Today was the last as an artist-in-residence at Homestead National Monument in Nebraska.  I've accomplished so much while year and enjoyed the quiet, solitary time to contemplate the work I want to make in the coming year, new directions, and how a sense of space affects the way I approach art.  I've blogged every day.  First, I've shared something about this unique place.  Then, I've shared what I worked on that day.  Some days included other activities or locations in the area.  Today was my second visit to the Gage County Fair.  Earlier in the week (before the fair officially opened), I went to watch people bringing their livestock, canned goods, household items, artwork, tractors, and everything else for competition.  Today, I got to see some of the results and watch small pets being judged.
 (Above:  The Palmer-Epard Log Cabin, 17 1/2" x 23 1/2".  Image transfer on fabric with both free-motion machine embroidery and hand stitching.  Buttons.)

First however, I'd like to share my donations to the Homestead National Monument's permanent art collection.  I finished The Palmer-Epard Log Cabin on Day Seven.  I knew while working on this piece that I would donate it.  This tiny log cabin was once the home to a family with ten children.  I can't even imagine living in such close quarters.  It is charming, of course, but it will always remind me how lucky I am to have studio space larger than this.

(Above:  Homestead Act Postage Stamp.  13 1/2" x 17 1/2".  Digital image of the 1962 Homestead Act  Centennial US Postage Stamp printed on fabric.  Buttons.  Hand stitched.)

I asked Ranger Hunter Hendricks if Homestead National Park would accept two pieces from me.  He said, "Absolutely!"  I'm glad because this little piece really ought to stay here!  I shared it on Day Three.  This piece will always remind me of the vastness of the American Dream, the size of 160 acres, the risks and perils of being a lone pioneer in a great big prairie, and the uniqueness of this rural location. 

Plus, I gave Homestead National Monument seven uncanceled Homestead Act stamps.  Years ago at auction, I bought a stamp collection that included several nearly full sheets of 4-cent stamps including this one.  I used four on the last piece I made, Anonymous Homesteader.  (Shared yesterday, Day Twelve.)  I distributed all but seven of them at last night's campfire series ... one to anyone who wanted one.  After the program, one of the ladies said she was so grateful.  She'd lived her entire life in Nebraska and Homestead was her favorite spot.  She said she was going to have that stamp framed.  Now, how could I buy anything so valuable for 4-cents?  It seemed to me that the art quilt featuring this stamp ought to stay here too!

I leave tomorrow morning as soon as a ranger is available to collect my keys and check me out ... around 8:00 AM.  I spent the late afternoon packing and cleaning.  I walked the trails one last night at dusk ... but ... midday found me at the Gage County Fair!

I went to see the cats judged.  I didn't realize that other small pets would be judged too.  There were rabbits, a hamster, and a dog in addition to the cats.  (There could have been ANY small, household pet ... including mice, rats, gerbils, etc.)  The judge was eminently qualified having grown up in 4-H, graduated from college after studying animals, and is now a student adviser at the University of Nebraska.  She was kind, gave helpful tips and suggestions, and explained everything so thoughtfully.  What I didn't know before arriving is that most of the people coming for this competition were experiencing their first occasion to present an animal.  One of the girls is a "clover", too young for 4-H.  Most were twelve or under.  This was a gentle, educational, supportive and safe environment for kids to begin ... before going on to the much more serious 4-H competitions.  They were judged by the condition of their pet, their knowledge about the species and its care, and the living situation they provided for their pet.  It was really cute!

Yet, I saw other animals at the fair ... ones I didn't expect at all like this recently sheared, white alpaca ...

... and a tortoise ...

... and a camel!  (There were, of course, cows, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, etc.)

Then ... there were these "animals".  I love looking at all the 4-H judged categories, especially the ones with which I'm unfamiliar like "vegetable art".  Who knew?

This display of ribbons was all award winning cookies!

They were near the pet rocks ...

... and the twig display.

In another building I found the adult competitions,including Needle Arts ...

... and the Flower Department.

They were near the "engineering" toy section which included this unique tractor made from an antique sewing machine!

Finally, I browsed through the "real" antique tractors.  It was a fun day at the fair.  I will miss Nebraska!

1 comment:

Linda Laird said...

What a fine fair! Following your residency in Nebraska has been so rewarding--I want to do one of these in the near future. Thanks for sharing.