Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thor Fundraiser Change

Thank you to everyone who came to Mixx 96.1 during Arts Walk last weekend!  And extra thanks to everyone who contributed a few dollars to the collection for Thor to attend the SAMA conference.  I raised $75 toward my goal!

But, after talking with Thor a bit more and re-thinking the practicality of my idea, I think I am going to use the money a bit differently.  While Thor was at my show, he asked a lot of questions about how to get his hands on materials, and how he could accomplish certain projects, like making a concrete form in the shape of a pumpkin.  Bill from Mansion Glass took Thor next door to show him his free scrap glass, so that is a good resource, but Thor needs more tools and materials to continue to practice.

In the meantime, Thor is only 4 days away from losing his current housing situation and is desperately searching for another place to live.  While he is concerned about having a roof over his head, it seems almost silly to raise money for the SAMA conference.  I realized that it might not be of enough benefit to him to make it worthwhile.  I had to recognize that the whole idea was mine, and Thor is just good-naturedly going along with it.

So, I asked if he would prefer that I use the money to get him more supplies, tools, and maybe a book of mosaic techniques?  He was enthusiastic about that idea, so I hope no one will mind if I shift gears at this point.  I've already given him a small crate with nippers, glass, some adhesive and wedi.  He would love toyo cutters, groziers and running pliers, so I'll put the money toward those things, and maybe The Mosaic Book, which has some basic starter projects.

I do want to send a special thank you to Toni at Mixx 96 for contributing 1/3 of the money raised.  It was very generous!  If I lived closer to Olympia, I would create a program to provide art opportunities for people without access to them.  Piece by Piece in Los Angeles is an organization that I admire, providing mosaic instruction for homeless folks.  It gives people a safe place to be where they can express themselves and learn a new skill.  They sell the mosaic artwork to support the organization and continue to do outreach.  Yes people need food and housing, but creative work gives people hope and helps them to feel human in the midst of struggle.  It can be a healing and motivating factor in their lives.

Thanks everyone!  As Thor completes projects, I'll post photos.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Get Thor to the Murano!

Olympia's Fall Arts Walk is coming up this Friday, October 5th.  This year, I'm showing my work in the Mixx 96.1 lobby, which is on Washington St., between State and 4th Ave.  In addition to some recent work and a few functional pieces, I'll have a slide show about the Artesian Well Community Mosaic.  The slides document the entire process, beginning to end, and I've been having fun collecting and organizing the photos.

At the show, I also plan to launch a fundraiser for my friend Thor.  I met Thor when I was working on the Artesian Well.  He had been at the local "soup kitchen," Bread and Roses, and someone told him how people were invited to contribute to the artwork at the well.  Once he got started, he was hooked.

As days passed, Thor told his tragic story.  A few years ago, he had recently separated from a woman he loved because she struggled with an addiction, and was enrolled at a graphic design school in Seattle, when he received news that his mother was very ill.  He left school and used all of his assets going to Missouri to care for his mom until she passed away, and then to handle her funeral.  And then a call came in to let him know that his girlfriend had been found dead for unknown reasons.

Since then, Thor has been trying to get graphic design work without a secure home, phone, or professional attire.  His grief has been debilitating.  Thor is clean, sober, articulate, and friendly.  He is also a natural with mosaic!  Not everyone has the patience and spacial skills to work in mosaic, but Thor took to it immediately.  He said that working on the well made him feel happy for the first time since the deaths.  He came back day after day, whenever he could, usually waiting for me in the mornings when I arrived.  By the end of the project, Thor had achieved basic mosaic skills, and he is the person I asked to finish the project at the very end when I ran out of time and had to race home to meet my daughter after school.
Thor regularly lost all sensation in his legs from working on the concrete.

Since then, I've given him some tools and materials to continue to practice mosaic, and had him over for a workshop in glass-on-glass technique.  When his time in a transitional housing facility ran out, he lived and worked at a friend's farm for the summer, and it sounds like some local businesses may be hiring Thor to do some graphic work.  (Thor has a laptop and a vinyl cutter for making banners - his most precious possessions.)
A small mosaic Thor made for a Cougar fan during a workshop.
In 2013, the Society of American Mosaic Artists will be holding their annual conference in Tacoma, WA, at the Murano Hotel, only about 20 miles north of Olympia.  I know Thor would find the conference extremely inspirational, and that it would be a great benefit to him.  Thor has drawing and graphic design skills that, when paired with developing mosaic skills, would lead to more options for art and work.  Therefore, I feel compelled to raise money to make it possible for Thor to attend the conference.  It would take about $300 just to get him in, with some food included.  I'd like to up the goal to $500 to give Thor options for transportation, meals, and possibly even some lodging so that he can enjoy the early morning and late evening activities without having to catch a bus back and forth to Olympia.

I've never held a fundraiser before.  I hope I don't violate any laws.  At this point, I'm going to take up a collection, starting at ArtsWalk.  I'll donate 10% of my art sales at ArtsWalk to the fund.  After ArtsWalk, I'll continue to raise funds until I meet the goal.  If anyone has ideas for a fundraising event, please share.  Thor said he'd be happy to make artwork or create graphic design projects toward the goal as well, so keep him in mind if you have need of these services.  If you email me, I'll make the connection.

See you on Friday!