Tonight: Breast Cancer Fund Raiser Show in Bay City

Also perusable will be my 200+ page illustrated breast cancer blog begun after my diagnosis in October, 2004, and continuing to the present. It can be read online as well, beginning with Mary’s Breast Cancer Blog, on my website, continuing for a year elsewhere, and recently returning to my own website at

Tonight is a gala event—a cancer fund raiser. Cancer surviving artists will be displaying their work at all the galleries. This very special First Thursday Gallery Walk is the only one that requires a ticket: $30 gets you in all the galleries with gourmet food and drink; $5 gets you in one gallery, so if you just want one party, make it mine! (Tickets will be available at all the galleries.) After tonight, the monthly First Thursday Gallery Walks will again be free.

The Bay City Times did a nice article about me and this show in the Thursday Weekend. You can read it online if you can stand the many disruptive animated ads….. 

Click on the image to enlarge it.

New Gallery Opens in Bay City

Mary Blocksma has been looking for galleryspace since she moved to Bay City from Beaver Island six years ago, and now she has found it in the Gypsies building at Third and Madison in Bay City. “It’s wonderful to display all my work in one space,” Blocksma says. “I’m so prolific that no one else’s gallery can begin to represent the variety of things I do.” Blocksma, who has published three books since moving here—Great Lakes Nature (University of Michigan Press, 2004), What’s On the Beach: A Great Lakes Treasure Hunt (Beaver Island Arts, 2003), and Necessary Numbers (Portable Press, 2002)-- is also a painter. “All my work will be available in my new gallery,” says Blocksma. “There are still many original watercolors I’ve done of the Great Lakes, as well as Great Lakes posters, prints, and notecards, and two posters I did last year of Bay City—one celebrating twenty-four homes on Center Avenue and another picturing fifty-seven of Bay City’s bars.” Blocksma appears most excited, however, about her new work. “I seem to have found a mysterious passion for fish,” she confesses. “I’m not sure where it came from, since I do not fish or scuba dive, but this past year, while most of my strength went to dealing with treatment for breast cancer, I painted fish just for fun. I was too tired to get serious about anything, so I simply amused myself and my beautiful fish turned into a vibrant series of acrylic paintings.” Although half the fish paintings have already sold, all of them are available at Blocksma’s gallery as prints and notecards. “I even have room to show my quilts,” says Blocksma. “Most of them no one has ever seen. I didn’t even have room to show them in my house.” Pieced and hand-quilted original designs, Blocksma’s quilts add texture and unusal patterns to a gallery of framed art, posters, cards, and books. One quilt, called “Summertime,” even celebrates fish. The Mary Blocksma Gallery, located in the Gypsies building at the corner of Madison and Third Streets in Bay City, is now open daily from 10 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Her Grand Opening reception and Fourth Annual Open House, is scheduled for Sunday, November 13, 1 to 4 p.m.

Carnival of Compassion

I’ve been invited to host a review of patient blogs called Carnival of Compassion, because part of my website is a Breast Cancer Blog, which I began about a year ago as a way to feel, vent, connect, and share information with others in my particular boat.

I’m probably stretching the parameters, but I’m also sharing here
some websites which inspire me, as a breast cancer survivor, to keep
living and hoping and creating. As an artist and a writer, I need encouragement to keep doing it, just as I do workshops to encourage others who have always wished they could paint or write–and who often think they can’t–amaze themselves with their possibilities.

For starters here are a couple of people who are using painting help heal our and their own spirits:

Glen Sacks developed an art therapy program for patients at the
Neo-Plastic Clinic in Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City. This painting
shows his view of the conditions under which patients without health
coverage were given medical treatment, condition which are apparently
improving. I like Glen Sacks’s interesting perspectives, the view of
ourselves from our own eyes, the patients, as we wait, and wait, and
worry. I also like his simple style. It would be interesting, I think,
for us to try paintings like these, little self-portraits, small
sketchbook things with watercolor, perhaps.

The website for Brent Atwater who produces paintings not to
heal herself so much as to heal us offers quite a list of maladies
and with a “healing painting” for each. I find them quite moving, and
even kind of scary, actually visualizing some of my own fears.
This kind of abstract thing is fun to do. I’ve produced some myself on my blog.
Atwater also has written an art therapy book to teach children (and perhaps
ourselves as well) how to use art as a healing tool.

It’s inspiring to me to examine the world through the eyes of someone who sees in a fresh way and has a gift for communicating it. I find professional photojournalist Mark M Hancock’s blog offers several years of photojournalism, from up-close shots of frozen gravel to, on the same page, abused children painting with an art therapist, to current views of disaster areas. It’s plenty to give me a perspective on the world’s suffering, portrayed with compassion,
dignity, and beauty. And I love reading his excellent, skillful descriptions of how he practices his photograhic art.

I like this Breast Cancer Blog for up-to-date information on developments for my
particular disease. Like all of us with serious health problems, I frequently face difficult decisions, often feeling as if I am gambling and I check the internet to hedge my bets. I think everyone needs a few places to go when pondering the
next hard choice.

I also enjoy reading the simple patient blogs sponsored by the high Point
Regional Health System. Using first names only, listed by their diagnosis, patients blog their experiences with this hospital. I find this pretty brave of the hospital, giving patients a way to publicly complain, which may help keep the staff on their toes!

Here’s a blog post about patient blogging, posted October 26, 2005, which I just found actually mentioning my own blog. It’s a Health Care Law blog, well written by an attorney Bob Coffield in Charleston, West Virginia. His website lists quite a number of other health-related blogs as well as links to an rich variety of legal conundrums and resources.

And for pure inspiration and life adventure, I go to my son Dylan Kuhn’s longtime blog, for good writing, fun reviews of music, movies and books, wonderful photos of the Rockies where he rock climbs, hikes and backpacks with his wife Ann. Read here about hiking the length of California on the Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide Trail, and solo bicycling 13,700 miles around the perimeter of the Lower 48. also designs websites–he did mine and trained me to run it!

Thanks for your patience! Hope you didn’t mind my diversions.

Fish Are Theraputic 2

Yes, I was on yet another fish painting, this one a school of Blue Stripe Snappers. How soothing it is to paint fish. I may begin an entire personal aquarium of fish. I may even venture into designing picine wardrobes.

Meanwhile, as I approach my next-to-last day and 32nd blast on Monday, I have another waiting room idea: The three walls of this small room are “papered” in cloth, which happily accepts pins and if the pins are slender enough–I took care to buy a packet of silk pins for my 31 little lake paintings that are already posted there, one each day–they don’t even leave a noticable hole. These large blank slates are begging to be filled.

So why not, I thought, fill them with fish? I would print out a bunch of tropical fish, cut them out, and leave them there with a packet of pins and an entertaining sheet of directions: Each woman who sat there could choose a fish, write her name on it (first and/or last) and pin it up. As time goes on, the wall would become covered with beautiful fish, each representing a woman who also had sat there, also fighting cancer. And here’s the kicker: Many of these women are just out of chemo, and fish, like them, have no hair!

However, having already been a drama queen at the radiation oncology center, I hesitate to suggest the women’s locker room as a site for installation art. The staff may be welcoming Wednesday, when I will no longer show up at 8:12. But who knows?

You gotta try stuff.

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Life Goes On

My current medical challenges wither in the face of the tsunami that has wiped out so many lives and broken so many remaining hearts. I listen to an update on this news as I write. My predicament is, for the moment, just a small mistake marring my otherwise vibrant life.

I love Dr. Martin’s watercolors for their brilliance. They really explode on rice paper, along with Japanese ink, but I seem to be out of rice paper at the moment. These Everyday Art sketches are just whimsical, easy play. Maybe they’ll wake something up inside me. Maybe they’re better than I think. Who knows.