A New Passion -The Seriousness Of It All

Sometimes in life you have to give up something you love to make your dream a reality.

-Rohan Anderson

I recently came across this quote while reading Rohan’s book Whole Larder Love. Fantastic book by the way. Then it struck me. Just recently I was confronted with the same dilemma. The same type of crossroads. To be quite honest I am still wrestling with it. The decision has been made but the tension is still there.  To give something up that you are crazy passionate about, something that really is part of your DNA, something that for so long has been so much a part of your life that it’s like breathing. Now that’s serious. I’m not sure if Rohan was speaking to something of this magnitude, but I believe that I am.  An artist, a sculptor more specifically. That is how I would define my pursuit. To lace up my boots, throw on my work clothes and head to my studio. Ask my wife, I get lost in there. It’s as if I am in another world. Time stops for me when I do this kind of work. Actually, time really becomes a non-issue because if it were so I would have found something else long ago. As I have said before my head, hands and heart work in unison in a way I can’t fully articulate. They do their thing and I just try to keep up.

That is what I am stepping away from. Actually, for the past 8 months I have not spent any time in my studio. Is this for good? I really have no idea but it is at least for now. For those of you that know me, you already know this is…well, this is big.  For the past six plus years, I have been working and showing, working and showing, working and showing.  And earlier this year, I had my first solo exhibition.  A chance to tell the stories and struggles I long to communicate in the work I create. Something I have been working towards for some time now. So what do I do? I take a bow and tip my hat and exit the stage. Stepping away in order to step forward into something new. Something different. A dream? Maybe. More like a calling. Actually, we (my wife and I, along with our two girls) are stepping into something we were not really looking for but have come to the realization that it’s calling us. I also believe that the calling, or dream, is not always something you decide upon or come up with.  And as we have come to understand, this thing, it has a way of finding you. Farwell House is the calling. As we all know the length of a day is set and one only has so much energy. Trying to keep all the plates spinning at the same time is doable…for a while. There comes a time when we realize to truly see a calling, a dream if you will, come to fruition, we have to make difficult decisions. I am in that time right now.  Farwell House is where I am investing my time. My get lost and forget about the clock time. This is a new passion. One that grows out of a desire to fill a void that I see in our region.  And one we are serious about. What does the future hold? How will this all play out?  I’m not quite sure, but my head, hands, and heart are doing their thing. A new thing and I am just trying to keep up.

Attention! Attention!

Hey folks, we wanted to let all of you know that we have a new website!  Our new site will also become the new home of hellofarwell.

From here on out all new blog content can be found on the new web page.

Our address is www.farwellhouse.com

Thanks for your interest and support.  We sure hope you will make your way over to our new site and check out the additional content we have included for your reading pleasure.

Keep in touch.  Onward and upward my friends.

 

Hello summer, my old friend.

I am finding it hard to believe we are almost into the final week of July.  The summer, as it has a way of doing, moves by much quicker than the other seasons.  A variety of reasons contributes to this.  For me, for us, the big one is Farwell House.  Typically 5-6 days each week are spent there working on something.  Our list of “somethings” is quite lengthy but we keep pressing on…one sweat-drenched shirt at a time.  Besides the physical work that continues to take place within and around Farwell House our not-for-profit is taking shape.  We, meaning our board, have met on a few occasions and have put some of the nuts and bolts type of things into motion.  We elected our officers and are starting to clearly define our vision. With the help of Christy, Erin, Greg, Jenine and Tonya we are beginning to put this big gigantic puzzle together. We formally submitted our application with the federal government to become a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation and patiently, or not so patiently, wait for that letter in the mail that officially states that we are, well, official. When this happens, look for some big things to happen.

Since late May quite a few changes have taken place within the house.  We removed all the nasty balsa wood fiber, vermiculite and fiberglass insulation from the attic to make way for new (much cleaner) roll in fiberglass insulation.   I could hardly believe we removed almost 70, 55 gallon bags of insulation and debris from the attic.  The weight of the material was tremendous. Gutters are being repaired and coated with a rubber membrane. The basement floor has had gravel moved in and is being prepared for concrete.  Gravel has been spread to allow for some designated parking. Currently, the radiators are being cleaned, wire-wheeled, sanded and painted. We have also met with various contractors to obtain estimates on repairs and upgrades including trenching for our water supply, electric service upgrade, tuck pointing and masonry, drywall/ceiling repair, and the all important pest control.  With that being said, we will not be moved in by the end of summer.  Now we are shooting for November…we will see.  One thing is for sure, it is beautiful here.

 

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Just a few of the bags of insulation patiently waiting on the second floor. Only three more loads like this one were removed.

 

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New gravel for parking.

 

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Sunset. June 26, 2016

 

 

 

A few notes of interest and a thank you.

We just wanted to take a moment to update all of you on a few things. First of all, we have submitted our application for an ArtPlace America Grant. The funding from this grant would be a huge boost in the process of making Farwell House become a reality. Thank you to all of you that shared your thoughts on Frederick. The information you provided was extremely helpful as we were preparing the narratives for the grant application. We should know by June if we have made it to the second round. It is during this round that we will be required to submit a more detailed plan for our use of the funds and representatives from ArtPlace America will conduct a site visit to get a better picture of what we hope to do at Farwell House. We are hopefully optimistic!

Second,in case you missed it or want to watch it again, I have included a link to the  Illinois Stories episode about Farwell House that aired this past fall on PBS.  We also have a page on FaceBook. Just search Farwell House and you can easily find us.  Our new website is up and will be ready to officially launch once a few minor adjustments have been made.

In other news, work continues on plumbing our radiators. We are very close to having them all connected and ready to test. In the near future we will also be installing our new waterline. This past Saturday we finished digging out the floor of northwest basement room. This is the only room in the basement that does not have a poured floor. We dug down about 6 inches, filled 5 gallon buckets, then marched them up the stairs to be dumped outside. Needless to say we had to make a few trips up and down those basement stairs.

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Northwest basement room 3.19.2016

By pouring the floor we will alleviate much of the moisture issues we have had with the room directly above . Over the years, the added moisture has caused significant damage to the brick as well as several floor joists that will need to be replaced. It was a great feeling to dump those last two buckets. My body is thankful as well.

Onward and Upward my friends.

What is Frederick?

For those of you that have lived in Frederick or are currently living in the community, how would you describe or define Frederick, Illinois? How would you describe the people? Ages? Families? Interests? Occupations?

What makes it a great place to live? Why have you made Frederick “home”?

What makes Frederick, well Frederick?

You may be wondering why I ask these questions well, let me fill you in. Currently Christy and I are working on a major grant application that is asking us to define the community in which the grant funds will be used. Of course, Frederick is that community. Since we don’t currently live in Frederick or have deeply established roots within the community we are in need of input from folks that do. Are you one of those folks? Do you know someone that is? If so, please consider leaving us a comment with your thoughts at the bottom of this post. We certainly value your input and are thankful for it.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Jason and ChristyIMG_6937

Winter

IMG_7488.jpgIt’s official. Winter has set in. The ground is frozen and covered with a few inches of freshly fallen snow. Although the season encourages us to transition from our warm weather pace and hunker down some of us choose to keep pressing on albeit in other ways. At Farwell House we have chosen to press on. We are much like like the early stages of kimchi or sauerkraut. Not a whole lot to look at but, there is certainly something bubbling in that crazy mixture. Other than the physical work of the house (more on that in a minute) we are finalizing our 501c3 application along with completing a major grant application.  All of which require a substantial amount of screen time and head scratching as well as several pots of coffee. On the plus side, this type of work challenges us to refine our focus and question (and answer) what we are doing all of this for in the first place.

Besides the Plank Road Artist Residency, farming and land use are other topics of discussion for us since we have a deep desire to tap into ways of utilizing the tillable acreage we have access to.  Farmers and artists have much more in common than most folks realize but, I will save that for another post.  Fruit trees, aquaponics, bees and mushrooms seem to be where our interests lie. Much like everything with Farwell House we feel called to do, we are approaching this from the mindset of what can we do to fill a need that is currently not being met? How can what we do impact our community for the good? The greater good. We constantly wrestle with these types of questions.

And the house, how could I forget. The above photo was taken after the second floor fireplace was thoroughly cleaned and as you can see is fully functional. As of now this is our only heat source (and no we are not living there yet). We are in the process of plumbing our radiator heating system. Farwell House will be heated with the help of a 500,000 BTU wood fired boiler. We have been removing old fittings, measuring for pipe and smashing fingers. Ah, the joys of a blissful union between finger tips, a pipe wrench and a cast iron radiator. Nothing makes what little hair one might have stand up quicker than a chance meeting between those three things.  Of course we can throw cutting and splitting firewood into the mix as well.

We also received two grants from Two Rivers Regional Arts Council. One to cover the costs of creating a new website for Farwell House and the other to help offset the costs of our 501c3 application. Our new website is currently being fine tuned and will be live in the very near future. We will certainly keep you posted.

Again, much is happening with Farwell House. It may appear as if we have gone into hibernation but we are far from it. Something is certainly brewing.

Onward and Upward my friends.