Sunday, March 27, 2016

Introducing our Monkey Magician Collection for Kids

Rover the Bear and Janusian Gallery are pleased to announce the launch of their "Monkey Magician" collection, available via Zazzle. It features an adorable cartoon illustration of a monkey magician on stage, complete with black hat, cards, rabbit, and white doves:

In addition to nursery / children's bedroom d├ęcor, print-on-demand party invitations and supplies are also available.

- Lynne Sabean

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Introducing Our "ClimbNH" Collection for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Janusian Gallery is pleased to announce the launch of our ClimbNH collection, available exclusively on Zazzle. This sporty collection features silhouette illustrations of rock climbers scaling formations in the shape of the state of New Hampshire and the phrase "ClimbNH". No wonder we're called "The Granite State." Like to climb other places? We have some products that are not location-specific, too.

- Lynne Sabean

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The Backstory: Our Easter Promo

The backstory can best be explained by this Facebook post:

Life as a print-on-demand designer: We are doing a "candy for breakfast" promo this AM across Twitter and Tumblr, featuring our jellybean photos and mandalas. Wife explains campaign to Husband, noting that Easter is the only morning where it's even remotely socially acceptable to have candy for breakfast. She adds that ours are even better because they're 100% calorie-free. Husband responds incredulously, "They ARE?" Wife gently explains that's because they're ****just pictures***, as Husband sleepily heads upstairs for his first cup of coffee for the day. Happy Easter, all!

This photo by Janusian artist Lynne Guimond Sabean is also featured on our "Jellybeans" collection, available at Zazzle:

Happy Easter from Janusian Gallery!

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The Backstory: Be There Invitations Easter Promo

The above photo was shot several years ago by Janusian Gallery artist Lynne Guimond Sabean at a Buddhist center in Newmarket, NH. It has been favorably received at juried photography shows and even hangs prominently in our own house. It is also the featured artwork in our "White Lily" invitation series at Zazzle.

Happy Easter from Janusian Gallery and Be There Invitations.

- Lynne Sabean

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Janusian P.O.V.

For millennia, people around the world have been fascinated by dual-visaged deities such as the Roman god Janus, who inspired the name of our gallery. Images of these two-faced gods -- some predating the invention of written language language -- have been unearthed by archaeologists around the world. Just what is it about these gods that we find so universally and continually compelling? Into which basic human instincts do they tap? And what do these images, which bridge different times and cultures, have to say about our own nature and the human experience?

It All Depends on Your Point of View

Over time, the term "two-faced" has taken on negative connotations such as hypocrisy and dishonesty. Unfortunately, these seem to overshadow more positive aspects of the term, such as divergence and the reconciliation of seeming opposites. The dual-visaged gods, including Janus, are frequently described as having two faces, one which looks forward and one which looks back. But others have noted that both faces actually look straight out from the present moment. While the two faces do not directly look at each other, their broad gazes may still meet. While the gods seem to represent duality, their wide perspectives actually absorb opposites. They remind us that nothing is entirely one way or another and multiple views are actually sides of the same thing.

Because they transcend duality, the two-faced gods stimulate the creative process. As artists, we find this particularly compelling. In earlier posts, we discussed "Janusian thinking", the process of holding opposite ideas together in one's mind at the same time to unlock hidden insights and reach a new point of view. This activity is remarkably similar to the meditative process, where one suspends thought / judgment and rests in the present.

Integrating Seemingly-Opposing Forces

The two-faced gods remind us to adopt a wholistic perspective of our lives. Duality exists in part because we categorize it as such. Janusian thinking not only helps alleviate the tension of opposites, it also helps foster creativity and balance. This creativity and balance can then express itself though the artistic experience.

- Lynne Sabean

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

The "Tinselhead" Backstory

NOTE: One of our Zazzle stores is called "Tinselhead" and is intended to promote grey hair pride. (The name is based on what silver hair looks like when the sun hits it.) Here's the humorous, occasionally pathetic backstory on why we chose to create the line of novelty, print-on-demand products. The essay was written a few years ago. (Husband is also gray under that hat, but didn't face the same social stigma in transitioning as do women.)

“GROW!” commanded a voice which came from vocal chords attached to the head of a woman with the most unusual hair I’d ever seen.

Tentacles of dandelion yellow, pumpkin, and mahogany writhed about her temples and earlobes until they crawled to a spot just below her chin. This no-nonsense modern Medusa, dressed in a white cotton T-shirt and drawstring yoga pants, glared at me with her stern green eyes. Was she just annoyed at having to be up so early in the morning? Or was there something more to her decree?

Equal parts confused and mesmerized, I leaned forward. As I did so, she looked down slightly and I saw about a half-inch of undyed roots on the top of her head. This thin grey line zig-zagged its way down until it ended a few inches over those unblinking, yet sleepy eyes. Fascinated, I moved a bit closer…. and bumped my head on the mirror. Today was the first day in my life that I had awoken looking as if a skein of ombre yarn somehow exploded on my head while I slept. But it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Just yesterday morning, I woke up and brushed my long, chestnut hair. I stared at my reflection, noticing a few fine lines and a jaw line that was just starting to sag. While I told myself that even with these first signs of aging, I looked a good 10 or 15 years younger than I was, I knew I wasn’t fooling those who were actually born a decade or more earlier than me. I also knew that I was covering up, --not terribly successfully -- another sign of aging: my grey hair. I saw the dreaded “skunk streak” already emerging, only two weeks after I last touched up my roots. I felt “fake” and a bit pathetic. Why was I so desperately trying to hang on to a shadow of my former self?

A plan was starting to form in my mind. I spent a significant amount of time on Pinterest, collecting photos of “Silver Goddesses” and imagining myself with grey hair. A few weeks later, I confessed everything to my husband, lest he mistake my increasing preoccupation and self-absorption as signs of a budding online affair. To my surprise and delight, he encouraged me to “go grey.” However, I’m fairly certain he didn’t count that part of the transition would involve his wife looking like a Gorgon for more than a year.

Grateful to have a co-conspirator, I showed him picture after picture of smiling, beautiful grey-haired women. They all looked confident. Successful. Stylish. Sophisticated. I Photoshopped pictures of myself, to see how I’d look with grey hair, and was pleasantly surprised at the results. The plan was starting to hatch.

Even so, it took me some time to commit to the change. My work involves interacting with clients and I worried about how “unprofessional” or “incompetent” I might look. Would they really want to trust someone who looked like she couldn’t even keep herself properly groomed? I checked my calendar and chose a period where I knew I’d be confined my office for weeks, if not months. The “dye”, so to speak, was cast.

At my next hair appointment, I told my hair stylist I wanted to go grey. At first, she tried to talk me out of it, gently suggesting that it might age me. Once I convinced her that I had carefully considered this, we next discussed how to make the transition as painless as possible. She estimated that the entire transition would take about eight months. Had I’d known from the start that I’d instead look like an extra from ”Cats” for nearly two years, I might have changed my mind.

After the stylist stripped out as many of the chemicals as possible, I stared at the rainbow of tendrils floating down my shoulders. It looked like nothing as much as a wet floor mop. My first thought was, “How hard would it be to color it back?” But I tried to stay open-minded… and not panic.

After the stylist was done with the cut and blow-dry, I honestly didn’t recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. I decided to give myself some time to adjust to the change. Nearly a year later, I’m still “adjusting.” That night, I actually frightened myself when I passed a mirror. For a moment, I thought someone had broken into the house. Then I realized that the “intruder” who vaguely looked like a demented Muppet was… me! Within a few days, I recognized my face in the mirror, even though it took months for me to expect to see a non-brunette there.

Transitioning in the winter gave me an excuse to wear hats for the first few months. All the while, I struggled with a level of ego and vanity I never knew existed before. I had no idea what colors and styles looked good on me. I missed the perks and attention I’d enjoyed when I was younger and, well,”browner.”

Afraid that total strangers and people I hadn’t seen in decades would conclude that I had “let myself go,” I did not post any photos online for several months. I “came out” after about five months. By this time, I looked like I was wearing a grey flannel beanie on top of my head. The comments to the photo I posted were pretty much what I expected. Like, “Oh, you’re so BRAVE! I’d never do that, but it looks good on YOU!” (Really? ‘Collie’ is a good look for me?) My favorite was “Good for you! You never cared what anyone thinks…”

These comments bemused and saddened me. By not dying my hair, was I supposed to be making some kind of radical “statement” about nonconformity, aging, and a youth-obsessed culture? I hoped not.

One of the unfortunate halfway looks.

I found a number of online support groups for women transitioning to grey hair. The myriad comments on these sites about “butterflies emerging from their cocoons” irritated me to no end. I wanted someone to be honest enough to say, “Yes, you’re going to look like a Sheltie for a long, long time. People are going to give you strange looks and you might actually look older when you’re done. But you might also look absolutely amazing and gorgeous and you’ll never know until you try. Now stop feeling sorry for yourself and OWN that crazy, multi-colored hair!”

To get through the inevitable bad hair days, I looked at pictures of the Silver Goddesses and fantasized about being stopped in the streets of New York and offered a lucrative contract as a grey hair model. (Preferably for some cruise line, car manufacturer or upscale clothing/jewelry designer. Never mind that I’ve been to New York only a handful of times in my life.)

About a month ago, my husband and I repaired the front of our house. Midway through, I inspected the progress and had to laugh as I saw the jumble of materials on the exterior. My once uniformly butter yellow house now had new grey primed clapboards, light brown plywood, darker grey shingles, and white insulation paper on it. It resembled my hair! Importantly, rather than being annoyed about its then-current condition, I couldn’t wait to see what it would look like when the workers were done.

At that very moment, as my giggles filled the summer air, it dawned on me that my home and I were both “works in progress”. Maybe I should be more patient and compassionate to myself as my own “personal renovation project” unfolds. At some point -- when both my house and I are mostly “done” -- I’ll proudly post a picture of the “new” grey-haired me standing in front of my “new” entryway.

Because, as it turns out, that command to myself several months ago to “GROW!” didn’t mean just my hair.

- Lynne Sabean

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