The GGA Project -- Day #337 "On Women, On Inspiration"

Today I decided to tag along to an event my Mom had been talking about in recent weeks.  It was a gathering of women artists and artisans, which sounded like a pretty amazing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Today's New Activity: Attending 33rd Annual Celebration of Craftswomen

Ok, first of all: Fort Mason!  What the hell?  How is it that I've never heard of this place or all the interesting businesses and buildings housed therein?!  As was the case when I first visited The Presidio a few months back, I found myself impressed with and enchanted by the cityfolks' repurposing of an old military site.  There was a ton going on there today--including some kind of chocolate extravaganza that I would SO have gotten in on if the entry fee weren't $20, as well as what is apparently a weekly farmer's market where a very talented singer songwriter was performing (wish I'd caught her name) and a food booth called Chaac-Mool was serving insanely yummy Yucatecan food (not that I have a lot to compare it to).  But anyway, we weren't there for all that...

The Celebration of Craftswomen was held at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion, which sat right next to the water and which seemed to be nothing more than an old hangar (but a beautiful one at that).

As soon as we walked in I could feel the energy in there.  And it wasn't long before I saw some beautiful works of art.

First, the intricate embroidery work by Yan Inlow, each piece taking months to complete (I wish I had pictures of all this stuff to share...I feel really weird about taking photos of things people are there to sell.  Follow the links if you'd like to see the work!)

Then beautiful, unique, just-my-taste jewelry from Daria Salus, Serena Kojimoto, Erika Honig, and Amy Faust.  My favorite jewelry artist there, Birgitt Hellemann, doesn't have a website :(  

Then there were the beautiful mosaic pieces by Stephanie Bugbee, and just so many more.  There were women who worked with wood, leather, acrylics, glass, textiles, paper, and every metal you can imagine, as well as some very, very good photographers.

Which brings me to Dona Bollard.  I really wish this incredibly talented woman had a better website (actually, I wish ALL these women had better websites.  I think they would sell a lot more of their art and/or jewelry if people were allowed to peruse their work at their own paces and without the time-limited stress of making big art-purchasing decisions at one-day events).  The images on her site don't begin to do justice to the experience of walking up to one of her photographs in person.  I'm telling you if the energy of a photograph could make the subject walk off a page, her subjects would dance.

A lot of her work featured horses, and that stuff was gorgeous, but what really grabbed me were the images of women.  Only twice in my life have I had the experience of glimpsing a piece of art and being moved to tears.  Once was when I came upon Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.  The second happened today, when I came upon this photograph in Dona Bollard's booth.

The photographer was very warm, engaging, and generous with her time.  I told her the effect the photograph had on me and she said others have reported having similar feelings.  We talked about possible interpretations of the piece and the reasons people might feel as they do, and I shared that there was nothing at all interpretive or intellectual about my reaction.  It was a pure emotional response, and to what I'm still not quite sure.  I just knew it was one of the most beautiful images I'd ever seen and that--though it was difficult to look at in the beginning (I swear it brought tears to my eyes every time!)--I knew I wanted to be able to look at it again and again.  I bought a print.

Encountering the work of and meeting Dona Bollard was the highlight of my day.  After talking with her for a while, I shared a bit about my recent life events and my thoughts on why I connected with this photo as I did.  She was the kind of person you could just meet and then stand there and cry with minutes later.

She lives in New Mexico, and she talked about how brutal the past year has been for artists there.  Where she used to be able to sell plenty of pieces without ever leaving her hometown, the lean last year has forced her to spend a lot of time on the road at shows like today's.  I told her I was so grateful that there are still artists like her even trying to make a living creating art, especially since, as she said was true of many of her artist friends, many people are doing all they can just to get by...taking time away from work to create art and then hope to sell it seems like a risk too big to take.

I really feel like I was supposed to meet and be inspired by this woman and a number of the other artists whose work I took in.  It's just so good to know that there are still true artisans out there, honing their skills and dreaming up images and designs for NO OTHER PURPOSE than to express something and to add beauty to the world.  I mean yes, they are selling their work, so there is another purpose.  But these were women who were clearly born to create.  I'm glad they're putting their creations out there for the rest of us to enjoy.

Also--something to feel good about: the entrance fee to the show went to benefit The Women's Building, a non-profit in San Francisco "providing women and girls with the tools and resources for full and equal participation in society."

It was a beautiful, inspiring day, all the way around...


  1. I can absolutely see why this photo would, as my shrink would say, "resonate." Powerful...

  2. Beautiful!!! i am remembering our plans for a small NGO, and I am really ready to get started. I'm also thinking I need to try new things like you.