We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Polacheck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When I had a brand-new bachelor’s degree and a lot to prove, I felt honored to let my career dictate my life. After 20 years — fulfilling, then depleting — I dropped out and moved to New Mexico to study sustainable building and work for an adobe construction company. During that reset, I recognized that I could architect for myself a totally different rhythm of living: working just enough to cover the bills, and preserving plenty of other time to indulge unrelated and unpredictable interests.
I returned to Arizona, landed some manageable contract work, slapped a Fitbit on my wrist, and resolved to log some purely recreational steps almost every day. Hiking led to admiring the subtle changes in desert plant life along the way. I noticed when a leafy street was pruned, or remote creosote bushes were dropping their curlicued old branches to the ground. I saw art in the raw materials, and I took a few interesting pieces home to see what I could do with them. Now my best-balanced days include some work, walking, getting a latte, and sitting on the living room floor winding yarn around my desert treasures.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Although I’ve minimized my lifestyle considerably (wardrobe, technology, martinis at home versus out), there are times that my serious-face contract work doesn’t pay every bill. But I don’t want to promote my Arizona Branch artwork too overtly for the same reason I don’t want to find a date online: I’d rather love happened organically, in the wild. I don’t want to “sell” you a branch for your piano or bookshelf or the space above a door inside your house. I’d rather you see a shape or color combo that just feels like it’s meant to live with you.
You know what would be fun to develop, though? Some large-scale commissions. I have some massive branches waiting to be customized and suspended from exposed industrial ductwork, and five full-bodied tumbleweeds fit to be beaded or painted and strewn in corners of midcentury-modern homes. I’m also scheming ways to link multiple wrapped branches in parallel to create modular wall works.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Funny you would ask this. One of my BFFs from high school will be in town later this month, but only for a couple of days while the hubster is attending a conference. It would be fun to hike the three-mile loop at Papago Park, grab a lavender-rose latte at Regroup Coffee + Bicycles, rent a motorized “donut boat” on Tempe Town Lake, and then have an early dinner at Fellow Osteria. Or we might need to just pick some one-off stuff, like visiting Hazel & Violet Letterpress to see Nancy Hill’s collections of type and human-powered presses. Or looking at small mixed-media panels by John Randall Nelson inside Gebert Contemporary, then taking each other’s pictures in front of his 26-foot-tall “One-Eyed Jack” rabbit sculpture on the corner of Marshall Way and Indian School Road. Or walking the canal starting at splashy Arizona Falls, east to downtown Scottsdale or west through the Arcadia neighborhood (I have latte destinations in mind in either direction).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom is a lifelong artist in Wisconsin. She took me to lots of area art fairs, first to browse, and eventually to help her exhibit. This early-life immersion in the world of handmade goods cultivated a respect for many sorts of makers and cottage industries, and for this sensitivity and her ongoing encouragement, I’m so thankful. Locally and right this minute, I’m grateful to Karin Fellman of Blue Buddha Collective in Scottsdale and Deanna Zouari of Woods & Whites in Phoenix for the inclusive opportunities they’re providing to emerging artists and makers.
LisaPolacheck_tumbleweed.jpg photo credit: Kristina Paider