My storytelling debut with Oral Fixation


In April of 2013, I made my live storytelling debut on the stage with Oral Fixation, Dallas's premiere storytelling event. The theme was "Miss the Boat" and my story was one from my adolescence, featuring my inimitable Mom, a cruise ship and short-term stepfather gone mad. I've been writing most of my life and performed before audiences before, but this was the first time I'd shared one of my own stories in a theatre. It was a terrific experience. I was even more delighted when I was selected as one of the performers for the Best of Season ll show, the first of Oral Fixation's shows held at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. I am so very happy that Mom was able to see both shows.

Oral Fixation just released the video of my story, a year and half later. I wish I could share it with Mom once more. This - and all the stories yet to come! - is for you, Mom. xxx


Holding on


2.10.14 - update: Mom's "enhanced" obituary is finally online. The delay was on's end, not ours, which upsets me to no end. But I hear Mom say, "Let it go, Gretchen. It's not important!" There is a guest book; if you have a memory or thought of Mom, please share it. 

Hello friends, 
I thought I was holding on pretty well until today. Today was brutal and I know that I, and everyone else who loves Mom so much, have many more hard days to come. 
So many of you have written to me with kind thoughts and memories and I have not yet been able to respond to all of you. Please know that I will in time, but until then, those thoughts and memories have meant a great deal to me and my family. 
If you plan on coming to the service or memorial tomorrow, please don't feel obligated to wear the customary funereal black. Mom liked colors. If you have a pair of turquoise stretch pants, they would be an excellent fashion choice. ;- ) Also, if you have an original Annie Byrd crocheted hat, please wear it. If you, by chance, happen to have a completely politically incorrect, oversized fur coat, then by all means wear it. Also, if you happen to have a pair of sneakers with rubber heels that light up when you walk, wear them too!
I had planned on spending the day making Annie Byrd art to share tomorrow, but in the end, I did not. So, instead, I will share with you a very short, short story I wrote about Mom a few years ago after an outing to Central Market. 



Christmas in Plano

In the summer of 2011, Melissa and David Loder presented me with a project: to help them bring their mental vision into living color. They had an idea of a Christmas village; I put it on paper. Then they went to work. Unlike the homeowners of most exceptional holiday yard displays, the Loders do it all themselves: cutting, building, painting, glittering, lighting and installing. They are tirelessly enthusiastic and genuinely generous people. 

Last year, they wanted a whimsical train. I drew it and David and Melissa brought it to life, complete with a working steam stack. 

This year I designed and built two paper mache sculpture reindeer for David and Melissa. Who would have thought that as soon as they were hung from the tree limbs we'd have a record-breaking ice storm in North Texas? Still, they survived for several weeks until just recently, when the pink lady succumbed to the rigors of an unusually harsh December. I will repair her and she'll be back on display next year. 

If you're in the mood for Christmas light-looking, be sure to include the Deerfield neighborhood in Plano. It's worth the drive. The Loders' display will be active until the first of January. (You can see some of the original sketches on my FB artist page, The Gretchen Show.)




Holiday happenings

Holiday greetings! 


This weekend is the 4th annual Christmas Art Market & Open House here at my home in Oak Cliff. Fun people, art, wine, on-site calligraphy - please stop by and join us! More info   can be found here and on the Facebook Event page.

Several of my other creative friends and family also have upcoming events you might like to check out. Tomorrow night is the 10th Anniversary Christmas Jam Concert by Acoustic Kitchen. This is one of my very favorite holiday events and the fact that Milo, Rachel & Scarlett Deering are close family members is only a part of the reason! They are fantastic musicians and also fun ones. The concert is at Poor David's Pub and the tamale guy will be there again this year, so get there early for a good seat and a plate o' hot tamales! The special guests this year include a world class yodeler; he is terrific. Yodeling is so cool. 

My friend, artist, printmaker and owner of Paper Arts (one of my favorite shops in Dallas), Terri Thoman is having an Open House on location at Paper Arts on Friday, Dec. 13 and a holiday sale starting on Dec. 14. Terri is raising funds for a residency in Italy next year (yes, I'm envious!), so her store is also stocked with lots of her beautiful artwork for purchase. If you love art & handmade paper, you must visit. But be forewarned: this small store is loaded with temptations, including the house dog, Miss Pearl. Tell Terri I sent you!

Nicole Stewart Schlesinger and Oral Fixation present another evening of terrific storytelling Monday, Dec. 16 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. This month's theme: When In Rome. I'm an alumni of this great show. True tales told in a beautiful venue. More info can be found here. 

And finally, Theatre Britain's 2014 Christmas Panto continues its run until Dec. 29th at the Cox Building Playhouse in Plano. This year's panto is The Three Little Pigs. Take your kids and go to the panto - it's terrific fun! I've created poster artwork for Theatre Britain for the past five years and must say I love these people. If you go to a performance, tell them Gretchen sent you! 

Halloween isn't over until Brünhilde says it is

The costume bar is high at Chuck & George's annual Halloween extravaganza. In past years, I've been a mermaid, Cruella Deville and a forest dryad or, as one partygoer named me, "Goddess of Autumn".  

This year I was the Valkyrie Brünhilde. She was a smashing success. My favorite photo comment on FB came from a male friend who wrote, "two too tonic". My only regret is that I didn't think beforehand to carry a mini-recorder with Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries preset on it so I could have announced my entrance.



Stuff I've made - or made better!

garage sale coffee table redo.  

I've started a flickr set with pics of stuff I've made, painted, recycled, upcycled, refinished, etc... that aren't a part of my usual artworks. Some were done for clients, some for the newspaper column I used to write for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette titled "Art Smart", some for events and some just for me! Some are oldish, some are new. (A few of the pics are also on the oddjobs page of The Gretchen Show.)  Click here to check it out! I'll be adding to it regularly. 


Oral Fixation: Best of Season 2

I am very excited to be one of the storytellers selected for Oral Fixation's Season 3 opening show: The Best of Season 2. Here is a cool little preview video with short clips of each of the "Best Of" storytellers. (I know; the reading glasses have to go!) I performed my story initially back in April for the 'Miss the Boat' show; here's my storyteller profile from that performance. 

Also exciting is Oral Fixation's new venue this season: Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House. The opening show is September 30th. Click here for more show and ticket info. See you there! 


Naked dreams

So I've been having some of those walking-around-naked-but-no-one-notices dreams. Last night I was all over the place naked - taking a tour of a local director's new production offices, in the bank, shopping. I felt a bit uncomfortable that I was nude, but, hey, no one seemed to be paying any attention. Then I walked past Alan Alda leaning up against a wall, perusing a magazine. As I passed him, he said, in that deadpan Hawkeye voice, "You know Gretchen, a little mystery is much more enticing."

Don't ask; I have no idea.  

Three little pigs

The creation of the art for The Three Little Pigs marks my fifth anniversary with Theatre Britain.   I've created theatre posters for five pantos and their most recent summer production, Albert's Anthology. I am honored to be a part of their creative family. 

If you aren't familiar with panto, a traditional British theatrical production performed during the Christmas holidays, TB has kindly provided a summary here.  Theatre Britain has developed a loyal following during the past ten or so years that they have been producing original pantos here in the DFW area. You should GO this year. They are a hoot! Bonus: they sell British snacks. Not many theatre concessions stock Roast Chicken Crisps and Cadbury Fingers.  

You can see all of the posters I've created for TB here.


Finally... it's showtime!


Phew. I created the art - the gold goddess on stage - for my revamped website almost two years ago. It's taken me that long - in fits and starts - to get here. There's still tweaking to be done and images and info to be added, but the new Gretchen Show is finally ready for its premier.

For five years, I've done my art blogging for The Gretchen Show on wordpress. That site will remain live for the time being, but since I now have a blog platform integrated into my website, I'll be transitioning to sharing updates and news and fun stuff here. I still love wordpress. In fact, I have three other wordpress blogs: 

    • Half Agony, Half Hope - my illustrated memoir of thwarted love
    • 52 at 52 - a year-long creative project featuring 52 self-portraits during my 52nd year
    • Annie Byrd - all about my fabulous and funny mom

    Check them out to see my art in different forms. (52 at 52 and Annie Byrd aren't live yet but will be soon. I'll post here when they are.) 

    On a technical note, I used Squarespace to build and host The Gretchen Show. There was definitely a learning curve creating my own website, but I highly recommend Squarespace for the variety of customizable templates, affordable pricing and excellent customer service. 

    Welcome to my new ethereal home.  Please step behind the curtain and have a look round. If you have any comments, I'd love to hear them. 

    - Gretchen  

    July 2013