Las Vegas Wedding!

On September 29, 2007, I participated in a circus-themed extravaganza love-fest of a wedding, and married my love Jim Slonina.

Jim is an actor and currently works as a clown for the Las Vegas spectacle “Le Reve”, so we pulled in the circus theme with an air-jumper, popcorn and cotton candy machines, Steve August juggling, and Maria the Snake Babe with an 8-foot boa constrictor. The ceremony began with my friend Marah running down the aisle to stage-whisper to the groom that the minister had a flat tire and she couldn’t make it. So while Jim made an embarrassed apology to the crowd, our good friend Claudio Carneiro (an amazing Brazilian clown) stood up from the audience to save the day, doing magic tricks in the aisle and taking over as minister. There was lots of gags mixed in with the true lovey-dovey moments, culminating in an interruption during the “Speak now or forever hold your peace” bit, when Renaldo, an acrobat in a karate costume, ran down a hill and attacked. You can check it out at the photos at the link below:
Jim & Robin’s Wedding Pics

My Father’s Memory

October 25th was the one year anniversary of my father’s passing. I can hardly believe it has been a whole year, with so many changes filling the time in between. To honor him on this day, I scattered some of his ashes at a favorite cove beach here in Maine. I have been doing these scatterings in various parts of the country, with the idea that his spirit will journey to all those places he wanted to travel to, if he had the chance.

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Before starting the community mural project I am working on in Minnesota, I flew home to Las Vegas to surprise my boyfriend Jim for his birthday. He was at a bar with friends when he was led outside to the alley to open his “present”. He hadn’t seen me for 5 weeks and wasn’t expecting me back for his birthday, so he was pretty shocked, to say the least.

Love in Las Vegas

photo by Tomasz Rossa

Okay, folks, now for the real reason I am sticking around Las Vegas! About three weeks after my dad died, I met this clown…. literally. My new boyfriend Jim is a clown for the water / air circus spectacle “Le Reve” at the Wynn casino. After dating about three months while I was still traveling, he asked me to stay with him in Sin City and I said yes! I will use Vegas as a home base from now on, and continue the dress project through arts residencies I will travel to in various states every few months or so. With my father’s deep love of all things circus, I think he is smiling down on this amazing new love in my life.

Robert Barcus 1940-2005

This blog was supposed to be about art, and yet life keeps intruding. I flew back to Chicago on October 24 to face the shocking and painful news that my father unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. Here is a picture of my parents relaxing at a late-night art performance, in happier times.

My sister Missy and I made the flower arrangements for the service ourselves. These are surrounding his urn. Below is an excerpt from the eulogy I wrote for his service, which sums up how I feel:

“Several days ago, I received the shocking phone call that no one ever wants to get, telling me to get on a plane immediately and come home, because someone I loved deeply was gone.

Much of the pain of my father’s passing comes from how early and suddenly he was taken from us. He did not have the chance to grow old with my mother, travel to Europe like we planned, or even meet his future grandchildren. He had been looking forward to retirement for as long as I can remember, and he had a lot of exploring planned. Because he will not be able to fulfill those plans, my family and I have decided that as I continue on my travels, I will take his ashes with me, and I will scatter them in all of the places that he would have liked to go and experience for himself. And who knows what new realms of space and time he is experiencing now! I would like to think that he is off on a new adventure, greeting whatever mysteries are waiting for us with his characteristic curiosity and open mind.

I know my dad is physically gone, and his absence leaves a hole in my life, and in the lives of all who knew him. But underneath the pain is the very real feeling that he is still living inside of me. My sisters told me they feel the same way. Being the science-fiction lover that he was, I told my mom, he’s like Obi Wan Kenobi now. As in, “If you strike him down, he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” He is Obi Bob Kenobi.

My father was simply an amazing man, always up for anything, so patient, so supportive, so proud of me and my sisters. I live a pretty alternative artistic lifestyle that some parents might worry about or not approve of. But I have never felt anything but acceptance, support and genuine pride from my father. He was so intelligent, so generous, such a friend to my friends, so accepting of everyone, curious and inquisitive and willing to engage anyone he met, on any subject. He instilled in my family the exquisite gift of non-judgment, as he taught us young, and continued to show us by his example, that all people are created equal and all deserve kindness and respect. He loved peace. I think it simply seemed to him the most logical way for people to live together.

Even in the midst of tragedy, it is possible to count blessings. I feel so lucky that I was born into this family, so blessed to have Bob Barcus as my father, and I am just overwhelmed by all the love I have felt from my family and all of my friends. I want to sincerely thank everyone for the non-stop parade of prayers and food and assistance that has been so generously given to me and my family in this time of need. I am also moved by the steady and true bond between me and my sisters and mother, that has allowed us to make this last week as good as it could possibly be. I think we have laughed as much as we have cried, and trust me, we have cried A LOT. So many people have asked me, “What can I do for you?”. I have an idea what we can all do for each other. Appreciate the life we have. Let the people you love know how you feel, express it freely and often, and try to be at peace will all who surround you. Because in the end, only love matters. My father taught me that.”

Tornado hits Minnesota!

On June 20, a tornado and wind storm hit both the county I am living in (Ottertail) and the county I am working in (Wadena). I was painting the mural indoors at the Wadena Emporium when the storm hit: the sky turned green with black swirling clouds, hail rained down, and the windows shook. Then the sky went dark. The power went out and we all sat by candlelight listening to the radio, until the local station got hit by lightning, and the radio went out. I am lucky enough to be painting in a very secure building, so many people fled the storm to join us in our candlelit safety, including one woman who had seven trees fall in her yard, one through her roof. What surprised me most was how graciously everyone weathered the weather, even those with massive damage to their property seemed affably awed by the power of nature. The home I am staying at in Ottertail is just not the same, as all the trees on the property were lost. Here is a picture of my yard after the storm.

The top of this tree was lopped off right next to the house. Although much damage was done in two counties, I haven’t heard about any injuries, and many houses were luckily just missed by falling trees.

Man VS. Nature…. nature wins!

It was tragic to see all the beautiful old trees felled by the winds.