NEW PALTZ OPEN STUDIO TOUR

This weekend is the New Paltz Open Studio Tour!  It's going to be a fantastic group of about 30 artists and a rare peek into their studio lives.

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This free tour gives you the chance to visit a number of Hudson Valley artists in their studios to see their process and work. I don't have a studio in New Paltz, but Leyla Cadabel has graciously invited me to her studio for the weekend.

Join all the participating artists for a
KICKOFF OPENING PARTY
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
6-8 PM
UNISON ARTS CENTER
68 MOUNTAIN REST ROAD
NEW PALTZ, NY 12561

I WILL NOT BE IN MY HOME STUDIO

MY LOCATION:
SATURDAY & SUNDAY
SEPTEMBER 29 & 30

10 AM - 5 PM
LEYLA CADABEL PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO
437 NEW PALTZ ROAD
HIGHLAND, NY 12528

RSVP on Facebook or check the website.

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You can continue to support my work by buying books and art through my etsy site. Ask your local bookstore if they would carry my coloring books. Every little bit you spread the word really does make a difference.

UPCOMING EVENTS

dear readers and friends…

There are a couple opportunities this month to gather for art viewing and trouble making. I hope to see you somewhere. 

Thank you so so much to everyone who came to the book launch for Girls Will Be Boys Will be Girls Will Be... I felt held and embraced, uplifted and cared for. You cheered and bought books. You colored such beautiful pictures. You chopped carrots and decorated the walls. You loaded and unloaded the car...in the rain. You fiercely supported children in showing up as their authentic selves. You surprised me by driving two hours. You donated art so we could raise money for the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center, a community institution where so many people find solace, safety, hope and laughter. You sold and bought raffle tickets. You discovered a wooden hat display in a dark closet so that a college professor who didn't have his glasses on could bid on a hat he didn't even know had boobs embroidered on it! You recycled your cups. You sold books for me. You helped me remember how to sign books. It all went by very fast. Thank you kindly for your support, near and far.

XO.
Jacinta

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NYC ANARCHIST

BOOK FAIR

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THIS SATURDAY

SATURDAY, JUNE 9
11 AM - 6 PM
JUDSON MEMORIAL CHURCH
239 THOMPSON STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10012

I am super excited to sell books at this book fair at the historic Judson Memorial Church, which has allowed people with housing insecurity to sleep on its pews, taken leadership around sanctuary for immigrants, provided medical resources for people living with HIV, provided abortion counseling, and so much more. You gotta love a church who proudly proclaims, "We believe that artists have the potential to serve as our modern-day prophets. They show us where we've been, who we are, and what we can become."

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ARTIST RECEPTION

AND BRUNCH

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SATURDAY, JUNE 16
12 -2 PM
BRADBURY-SULLIVAN LGBT CENTER
522 WEST MAPLE STREET
ALLENTOWN, PA
The Fine Art Galleries at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center are hosting an exhibit of art from the new Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be...Coloring Book. The galleries will display enlarged prints from the book June 11-July 13 and invite the community to color them throughout the exhibit. Join us June 16 for a free community coloring party, brunch and artist reception. At this event, copies of the book and 8"x10" prints will be available for purchase.

Many years ago, I met Adrian Shanker at the inspiring National Conference on Gender for youth activists in Washington, DC. More than a decade later, he is now the Director of the LGBT Center in Allentown, PA and reached out to ask me if the center could host a show featuring the new book. I am delighted to attend this event with one of the illustrators who contributed to the book, Julie Novak. If you are anywhere near Allentown, please stop by.

RSVP on FACEBOOK.

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BOOK PARTY

NEXT SUNDAY!
IT'S A PARTY!
I HAVE SNACKS!

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GIRLS WILL BE BOYS WILL BE GIRLS WILL BE...COLORING BOOK

BOOK RELEASE PARTY

SUNDAY, MAY 6
5-7 PM

HUDSON VALLEY LGBTQ CENTER

300 WALL STREET
KINGSTON, NY

MUSICAL PERFORMANCES BY:
RHYS ELLIS
GRACIELA REYES-BONDAR
SAMIHA GOLDEN

INVITE FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK.

MEET THE PERFORMERS:

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Graciela Reyes-Bondar lives with her two mamas and two dogs. She is an award winning gymnast and cheerleader. She aspires to be a singer and veterinarian. She has recorded two songs in a professional studio.

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Rhys Ellis is 10 years old and has been making music since before they could walk or talk. Rhys identifies as gender fabulous and loves Jacinta's coloring books.

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Samiha Golden loves singing, making DIY videos, and performing.

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BRAND NEW BOOK! This updated edition contains new illustrations and questions for contemplation. It features illustrations from the original by Giselle Potter, Michael Wilcock, Julie Novak, Nicole Georges, Kristine Virsis, Shane Ballard, and more. I sought out fresh illustrators (Simi Stone, Nicole Rodrigues, and Jac Dellaria) to bring new concepts to light. I truly love how it turned out, having all these collaborators on my team, infusing the book with their ingenuity and compassion for children.

Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be…Coloring Book is a celebration of gender. In this book, you will meet girls who build drum sets and fix bikes; boys who bake and knit; and all manner of children along the gender spectrum. This book is for all the heroic handsome beauties of the world. The future is gender fabulous.

WINTER WIZARDRY

dear wizards... colorers...

castle dwellers... cloud chasers...

readers... resisters... friends...

It's been a long year. Sometimes it can be a struggle to find meaning in such a chaotic world. I have been taking note of all the ways, small and large, people around me are tuning in and waking up, reaching out, resisting bullies and thieves, and providing comfort and relief to neighbors who are persecuted or who have less. I recently attended a performance of Tony Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day put on by my niece's theater group at Sarah Lawrence College and was moved to tears at the relevance of this monologue by her character Annabella. The play was set in the years leading up to the Nazi Occupation, which is why they chose to perform this play right now.

"Listen, Agnes. I am working-class.
And that really does make a difference.
I know what’s useful, and what isn’t.
I know the price of things,
and I know how to give things up.
I know what it is to struggle –
these tough little lessons
I don't think you people ever learned.
I hold tight, and I do my work.
I make posters for good causes.
Even if they get torn up, I make them,
even though we live in a country
where theory falls silent in the face of fact,
where progress can be reversed overnight,
where the enemy has stolen everything,
our own words from us,
I hold tight, and not to my painting . . . not only to that.
Pick any era in history, Agnes.
What is really beautiful about that era?
The way the rich lived?
No.
The way the poor lived?
No.
The dreams of the Left
are always beautiful.
The imagining of a better world,
the damnation of the present one.
This faith, this luminescent anger,
these alone are worthy of being called human.
These are the Beautiful
that an age produces.
As an artist I am struck to the heart by these dreams.
These visions.
We progress. But at great cost.
How can anyone stand to live
without understanding that much?”

May your dreams be filled with beauty and luminescent anger. XO.

--Jacinta

P.S. Merriam-Webster's word of the year is FEMINISM.

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new paintings

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When I was but a wee child, on my bedroom wall was a purple unicorn kite I bought at Faneuil Hall while visiting my half sister. It was my prized possession. I also sat in front of the woodstove latch-hooking a rainbow rug to match my treasured rainbow sheets and comforter. I have begun documenting some new work on instagram, which is mostly rainbows and unicorns, because who doesn't need a little hope? If you are interested in purchasing any of these paintings, just ask and I can give you more info!

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• art sale • art sale • art sale •

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As always, you can buy books and art through my etsy shop. To celebrate the Albany Airport show, I listed some small works on vintage flashcards from the same collection.

USE THIS TOP SECRET EXCLUSIVE LINKFOR 10% OFF ALL ORIGINAL ART IN MY ETSY SHOP THROUGH DECEMBER 24!

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memento

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Jacinta Bunnell, Cindy Hoose, Erica Hauser,
Stevan Jennis, and Jennifer Maher Coleman

through February 7, 2018
Albany International Airport Concourse Gallery

Cindy Hoose and I have an art show at the Albany Airport! This exhibition features five artists whose work reflects a pictorial affection for unplugged play, relics of American identity, iconic childhood toys, and remnants of the pre-internet classroom. The exhibit is beyond TSA security in the airport's concourse, so you can only see it if you are flying in or out of Albany! Book that flight!

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i luv planned parenthood

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When people of all incomes, sexual orientations, and genders have access to medical care and information that can directly alter the course of their lives, our communities thrive. Planned Parenthood has always been at the forefront of the movement for reproductive justice. For many people, Planned Parenthood is their first entryway to receiving any kind of health care at all. Why the hell would anyone want these services to be restricted?

Jacinta Bunnell and Rafael Perez, former health educators for Planned Parenthood, organized a grassroots media campaign this year where community members (mostly teens!) created hand-painted signs celebrating the contributions Planned Parenthood has made to their lives. You can view the collection of signs on instagram. Create your own sign and tag it #iluvplannedparenthood.

SUMMER SCHEMES

dear castle dwellers...

cloud chasers...readers...

resisters... friends...

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There are a couple opportunities this summer to gather together for art making and viewing. I hope to see you somewhere.

XO.
Jacinta

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hudson library workshops

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the Hudson Library is pleased to present

your turn


collaborative art workshops
with Jacinta Bunnell & Cindy Hoose

51 N. 5th Street
Hudson, NY


ADULT ART-MAKING WORKSHOP
Monday, JULY 17
5-8 PM

TEEN & TWEEN ART-MAKING WORKSHOP
Saturday, JULY 22
1-4 PM

ART OPENING
featuring work from the teaching artists & program participants
Friday, AUGUST 4
5-7 PM

Jacinta Bunnell and Cindy Hoose have been collaborating for over a decade on various artistic projects. They spent one year making art with re-purposed game boards as canvases for their show your turn, dear, taking turns on the works in a manner reminiscent of Exquisite Corpse. Now, they want to share this process with YOU.  
 

Hoose and Bunnell are inviting you to join them in the practice of making communal artwork. In addition to showing a selection of pieces from your turn, dear, they will be hosting two workshops at the Hudson Library to share their process of collaborative art-making. Through a series of exercises and game-inspired prompts, participants will work with one another using a mix of recycled materials and traditional art-making techniques. There is an element of play and adventure in the design of the workshops, where participants take turns, take chances, develop trust, and learn to make art without judgment. NO ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. 

Space is limited. Please register:
smcintosh@hudsonarealibrary.org or 518-828-1792 x101.
 

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memento

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Jacinta Bunnell, Cindy Hoose, Erica Hauser, Stevan Jennis, and Jennifer Maher Coleman
July 14, 2017 - February 7, 2018
Albany International Airport Concourse Gallery

This exhibition features five artists whose work reflects a pictorial affection for unplugged play, relics of American identity, iconic childhood toys, and remnants of the pre-internet classroom. Some artifacts hold deeply personal memories, like Jacinta Bunnell’s archive of her family’s meticulously inscribed game records that form 
the basis of her series 13.  Stevan Jennis’ paintings recall the essentials of classroom learning from a time before the World Wide Web: maps and charts, wooden rulers and film cameras. Erica Hauser’s precise, graphic renderings of retro signs, architectural fragments and dreamy mid-century cars cross archetypes of a certain American era with a flat geometry that ultimately keeps them in the palpable past.

The exhibit will be beyond TSA security in the airport's concourse, so you can only see it if you are flying in or out of Albany. For more information, please contact
 the Art & Culture Program at 518.242.2241 or arts@albanyairport.com.

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i luv planned parenthood

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When people of all incomes, sexual orientations, genders, and backgrounds have access to medical care and information that can directly alter the course of their lives, our communities thrive. Planned Parenthood has always been at the forefront of the movement for reproductive justice. For many people, Planned Parenthood is their first entryway to receiving any kind of health care at all.

Jacinta Bunnell and Rafael Perez, former health educators for Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley, are organizing a grassroots media campaign entitled #iluvplannedparenthood where people create iconic and bold hand-painted signs celebrating the contributions Planned Parenthood has made to their lives and their communities. You can view the collection of signs on their instagram page. Create your own sign and tag it #iluvplannedparenthood.

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As always, you can support me directly by buying books and art through my etsy store. In preparation for the Albany Airport show, I listed some small works painted on vintage flashcards from the same collection that made its way to the Albany Airport show.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Just a reminder of a few events coming up: one in the Hudson Valley and one in the Bay Area. I hope you can come. Send your friends. I would love to meet them.

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gendertastic coloring book making

I will be offering this workshop as part of Meadowfest. This Fall Book Fest & Barn Dance will include readings, workshops and a barn dance.


Are you frustrated with the lack of gender-fluid, feminist and queer visibility in youth media? Do you love coloring books? Here is a place to let your visions for a better, more inclusive world get back at all the fairy tales that have hurt your feelings. This workshop is like spending time in the craft cabin at your favorite feminist summer camp. Using found images from pop culture, you will transform these ordinary images into your own gender-tastic coloring book. Don't miss the chance to make friends, cut-n-paste with a real glue stick and change the direction of pop media.Age 11-adult.


A barn dance with Mike + Ruthy's Family Band will end the day. The event will take place at High Meadow School located at 3643 Main Street, Stone Ridge, NY. More info and updates about the specific time of the workshop on Facebook.

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coloring book skylark & art sale
e.m. wolfman bookstore
oakland, california

WHO: Coloring book renegades Jacinta Bunnell, Claire Siepser & Crystal Vielula.

WHAT: An evening of political play, art, DIY mischief, camp, gluesticks and coloring.

HOW: The artists will bring coloring pages from their own books and other silly coloring books. Come and color, build exquisite corpses or make collages. Let’s make a big radical colorable exquisite corpse or a 100-page Franken-book. We bring the crayons, paper and glue stick. You bring your imagination.

Long before coloring books for adults were a craze, artists have been creating unique coloring projects which provide humor and cultural commentary for people of all ages. Folks like Jacinta Bunnell, Crystal Vielula and Claire Siepser explored queer identity, politics, feminism, DIY fashion and other themes as far back as 2001. Join these artists as they collaborate with participants to assemble all sorts of coloring books into unexpected declarations of the coloring book of the future.

A pop-up art sale will ensue since the artists will have several original paintings and prints available for one evening only. $10 covers materials and snacks. Invite your friends on Facebook and help us spread the word.

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etsy
My etsy store is open day and evening and Steven's dog might just be your cashier. I can't tell you how important it is to buy direct from me because when the giant corporate amazonian box stores sell my books, I get about thirty cents.

t-shirts
There are some new t-shirts and totes in my online store.

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I have a new tumblr. Let's follow each other! My new fabulous intern Alanna Rebbeck helped me set it up.

XOXO
jacinta bunnell

COLORING BOOK SKYLARKS

I've had this dream of planning a conference of oddball and kooky coloring book makers. It started immediately after I found Claire Siepser and Crystal Vielula's coloring books at Bluestockings Bookstore a few years ago. It seemed a Herculean task to pull off a whole conference, so we're starting with a one day event in the Bay Area because that's where they both live. There will be no mandalas or decorative plants to color with meditation pencils. If you live near there, I hope you can come. Send your friends. I would love to meet them.

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coloring book skylark & art sale
wednesday, october 12
7:00-9:30 pm

e.m. wolfman general interest small bookstore
oakland, california

WHO: Coloring book renegades Jacinta Bunnell, Claire Siepser, Crystal Vielula and you.

WHAT: An evening of political play, art, DIY mischief, camp, gluesticks and coloring.

HOW: The artists will bring coloring pages from their own books and other silly coloring books. Come and color, build exquisite corpses or make collages. Let’s make a big radical colorable exquisite corpse or a 100-page Franken-book. We bring the crayons, paper and glue stick. You bring your imagination.

Long before coloring books for adults were a craze, artists have been creating unique coloring projects which provide humor and cultural commentary for people of all ages. Folks like Jacinta Bunnell, Crystal Vielula and Claire Siepser explored queer identity, politics, feminism, DIY fashion and other themes as far back as 2001. Join these artists as they share their most recent work and collaborate with participants to assemble all sorts of coloring books into unexpected declarations of the coloring book of the future.

A pop-up art sale will ensue since the artists will have several original paintings and prints available for one evening only.

$10 covers materials and snacks.

Crystal Vielula graduated from CCA in Fashion Design. She is the author of Urban Animals Street Style Coloring Book and Farm Fashion Coloring Book. In her public murals she aims to promote gay pride and the acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

Claire Siepser is the author of The Coloring Book of Unfortunate Situations and The Coloring Book of Terrible Decisions. She has fancy degrees in art buried under a stack of paper somewhere. She lives in Oakland and likes puddle jumping, bonfires, well-sharpened pocket knives and making things better. 
 

Jacinta Bunnell is the author of The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book and Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon. She lives in Upstate New York. 
 

Invite your friends on Facebook and help us spread the word.


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gendertastic coloring book making 

Are you frustrated with the lack of gender-fluid, feminist and queer visibility in youth media? Do you love coloring books? Here is a place to let your visions for a better, more inclusive world get back at all the fairy tales that have hurt your feelings. 

This workshop is like spending time in the craft cabin at your favorite feminist summer camp (does this exist?!). Using found images from pop culture, you will transform these ordinary images into your own gender-tastic coloring book. Because so much of youth media does not include transgender, queer, gender-fluid and feminist characters and ideas, we will deliberately work to change this. Don't miss the chance to make friends, cut-n-paste with a real glue stick, and change the direction of pop media. No longer will there be a shocking lack of narratives for gender outlaws!  Age 9-adult.
 

This workshop is part of Meadowfest at High Meadow School. This Fall Book Fest & Barn Dance will include readings by noted Hudson Valley authors of books for children and young adults, workshops featuring authors and illustrators and a Barn Dance with local, world-class fiddle music by Mike + Ruthy's Family Band. Meet some of their favorite authors, get books signed, take workshops in everything from building dollhouses with Giselle Potter (This Is My Dollhouse) to creating seasonal poetry with Julie Fogliano (And Then It’s Spring). The theme of the event is Turning Fantasy Into Reality. Wayfinder Experience has designed a literary walk populated with famous fantasy characters to help create a magical environment. The Harry Potter Apothecary will be open for business and brews, potions and spells will be available. 

The Golden Notebook will be onsite for book sales. The Meadow Cafe will be serving lunch with delectables from the Full Moon Resort and the Applestone Meat Company. The Barn Dance with Mike + Ruthy's Family Band (featuring Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, Lyn Hardy and David Levine) will end the day. Caller Ruth Ungar will teach easy square, line and circle dances. The event will take place at High Meadow School located at 3643 Main St, Stone Ridge, NY. More info and updates about the specific time of the workshop on Facebook.


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etsy
My etsy store is open day and evening and Steven's dog might just be your cashier. I can't tell you how important it is to buy direct from me because when the giant corporate amazonian box stores sell my books, I get about thirty cents.

tumblr
I have a new tumblr. Let's follow each other! My new fabulous intern Alanna Rebbeck helped me set it up. And, hey, she edits a very cool publication called IDEAL and is looking for 200 word submissions. I wrote something and it was super fun and challenging to write only 200 words. Check it out here and send something in! It's going to be so fantastic.


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art

This is a print from a splendorous show I recently had the honor to be part of called Secret City. For the show I made 30" x 40" giclee prints of my drawings and they hung from the rafters at Bearsville Theater for the day. If you would like to purchase one of these prints, hit me up! They are $200-$400 for one-of-a-kind giclee prints and would look gorgeous on a wall in your house or office!
 

That's all for now! Thanks for always being there!

XOXO
jacinta bunnell

SUMMER SCHEMES

Dear Friends,

How are you? I may not write very often, but I do think of you quite a bit. Are you keeping cool with some summer snacks? I was recently gifted an ice cream machine and I have fond memories of making homemade ice cream on the porch with my brother, but now I'm allergic to all the ingredients in ice cream so what should I do with this machine? Any recipe ideas?

I've got a few exciting summer updates: two special events on the horizon! One is for the east coasters and the other for the west coasters...


the secret city: woodstock

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sunday, july 31
12 noon
bearsville theater
291 tinker street, woodstock, ny

Once a year Obie-award winning The Secret City brings its lively caravan to WOODSTOCK, NY. I am so excited to be the resident artist this year! I have ants in my pants! I can't wait until you see what clandestine, magical world awaits you at The Secret City. Seriously, the first time I attended, my mind was blown.

The Secret City is the brainchild of impresario Chris Wells. It is part tent revival, part ceremony, part salon. With a guest roster that has included Rosanne Cash, Simi Stone, Taylor Mac, Jomama Jones, Jennifer Miller and Justin Vivian Bond, The Secret City occupies a unique place in the heart of NY’s and LA’s (and now Ulster County’s) artistic communities.

For the Woodstock gathering they will present musical guest/former Soul Train dancer Eric Redd, visual artist Jacinta Bunnell (that's me! holy moly!), roller derby troupe The Hudson Valley Horrors and food extraordinaire Lagusta Luscious.

Suggested donation is $15, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Free childcare and art lessons for kids are provided. Guests are encouraged to bring some food to share at coffee hour and to dress for fun!

The new drawings I will be showing are a collaboration between me and my step-father Ed, who supplies me with score sheets from 13, a rummy card game brought back to our family in the 1970s from my grandparents' retirement community. I then add color and pattern to Ed’s tally sheets. These pieces are getting enlarged RIGHT NOW and will provide the backdrop for The Secret City dancers, singers and story-tellers. My fun parents will be on hand doing demonstrations of the game before and after the show.

Read more about the event in this month's Chronogram.


your turn, dear: oakland

jacinta bunnell + cindy hoose

a collaborative art game : 52 paintings in 52 weeks

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august 2-30
farley's east
33 grand avenue, oakland, CA

After two successful showings on the east coast, we are excited to bring these paintings to California! Cindy and I played with our art to create the 52 pieces in your turn, dear, taking turns on each painting in a manner reminiscent of Exquisite Corpse. These paintings direct attention to the reasons we play games: to explore the world imaginatively and to connect with each other in the spirit of joy and sentimentality.

We set up a Facebook event with more information. If you live too far to attend, we would be super appreciative if you invited your Bay Area friends to check out the show at Farley's East in August.

Shout out to my BFF Amy Furr who lets us store paintings in her "California closets" for months on end and to my homeslice Nate Homchick who is hanging the show for us!


in other news...

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My etsy store is open day and evening and Steven's dog might just be your cashier and please buy direct from me because when the giant corporate amazonian mega-monopo-holics (who probably don't even recycle) sell my books for me, I get about thirty cents.

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This is a painting my pal Mary Kirk commissioned me to do. I love personal commissions so much because you get to tell me all about yourself and your likes and favorite colors and words and then voila! I make a painting with you in mind.

Earlier this year, I got interviewed by Rebecca Dolber. Check out her awesome blog where she interviews a different artist each month.

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Last year I had the honor of conducting interviews with fans and musicians for a documentary about the 20th anniversary of Natalie Merchant's first solo record, Tigerlliy. It was a memorable, fun and moving experience. The above photo is of Simi Stone and me at UPAC.

Special thanks to my good buddy Katharine from Drop Forge & Tool in Hudson, NY who helped me write this newsletter. If you haven't already seen the amazing things they are up to, check them out! I have been to several performances, art shows and maker's nights and have never been disappointed.

That's all for now! Thanks for sticking around!

XOXO
jacinta

FEBRUARY EVENTS

Gender-defying coloring book crafternoons in CALIFORNIA

Join Jacinta Bunnell in Oakland (February 13) and San Francisco (February 15). Don't miss the chance to make friends, cut-n-paste with a real glue stick, and change the direction of pop media. No longer will there be a shocking lack of narratives for gender outlaws! We will make truths to set people free. No artistic experience necessary. Rated: PG-13.

Fun-a-day in HIGH FALLS, NY

Each day for the month of January I made art and sometimes I was tired, really sad or grieving but I held myself to it anyway and learned something about commitment, practice and the meditative nature of drawing. I documented all 31 days on Instagram. There will be a Fun-a-Day show celebrating all the folks in the Hudson Valley who participated in this project (20-30 artists) on February 12 at Barnabas in High Falls from 6-9 pm.

Migraine essay

If you or someone you know suffers with migraines, you may find this essay about what I learned helpful.


XO
Jacinta Bunnell

SO YOU SAY YOU HAVE MIGRAINES?

Around ten years old, I started getting debilitating migraines. Awfully early in life to cope with chronic pain. I have experienced a sprained ankle, broken fingers, concussions and back spasms. None of these pains could even be 20% of the pain of a migraine. Migraine pain is what my friend Natalie calls “adult pain”, the kind that should only be reserved for a grown human who has the capacity to find resources for themselves and be in moderate to complete control of their environment. Migraines are not headaches. They are the worst broken bone you’ve ever imagined, but you are also getting punched in the head in a boxing match you are scared to be in and forgot you registered for. And the room you are in is moving like a fast tunnel at a fun house and you need to throw up but it’s not that easy to do because it all hurts and you can’t get up to go to the bathroom because you feel slightly paralyzed or at least like you are having a stroke. And also while you are getting boxed nearly to death, occasionally an iron vice tightens a little more on your head and it makes you sweat, but then the next minute you are shaking from being so cold that ten blankets won’t help. Let’s not forget you also have what feels like food poisoning. But really, it’s worse than that. It’s the worst labor pains you’ve ever had, only it is taking place within your head, the birthplace of all your thoughts and feelings, so you can no longer think clearly, and you can’t see straight.

These are my migraines. Every migraine sufferer has a different story, but I am certain they are all straight out of Hell. Believe them when they tell you. They are not exaggerating. From the time I started getting migraines, I learned quickly that most people get quiet in the face of disability. Migraines are disabling. It’s too hard and too confusing to know what to do for someone, so we default to a silent prairie of no solutions. The suggestions given to most are simply: go to bed, turn out the lights, throw up in this pan beside your bed.

Decades of pain carried me from childhood to adulthood. I accepted this as my destiny. Then one summer, I heard an NPR interview with a doctor who operates a migraine clinic in Baltimore. I listened to it over and over in disbelief, maybe three times in a row. Dr. David Buchholz had studied all these migraine sufferers for three decades. THREE ENTIRE DECADES OF RESEARCH! What have you done consistently for 30 years? This one saint, this human miracle, spent thirty years of his life studying the causes and cures of migraines. He took in all these people and studied them closely, took notes, paid attention, believed them so fully that he made it his life’s work. I then immediately bought his book, How To Heal Your Headache, The 1-2-3 Approach, and began following his suggested protocol, a very strict diet cutting out all coconut, nuts, soy, lima beans, vinegars, cheese, fresh-baked bread, chocolate, bananas and a huge long list of other delicious foods I had been eating every day of my life. I cut them out ALL AT ONCE.

And my migraines got better. Immediately better. Within days of being on this very restrictive diet, I had zero migraines. This, after having 2-3 every week. A few weeks on the diet, still no headaches. Months later, no migraines. On some level, I trusted that it was working but I had to be sure. As a test, I began introducing the trigger foods back into my diet one by one. Within 24 hours of each attempt, I got a migraine. I tried chocolate. I tried almonds. I tried bananas. I ended up with a migraine after each attempt. And now, it’s ten years of being nearly migraine-free because I stick strictly to this diet. No, it is not only food that causes migraine. There is heat and exertion and smells and stress and barometric pressure. I have found that I also need to get enough sleep and stay away from paint fumes, chemicals, air fresheners and perfumes. These odors can cause immediate headaches. But much of the simple cure is food avoidance.

My life is better. Hugely better. I found more time to create art and travel with ease because I am not consumed with debilitating pain a huge part of every day. I rarely have to call in sick to work or cancel plans because of pain. I do oftentimes wish I did not have to explain my food situation when I am invited to someone’s house for dinner. And I beg to never have to hear ‘”you sure are sensitive” ever again. But what makes it bearable are the friends who ask for my list of migraine triggers before they invite me over and the friends who stick up for me when people roll their eyes at my diet. There is a special spot reserved in my heart for the friend who sent me Joan Didion’s essay about migraines.

There is a list of migraine trigger foods below. Depending on how severe your migraines are, you may be able to simply cut down on the amount of these foods you eat. My most solid recommendation is to read How To Heal Your Headache, The 1-2-3 Approach because it explains what a migraine is and validates for you that the special Hell you go through is very real. Occasionally just to feel normal, I will go outside of the boundaries of the diet and eat some Chinese take-out, peanut butter or vinegary salad dressing and I expect to get at least a bad headache. Over time, I have developed an arsenal of tactics to rid myself of the pain as quickly as possible. I will share these in case you or a loved one suffers from migraines. My only hope is that this helps someone somewhere. Thanks for reading.

 

WHAT TO DO AT THE FIRST SIGNS OF A HEADACHE OR MIGRAINE:

-Take two droppers full of skullcap tincture.

-Drink a quarter cup of coffee.

-Get acupuncture.

-Drink a strong cup of chamomile and mint tea.

-Apply Ultra Strength Tiger Balm or peppermint essential oil to your head and neck.

-Chew on strong peppermint or cinnamon gum.

 

WHAT TO DO IF THE ABOVE DOES NOT WORK:

-Take 2 ibuprofin every 4 hours with plain crackers.

-Call in sick to everything.

-Drink a glass of cold, plain seltzer.

-Put ice packs on your head and neck and lie down.

-Take Dramamine or another anti-nausea medicine.

-Take 2 peppermint capsules or drink 6 drops of peppermint oil in water.

 

FOODS/MIGRAINE TRIGGERS TO AVOID:

Chocolate

Cheese: avoid all cheeses except American, cream and cottage cheese.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Chinese/Indian/Thai restaurants; Accent, Adobo and other seasoning products; MSG may be labeled as hydrolyzed vegetable/soy/plant protein.

Cans, boxes or cartons of broth--most have yeast, onion, mushrooms or MSG.

Certain dairy products: avoid yogurt, sour cream and buttermilk.

Nuts

Meats: avoid aged, canned, cured, marinated, tenderized or those containing nitrates or nitrites: hot dogs, bacon, salami, bologna. Avoid wild game.

Certain fruits and juices: avoid pineapples, raw tomatoes, coconut, bananas, raisins, craisins, dried fruits, red plums, canned figs, passion fruit, avocados and citrus peels.

Vegetables: avoid lima, fava, lentil and navy beans; pea pods, tomatoes, sauerkraut and onions.

Bread products: avoid bread products less than one day old.

Aspartame (Nutrasweet)

Artificial colors

Nitrates & Sulfites

Maltodextrin

“Natural Flavors”

Nutritional Yeast

Vinegars

Fermented Foods

Mushrooms

Soy: Tofu, Veganaise, Tempeh, Miso

Alcohol (especially wine)

Magnesium Supplements

Kombucha

Rhubarb

Flavored seltzers

Oils: coconut, walnut, peanut, soybean

Ginseng

SOME FOODS THAT ARE OK TO EAT: pine nuts, salad, almost all vegetables, rice, pasta, seeds, beans, corn, free-range organic meat, potatoes, scallions, garlic, leeks, almost all fruits, sunflower butter, carob, oats, squash, butter, peas, milk, cream cheese, ginger and chick peas. As an excellent migraine preventative, take evening primrose oil every day.

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