Laura Fortune

Studio

The Stop and Go

Art, Roadtrip, Studio, U.S. TravelLaura Fortune1 Comment

I lazily left Glacier and headed toward Helena.  These areas of Montana reminded me of the long stretches of road in Texas.  80 MPH and no one around.  The little towns are filled with western kitsch and saloons and small museums showcasing dinosaur fossils and western lore.  I badly wanted to stop and document this type of Americana, but I am starting to feel myself stopping a little too much, and this drags out my time on the road.

But as I passed this particular field, stopping for a long stretch was absolutely forgiven.

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I continued on to go and visit an old and dear college friend from my early days at Alfred University.  She is an artist-in-resident at Archie Bray Foundation, a ceramic art residency in Helena.  She was one of my first friends in college.  She, a funny and honest Puerto Rican/Dominican girl from Queens, New York who took on a friendship with me, a sheltered duck-out-of-water girl from Tallahassee, Florida.  It was a strange and perfect match. 

Our six hours visit felt like we could have used three more days to talk and talk and laugh and laugh.  But it was a special trip to find her in Montana and to be able to see what she is working on at the residency and with life.

Detail of a piece by April Felipe

Detail of a piece by April Felipe

July 2nd and Day Two

Studio, Family, ArtLaura FortuneComment

I woke up at my Uncle and Aunt's house.  They are some of the most incredible people I know.  Crazy smart and super fun.  Basically the best combination.  They love to sail on their sailboat, bird watch, create beautifully crafted woodwork, cook amazing pizzas, and spend time with their friends and family.  Plus they have a parakeet that has an extensive vocabulary and says things like, "Wanna Kiss?  Wanna drink? Wanna coffee? Wanna take a picture? I'm so cute."

I asked my Uncle if he would help me build my display for the shows and to travel with.  He obliged and we got to work.  

It was a special experience to work with him in his woodshop.  He has built boats and architecturally complicated woodwork for multi-million dollar homes.  He is a wealth of knowledge and similarly shared stories with me of following my grandfather around (his dad) and learning woodworking and building from him.  I loved this time to spend with him and his generosity to help me out on my journey.  There's just something about being with family.

 

 

Junebug

Art, Jewelry, StudioLaura FortuneComment

Working at Studio 209 was perfect for me.  I worked really hard and manage to make it up to Thomasville to be in that studio 28 out of the 30 days in June.  I squeezed as much work as I could out of that time, working 10-12 hours days for the majority.  It was also a time were I was faced with a lot of questions about how I would navigate the trip to the west coast.  Would driving my old Jeep be possible?  Should I just fly out?  Do I have enough inventory to appear at four shows?   How should my display look and how can I transport it best?

These answers eventually floated to the surface, and I made decisions.  

My daily drive

My daily drive

Down South, and kinda like it.

Art, Family, Jewelry, Life Learning, Moving, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I returned to the US in a whirlwind.  A visit with a friend in New York City outside of JFK airport, a quick stay with an old friend in Jacksonville, Florida, a sweet wedding in Asheville, North Carolina, a visit to my sister in a cabin in Elijay, Georgia....and that was the first 5 days back.

And after all of that, I needed to boogie down to Florida to set-up a studio and get to work.  I decided that in July, I would travel the west coast to participate in a series of Renegade Craft Shows, so I needed to stock up.  A series of events led me to Studio 209 in Thomasville, Georgia.

It's a perfect place for me, and this is a total surprise.  I'm growing fonder of being in an area I never thought I would return to.  I love my family and friends here, and the idea would come to my mind over the years, but then I would go for a visit and as fast as the idea came to me, it flew out the window and I retreated back to Brooklyn and back to the drawing board.  

The opportunity to have extended traveling time has changed me.  I don't feel trapped by places, because I can see that I can go away, experience new people and places, and return and quiet back down, work in my studio.  That is the life I want.  A studio life/travel life/gardening life/old truck with a dog life.  

And someday I will have that.  But in less than a month, I will pack up my 1999 Jeep Cherokee and drive west for a whole new adventure. 

PANDO People

Moving, Art, Portugal, Studio, Life LearningLaura FortuneComment

So here I am presently, living in Lisbon, Portugal.  The women I met back in October, that set such an impression in my mind, are exactly the kind, smart, funny, talented and real type of people that I suspected I had found.  The type of group that made me want to pack up my life and move to another country.  They make up the studio called PANDO, and now I am a part of it as well...

The women of PANDO have welcomed me with wide-open arms and I couldn’t imagine experiencing moving to Portugal without having this little community. 

I have found sisters.

I lived in NYC for over 13 years and moving there out of college, I had never lived anywhere else as an adult.  I had a wonderful full-time job and good friends, but for a few years I was on a rollercoaster ride in my mind, of when to leave and where to go.  New York City isn’t an easy place to be, but cutting the cord and leaving it is a hard decision, too.

Check out Joan Didion's 1967 essay, "Goodbye To All of That"  A timeless and relevant piece on the topic of leaving NYC.

I wanted to step-out on my own as an artist and designer, and finding an inspiring location, an energetic and welcoming artist community and low-cost of living, was a difficult criteria for me to pinpoint in America.  I just didn’t feel strong enough about any place.  And then I found Lisbon, but more over, I found PANDO.

My idea was to come here for the trial period of what an EU tourist visa would allow, to see how it felt to be in the Portuguese culture, around the language and get to know people, to work in an art studio here and to attempt a life as an expat.  I wanted to do some traveling on the side to feel that solo-travel inspiration again. 

Fortunately and amazingly it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life with no end in sight.

Let's Rewind (to October 2016)

Moving, Art, International Travel, Life Learning, Portugal, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I had always wanted to travel more.  I think at some points of my life I thought I would have someone to travel with, so I waited.  And waited.

One weekend in June 2016, two of my best friends became engaged, and I saw wedding RSVPs on the horizon.  I had waited long enough and it was time for me to book the ticket.

I was to spend 18 days traveling around Spain by myself.  My first true vacation that was over two weeks long, and my first time truly traveling alone internationally.

I began spreading the news, “I am going to Spain in October!” and soon I recognized a pattern.  The response I received over and over, “oh cool, you should also go to Portugal.”  I was all, No, I said I am going to Spain.

Eventually I planned a trip where I would split my time between Spain and Portugal. That trip for me felt like a rebirth.  I had found a pleasure that I have never known and it was solo travel.  Lisbon was my final destination, and the feeling was immediate for me upon arrival.  The tiled and painted buildings, the parks, the stone sidewalks, the lookouts, the river, the light, and I had a sinking feeling.  Like a love feeling.  I haven’t been in love in a long time, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was finding something I wanted to be a part of….and then I met a group of Portuguese women in a light-filled beautiful cooperative art studio in a little alcove on a dead-end street, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their world, too.  I teared up on my walk home from those initial sweet conversations of how they felt about making artwork and traveling and encouragement of living in other countries for a time.  I had never wanted to be somewhere more.

 

On October 21, four days after returning from this trip, I bought a one-way ticket from NYC to Lisbon.

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On October 27, I told my employer of over a decade that I wouldn’t be returning in 2017.

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In December I sold or donated everything I had collected in NYC for the past 13 years.

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On January 1, 2017 I drove out of NY, with everything I owned in the back of my Jeep.

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January One

Moving, Studio, Roadtrip, Life Learning, FamilyLaura FortuneComment

Last night on New Years Eve at 6:15pm I drove away from Brooklyn.  

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I love that black Jeep. It's been good to me, and I weighed it down with my crap for this trip to North Carolina. My mom Googled the swaying motion we experienced after hitting any bump in the road, it was referred to as "the death wobble." Alright, no thanks. I pulled into a 7-11 and unloaded some of my heaviest equipment.

If any one needs an anvil or forming stakes, there's a garbage can in West Virginia I know about with a great view and some good tools.  

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Trashed

Jewelry, Art, Life Learning, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I finished a piece that I had been working on on-and-off over the summer.  The pendant is about the size of a mobile device, on a long chain.  It's interactive as the thumb pushes right and left and a trash can pops out on each side.  I'm not going to go into how I have researched this idea (dating in NYC and online), although, this blog might be more interesting if it turns in that direction...hmmmm, I digress.  

I've retired from online dating, after a particularly bad date, much like I stopped babysitting when I was 16 after an awful episode that ended with itching powder being poured down my shirt.  The type of moment you throw your hands in the air like George Costanza and yell, "THAT'S IT!  I'VE HAD ENOUGH!"   

I have had quite a bit of experience in the matter, and I found that with online dating and dating in general, I am either dumping someone or getting dumped.  Not in a heart-wrenching way, in a "you just aren't for me/I'm not that into you/ghosting" way.  But there still was a lot of trial and error and a lot of trash cans.  So swipe left, swipe right, it's all about dumping.  I'm into it, the trash cans, not the online dating.    

 

Labor Day, I'd say so

Illustration, Art, StudioLaura FortuneComment

Wow.  I've been working on building this website during my extended Labor Day weekend, and I've gotta say, I will be excited when I can step away from this computer!  Hurricane Hermine made it easier for me to avoid the beach, as they were mostly closed for the weekend.  So my studio turned into a photoshooting, photoshopping, modeling, editing wonderland...and by wonderland, I mean, slumped over my computer wondering if I'm doing this right.

Whelp, here it is.

The beginnings of a logo

The beginnings of a logo