We had the good fortune of connecting with Lora Barnhiser and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lora, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
There are lots of women, especially mothers, that tend to blame society for pressure they feel. Pressure to keep an even keel on both ends of family and career. I don’t fault them for this claim. Perhaps that truly is where they feel the most weight. I, however, create the pressure on my own. I’m greedy. I always want it all. Somehow, I get a little picture in my head of something I want or think I can do. It becomes an itch that I must scratch. Wife, mother, Art teacher and artist. All of these are all roles in my life that I have chosen to take on. Gone are the days when my biggest struggle was balancing when to grade Art projects vs when to prepare for an Art Market. I now have potty training twins and a completely new teaching platform to juggle. Covid19 has of course, put a twist on any sort of balance I had going. I have 16 years in the classroom, and only a small percentage of that experience could have prepared me for teaching Art online. Yes, finding a balance is a struggle, but I see it as a continuous sliding scale. Some days one role just gets more attention than other days. Every now and then all roles call for equal attention, and those are the days I tend to feel the weight. I just remind myself that I wanted all of this. And, it’s true. I wouldn’t feel complete if I were to eliminate any one of these aspects of my life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I sometimes wish I had a particular style or medium I was known for. Many artists choose a subject matter or media that they focus on and therefore become recognizable. I have always had trouble with that because I’m interested in too many things. My work tends to come from stories that end in…”well, one thing led to another and…here ya go!” I could possibly be most recognized for working on small pieces of wood. This has been my preferred surface of choice for the past five years or so. The reused wood is to blame for my business name: ReGrain Studio. I enjoy using wood that other’s are tossing away. I find the challenge of working with a variable size, shape and porosity of wood really motivating. Those variables usually shape what becomes of the piece. Many of my pieces are small; deck of cards small. Working small allows me to make many pieces quickly and helps serve my forever changing taste of art styles and media. As for style, lately I’ve returned to an old friend: black and white. Working with black on white presents more challenges I enjoy. Describing what you want with limited range of value is not always easy. You only have two choices so you need to make them count! I’m currently interested in the opposite of my norm: working very large and perhaps creating some black and white murals for my next art venture.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Let’s pretend Covid doesn’t exist for a minute. Stops to make: -Oak Street Murals in Coronado Historic District, and other murals through out our city. It’s free and there’s lot of great art. -The top of South Mountain at dusk. It’s a great way to see the expanse of our city and also get a feel for the natural habitat that surrounds our valley. -Take in some local tunes at the Rhythm room, Chars, Valley Bar or if we’re lucky, a porch concert also in the Coronado Historic District. Maybe it would be the weekend of one of many festivals or concerts in the valley. Mc.Dowell Mountain Music Festival is a great one! -Visit the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) in Scottsdale. It’s one of a kind and very interactive. – Brewery-hop! We have so many and each one has something great to offer. We love The Wren House, OHSO and AZ Wilderness. Many more have just opened, haven’t had a chance to get to them yet.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have not had one single person or mentor that has been my champion, but many little bumps of encouragement from friends, family and local business owners. Here’s my list, you can cue the music in just a few minutes… My mother and father (both creatives), my husband (supportive of my artistic decisions), Cindy Datch of Made Art Boutique, Lisa Pauling of Be You Jewelry Design, Katherine Proffitt of Smooth Brew, Ashlee Molina of the Phoenix Flea, Nicole Royse of Royse Contemporary, Rochelle Anderson, and countless customers and art collectors. The creativity and energy that my students bring to my life also serve as great caffeine to my artistic diet.