What crosses your mind when you cross the pool?
Designed by a writer who swims, this workshop is for swimmers who write, or anyone who thinks about swimming. Participants are invited to write in a compelling way about their experiences in the water. Start a poem or song, add a scene to your screen play, develop a chapter to your memoir, or a character in a short story. Whatever your writing style or chosen form, the write from life lab is a place to experiment and deepen your practice.
Not a swimmer? Write about why.
The lab meets three Wednesdays in June at the YMCA (and by ZOOM!) when we will read, write and swim together! Read more and register for WRITE FROM LIFE: SWIM STORIES
https://www.pennhighlands.edu/workforce-community/personal-enrichment/ The Write From Life Lab is facilitated by Jo Novelli-Blasko ( jonovelliblasko.com) and offered through Penn Highlands Community College’s personal enrichment program.
FROM THE PENN HIGHLANDS WEBSITE:
This Write From Life Lab convenes three Wednesdays in June 9, 16, and 23, and asks participants to write from and about their personal experience in a compelling and meaningful way. Swim Stories is an invitation to think about swimming, how we do it, where, when, and why. From the Soakzone at Idlewild Park, to the Ocean and the YMCA pool, swims happen in a variety of contexts. Consequently, swimming offers an infinite array of metaphors like testing the waters, taking a dip, or riding a wave. Write From Life Lab is a place to experiment with how to access these metaphors and make meaning in and through writing from experience. Participants will be challenged to write about swimming in a way that can matter to other people. Through reading, writing exercises and research prompts, participants are invited to compose a Swim Story. Participants are asked to bring a favorite writing instrument and a journal for recording their work. Register here: https://www.pennhighlands.edu/workforce-community/personal-enrichment/
Write From Life Lab: Swim Stories will meet at the Johnstown YMCA from 5:30-7:30. Local writers who pay the Materials Fee will enjoy an hour of swimming from 7:30-8:30.
For this series of conversations, I’m looking back toward a class I taught at Arizona State University. Women Art and Activism was offered on the Tempe campus in the Spring of 2009. It was a seminar with lots of reading and only a handful of students. The Downtown Salon is an opportunity for me to re-think, out loud, about content from the course.
Participants will be offered a reading in advance of each meeting to provide a platform for thinking about the work we’ll see. But the readings are entierly optional; being a part of the conversation does not rely on reading them.
Our gatherings will be loosley orgainzed around a theme. We will begin each meeting with a presentation of work and then open the floor for discussion. During the last 1/2 hour of our time together, we’ll turn our attention to the aritsts and activists in the room. Of course, contributing your work to the conversation is also optional, no pressure to perform.
WOMEN ART AND ACTIVISM
June 7, 14, 21, 28 6-8 p.m. EST This series of four talks will consider the influential presence of women artists who challenge the status quo in and through their work. Discover a range of art that expresses feminist actions explicitly or in attitude, demonstrating how women were actively in resistance through their creative work. The scope of our undertaking includes an array of art from painting and sculpture, to performance and film. Please be prepared to respectfully consider challenging (often explicit) art. Each talk will be followed by a group discussion about the work.
The Downtown Salon is a hybrid experience. It will be broadcast live and ZOOMed from ArtHouse6, an art gallery located at 126 Walnut Street. To participate in the conversation, register through the Community Education Program at
Penn Highlands Community College.
My interest in officiating unions is a consequence of my divorce. I was determined that the ruination of my marriage vows would not be the final word on weddedness! Now, I gleefully pronounce celebrants united, partnered, wed, mated for life, or however you come to be together till death do you part. I equally enthusiastically facilitate your apologies and forgivings, and witness any wager you venture to make.
My interest in officiating also emerges from my faith in the power of language to get things done. When you speak a promise out loud and mean it, you change the terms of your relationship to another person. The same is true when you act with your heart to forgive someone, say you’re sorry, or lay a bet. I believe speaking truth into the world makes it a different place. As an officiant, I witness these spoken gestures and celebrate all the changes they create and the hope they manifest.
Ceremonial Paperwork, Scripts, Costs
My officiating services require celebrants to complete a
Survey of Habits of the Heart. This instrument will outline what is important to you in preparing for your pronouncements. Respond as fully as possible; be forthcoming. Your reply will guide us in shaping a ceremony to best represent your intentions. In addition to a Survey of Habits of the Heart, wagers require a signed contract documenting what’s at stake. Marriages require a license to make it official with the state.
Each ceremonial event will have a unique script built through a conversation about your response to the
Survey of Habits of the Heart. The more robust your response, the more closely aligned your intentions can be to the ceremony we design together.
Since each ceremony is as unique as its participants, my fee for service will vary. Officiating fees begin at $100 for a basic service and range to $500 or more for elaborate proceedings. Basic service includes one hour with me to plan your pronouncements, unlimited email follow up and a gathering of four celebrants (the couple and two witnesses) at a Johnstown venue. Travel costs will accrue for services performed outside Johnstown PA, they are in addition to the officiating fee. NOTAFLOF
You bring something borrowed and something new,
let a room be your something blue. In April 2021, I was invited to act as the Resident Officiant at Stanza in Blue, a permanent art installation at ArtHouse6.
The Habitorium is in the business of capturing attitudes of love…
Please inquire with
email@example.com for pricing and availability. At this time, the western town buildings are not for sale nor is Brogies.
The Habitorium was commissioned to survey guests at a wedding on October 31, 2020. I conducted a Survey Under a Blue Moon inquiring about habits of the heart, to benefit the newly wed Caityn Antal and Brady Shriver. They tied the knot at The Bottleworks in Cambria City. I enjoyed the celebration from a quiet spot near the gift table with a lovely view of the moon. The attendants happily engaged in the process of answering the survey questions and the results show it. Paintings inspired by the results are underway in the studio.
Thanks so much to Linda Shiver and
Kris Mellinger for sharing their photos of the evening with me.
Charlie Pfeil and I are related by marriage. His daddy’s baby sister Ruth married my daddy’s brother, Daniel. Charlie is known about town for making small versions of local landmark buildings from painted plywood. He works on them the basement of his Dale Borough homestead. It is tidy and clean and, when Charlie is in production, it’s banging! With volume set to eleven, Tool, Metallica and Korn are in frequent rotation. He finds it relaxing and therapeutic. Four years ago, Charlie was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and creating these small buildings in his workshop while blasting heavy metal steadies his shaking hands. “I put the music on and start working and it stops, almost immediately.” I am amazed and inspired by Charlie’s focus. Habits of healing and creativity are performative and generative. I think his
Stacked Abstractions illustrate that performativity. They carry the vibe of Charlie’s habits, just like his replicas of building scattered around town.
You can visit a baker’s dozen of Charlie Pfeil’s little buildings, and twice as many are held privately. There are four in downtown Johnstown from the
By George Inn at the Stadium Pub and Grill, to the – a model that required 500 hours of work to complete. Six places in Dale have reproductions by Charlie including Bantly Hardware (circa 1977), TNC Lounge, and BZ Pools. Three churches display his replicas: Beulah United Methodist Church in Dale, University Park Church of God in Richland, and St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Cresson. The Habitorium is preparing a map of all the venues that house his models. War Memorial
Stacked Abstractions are made from the left over wood of Charlie’s buildings. He cuts the gleaned wood, then sands and paints the pieces balancing several together, seeming ready to tumble at any moment. Each unique Stacked Abstraction is priced between $10 and $15 and can be shipped.
3 Flashlight Gallery is selling other structures created by Charlie Pfeil including Christmas decorations for your tree and table, a sweet gingerbread house, and a trio of simple crosses. Please inquire with Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org about an
array of buildings that Charlie has on hand, and for sale, that are not located in the gallery.
Thank you for your interest in the Survey of Bookish Habits. Click the link below, to download a copy of the Report on Bookish Habits.
years ago, i wrote a small review for a show happening at a local gallery.
Anthrax it Ain’t (c. 2007)
Lets face it: $1.98 will send 8 ounces of just about anything through the US Postal Service. In The Post Card, Jacques Derrida put it this way: “Whether you put one word or one hundred in a letter, a word of one hundred letters or one hundred words of seven letters, the price is the same, this is incomprehensible, but this principle has the capacity to account for everything.” A good mail art show exploits the depth of Derrida’s principle by testing the limits of the USPS and challenging the rarified notion of what can be hung on the gallery wall. This is the story of three accountings happening here in Phoenix: an accounting of emerging gallerists; an historical accounting of mail art as a genre; a humanitarian accounting of American deaths in Iraq; an accounting of one postal worker’s paranoia. The Trunk Space opened its Mail Art Show on the first Friday of August. JRC and Stephanie Carrico, the former coffee compatriots at The Paper Heart, and owners of the gallery, displayed all 53 submissions they received from places as distant as Italy. Each piece of art in the show was on sale for five bucks with all proceeds going to benefit Arts Link. The exhibit included works by several local artists including Lisa Takata, Dain Gore and the Bledsoe duo: Richard and Michelle. The most intriguing submission to the show came from A. Polk: a scrap book, wrapped around its width with a wide band of vellum and bound closed by fine, strong twine. This fastening, a practical measure to secure the book during its postal passage, became a part of the object. It coaxes the observer to peek between the book pages but defies being undone. The substance of the scrap book was changed when Polk bound it; to snip the brown twine, to slice through that foggy outer slip would be to change it, and that would be a shame. Like all Mail Art shows, this one was a populist endeavor: if you could go to the post office you could submit work to the show and it would be displayed. The inclusiveness of The Trunk Space show conforms with one of the conventions for mail art exhibition set forward by the New York Correspondance (sic) School. While an exhaustive historical accounting of this aesthetic could probably be traced back to the inception of postal exchange, it was Ray Johnson who formalized the practice by establishing the school in the late 1960’s. NYCS participants deployed their methodology as a medium: if an object passed through the postal system it was considered mail art. Johnson further complicated this practice with the nascent collages he sent through the mail to other artists. These correspondences with instructions to “Add to and Return to…” passed through the mail boxes of Robert Rauchenberg, Jasper Johns and Chuck Close, among many others. Letters that have been preserved are terrific examples of collaboration and a pop sensibility that was sanctioned by the postal systems of several countries. Johnson committed suicide in 1995, but his “Add to and Return to” instruction has found another life in practices that couple snail mail correspondence with web-based networking. Baghdad Diaries (baghdaddiaries.com) is one Phoenix-based project that thrives on this dual circulatory system. Steve Salik, under the nom de plume “A Concerned Citizen,” was inspired by his participation in 20things.org and 1000journals.com to begin his latest project. Subscribers to Baghdad Diaries sign up to receive, by book rate U.S. postal mail, a handmade journal. Each diary is dedicated to individual American soldiers who died in the Iraq war. This is no small task given the difficulty of discerning an accurate and timely list of the deceased military personnel. Issued in sets of ten, each set with a different cover design, these journals start out blank and each subscriber adds to the book and sends it to the next recipient on the list. Visitors to the site who choose not to subscribe can peruse scans of journal pagess, read Salik’s comments about the project or track the progress of each journal as it travels around the globe. Salik asks registrants to participate in an “interactive dialog about the war in Iraq, the ‘War on Terror’ and the way that these events are impacting our daily lives at a personal level”. I have recorded the story of my participation in the Trunk Space Mail Art Show in Diary #7. “It was flat piece of wood with bark around its edge, on one side was a picture of a clown wearing a monocle, on the other I wrote: The Trunk Space, 1506 NW Grand Ave, Phoenix AZ 85007. I handed my parcel to the postal officer and asked him to hand cancel it and send it via first class mail. He looked at me like I was out of my mind. ‘I can’t accept that’ he said, ‘Ever since the anthrax scare we don’t hand cancel anything and we aren’t allowed to send objects without envelopes.’ He wouldn’t touch it. As I studied his face I thought about asking him: ‘Wouldn’t it make more sense to put a tainted log slice in an envelope?’ In the end, I decided it made no sense to try to rationalize his reaction to my request. We are fighting a War On Terror after all.”
dear goth gardeners:
i recently joined your fb group and, as with most social circumstances since 2013, i’m not quite sure how i got here. i check the feed daily and am astounded by the content every time: amazing plants, design ideas, gorg found objects, great advice, humor and FASHION! since joining, i’ve learned there are many such groups and pages, but i’m a loyalist – i stay put despite all my watery, piscean ways. besides, yours is one of my most favorite groups to follow.
thanks to you, i’m starting a thread on my blog for ‘gardening’ under the greater category of the habitorium. writing under this new category will be addressed to you. i’ll share content inspired by all the good wishes i’ve cast for you and your plants, the insights i’ve gained from your generous sharing, and all the notes i’ve scribbled to you. consider this thread a huge overflow of love from this black, black heart of mine.
posts in the works:
whats goth got to do with it? i kill cacti in the desert don’t jump with that hedge trimmer! moss and me, ferns and trees jtown gardens seasonally stackhouse park rocks
every day, when i check the gg feed, i get more rooted to my own garden. its been a tough row to hoe, getting to these roots.
you know how things happen in threes? in the instance of my uprooting, the three things that happened were cubed. the details are astounding and i’m in the habit of sharing them. i’ve made this list special for you, goth gardeners. believe me.
now, i know many lives written in threes cubed can make my story seem paultry. i am acutely aware of the many blessings embedded in my privileges, i count them every day. you, goth gardeners, are one of them. thank you for the chance to exercise these knowings as i plant intentions in the wake of my three ring circus, and seeds in the ground.
I’m in the habit of instigating people to do things and these are almost always joyful instigations. Sometimes it just happens, sometimes not so much. Recently I had an opportunity to instigate a classroom of little people in the name of education.
I was invited by my cousin Mark’s son Greg to crash his first grade classroom on Wednesday. Greg is a substitute teacher who now works from his home in Colorado. His students are in New York, Ohio and Colorado. I am in Pennsylvania. As soon as he asked, I imagined how charming it could be to meet on Zoom, all together, apart, online.
I should note that
never have I ever imagined entertaining a room full of first graders before that moment. Eigth graders? Sure. 7th, even 6th grade classrooms were familiar to me. But, it seemed like a good idea, given the pandemic and all. Anything is possible, right?
Greg and I agreed some sort of art project would be great. I became excited about all the possibilities. Then all the possibilities freaked me out. Suffice it to say, Tuesday came around and I had no idea what I would do. When in doubt, I plunder my library. Almost immediately, I hit upon Alice in Wonderland. Fantastic! I thought, and pulled it off my shelf.
I was way off, but I had no idea until I tried to get these little humans to focus on the story. They were lost… or maybe it was just the digital platform. So I started asking them questions: What’s marmalade? How do you curtsy? What is a waist coat? Where is your waist? Oh, it was great fun. I did a lot of laughing. I was really challenged by understanding who was talking when and whether these great kids could hear me. All the seeming chaos resolved in two assignments. First, learn how to curtsy then devise a fancy curtsy. The second assignment was to make a bow tie from things from your garden. NO TAPE! I wondered if I was getting through, with all the flashing green frames and lovely little faces laughing with me… I asked if they understood the assignment to a chorus of “yes” as they sat staring at me. I yelled “Well, what are you waiting for? Get outside!”
Gannon and Harvey foraged Urban Grass Gideon models his Piney Bow Tie Burke’s Dandy Oak Tie Henley’s Flower Crown Henley models her Flowery Crown Julien’s Pine Cone Knot
This week, I will see how their curtsies are coming along. They are supposed to practice the standard curtsy, and perfect a fancy one. Stay tuned.
One of the questions on The Survey of Bookish Habits invites participants to create a cloud of preferred genre, authors, titles or whatever pattern makes sense to their particularities. Enjoy these three examples of clouds sent up to The Habitorium.
The Habitorium is an independent research project of
Jo Novelli-Blasko. It is a platform for creative gestures that disrupt habits, slow them down and distill actions from attitudes. The Habitorium surveys participants and generates various data, ephemera, and actions toward efficacious interventions.
I am currently migrating
The Habitorium website to this jonovelliblasko.com domain. Its a big project, I am being methodical.
Next up: building out pages documenting projects from 1997 to 2019. Stay tuned.
The Habitorium has conducted several surveys and can tailor one to the needs of your gathering or demographic.
Contact Jo to arrange a commission.
Joyful Habits Survey
AD1 is the first in a series of Appalachian Dispatches, sent from a town highly ranked for how quickly it is shrinking, the depth of our impoverishment, and the illness of our population. I mention these conditions to highlight truths, not to fetishize our destitution. In fact, Johnstown has always been known for our disasters (the floods, mills, rust, etc.) so – hold our coffee. Here is the beauty of surviving disasters, we are experts in resilience.
This blog will be a testament to what I see here, all of it. My view is from a hillside trail where I enjoy the tremendous privilege of greeting each day, to breathe in agreement with the forest and my two dogs. We are committed to our continued mission of doing no harm.