August 13, 2008

In mid July, Karen and I headed off for two weeks in Sweden and Finland. I’d been invited to be a GoH at FinnCon in Tampere, Finland over the last weekend in July so we took the opportunity to see a part of the world that neither one of us had ever been to before. Gorgeous weather throughout the trip made all our traveling easier. First we spent several days in Stockholm, a city filled with public art everywhere you looked.



Both high and low…


After several days exploring Sweden’s capitol we trained down to Jonkoping, the home of  The John Bauer Museum. Bauer is one of my favorite artists and huge inspiration in my own work. The museum itself is filled with room after room of finished paintings as well as drawers full of his sketches and preliminary drawings.


On our first day in Jonkoping we were met by artist and designer, Nicolas Krizan who showed us around the town and the lovely forested countryside where Bauer used to walk, always carrying his sketchpad. Here we are on ‘The John Bauer Trail’. I certainly would not have been surprised to see a troll or two hiding behind any one of these trees.


See what I mean?


We spent two nights at The John Bauer Hotel down the street from the museum where there were many delightful connections to the artist. Here I am on the carpet in the hallway woven with a replica of one of his most famous images.


Then we drove up to Sundborn, the home and studio of Carl Larsson which has been preserved much the way it was in his own time. Here I am at the gate ready to enter Larssonland when the battery on our camera ran out.


Its just as well, as they didn’t allow any photography taken within the house. Later, standing in his studio which was filled to the brim with his gorgeous artwork, I felt like I could almost reach out and touch the man himself.

Then it was off to the Stockholm airport and a short flight over the sea that separates the two countries. We were met by Pasi, our congenial guide and companion for the next several days . Before attending FinnCon we were able to squeeze in a visit to yet another favorite artists studio and home, Akseli Gallen-Kallela.


His home is built on a dense, tree covered spit of land that juts out into a large lake. Huge timbers, many of them carved, tapestries of his own design and many, many examples of his art covered the walls of the house.

Even his private boat dock was personalized with a hand carved weather vane:


This carving was on the front door of a museum where we viewed more of Gallen-Kallela’s work as well as many other fine Finnish artists.


I want one of those!

Then we spent three delightful days at FinnCon. The convention was presided over by Marrianna, The Supreme Queen of Everything, her sister, Karoliina and Liisa (not pictured). On the right though is Pasi, without whom our stay there would not have been nearly as much fun.


The event, which is free to all, ran very smoothly with plenty of ‘down’ time to get to know some of the other guests, Farah Mendlesohn, Petri Hiltunen and M. John Harrison especially.


After several days of intense conversations, art presentations and newspaper interviews it was time to train down to Turku, the oldest city in Finland. Our host there, Tero, a pillar of Finnish fandam, showed us around his lovely city.


We were joined by Johanna for our day long tour. Karen is hiding behind the camera.


Soon though we were aboard a giant cruise ship that threaded its way back through the thousands of islands that dot the sea between Finland and Sweden.


And then we were heading home, not quite ready to start our lives back up again.



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June 23, 2008

The Locus Magazine Awards were given out on Saturday and I was named ‘Best Artist’ of the year. I really wanted to be at the awards ceremony out in seattle but on-going work on the ‘Midsummer’ statue kept me close to home instead. At the very last moment I sent the lovely Amelia Beamer (editor of THE SF/Fantasy trade magazine) my acceptance speach. It was so very late that I don’t know yet if anyone managed to read it at the ceremony but here it is:

Anyways, such as it is, here’s my acceptance speech in absentia for my first Locus Award, for Artist of the Year (2007):

“As much as I wanted to be here today and share the good times and splendid conversations with you all, I just couldn’t manage to squeeze any time to do so out of my crazy schedule. As some of you may know, I’m deep into sculpting and pouring the bronze for a fountain installation based on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Right now my co-workers and I are wrestling with the nine foot figure of Titania, who is proving to be a very demanding Queen of the Faeries indeed.

Surprised doesn’t say half of what I feel right now. I’m humbled actually, to, at least metaphorically, be standing in the midst of the fine group of writers and artists that have won these current awards, as well as all those that have preceeded us.

Day after day every one of the nominated artists (and many more besides) face the same scary, blank sheet of paper that I do. We all struggle to scribe some sort of cohesive marks onto paper or canvas or whatever the chosen medium is. All of us have the same goal: that of translating our inner visions onto that surface and thus sharing it with you, the reader. Sometimes the artist that pursues that goal can be more successful than not. This year, judging by this gracious award, I’ve been having a very good time.

Thank you all very much.”

And here’s a link to the full list of winners:


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