Category Archives: Art

Includes all art forms: music, poetry, fine art, etc.

Praying Without words: Sacred music, circa 2002

I had made arrangements to record a CD of sacred music for my family at Wesley United Methodist Church because I loved the acoustics in their auditorium. Unfortunately, the tuning on their piano wasn’t quiet ready for a recording session so we completed the project at my own place of worship, Cherokee Hills Christian Church on 63rd and MacArthur.

Since that time I’ve given away all my CDs pressed from the original recording. In order to keep the memory of that music, I’ve posted it here.

Capturing Oklahoma’s Big Sky: How Audrey Dodgen Sees HOME

"It's like 'Vivian Leigh plays Laurie in Oklahoma!'" ~ Photo by Audrey Dodgen
“It’s like ‘Vivian Leigh plays Laurie in Oklahoma!'” I told Dodgen during a Twitter conversation ~ Photo by Audrey Dodgen (low-density rendering; see website within article for full resolution prints for sale)

“Clean lines, compelling color palettes, refined sense of balance, and the greatest subject matter on earth.”  Thoughts like these run through my mind as I work my way through Audrey Dodgen’s portfolio.

An editorial and commercial photographer who calls Oklahoma her home, Dodgen describes a gravitational pull that seems to draw her back to our state, regardless of where she goes walkabout for a period of time.

“I was born and raised here, and while I’ve lived other places, I keep coming back here. It’s not perfect, but it’s my home, and I love it like no other place,” she wrote during a social media discussion.

A sense of place, the air of familiarity, the peace that recaptures your soul when return home…emotions paralleling these phrases are interlaced within Dodgen’s images. Perhaps most especially a collection entitled “HOME” she has been recently compiling.

If you’ve ever longed to stop your vehicle, breach a barbed wire boundary, and walk among sweet, freshly cut hay bales, her shots have captured that experience for you.

If you’ve ever driven I-40 across downtown Oklahoma City and wished you had time, or the right equipment, to photograph the Scissortail of Skydance Bridge, no need. She’s done that for you with a degree of perfection I could certainly not reach.

And, if you, like Dodgen, ever leave Oklahoma and need a piece of “home” to take with you, her website can most likely fix you right up.

Nice work, Audrey Dodgen. Thanks for standing under our big sky and taking it all in.

Merry Christmas 2014 – FREE Seasonal Music for Readers of the RDC

As a “Merry Christmas” to our sweet friends on this venue, I’m sharing all the files from a 2004 Christmas album my friends at Cherokee Hills Christian Church and I recorded at the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab.  Thanks to Paul Eastland, Sam Pappas, Mark Hinderliter & Brandon Smith for the good work.  Peace, Merry Christmas and Blessings to you this Season!

P.S.  When you right-click the links, you can then “save as” to your own computer and keep this music as our gift to you! Continue reading Merry Christmas 2014 – FREE Seasonal Music for Readers of the RDC

“Every Point on the Map” or Why My Heart Has the Flutters

Have you ever had an idea spark at some point in your brain, move from the incubation stages slowly and deliberately, then continuously remerge in your consciousness until it demands to be reckoned with?

I would imagine those types of ideas are the fabric from which “Bucket Lists” are constructed.  They’re the kinds of ideas that send little currants of electricity down your spine, or through your teeth.  They’re the visions that, when played out in your head, give your heart a little flutter, or awaken the butterflies in your stomach.

They’re the kinds of ideas that aren’t uttered aloud until you can own them.  And, until you can own the results of your utterances.

One such result might be that by uttering your idea aloud, you’ve implied some kind of social contract with the person who heard you.  Or, perhaps a contract with yourself.

Some people blurt their ideas in the early stages, before they’re fully developed.  Others harbor them covertly until they’ve weighed every risk associated and every aspect or contingency.  I fall more into the second camp.  And that’s why it’s not until NOW that I’ve decided to publicly announce a project I’ll be starting in February called, “Every Point on the Map.”

Every Point on the Map will be a ten year journey to visit each one of Oklahoma’s 593 townships or cities and have a meaningful conversation with one person in each place.  My daughter will be traveling with me, documenting the journey through two types of digital video and with two different cameras.  Every Point on the Map is something of a “bucket list-type” idea that has been incubating for a while, and by virtue of writing this beginning post – to me – it’s like forming a social contract with Oklahomans at large.  To me, it’s like the beginning of trying to introduce the idea.  And, to introduce you to the “why” behind the idea. Continue reading “Every Point on the Map” or Why My Heart Has the Flutters

When Rejection Feels Like a Warm Blanket: How Pixar Let Me Down Oh-So Gently

I decided Katherine Sarafian was the bees knees after watching a film clip of how she guided the historical and topographical research for her Pixar project, “Brave.”

“If anyone would understand my book, Georgie the Giant,” I thought, “it would be her.” Go big or go home, right?

So I reviewed the Pixar website prior to sending her my book. Warnings and kind messages about “not accepting unsolicited materials” were in several places. So I ignored them.

Instead, I did more research, then I wrote this letter:

0109_001By the way, on the other side of the letter, I simply wrote: “I do hope so. Sincerely, Kelly Roberts”

I then lovingly packaged up a copy of Georgie after writing a “fan-note” to Ms. Sarafian on the inside cover, slid my letter into the bundle and headed to the post office.

[Flash Forward Two Weeks] Continue reading When Rejection Feels Like a Warm Blanket: How Pixar Let Me Down Oh-So Gently

Serving is Not My Love Language

“Five more minutes, everyone.  Will that be good enough to wrap up your work?”

General agreement murmured across the classroom by way of a visual cue from approximately twenty percent of my graduate students. Looking up from their group work, they made eye contact with me and affirmatively nodded.

I had been asked by a friend to teach “Family and Developmental Theories” because at the last minute the instructor had to resign.  And when she asked, it was the last-last minute.  Four days before the class began I was running from building to building across campus: checking out room keys from security, filling out a stack of paper for human resources, and furiously absorbing the previous instructor’s syllabus because there was no time to build my own.

So there we were, two weeks into the class and the stranger’s syllabus had scheduled a “Movie Night” wherein my students were to take all their previous knowledge and analyze the movie we watched in class…

All their previous knowledge?  Wait, what?  For some students this was their first graduate course.  Others had graduated in business or other bachelor’s degree areas having nothing to do with the social sciences.  Their brows were furrowed and they were searching through the introductory section of Chapter 1 trying to take any concept they had absorbed and apply it to an interaction they’d just witnessed.

When the final call came, chairs turned toward the class, the group re-settled, and a quiet came over the class.  Once again, I assured them that ‘I understood if they had no previous family or developmental theory education, and that we would take this slowly.’

“So, who would like to go first?”

After three or four seconds passed, an older student in the front of the class raised her hand, “I guess we will…”

“Great,” I replied.  “What would you like to share?”

“Well, we didn’t know any theory, but all four of our group members have learned about Gary Chapman’s Love Languages, so we analyzed the following scenes using them.  First, we noticed that the mother must have ‘Acts of Service’ as her primary Love Language based upon the scene where she was fixing the dishwasher, refereeing the children, talking with her husband on the phone, and cooking dinner…”

The group identified each of the main characters, hypothesized which of the Love Languages might be their primary focus, and backed it up with the “why” analysis that graduate lecturer’s love.

Love…did I just write that?  Yes, I did.  I LOVE that the students were trying to stretch their scholarly wings by spending time in thought as well as time in discussion with our class. Why?  Because Gifts of TIME is my love language…not Acts of Service.

All six groups presented in six different ways, but they all performed higher than the bar their facial expressions had set prior to the assignment time. Continue reading Serving is Not My Love Language

The Summer Wind


A southern breeze was born

far before the central Oklahoma horizon.

Darting across the prairies, bumping over the lakes

it grew in strength and unpredictability.

By the time it reached my four-room home

the wildness forced a path through our porch screen door,

under my bedroom window sill covered in cracking pale blue paint,

and around the corners of white vinyl siding

imprinted with tiny ridges.

Whooo-OOO bellowed the gales.


My four year-old eyebrows lifted, while my legs chased

the noise through my home’s center

and out the back door.

Practically falling down the back steps,

my chase ended as I saw the noisy blusters

take shape by lifting and expanding sheets hung on the

steadfast clothesline wire.

As the fully masted linens released the

grass-scented air with pops! at their hems,

I chased that wind until my scrawny legs gave way to fatigue.

The wind was older, stronger and faster.


Collapsing into the prairie grass-covered pasture,

I closed my eyes and listened.

The wind hadn’t gone after all.

Its infinity caresses passed over the tufts of Love grasses,

rattling the small dried seed pods.

Its fingers played with the wisps of my summer-colored hair

on my forehead and cheeks.

The folds of my ears created a new

whistle for the breeze to play,

to slide across, finishing with a high G-sharp.

The noise vibrated the membrane in my ear.

“I am here,” the whistle told me.  “I’ll always be around.”


The wind became my friend that day

and when the occasional draft bursts across my face now,

I want to dance with it on the prairie,

accompanied by the percussive rattle of Love grass seed pods,

until I fall into the sweet pasture’s arms

because my legs have no more strength.

Oklahoma is Artsy & Writsy – Read This to Hear Why!

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 8.46.22 PM We’ve been working on an event, and here’s the low-down, the info, the 4-1-1…capeesh?

2nd Friday Art Walk Offers Unique Imaginary Family Project and live music from John Calvin.

START AT STASH on Friday, February 8th for Downtown Norman’s 2nd Friday Art Walk from 6-10 p.m. Among the features this month will be the book release of “The Imaginary Family Project (IFP),” a compendium of 52 short stories by 51 different authors written weekly over the period of one year. As a bonus, every one who attends will be given a free vintage photograph as a souvenir. Also not to miss will be the dreamy croonings from folk singer/songwriter John Calvin. This free show is sponsored by the Norman Arts Council and STASH.
More about the IFP:

Inspired by a happenstance trip to a random flea market in Tulsa, and a subsequent brainstorming session with his facebook friends, The 2011 Imaginary Family Project (IFP) was coordinated by occasional amateur artist Quentin Bomgardner and co-sponsored by The Red Dirt Chronicles.

The project was based upon “lost” vintage photographs, which had been acquired at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, and eBay – heirloom collections, with no heir.

Over half of the authors are residents of Oklahoma and include the likes of Sterlin Harjo, Melissa Scaramucci, Charles Martin, Dorothy Alexander, and Wampus Reynolds. Other authors include academics from major university creative writing departments, people who have never written prior to this project, and other unique individuals with their own stories as to why they chose to join this project. Ultimately, stories were written from all over the United States and across 3 different continents.

Every week a different author “found” one photograph by creating an imagined history around one of its subjects. Kicked off in the first week of January, 2011 and completed during the last week of that year, the work has now been compiled into book form.

This publication is the group presentation of that collective work, and represents exactly what “The Imaginary Family Project” was intended to be: 52 stories for forgotten photographs selected by their authors, and written from a wide variety of diverse, creative and unique perspectives.

The creators and authors hope you enjoy reading the works as much as they enjoyed seeing each story come to life.


The authors dedicate this project to anyone who will ever find themselves the subject of a lost photo.

How Georgie Came to Life

Yesterday I experienced a small personal celebration as I officially began announcements that “Georgie the Giant” was now complete and ready to order.

My feelings around this project have been simmering for some time, as ‘Georgie” actually began to take shape when I was not yet ten years old. There are pieces of influence floating through time and space that eventually settled into a cohesive story about love and fear. And for that settling, I’m very grateful. After all, Georgie was only “a ghost of a Giant” as late as fall, 2012.

But he’s here now. And I thought with the announcement of this book, I would share the “how” of his existence.

Georgie was first incubated when my cousin Gina Weaver told a story to me and a few other cousins that included the phrase, “cookies as big as wagon wheels.” That phrase caught my attention, and obviously has stuck with me for a very long time.

Also influencing this book were the thousands of words, interactions and behaviors I witnessed while growing up in the 60s and 70s related to racism, discrimination, judgmental attitudes, and harsh criticism of people groups. I can remember times when people around me received the brunt of intense hate or cruelty, and even recall feeling physically ill because of what I saw and heard.

Other times, I believe I reflected and acted out some of those same behaviors, and was occasionally the recipient of hate as well. Hate is most often Fear in disguise, and for this reason Georgie was born as a story I began to tell my children when they were fairly young.

As they grew, the story grew. But it was most greatly expanded when my eldest called me from the campus of the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) and asked for help. Her education there consisted of 9-week rotational workshops and she was working on a calligraphy project. She asked me to write George into manuscript form so she could transcribe it into a handmade book, written in her chosen calligraphy font.

Wow, what a job that was. For me? Yes, indeed! But for her? A crazy big job. Truly, an extra-super duper crazy intense job. Want to know how the scribes felt during medieval times? Do what she did. Rachel still has her handmade book; it’s a one-of-a-kind treasure and I love it:



Continue reading How Georgie Came to Life

The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 1

Editor’s note ~ If you’re new to the RDC, we’d like to suggest you to some time to peruse back through “The Imaginary Family Project” fiction short stories put out each week in 2011.  We loved what our volunteer authors came up with and hope you will as well.  Enjoy! ~ RDK
#1 of 52 : JANICE

2011 Imaginary Family Project Week 1 - Janice
(click to enlarge)

External Photo Clues:
PrintStamp – May 1955

Even as a child, Janice only tolerated tradition to a point.  Her doll stage was short lived and obligatory, and she rapidly moved on to non-fiction readers 3 levels above her grade.  Her 5th grade teacher would play a game with her when she finished her homework much earlier than the rest of the class.  Spin the globe, stop it with her finger, then look that country up in the encyclopedia and read about it.  The words she found interesting – the pictures, truly captivating.

After a college career that ended nearly as soon as it had begun, she towed her boyfriend to Southern India for a year. Continue reading The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 1

My Little Victory Garden: A Rose Named Rachel

This past week has been one of the grandest growing, cooking and discovery weeks for all good things I’ve had since early last October.  But I’m not going to write about any of it.  I’m leaving my position at Oklahoma State University tomorrow and will be starting a new career with the Great Plains Integris residency program in two weeks.  But today I’m not going to write about that either.  I’m going to write about my eldest who is finishing up her undergraduate work at the University of Oklahoma.  And, I’m going to show you what she did.

Rachel’s love for photography began at Edmond Memorial High School when she joined the Yearbook team.  Andrew Defrancesco has also been an inspiration to thousands of people due to to his photography skills. She then started her college career at the Kansas City Art Institute and completed two years of a highly rigorous program.  There was a boy, however, and a family and culture she missed.  So she returned to Oklahoma and eventually found her way to the right university program to complete her good work there.

I’ll be honest.  I’m a complete sap when it comes describing my tender feelings toward my offspring.  I treasure Rachel’s photography, pottery, fibers and art history growing experience in so many ways. But I may have found the beacon my heart will return to for years to come.  That beacon emits from the deserts of the West where she traveled with a group of peers for a photography shoot.  Their destinations included Death Valley, the Painted Desert and the Mohave Desert.

University of Oklahoma Photography Trip, 2012. Rachel Apple, senior Photography major.

I had downloaded an entire album of Native American flute music to put in the background of this film.  However, I just couldn’t do it.  Rather, I decided to use a song my youngest introduced me to a few years ago by Copeland called “Brightest.”  Rachel, today both you and your work are the “brightest fireflies in my jar.”  I love you, and am very happy for you. – “Mams,” aka [kelly]

The photographs in this video are copyrighted by Rachel Apple.  If you are interested in purchasing a print, you may reach her through our “Contact” form on this site, or write us and we’ll send you her contact information. Thanks.

Osage History, Poetry and a Community Table All Take Place This Saturday

The last time I heard a poem about the Osage, I cried.  The last time I heard a story passed to me by an Osage grandmother, I marveled at the power of history and meaning.  The last time I stood in the oldest tribally-owned museum in Pawhuska, I was full on Indian Tacos and humbled by the art and history.

This Saturday, you can learn about the Osage heritage and culture by attending something very special.  Read about it here…and let us know if you go, okay? ~ RDK

Pawhuska, Okla. – The Osage Tribal Museum, Library & Archives, the oldest tribally-owned museum in the country, will commemorate the unveiling of the final Osage bust of THE OSAGE TEN on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Constantine Theatre , 110 W. Main, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Among the distinguished guests are former Osage Principal Chief George Tallchief; former Osage Principal Chief Charles Tillman; former Osage Principal Chief James Gray; renowned Osage poet, Carter Revard, Ph.D., who has created a poem, especially for this occasion; David Hunt, Ph.D., of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as representatives from many American Indian tribes and nations.

The creation of The Osage Ten began over 100 years ago in Pawhuska when molds and pictures were made of ten live models from the Osage Tribe and cast into full-size plaster busts by Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Natural History.  The Smithsonian created this collection to be displayed at the California-Panama Canal Exposition in 1915-16 as part of “The Evolution of Man” exhibit.  Millions of people from around the world attended this historical event.

During the past seven years, the Osage Tribal Museum has been collaborating with the Smithsonian in obtaining replicas of The Osage Ten to be permanently displayed at the museum. This exhibit collection will bring to life again these Osage tribal members and, in a sense, bring them home to be honored and remembered of an era long ago.

Descendants of Albert Penn, the first replica bust to be unveiled in 2005, retrieved and donated their ancestors bust to the Osage Tribal Museum .  The other busts that have been donated in the past six years are:  Shun-kah-mo-lah, Charles McDougan, Wah-To-Ke-Ah (William Fletcher), Henry Pratt, Ah-Hu-Shin-Kah (Little Wing), Che-Sho-Wah-Ke-Pah (Fidelis Cole), Wa-Xthi-Zhi (Charles Wah-Hre-She), and Wah-Noh-She-Shin-Ki (Principal Chief Fred Lookout).

After the final bust of Wah-hrah-lum-pah (Margaret Goode) is unveiled on April 28, Continue reading Osage History, Poetry and a Community Table All Take Place This Saturday

The Truth in Art

I like the Bible. I like the whole story. To me the Bible is an extraordinary work of art, masterfully painted with exacting strokes, contrasting colors, and the most amazing Light source we could ever know. There are parts of this painting, certain parts of its composition that I don’t like in and of themselves; there are dark, foreboding shadows that I don’t even understand. However, when I see the finished piece, Genesis to the Revelation, I marvel at the simplicity and complexity.

Da Vinci's Last Supper

The first time I carefully studied The Last Supper (da Vinci) it came to life. I had seen a print of this famous work hanging in Grandma Caldwell’s dining room many, many years ago. I never knew why the disciples looked upset, I didn’t know the context. These days I have to be honest and admit that I don’t really like the painting, mainly because I don’t like this part of the Jesus story–I know the darkness that is soon to come. I do like the technical ability of da Vinci and am amazed at the creativity and skill it took to paint this story. Leonardo allows us to see biblical drama; he tells a story with his brush.

I have spent much of my Christian life just learning to see. That’s a request I share with a blind guy whose request of Jesus was simply, “Lord, I want to see.”  That’s a pretty good request, to see. The crazy thing about it is, Plato claimed we could only see lines and shapes; he was certain that true form was beyond our paltry five senses. I suppose he was correctly guessing that there must be something more, something eternal. The theme of our humanity is just that, there must be something more. The Scripture explains it this way, “God has placed eternity in our hearts.”

I’ve often thought of my life as a painting.  For one thing, that’s the only way I can understand my choices against God’s almighty plan. Continue reading The Truth in Art

Oklahoma Poets: Leah S. Taylor

Leah, during our 2011 philosophical summit. It appears we have reached the dessert course and are doing just fine. Sending you my love, Leah...RDK

Editor’s note: I now have an annual ritual, having completed it three years in a row.  During the week between Christmas and New Years, I meet with my former mentor, Dr. Leah Taylor, and my current neighbor, Lisa Red.  We talk about the year, waxing philosophical about the ground we’ve covered. Then we talk about the next year, waxing philosophical about the ground we hope to tread.  During our most recent meal, Leah shared that her brother was ailing.  It seems now, however, that he is near Death’s door.  When Leah feels the need to love someone very deeply, one of her ways is by writing them a poem.  She’s agreed to share the two poems she has written to support her brother in his process of dying.  One waxes philosophical about the ground from where he came, and one about the higher ground to where he is soon going. ~ [kelly]

To My Brother

You were a young boy

Your mother’s lap your own

Her loneliness your wound

Her universe your home

Now all the moons and stars

That know you in your story

Are thankful in their sending

For giving them their glory

You are healed, my brother

Love will sweep you into grace

As spirits come to join you

In the journey you now face Continue reading Oklahoma Poets: Leah S. Taylor

RDC Says “Hello” to Oklahoma LIVE

On Monday of this week, two members of our contributor team for the Red Dirt Chronicles (RDC) spent some time with the KSBI TV crew introducing the RDC to Oklahoma. Dallas Caldwell, our Faith contributor, and I spent about 5-7 minutes with Lyn Hester on “Oklahoma LIVE,” a daily live show that highlights events and points of interest around the state.

This is a photo of us in the lobby after finishing our segment.  Our hostess was very gracious and asked us back, “any time.”  KSBI employs a kind, engaging and welcoming crew and I appreciated the opportunity to get the exposure for all the good work our authors create.

Feel free to check out our segment by watching this video clip of our discussion.

I suppose if there was a lesson I learned today, it was this – don’t be scared of TV…it’s okay.  And, it may be helpful to promote your work.  Take care. And, if you get a chance to make a local TV appearance, please let us know about it.  We always love to know what our readers are doing, and would love to share your work with others as well.



FROM THE VAULT: A System Worked and a System Failed. How Illness Impacts our Dear Friends…and Us.

Editor’s Note 1/30/12: Dear all…I was so pleased this weekend to read a “Caring Bridge” entry re: my friend Sammye.  To even begin to share the challenges she’s experienced since this post was written 1.5 years ago would be impossible.  If you’re interested, you can check on her entries here.  But most importantly, I read this paragraph early this morning:

“HIP HIP (left hip, not right one) HOORAY!  PET scan taken at the end of last week shows no malignancies!  Dr. Hollen is as happy as he can be and of course I was relieved, happy, grateful, prayerful, thankful, and every other positive emotion one can think of!  All is well…inside and out!  My visits with Dr. Hollen will continue every three months with scans every six months.  The hip (right one) is still no fun but I’m getting around and focusing on all the things I can do, rather than the things that are still tough.  I’ve lost weight and as more comes off (sounds easy, huh?) I am sure that the hip will show even more appreciation! “

This post was well-read 18 months ago, so I’m sharing it again “from the vault” to remind us that personal things…even haircuts…have histories much bigger than just a word. Love, RDK


Editor’s Note:  We have two “impact of illness” perspectives to share with you this morning.

♥  One comes from Sammye Cravens, CFO-COO of Public Strategies, Inc. in Oklahoma City.  On June 4, 2009, she was diagnosed with Malignant Lymphoma, Diffuse Large B-Cell Type.  She used a wonderful tool called to communicate with her friends, family and supporters. What a day of celebration there was when her body said “yes” to the treatment and she got through every step of the process.  She has opened her journal, now, to the public and recently wrote an essay on the “chronology of her hair” to share with the community.

As we know, hair can be a fairly precarious concept when getting through cancer treatment. I hope you are endeared by Sammye’s history of hair.  I know I was.

♥  The second came in my mailbox at home, and now I’m sharing it with you.  Holly Foote grew up in Oklahoma and attended my church until she graduated from high school.  She earned her Masters in Nutrition at Columbia University and recently finished medical school at Touro College; she’s now wearing a white coat.  Her best friend Amy, also one of our former “church kids,” contracted Type I diabetes when she was only nine.  She died in May of 2009 and the events surrounding that tragedy were medically incoherent.

You can read about the “broken system” that misdiagnosed and mistreated Amy in Holly’s blog entry, “Failing Heart.” The card I received explains a bit about her grief experience and was a way to touch back those who had tried to reach out to her during her difficult time.

I thank both Sammye and Holly for sharing their funny and/or vulnerable real lives with their friends, and for giving permission to post their thoughts here at the RDC.

Sincerely, Red Dirt Kelly

~~~ ~~~ ~~~


by Sammye Cravens Continue reading FROM THE VAULT: A System Worked and a System Failed. How Illness Impacts our Dear Friends…and Us.

University of Oklahoma Art Department: Ceramics, Pit Fires & Their Upcoming Show

In November I took a day off work, grabbed my friend and we got all artsy.  First stop was the 2011 Chili Bowl fundraiser.

This was not your ordinary chili NOR fundraiser.  The OU Ceramics department MADE food-safe bowls of every color of the rainbow.  Upon arrival, we paid our $8.00, picked out our bowl which was not an easy task, then walked the line of chili recipes made for and submitted by the students.

And these were not your ordinary chili recipes.  I strolled the line twice before deciding I needed about three types of chili in my bowl.  Think I’m one of those people who has a hard time making decisions?  Well, maybe you’re a little bit correct, but there were FORTY entries. Beautiful food; the aromas of the various chilis filled our heads while peering into the crocks along the buffet.

We strolled by…. “Save a Cow, Eat This Chili” veggie dish, “Magnitude 5.6 Chili,” “Acorn and Spinach Soup” (for those not into chili),  “Burning Lips,” “White Ghost,” “Rodeo Queen,” “Orange-rageous mah Lady?” “Barbelith,” “Escape Hatch,” “White Ghost,” “Artistic License,” “Chili Non Carne,” “Satan’s Breakfast,” “Yo Mama’s Green Chili Stew,” and on…and on…and On!

Do you understand now?  That was only 14 of the 40 recipes.  One chili even had to use very small writing on the label because…well, here’s the title: “SuperCHILIfrangilisticexpialidocious.”

I rest my case.

After we ate our fill, and then some, we traveled on over to the Ceramics building where there was a buzz in the air.  It was Pit Fire day! The students had been preparing for this particular firing quite a while and their pieces were ready to go through the final steps.

I was in my “mommy” role rather than thinking about turning the documentation into a post for the RDC.  Therefore, I don’t think I could have made a worse video if I tried.  I didn’t even title the project when putting it together with my iMovie software.  But, I finished it. And now, you can see it.  And you just might learn something along the way.

Before you begin the video however, I want to let you know that the OU Art Department is having their 98th Annual School of Art & Art History Student Exhibition Friday, January 20th, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  We would love to see you there.  Support the Arts! Support the students! Get all artsy yo-self!


OU Art Ceramics – Pit Fire Day from Kelly Roberts on Vimeo.

My Heart Was a Moth, Flying Too Close to the Flame

My neck was curved slightly backward, my face lit up by the screen and my razor sharp, rapt attention was completely committed to Amelie.

I sat on the front row, center seat, next to one of my dearest friends and as soon as I saw the effect I reached over and grabbed her hand.

The femme’ protagonist who was terribly shy had arranged an intricate plan to finally meet the person she had pined over from afar. She was inches from his youthful body sitting in a cafe booth, waiting to meet her…but she couldn’t find the courage to say, “it’s me.”

But that wasn’t why I was clutching the hand of my friend, gripping her bones as if I were in labor. It was because of the cinematic effect of what happened as Amelie’s love exited their rendezvous point…

She melted.  From the top of her head to the bottom of her toes, crafty special effects artists led the viewer’s eye down, down, down to the floor where her emotions splashed across the black and white tile.  All that remained was her soul puddled up for the next customer to step over on their way to use the restroom.

I was completely undone.

And I told you that story to tell you this one.

My husband and I purchased his and hers cordovan recliners trimmed in nailhead detail for Mother’s and Father’s Day this past year.  Late at night we sit in them. He watches various television shows, and I read or write.  I’m on the left (stage left), he sits on the right.

Through the fog of reading NaBloPoMo posts about a dreamy English soup, a way to craft snowflakes, thrifty ideas for frugal minds, and someone dreaming about gardening, my brain proved to my skeptical self that it can indeed monitor the world around me even if I DO have it tuned out.

The channel surfing had paused, and I heard this dialogue:

Tiny, young girl who visually makes you want to give money to whatever she’s selling says: “Can I live with you when my mom dies?”

Character played by Jessica Alba, presumably a teacher: “My apartment is small.” Her hand is knocking on the floor and lighted words are spelling outward where she’s striking with each rap of her knuckles. I think the words were “help me, help me, help me.” Continue reading My Heart Was a Moth, Flying Too Close to the Flame

What Happens When You Finish A Book? You Think About It…

I found myself dealing with a slight touch of sadness last Thursday.  I realized that, after reading the final entry of the “Imaginary Family Project, 2011” there would be no more entries.  No more stories created to bring the characters in forgotten photos to life, with new dealings, new thoughts and new nuances.

In order to deal with my slight touch of sadness, I sent my brother who created this series an e-mail.  I think it had the word, “Wahhhh…” within the text somewhere.

So now that the project is over, I’m thinking about it.  I’m thinking about each photo, each author, the author’s writing style and plot, and what might have gone into influencing that particular story line.

Some of the stories I really, really liked.  When I finished the story, I smiled.

Others I appreciated but something about them didn’t fit my reading interest much.  I argued in my head with the twist or the approach or the character’s action…as would anyone with literature outside their niche interest area.

And others stuck with me for several days.  A few I wanted to hear more about.  And a few, I wanted to hear a great deal more about.

As I think back through the fifty-two entries in the Imaginary Family Project, I have a few thoughts I decided I’d like to share with you.

First, I wanted to thank the creator and organizer of the project, Quentin Bomgardner.  It took a great deal of work to find volunteer authors, help them select “the” photo they wanted to write about, get the story in by deadline and communicate with the author throughout the process.  Sometimes it was downright difficult – occasionally authors would change their mind.  That’s a fair choice, for sure, but rough to work with when putting out a story every week.

Second, I was especially glad to see the project get picked up and noticed by an art group, and by one of the interested parties connected to the Library of Congress.  And, although most of the authors were from Oklahoma, we had quite a few from other states covering the expanse of both coast lines.

Finally, I want to THANK the authors.  Each and every one of you created new life for these photographs and have helped them live on when they might have otherwise been forgotten or tossed by the wayside.  The characters are now “living” all over the U.S. with histories, flaws and hopes…and they cannot be taken back. Continue reading What Happens When You Finish A Book? You Think About It…