Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.
I mean, right? I’ve been telling students this for years but really, is it true? I love coaching and teaching which is why I’ve been doing it for 25 years but really, I honestly love Saturdays a whole lot too, when I can sleep in and not worry about being somewhere and doing something.
It’s Friday morning, the final day at camp di Rosa and the fish aren’t biting (it’s called fishing kids, not catching) but I don’t really care. I’m busy helping 30 campers ages 6-12 fall in love with an activity I have loved for years. I pick up a feather from the ground, rip off a section of the upper vane and set it on top of a hook which is pinched tight in my fly tying vice. It’s all about utilizing our environment here. https://www.sonomanews.com/article/entertainment/adia-millett-exhibit-opens-at-di-rosa-art-center/
If I were a religious man, I would say that somewhere Rene di Rosa and Cecil Williams are watching this scene and smiling big. Rene, of course, was the person responsible for creating all this and Cecil was my great grandfather who’s 100 year-old lures are the ones the kids are throwing into the lake with hope and glee. I’ve been lugging around the lures since inheriting a tackle box from my grandfather and I’ve often wondered what to do with the multi-colored and multi-shaped bait. I rarely drop cast (fly fishing is just more fun) and I know most of the lures aren’t worth much so I’m using what I have at my disposal. Plus the lures are colorful and arty just like this camp. And just like Rene’s answer when asked about his favorite medium,
“Couldn’t care less. What matters to me is what it’s made into, not what it’s made out of. Multimedia. Chewing gum, crab claws, hair, bones, bowling balls, feathers, marbles, brooms, boots and shoes, shirts. Pretty much anything-anything that smacks of life. Paint is nice too.”
I look out at the smiling kids as I hear that familiar yell, “Waaaaalllllt” which I know means either someone has hooked a fish or caught a tree or their neighbor or stuck their lure on the bottom of the lake. This is the fifth day of fishing and the final day at camp and we are all a little sad but the hope and glee is winning at the moment.
After fishing we are painting sculptures made yesterday, channeling our inner Robert Arneson, then lunch then a talent show then finishing the week’s art projects (watercolor landscapes, paper making, self-portraits, metal sculpture, still life, nature prints, cartooning), then an archery contest, and an art show in the afternoon with parents. Camp director Andrea Saenz has done a genius job of balancing learning, exercising and creating.
Each day we do two activities and two art projects. Besides fishing, there is archery, hiking, bird bingo, sculpture garden walks, and my favorite activity, touring Gallery 2.
Having the di Rosa as our clubhouse is simply incredible. Creating sculptures with kids on a table between two priceless giant Viola Frey ceramic masterpieces is just kinda amazing.
I have loved the Di Rosa since coming to Sonoma 23 years ago but back then it was a secret treasure and mostly inaccessible. Enter Kate Eilertsen who became director a couple of years ago and who I’ve known since she was the director at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. I have written about Kate before as she is one of the local art people who gets things done and usually says yes to my koo koo ideas. During the presidential election she let me put up a giant VOTE sign on the front grass (http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2020/10/21/day-213-vote/) , and when the war started she was excited when I emailed her about putting up the word PEACE in the colors of the Ukranian flag. Not a big protest but at least a message to the wine loving masses who cruise down highway 37 not to forget the atrocity which continues today.
Fishing is a huge success as are the rest of the final Friday activities. I especially like the organic developments of the day (a good camp always has lots prepared but is fluid enough to let things develop) like the song created and performed at the talent show by instructors Maria and Dalila, “No one gets hurt at camp di Rosa” which includes a verse about me falling in the lake on the first day of fishing.
I have a final meeting with Kate and Andrea and pitch some future ideas: Adult camp (tentatively scheduled for Saturday, October 15), next years’ camp dates (end of June through July with a week off for the fourth), a Fall fieldtrip with my students (no problem, email firstname.lastname@example.org), a student art show in Gallery 1 (will think about it), Art nights (yes, will talk more), turning Gallery 1 into the disco Studio 54 (not a chance, koo koo), a future art school (actually Kate’s suggestion and one I am all for) plus any great ideas for the next message after the PEACE sign comes down (UNITY, COMMUNITY, GETOFFYOURPHONE (probably too many letters).
I pack up the rods at the end of the day (I am the official fishing line detangler at camp di Rosa) and stop at the William Wiley gong for a final symbolic clang. I smile big as the sound resonates across the lake.
Work? Not so much.