Dublin to Münster Art & Gig Whirlwind

This has to be the only time I’ve ever scheduled an art show around a concert, but it all worked out very well. I had a great time in Dublin, Ireland seeing The Jesus and Mary Chain with Mel Butler and John Butler. I was deaf in one ear for a good week after standing in front of William’s amp! There was an afterparty thrown at Garage Bar which was highly appropriate; they hosted my husband’s book party on our last trip. We also took a tour of the Caravaggio show at the National Gallery, had a private tour at Radio8 (Thanks Dan!), saw a number of bands at my favorite haunt Whelan’s, waved hello to the Prime Minister as his motorcade was off to the Hot Press party (we were invited but it conflicted with JAMC) and made the rounds at all the pubs on my list as per usual.

Then it was a flight over to Münster, Germany for my show of drawings. I’m totally in love with Münster, by the way. I like that it’s walkable, has architecture exactly how I pictured it in my mind, and the fact that there was a whole lot of candy. Everyone has a dog (or so it seems) that are welcome in all establishments. I even recognized a lot of paintings in their art museum! Easter Sunday service at the very impressive cathedral was surreal as well. I’m just glad I didn’t burst into flames upon entering. We stayed with my fabulous gallerist and his partner, where they live in a former zoo keeper’s residence, where the ape habitat once was. It was appropriately named Monkey Hill. I guess the zoo keeper had a favorite monkey that he would let drink beer. Why not?

Anyway, here’s a bunch of photos and a little bit of video. I’m sure there’s more, but this will do.




A Book Party in Dublin + A Lesson in Healthcare

We really didn’t want to come back, nine days in Dublin wasn’t enough. The book party and other press events my husband did went over really great. Even our new favorite Dublin chef and one of our cab drivers bought books on the spot! And for those that had missed the party, my husband even arranged to meet people for coffee to sign/sell them books. He’s all about customer service. We had some stressful issues going on during the trip like a medical emergency and having our money cut-off, but we still managed to have a lot of fun. I think it’s a good sign when you do things that aren’t at all in the vein of a vacation and still really like a city. The post office, the bank, the hospital. Adult stuff.


Our last trip to Ireland was in 2011 and a lot of things have gotten better it seems. We stayed this time at Albany House which gave us an amazing suite, was in the middle of everything, and didn’t up-charge during the web conference going on like so many other hotels who now got in trouble for doing so. It was right across the street from a few nightclub which made people watching quite amazing! I’ve never seen girls in short skirts and no underwear crying so much and falling down. So much black mascara. We were told that was normal for a Tuesday night. But, speaking of the web conference, I saw lots of poor souls off to team building exercises and panels with matching shirts that say, “178% faster loading” or “Ask me how to auto-enhance your Adwords” Also, do people still use/buy banner ads?! Because that seems super 1999 to me.

While standing in St. Michan’s graveyard where Bram Stoker’s mother is buried, I had a conversation with a retired priest about burial practices in New Orleans, a conversation with an American priest who lived in Bejing and would see punk shows there, and listened to the amazing tour guide and crypt keeper go on a tear about how the Rock Hall in Cleveland sucks because Todd Rundgren isn’t in it. My husband touched the finger of an 800 year-old crusader mummy for good luck, and we got to see the burial and death mask of Wolfe Tone.


I learned you should always look put together when leaving to go out in public, even to the record store, because you might run into “Lord Baelish” — he is a lot taller and handsome in person than I imagined. He looks so short on The Wire!

An American told me that Dublin sort of sucks because there is, “No culture. All people do is go to the pub, eat, and see gigs” and I’m like… this is a problem? This is all I’ve done for 20 years + art shows, across multiple US cities! Yes Dublin was sort of lacking in real art galleries, but there was plenty else to do it seemed. A couple of gigs at Whelan’s, I got a tattoo, Ben had a mini birthday party with cake at Dice Bar, and I probably would have done a lot more had it not been for some of my health issues that came up. There were other things I noticed this time around that I hadn’t on my last trip. The parents who discipline their children in public no matter how young; in the US they let them run wild while muttering “quit it”. The lack of sports jerseys worn by grown men — even at a pub during a huge match. The overall fashion is less casual and men’s suits actually fit them properly! No pajama bottoms or yoga pants in public, except in front of the needle exchange.


A lot of a restaurants we steered toward were doing a bit of a New Orleans theme, though some may not have totally realized it. My new favorite place is Porndog, Catch 22 had blue cheese grits with their fish (omg), the cocktail speakeasy VCC was great, and I even found a coffee shop that is the Dublin equivalent of Hivolt in New Orleans! Honestly, I didn’t get to a lot of places on my list because our credit card got hacked on day 3 and we then just started eating takeaway and late night pizza or burgers. For the record Rick’s is like eating at In-N-Out in Los Angeles and that’s right up my alley.

The big experience for me was when I ended up needing to see a doctor and then had to go to the public hospital. Something had gone horribly wrong with my leg where fluid was starting collect in new places. Not only was there a clinic two blocks from me where I paid $60 to see someone within an hour, but he gave me a letter to take to St. James’s Hospital — where all my care was free. Now, you have to understand, I had gotten used to the bureaucratic and almost glossed over Soviet-like manner in which Cleveland Clinic conducts itself — especially in the ER. Not only did St. James’s not even ask for identification or a passport (they didn’t care), but I had intake, an assigned nurse, x-rays, and blood tests done and was out of there in less than 6 hours! They even give you soup and sandwiches while you wait. I actually would have been out of there in 4 hours had it not been for the blood testing taking a while. The front desk even called me a cab when I was done.

I ended up seeing my new favorite doctor again after my back went out — due to now needing the cane and it screwed me up — and was amazed I could just walk into a pharmacy and get codeine pain meds over the counter. Again, I am used to being carded for buying Sudafed (because you know, I might go make meth) and being carded for nail polish remover. This was like, “oh? your back went out and you are going on a long flight? Here! Would you like a glass of water to take one right now?” I mean, I couldn’t believe it. I had to scream at a nurse to prescribe me Xanax after kidney failure WHILE I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL and she had to get it approved in case I became an addict, so it’s amazing the difference in how all that is viewed. Then again, the U.S. is the only place where we see direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical commercials. It’s also a place where I DON’T get carded for buying bullets for 3 different types of guns. It’s funny because everyone in Ireland complains about their system and how much it sucks, but I have to tell you, it was more efficient than the supposed bestest place for medical care ever in the universe, and more to the point, it was free to a non-citizen like myself.

By the way, I’ve been back in the U.S. for a week and I am still waiting to see my surgeon! I had a nice argument with 3 different people there and his office; they wanted me to fax my documents from Dublin over to prove I wasn’t lying. And still, no one in this massive organization in this massive department is calling me back. I’ve been a patient there for over 5 years and I can’t get anyone to see me or schedule an x-ray until Christmas Eve. They actually told me to go to the ER if I was in such a hurry. I’m not kidding.

I feel like I’ve been trapped from moving on and leaving to go to another city because of my health issues and the fact that I was supposedly in the city with the best care. My husband has talked about leaving the U.S. for a long time, and now, it was proved to us that I would actually be ok going anywhere. In the meantime, I have decided at the end of the year I am leaving Cleveland Clinic. My surgeon retires soon, his son will probably not be part of the organization, and frankly I’ve been told many times over to defect and become a patient at the other major hospital system here in town. I don’t care how great your art collection is, or how many new glass buildings or meditation gardens you build on the campus, all while laying off and re-hiring your administrative staff. I can’t get anyone on the phone quickly when things go wrong, because they are to busy vetting my health insurance information. When I spend 40 minutes (yes, I timed it) and get to the point of tears when trying to schedule after care for cancer-related issues that have been a major problem for 5+ years? It’s time to leave.


Summertime Artworking

There is a nice article in GOOD Magazine about the events I attended in New Orleans back in March. At the time I was quoted, I was doing my research, but sadly the salary ranges weren’t too hot so I’m staying in Cleveland another year. Honestly, I’m still having a lot of things go wrong health-wise, so I’m sort of held hostage by the fact I seem to have visits to a doctor more often than I’d like. My husband and I will be headed down to New Orleans again in October for the film fest, though he was also honest in saying he wants to die in Dublin and not New Orleans.

Speaking of Dublin, I had a nice little feature on Surface & Surface.  I hope I can go back there next year.

This will be my 2nd modeling for a painting class (the first was when I was 13 because the model didn’t show up!) Judy will be running her workshop at BAYArts starting June 14th, it should be a fun time, so go read about it over here. There will be an exhibition tied in with the class as well.

The 50/50 Show is upon us, and it’s been many years since I have done it. I’ll have a little color study available for it, and it all goes down at Dredger’s Union on E. 4th downtown Cleveland this year. Go buy some art instead of flushing money down the toilet on slots at the new casino; I lost a whole dollar when I went in there, so you are welcome, I contributed to economic recovery!

I’ll also be participating in Author Alley this year during the Larchemere Festival. Myself and other local authors will have our books on hand. Also, if you already have a copy, please do add your reviews to the Amazon page for my book. It looks so lonely.

I’m currently starting my piece for this exhibition in San Francisco, CA this coming October. Having trouble deciding what to do, I have too many ideas!

A Week In Ireland (part three)

Here are parts One and Two if you missed them.

On the train leaving Belfast, the weekend had arrived. Besides groups of guys downing Carlsberg and dropping F-bombs non-stop during the ride, Ben encountered a group of slags in the food car with empty bottles of champagne and signs posted everywhere that read, “Hen Party In Progress”. Oh dear! By the way, I had forgotten about the term “slag” and I have a new appreciation for the fact I can’t find any other word that describes those women so perfectly. In any event, the weekend meant higher prices, but lucky for us we stuck to drinking in the day rather than at night.

Ben always looks so serious doing his ‘model face’…

Needless to say, our 2nd hotel in Dublin (across from the Four Seasons while being amazingly cheap) was part of the Bewley’s family of hotels and was much better than the independent and quaint little B&B we stayed at before. Again, I love Bewely’s! My only complaint is that the beds were meant for small people; our feet were dangling off the end. But that seems par for the course in these parts doesn’t it? This is in an old Masonic school…

Once and a while, we like to look for trouble. We thought we’d find it in Temple Bar on a Saturday night. I regret to say that all we found were hen parties and people getting their photos taken with little people dressed as Leprechauns — it was a bit depressing. The weirdest scene was a full grown man dressed as an Oompa Loompa giving women in the restaurant piggy back rides.  At least we only experienced one horrible meal on this trip, and it prompted us to throw out any restaurant/bar guides that we had. Somehow through the wandering we found ourselves at The Porterhouse by Trinity where I got to try a beer named after painter William Turner. See! I’m all cultured-like when I booze it up. We really can’t go to any city without trying at least one brewery.

Oh hey, look who I found, finally! I like how it’s pronounced ‘Tin Lizzy’ with the Irish accent. There was a big exhibition on Lynott going on while we were there too, his mom just released a book. You’d think his statue would be in a park or at a main intersection somewhere obvious, but no, it’s tucked away off Grafton Street in front of a cafe…

I always get this song stuck in my head.

We almost went on this tour simply because you get to wear a viking helmet as you go along…

Um, whatever! I like how he’s called one of America’s “most celebrated songwriters” and right next to him is Bob Dylan. That’s just damn amusing to me…

Painter Conor O’Mahony is now referred to as my husband’s husband in Ireland because they pretty much became best mates immediately. A mutual love of The Undertones among other shared interests. Too bad it was on our last day, but we had a great time in a small pub in Ballsbridge…

So here are some random things from our trip:

  • Burger King and Coors ads are everywhere.
  • I’ve never seen so many sheep in my life.
  • If you want to know what a slag is, watch the dating show “Take Me Out”
  • I fooled everyone into thinking this is my real hair color.
  • The train stations aren’t as obvious or marked as they are in other cities, so you have to really look.
  • Signage all being half in Gaelic, actually started to teach me Gaelic!
  • That hotel U2 own feels like a Ramada, don’t trouble yourself with it.
  • Are there any good record stores in Dublin anymore?
  • Marks and Spencer is pretty nice, wish we had them in the US.
  • Irish cheddar cheese is as good as it gets.
  • The smaller villages have too many Italian restaurants. I doubt they’re very good.
  • Up here in Michigan and Ohio we get tourism ads to travel to Alabama or West Virginia. In Ireland it’s ads for Yorkshire.
  • Jeggings and leggings as pants is a global epidemic that must be stopped!!!
  • People don’t use their laptops in coffee shops; in fact we saw many people writing things in notebooks and moleskins. Oh, and they talk to one another!
  • This was my favorite thing we caught on TV ever.

A Week In Ireland (part one)

After over a decade of not having left the country, my husband and I were able to finally go to Ireland for our anniversary. I had always wanted to get married at Giant’s Causeway, and he had lived in Dublin while going to Trinity College way back when, so it seemed a logical choice to spend time in Dublin and Belfast. I’ll be honest, the whole time we were trying to figure out ways to extend our stay! It also made us realize we are ready to move on, and intend to leave Cleveland and/or the United States by next year.

Ben’s time in Dublin in the early 90s wasn’t exactly awesome; he had an annoying ex-wife and for the most part he immersed himself in school work. So really, this was a trip where I got to have him as a tour guide and he could actually go and have fun, finally. Actually, we avoided all the touristy stuff as much as possible and spent more time in pubs, a few galleries, restaurants and odd places.

Aer Lingus wins the internet for being a rather good flight (international vs domestic seem better and less stingy), and we checked into a little place next to Aviva Stadium. I think I have bad hotel karma; anywhere I stay that isn’t a chain ends up being full of good intentions but lacking in amenities. This place was nice until you actually got to your room, which had a tiny bed not big enough for us both, and it got worse when I experienced the fun of Irish plumbing problems — very “2nd world” as Ben kept warning me it would be. We always stayed south of the Liffey as he said the north side was the not-so-great part of town, so I got to know my way pretty quick as the city is rather compact. Lots of protests for the upcoming visit from the queen, everyone excited about Obama coming, Rod Stewart getting blasted on the train going to Dalkey (the hotel Ben wanted to take me to had been torn down and turned into condos!), and I loved how efficient the public transportation was; just don’t ask for directions because no one could remember how to go anywhere, it seemed. I liked Dalkey a lot, we almost went further down to Bray, or Kilkenny where Ben used to rent an estate carriage house by Bono during the whole Achtung Baby era, but at that point the jet lag had set in. Fun Fact: Bono would do yard work in his leather pants and bug sunglasses! The timing was a little off in that we missed seeing Moon Duo by one day, (a Morrissey tribute night was happening but 3 bands sounded like too much for us to handle) and the Leprechaun Museum sounded awful in a hilarious way. No, we didn’t go. We found that early and mid-week was a good time to be in Dublin; we avoided much of the tourists in Temple Bar and all the other nonsense that happens on weekends. Less crowds meant we could tip musicians to play Oasis songs nonstop, and the beer wasn’t at inflated prices (well, mostly). This didn’t stop the fact that sleazy Italian and Dutch guys were on the prowl and a naive American girl kept leaving her drinks unattended (I watched them for her, but that was a bad move on her part). We hit up the Brian Maguire show at Kerlin Gallery, and some record stores, but were disappointed to find it was all geared towards Thin Lizzy and U2 and not much of anything else. Come on, no Into Paradise even?

After hitting up Bewley’s three times, Kerlin Gallery, Marks & Spencer, witnessing how the worst parts of 80s fashion have gone global, and too much Guinness and coffee, we headed up to N. Ireland for the weekend. I liked the scenery on the train, and how the trains are..well, nice! Only bad part was seeing many sad ponies in people’s yards the further out of the city I got. Little did I know that the rain-sunny-rain-sunny-rain weather was about to get even more ridiculous up north.

Stayed tuned for part deux!