Monthly Archives: July 2010

Postcard from the edge


If you believe in fringe, the edge is a beautiful place.

Legend has it that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival began in 1947 when Britain invited all of Europe to gather at Edinburgh Castle for a big theatre festival. The shows that didn’t make it into the castle didn’t go away mad. They took their talents out on the edge and frolicked in the land of no boundries. They stARTed what has become the world’s largest and most emulated performance festival. Today, dozens of cities around the world host their own Fringe Festivals, including my home town, Kansas City, Missouri. The KCFringe stARTed this weekend, and my daughters are opening a show tonight, “Not Just For the Birds.” Next week, we leave with them to go to Edinburgh, where they will perform in the festival that stARTed it all!

I stARTed a series of paintings to make postcards as a fundraiser for the kids’ trip. I later decided to sell the paintings themselves and use them as a kind of poll to see which designs are more popular. Why make this a one-year fundraiser when it might be something that could benefit the Fringe Festival for years to come?

Since this post is primarily to experiment with posting an image, I’ll sign off now and get my two thespians some bouquets for their big night.


The best way to get something stARTed . . .


You’re watching sausage being made – make that Jello casserole. In writing this blog, I’m figuring it out as I go along, doing something new and something that I’ve resisted for years. Even though I love to write, even though I love the whole idea of exchanging ideas and information with people I’ll never see, I was too SOMETHING to start a blog – too busy, too important, too technically challenged, too private, too afraid to have one more thing calling my name every day.

Then there came the day when I let my inner stARTist do the talking. “What are you waiting for?” she asked. “It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece. Let’s make a blog that’s like Jello: sweet, wiggly, nonessential in the diet. There’s always room for Jello.”

So, here’s my recipe for stARTting a blog:

1. turn on your computer.

2. go to

3. follow the instructions

4. write a few thoughts on what you want to write about, as if you’re writing to yourself . . . something you would respond to if you did that kind of thing (can you BELIEVE how many people DO that kind of thing?)

5. send the link to a handful of supportive friends who “get” you

Is this the most efficient way to begin the most effective, compelling blog? With two days under my belt, I can already give you evidence for the resounding “no.” But it is begun. There is a blog where there was none before. I feel sweeter and more wiggly already.

The research process, that boring part that keeps people from starting so many things, can happen while I’m splashing in the creative current. Though I have registered the domain names for, I’m doing this on wordpress, an idiot-proof blog site, using their most basic template. Next week, I’ll investigate how to get rid of the “wordpress” on the url, and the next week I’ll marvel at how stupid I was this week.

My grandma used to say that the best thing about Jello casserole is that no one knows if you followed a recipe or not. (I can tell you that was not nearly the best thing about her Jello casserole, especially the pistachio kind with pineapple.) But she never let planning slow her down, and she would agree with stARTist code #1:

The best way to get something stARTed is to stART it.

I knew I was a stARTist when . . .


“I’ve been preparing all my life to make a giant fringe.” Becky Blades

I collect interesting things. Or should I say I “accumulate” things that have the potential to become interesting. My studio is stacked with books, boxes, machine parts, doll appendages and fabric samples that are a mere Saturday afternoon away from becoming important works of art. Only slightly more attractive than the hoarding neurotics you see on reality television, my accumulations are a strange artistic nesting process of which I am not necessarily proud. But occasionally, my neurotic preparation meets stARTtistic opportunity.

Take this year for example. My teenage daughters’ school drama department was invited to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s a big honor and an expensive proposition. As soon as he received the invitation, the theatre department head pulled together some of the historically most helpful parents to brainstorm about ways to organize and raise money for the trip.

I don’t want to brag, but I contributed the most.

Someone on the committee:             “What are we going to do to raise money?”

Me:                                                         “I love fringe. We should make some fringe.”

Someone on the committee:               “But what are we going to do to raise money?”

Me:             “It could be a very fun, artistic fringe. Not just your run-of-the-mill fringe.”

Someone else on the committee:            “Hmm. Nice idea. What are we going to do to raise money? We need big money.”

Me:                                                             “We could make a really BIG fringe.”

Someone else on the committee:             “But how would that raise money?”

Me:             “We could sell parts of it. We could sell sponsorships to big parts of it. It could be the stage set. It could inspire educational forums . . . I mean do our kids really know enough about fringe? Did I mention that we could sell parts of it?”

Someone else on the committee, thinking they would shut me down or at least shut me up:

“That sounds like a lot of work. Who are we going to get to make a big fringe?”

Me:             “I’ve been preparing my whole life to make a big fringe.”

I actually said those words. I said them with delight and arrogance and certainty. I said them after walking into that room telling myself that there was no way – absolutely NO way – I was volunteering for anything this year. I gave my 110 percent last year; it’s someone else’s turn.

Serial stARTists will understand completely.  I had the idea, and therefore the opportunity, to make a giant fringe. It seemed like something that had to be done. I had no choice. I had heard a calling. I took the job. At most, I figured, this could be a life-changing adventure, at the least, it would be a handy bridge for stagnant cocktail conversations: “oh . . . that reminds me of the time I was making a giant fringe . . .”

Let’s stART something!


I’ve picked the worst possible time to start a blog. I have an art show to hang tomorrow, a full work schedule this week, and next weekend the family leaves for Scotland, where my two teenage girls will perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But when it’s time to stART something, it’s time.

That’s what stARTistry is all about: just getting started just because. And then about the combustible, delicious creativity cocktail that comes next.

If something is worth starting, it’s worth stARTing — it’s worth doing with creative gusto. Whether it’s a business, a community garden  or  the screenplay that’s been doing loop de loops through your REM sleep, beginning is an art, and I’m an appreciator. I want to hear about your stARTistic endeavors.

Let this be my demonstration that one doesn’t need a huge chunk of time to begin a blog. I have created and written this in an hour and 45 minutes. I don’t have time to fill out a big profile today, so see my art site if you want to know a little more about me.

stART me up!