Close

May 2, 2016

Route 44 – Journey – Chapter 12

Chapter 12
This time we rented a U-Haul and moved ourselves. We weren’t going to make that mistake again. The problem this time was we had a baby to take care of so we thought it would be better to drive our car rather than tow it. I talked with one of my students who agreed to come and help drive the truck and we bought him a plane ticket back to North Carolina. It was a long hard trip but it went well and we made it to Sioux City with no major problems. Dalton and his wife were expecting us and said we could stay with them until we found a house. He had made arrangements with the school to store our stuff in a school owned storage building so we were set for a while until we found a place to live. They lived in a big old two-story house with a full basement. There were plenty of bedrooms for us and it was great fun to see them. We had been good friends through grad school and we even visited them once after they left Norman when Dalton took his first job in Wisconsin. My student that helped drive also stayed at their house a couple of days before he flew back to North Carolina. The job offer and move had all taken place so quickly we didn’t know anything about the school, cialis city or state. As it turned out there was a housing shortage in Sioux City when we arrived, particularly in rental property. Our stay with Dalton ended up being about six weeks. We couldn’t find any place to rent so we started looking for a house to buy. We ended up buying another old two-story place about 5 blocks from school. This was a truly scary event for us; buying our first house was no small thing and it took a lot longer than we thought before we finalized the deal and could move in. Jo took the baby and went back to Oklahoma for about three weeks. This was definitely better for her, she had her Mom to help with the baby and it reduced the burden on our friends. By the time we could move into our house school had already started and it had started getting cool. I will always be very grateful to Dalton and his wife Linda for opening up their house and being such great friends. I have great memories of them and that house. As it turned out those are about the only good memories I have from our stay in Iowa. One of those memories included other graduate school friends coming to visit. At that time whenever two or more artist friends got together we pulled out a slide projector, found a clean wall in a dark room and started showing each other what our new work looked like and any other slides of inspiration. The guys, there were four of us, went down in the basement and plugged in the projector and started looking at each other’s slides. The girls all stayed upstairs and talked and visited leaving the men to be men in the basement. We were in the basement watching the slides in total darkness. The light and humming noise from the projector were the only noise or light in the room. I suddenly heard and felt a fluttering noise close to my face. I jumped and said did anybody see that. The other three looked at me like I was crazy then we saw something flutter through the light and project a shadow on the screen. We all jumped up as this mysterious flying thing flew all around the room. We finally figured out it was a bat and it definitely had our attention. We quickly turned on the light so we could see the critter and this just made it fly more frantically around the room. We were all dodging and ducking as the bat flew around us. Dalton kept some sporting equipment in the basement so one of the guys grabbed a baseball bat and Dalton picked up tennis racket. I picked up a scrap of wood and we proceeded to try and knock the evil critter out of the air. Needless to say we were all scared silly of this tiny little animal and I guess we were screaming like little girls. Jo and Linda came to the stairs and wanted to know what was going on. Dalton finally made contact with the tennis racket. I think it was a very clean forehand with topspin, Jimmy Connors would have been proud of the shot. The bat hit the wall and fell lifeless to the floor. We all felt like big game hunters after the big kill, the girls were not impressed.
When we finally moved in our new house it had been almost two months since I packed up my porch studio and I was anxious to get a studio set up. As I mentioned earlier our house was a two-story house with a full basement. This was not unusual in Iowa; almost all the houses had basements. The basements ranged from completely finished to completely raw with dirt walls and floors. Ours was somewhere in-between with concrete walls and floor. With a new baby and more furniture than when we moved to North Carolina there wasn’t much space available upstairs for a studio so, it was downstairs to the basement. There were some positives; I didn’t have to worry about getting paint on anything or being excessively neat, cleaning and putting every thing away after each time I used it. There were also some negatives; one of those was the lighting or lack of it. At the time I realized that it wasn’t very good light to work in and it definitely wasn’t like the natural light filled studio in North Carolina, but I didn’t think it would affect my work. I was wrong but I really didn’t notice it until we moved away from Iowa, back to Oklahoma. I still think the work done in Iowa was good but it is definitely different from my other work, particularly in color and light. The work generally is darker and lower in contrast. I think this is partially because of the studio, but not entirely. I call this series of work my “Basement Series.” Teaching at Morningside College and living in Sioux City was good at first. It was great to reconnect with Dalton and his wife. We also enjoyed the other faculty at Morningside. We became good friends with an exchange faculty member and his wife, Roy and Sheila Jones from Southport, England. The three art faculty members, Dalton, Roy and myself all had similar ideas about what contemporary art was all about. That was definitely different from North Carolina. The students were a little more sophisticated than North Carolina. All of this was good but things changed during that first year. Shortly after Jo returned from Oklahoma, she became sick with what we thought was a simple cold but it got worse and worse and we couldn’t find a doctor that would take new patients. Along with this, winter hit! Winter in Iowa is brutal. We had never lived anywhere that had that much snow or that was that bitterly cold. On top of the severe weather, the Art Department began to have problems with the Administration of the College. Dalton was acting as temporary Chair of the Department while the actual Chair was in England as the other half of the exchange. He started having a few minor problems early in the spring semester and it came to a head over an invitational sculpture show in our gallery. One of the invited guest artists submitted a three quarter life size carving of a nude human male figure. The administration felt it was inappropriate for a Methodist based college. Dalton argued to keep the sculpture in the show on the grounds that it was art and very appropriate. They left the sculpture but fired Dalton. The art faculty, all of the art students and many other faculty members were appalled. We immediately started protesting with letters and meetings with the administration. They said the reason had nothing to do with the show or the sculpture and insisted that it was because of low enrollment and economic reasons which made no sense. I learned a valuable lesson about politics in small colleges and universities. Administrations can do anything they want and justify it with economics and there is nothing you can do about it. I lost my Dad that spring to a heart attack. He died just a few months short of their 50th wedding anniversary. We were all very upset, particularly my mom who was also suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis. All of this tension and the weather was more than I could endure; I started looking for another position immediately.

Iowa Basement Series 3 sm

“Iowa Basement Series – Dotal Pingere Red Grid” / 45″x45″ / acrylic on canvas

iowa dots 1 sm

“Iowa Basement Series – Dotal Pingere 3 Panes” / 66″x90″ / acrylic on canvas

Iowa Basement Dotal Pingere sm

“Iowa Basement Series – Dotal Pingere Blue Grid” / 66″x66″ / acrylic on canvas