GJ Willis' Art Notes

The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Today, I was back at Church again. It appears that one of our co-ministers is back. I understand that she has not been feeling well lately. It was nice to see her back. I hope that her appearance today means that she is well on her way on the road to recovery.

After Church I went over to the Hunt Valley Walmart. I had not been there since I last saw the place crawling with TSA agents a couple of weeks ago. They were doing some sort of a security check at the Hunt Valley light rail Station. Thankfully, they were not running a security check today.

The reason I wanted to go to Walmart was that ever since I saw this ad for the Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker in the new Examiner newspaper a couple of weeks ago I wanted one. I was practically salivating over the thought of owning one.

You see I have recently had a renewed love affair with tea. This affair was re-sparked with my recent discovery of caffeine free tea. As you may or may not recall a couple of years ago I had to give up drinking green tea because the caffeine in it was too much for me. OK, it was more or less the combination of caffeine and Mountain Dew. Anyway, it was giving me a heart arrhythmia so I had to stop.

As far as the Ice Tea Maker goes I found it for 18.99. This was incredible because in the newspaper it said the product retailed at 29.99. I felt lucky to get the Ice Tea Maker because as I was there there was this man who had loaded two of them into his cart. I suppose he was stocking up on potential wedding/graduation presents or something. Also while there I picked up new tea kettle. I would usually just brew my tea with plain old hot water out of the tap. I wonder if the flavour will be different with hot boiling water instead of tepid water?

At the bus stop on the way home from Walmart I saw an unusual sight. I saw two lesbians holding hands and kissing. This was unusual because you do not usually see things like that in Baltimore. At first I had thought that maybe they were related or something because they were just holding hands as they walked. It was only when they started running their hands through each others hair and kissing that I realized that they were not related.

No one on the bus stop raised an eyebrow. I suppose this means that Baltimore is on its way to becoming as open a place as New York city is. Personally, I feel that this a good thing. However, the real test to Baltimore’s openness would be if the people on the bus stop had reacted the same if it were two men instead of two women?

link | posted by gail at 8:36 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Today, I did something potentially stupid that might result in insomnia or a temporary heart arrhythmia. I drank a medium cup of coffee. I know that on the surface this does not sound so bad.. However, it has the potential to be when you take into account that every morning along with breakfast I drink a Red Bull. Then throughout the day I drink a 20oz bottle of SoBe Energy Drink. A drink that I might add that is basically fruit juice laced with caffeine. So not only am I getting a caffeine kick but I’m also getting vitamin C. So how did I end drinking a cup of coffee you ask?

Simply enough I missed my morning train. When this occurred I had extra time to kill. So I walked over to the brand new Dunkin Donuts and bought a medium cup of coffee. Why, Oh Why, was I lured by the siren lights of Dunkin Donuts to buy coffee? Now I have more caffeine coursing through my veins than Juan Valdez.

link | posted by gail at 8:51 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This evening I dropped off my finished Sowebo poster at the Creative Alliance. The poster is a mixture of collage and an acrylic painting of a woman. I took two quick photos of it which you can see below.

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

This is a quick picture I took of my poster. I did not have time to take additional pictures because my camera batteries were running low. You should also know that the surface of the painting is a little on the shiny side which accounts for some of the white or washed out areas you see.

I wanted the lines in the larger design of the poster to be kind of uneven to give it a sense of movement. I also used shiny reflective red 3-D paper for part of my design. I used the 3-D paper because I liked the lively look of it. Again the shapes of the circles is meant to give the picture movement. When I was making this picture I was trying to create the feel of a sci-fi lollipop forest. In my sci-fi candy forest some of the lollipops fall off trees like giant deadly candy bolders. So in this poster there is both sweetness and impending danger.

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Here is a close up the face of the figure I painted. The face and figure were done in acrylic.


My original intent for the evening was to drop off the poster and participate in the monthly Open Critique that the Creative Alliance holds. I even told the cheery man that let me in the building that I was going upstairs for the critique. When I walked upstairs I soon discovered that the door was closed to the room that the critiques were held in last month. This made me wonder if the monthly critiques were cancelled or perhaps I had missed it. Then I heard laughter behind the door. Obviously, the critique or something else was going on but I felt paralyzed with fear to open the door. Last month the door was open. Did a closed door mean that you could only enter by special invite only? Maybe I was wrong to have just dropped by unannounced last month? Maybe you are supposed to call first?

I felt utterly paralyzed with fear. Then I looked at the walls and noticed that there were a lot of neat paintings up. The paintings were for a silent auction. So I decided to look at them until I could figure out what to do next, the door or leave?

As I was looking at the paintings I saw a man who was downstairs milling about when I came. He was also looking at the silent auction. He had on a blue cap. Then next I saw the man who last month brought in this breathtakingly beautiful sculpture. He was walking up the stairs very fast. Then the man in the cap followed him. It was obvious to me that they were headed for the room with the closed door. I was not sure if it would have been OK for me to follow them. Maybe this month what was going on behind the closed the door was private. If they had wanted just any artist to come in from off the street the door would have been open like it was last time. Or maybe a sign would have been posted that read, Open Critique All Invited.

Now that I look at back at the situation, perhaps, it was best that the door was closed. Maybe there were all types of vice going on behind the closed door, gambling, prostitution, and God knows what. So I decided to head home. I guess I’ll give it another try next month. Just to be sure I’ll call ahead of time to see of its OK to drop by.

link | posted by gail at 8:03 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Today, I returned back to Church after a two week absence. The reason why I did not go the past two Sundays was that I was feeling a bit down. However, lately I have been feeling a bit more up. I attribute this to the fact that I returned back to doing my morning yoga. You see every morning I like to exercise to yoga DVD’s. I have quiet an extensive collection of them as well as a couple of Tai Chi and Qigong DVDs. I had not been doing them lately for the past two weeks because I was feeling down. Now I am feeling better so I am back to my practicing my yoga.

Anyway, today at Church was Springfest. I had never been to a Springfest pageant before. The only other Church pageant I have attended was Winterfest. The theme of the Springfest pageant was Awakenings.

The service started off quiet originally with children protesting because winter refused to end. The children had protests signs up and everything. It was very cute. The guy who played Winter had a really kick ass white costume. He looked like an Olde World Victorian Santa Clause complete with a long white beard. Overall, this has got to be the best costume I have seen so far in a pageant service. The guy who played the Lord of the Forest looked as though he was born for the part. I think he also played the Lord of the Forest in a previous pageant production.

The most wow moment during the service when two women were reading there personal stories about their own awakenings. It was a wow moment for me because both of there stories started off with either being in yoga class or practicing a yoga move. This made me go wow, and wonder.... How many people in this Church practice yoga? Are there more yoga practitioners in Unitarian Churches than in others?

link | posted by gail at 7:21 PM | 0 comments

Friday, April 21, 2006


ElvisCostello, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

I literally just got back from the Elvis Costello concert at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The show was effing brilliant!!!

In all my years I have never seen Elvis Costello perform live.

The show started with Costello coming on stage in a black suit and bow tie then introducing the orchestral piece that he composed. The BSO then performed the piece which was his interpretation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. Costello explained that in his version he imagines Puck as being a funky jazz musician. The piece was very reminiscent of something that the late Aaron Copeland might compose.

My only complaint about the work is that I did not like how there were seemingly long pauses in between each change in musical movement. This in a way made the piece sound a bit disjointed to me. I am used to hearing orchestral pieces where there is a constant musical rhythm being played without pauses between movement changes. Despite the issue with the long pauses I did like some movements in the piece. As to what the names of the movements were I do not know as it was not written in the program. Overall, the orchestral portion of the program lasted about 40 minutes then Costello took the stage again. This time he was there to sing with the BSO backing him up.

When Costello took the stage and sang my eyes began to mist a little. I felt as though I was on the verge of crying. It was just a temporary overwhelming feeling of, OH MY GOD!!! STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME IS ROCK N’ ROLL LEGEND, ELVIS FRIGGIN’ COSTELLO!!! IT’S HIM!! IT’S HIM!!!

You see Elvis Costello is one of the artists in my personal music collection that I own several format versions of. To have this unique honor means that I have been into that artist for a very, very long time. So thus, I have Costello on vinyl, cassette, CD, and now in permanent rotation on my iPod. So to me having the music of Elvis Costello around is as essential as breathing. His music has been the soundtrack of my life for well over twenty years and seeing him in person was like seeing Santa Clause in person, only he’s real.

In case you are wondering the other music artists who have this unique distinction in my music collection are Patti LaBelle, Billy Idol, U2, The Clash, Blondie, The Police, The Cars, The Cure, and New Order. I can not imagine spending the rest of my life without having access to their music. Its my comfort music for the soul albeit with a predominantly New Wave beat. OK....Back to the concert.....

The orchestral arrangements of his popular music by the BSO were phenomenal. I really liked the big band version of Watching the Detectives. It truly rocked! I also liked the version of Alison he performed. In the middle of Allison he started singing Tears of a Clown. The one standout performance in my opinion was when he did a very soulful rendition of God Give Me Strength. He really worked that song as though he were performing at The Apollo Theater.

My only disappointment of the night was that he did not perform, What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding? I thought for sure he would perform that song! I guess in our current political climate the song might come off as being too controversial.

I do not know why but I like to focus on what the performers have up on stage to drink. On the stool nearby Costello were two bottles of Aquafina water and a mysterious tall silver container of something. Early in the show Costello took one sip of whatever was in the mysterious silver container and no more. The rest of the night was fueled by Aquafina water. My speculation on this is that maybe the reason he took only one sip out of the silver container is that he was fresh out of what ever it was. So throughout the night he was left with Evian water.

As far as the audience goes it was slightly younger than the usual Meyerhoff crowd. I would say that the majority of the people in the audience were Gen-Xers like myself. Also in the section I was seated at I was surprised to find that I was not the only African American woman there. There was another and she also appeared to have come there alone as well. When we saw each other we just smiled and nodded in recognition. I wonder if she was the same woman who was taking pictures at the Olivia Newton John concert last year? Naturally, there were a couple of black men there with non-black women.

Also, I brought my camera there with the intent of snapping a picture of Elvis Costello. Like last year at the Olivia Newton John concert I chickened out. I became afraid that maybe he might stop the show and yell at me for taking a picture of him. Or that maybe if I took a picture the flash would be so much that one of the orchestra members would be temporarily blinded and the music would be thrown off key.

Overall, it was a phenomenal night. In total Elvis Costello got about four standing ovations. Should Costello comes to town again and the venue is assessable to the MTA I would love to do it all over again.

link | posted by gail at 7:16 PM | 2 comments

Thursday, April 20, 2006

aceyoung, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Last night, pretty boy, Ace Young was finally voted off of American Idol. As I have written before I feel that he should seriously invest in acting lessons. He has a face that was meant to appear on soap operas. I can see him playing the cute guy that as aspirations of being a singer. I swear nearly every soap opera has this character on it. Also I understand that prior to being on American Idol he had appeared on a sitcom. All I know is that he should give up singing and start to take acting more serious.

Still on the show are Kellie Pickler, Paris Bennet, Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamen, Catherine McPhee, and my personal favourite, the man with the grey hair, Taylor.

link | posted by gail at 7:02 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It almost seems as though members of the Bush White House are beginning to jump like rats off a sinking ship. Donald Rumsfelds head is being called for by retired Army generals and Scott McClelland has just resigned as White House Press Secretary. Who will be next to exit the Bush White House?

link | posted by gail at 7:34 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

kmfume, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Kweisi Mfume, Maryland Democratic Candidate for the US Senate

Today, I heard on NPR that my cousin is doing well in the Senatorial polls. I hope that he continues to do well. I felt a little upset when they led the story by saying that Ben Cardin (Kweisi’s Democratic opponent) was ahead of Michael Steel (the Black Republican candidate) in the polls. Then they went on to say that Kweisi was ahead of Ben Cardin in the polls. Why did they not lead the story by saying Kweisi was ahead? Do they not believe that in this day and age that the fine progressive people of Maryland would not vote for an African American for Senate?

One thing on Kweisi’s side is that for the past few years he was a Washington outsider. Cardin however is an insider. Cardin was amongst those who voted blindly for the USA Patriot Act. Kweisi on the other hand was heading the NAACP during that time.

Yes, I know that Kweisi is far from a total complete Washington outsider. After all he is a former Congressman and while in Congress he was the head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Anyway, here’s hopping the best for Kweisi's campaign!

link | posted by gail at 10:16 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 17, 2006


This morning I forgot to set my alarm clock and ended up getting to work pretty late. However, on the up note, as I was leaving out the door I found ten dollars in a Christmas card that I had forgotten about.

The real drama of the day happened at the end of the day as I was headed to the light rail station for home. This afternoon as luck would have it a co-worker volunteered to drive me over to the Hunt Valley light rail stop. It was a little before 4PM when I arrived at the stop. I could not help but notice that the entire station was blocked off by orange netting. I also noticed police cars were all around the place. The entire scene made me feel apprehensive about entering it. There was a police man there who guided me towards this blue and white tent. When I first saw the tent as we were driving up to the station I thought that maybe it was one of those tents that they have set up to sell flowers. When I went through the tent I noticed that it was crawling with TSA agents. They were holding some kind of a transportation test.

I walked into the tent as directed and handed my jacket and bag over to a TSA agent to go through what I assume was an X-ray machine. Then I was told to walk through what I assumed was a metal detector. As I walked through the metal detector I was greeted by a hard blast of air. I became startled. Then a short Latina TSA agent said that I would have to be patted down because I moved. She then patted me down like a common criminal.

When I left the area to wait for my train I felt shaky and uneasy. I felt as though my rights were violated. The only thing I could think to do was to take pictures of the scene. My hands were shaking with each picture I took. I became afraid that maybe they would confiscate my camera. Luckily, neither the police nor the TSA agents took my camera away. Even as I write this I feel uneasy. What was it that I was blast with while I was in the metal detector? Was it a harmless puff of air or something more sinister? The whole experience was like something out of the X-Files. I hope that tests like this will not become commonplace on the MTA.

Below are three pictures I took of the situation. I did not take pictures of the inside because I am sure that if I did that, that would guarantee they would take my camera away.... permanently.

TSAatHuntValley, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

This was the general set up. You entered through the blue and white tent and left out of the white building which led to the platform of the waiting area for light rail. Eerily no passengers complained about what they had gone through.

TSAatHuntValley3, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Here's a picture of two potential passengers leaving out of the TSA Hunt Valley set up.

TSAatHuntValley2, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Here's a slightly tighter view of the back of the TSA set up with the white building.

link | posted by gail at 8:35 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

easter7thm, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Today, I am again feeling sad. This time I feel sad because I have to do my taxes. Its OK, I always feel depressed around tax time. I feel depressed because I know that I will end up owing money. You see every year I owe taxes because I do not have any big tax right offs like children or a house. Oh well..... C’est La Vie....

link | posted by gail at 7:47 PM | 0 comments

Friday, April 14, 2006

I did not end up seeing Etta James at the Meyerhoff because the tickets were a little too pricey for me.

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Aaron Eckhart in Thank You For Smoking

Instead I saw the satirical film Thank You For Smoking.

I saw the movie at the Senator. In my opinion this is the best comedy so far this year. I laughed a lot at the hypocrisy I saw coming from both points of view on smoking. Aaron Eckhart gave a fantastic performance as a slick lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Even though I am a Liberal I really liked the refreshing Libertarian theme of the movie.

Before the movie started I went over to Daedulus books. I can not go into a store without buying something from it. It is one of my flaws. I ended up buying an excellent book on persective for just 7.95 called, Mastering Perspective For Beginners. While at the Senator I noticed that they were selling candy cigarretes for a dollar. I did not buy any. I just bought my usual to a small popcorn and medium Sprite.

link | posted by gail at 11:33 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Today, for the first time ever we visted the new building that part of our company will be moving into. It looked unfinished and there is only one ladies room! I hope that there will not be a lot of long lines.

In our current building there are three ladies rooms. If a line starts to form you can just go over to either of the other restrooms. Maybe the restroom situation will not be all bad. I suppose that only time will tell.

link | posted by gail at 9:44 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I am still diligently working on my poster for Sowebo Fest. I would like to have it completed by next Saturday. If completed by then I would have finished it a week before its due date! A first for me. I usually end up turning in Sowebo Fest posters on the very last day that they are due.

The reason why I want to finish it early is because I want to continue working on some other pieces. I may or may not decide to show the pieces I am working on to the monthly open critique at The Creative Alliance. If I should go again to the Open Critique I wonder if the woman who got suddenly sick after I arrived would get ill again?

link | posted by gail at 10:14 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 10, 2006

I am happy to recently hear that Scooter Libby has implicated Bush in Plamegate. However, I am sad to hear that there is now talk that we might invade Iran. The Bush regime would be doing this to start a Wag the Dog scenario to get Bush’s falling poll numbers off the mind of the public. Odds are that the public does not care either way. The American public appears to be complacent. Bush is practically Nixon Part Two and no one seems to care. Bush should be Impeached yet no seems to care!!

link | posted by gail at 9:54 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Today, I did not go to church. I just sat around all day and felt a little sad that I gave my nephew a lot of money to pay for Driving School. Do not get me wrong I feel good that I saved up the money and all. It just feels a little painful afterwards when you realize how much money you parted with. I mean with that money I could have had a really cool vacation somewhere.

Anyway, I suppose I can count this as a lesson in learning that if I really want to I can save money for a really cool vacation somewhere. I still can not believe that I saved up all that money in just two months and now its all gone, Gone Like The Wind.

link | posted by gail at 7:23 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Today, I visited my father and dropped off money to pay for Driving School for my nephew. My nephew told me way back in January that all he wanted for his 16th birthday was to get his drivers license. So I thought I would be a good aunt and help to pay for Driving School. So I have been saving up money since January to pay for his Driving School.

My father as usual was upset that I was giving so much money to my nephew for his birthday which is actually next month. By the way it was my nephews choice to start classes in April. I suppose he wanted to be a legal driver on his birthday. I again reminded my father that its not like I have car payments or a family to support. I also do not have cable or have mortgage payments to make. However, I am not rich. I just prefer to live well below my means...

While over my father’s house I also saw my Uncle Leon. Uncle Leon is my father’s kid brother. I had not seen him in a while. I was surprised to see that he had a head full of grey hair. Just looking at the two of them one would assume that Uncle Leon was much older than my father. My father just has grey hair at his temples the rest of his hair is black.

There was one uncomfortable moment in seeing Uncle Leon when he asked me just as he was about to go, if I was ever going to get married. This took me by surprise. No one in my family in the entire history of my life on this planet had ever brought up a subject like that to me before. I was so taken aback that I just laughed then he laughed. Odd, neither my father or my mother when she was alive, ever brought up the subject of my getting married. Thankfully they were too preoccupied with my sister’s children to notice. I guess I am lucky to not have had pushy parents.

The rest of time that I was over my fathers house I just sat down in the kitchen and watched a baseball game with him. When I left it was the fourth inning and Boston had scored a point. My nephew was no where in sight to pick up the money I had left for him. So I just left it with my Dad.

link | posted by gail at 7:07 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 03, 2006

Today, I took a prescheduled day off from work. I am taking the day off in honor of daylight saving time. I am doing this because I loathe Spring daylight savings time. I am not to fond of it because you loose an hour of sleep. I can not wait for the Fall to come back so that I can get my hour back. On the bright side you do get to leave places an hour early....

link | posted by gail at 10:21 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Today, was shockingly enough, a typical Sunday. I went to church and did a little grocery shopping afterwards. I was surprised that I could make it to church after all the excitement of last night.

link | posted by gail at 7:07 PM | 0 comments

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