We had the good fortune of connecting with Marilyn Traeger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marilyn, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
The older I get the more I believe in the truth behind “I don’t know what I don’t know”. Ironically, I didn’t know where it came from until now! Confucius said, “To know what you know and what you do not know, is true knowledge.” So much later in 2002, Donald Rumsfeld said “There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” in response to questions about terrorism intelligence. Rumsfeld’s statement brought public attention to the concepts of known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. National security and intelligence professionals have long used an analysis technique known as the Johari window. The idea of unknown unknowns was created in 1955 by two American psychologists, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in their development of the Johari window. They used it as a technique to help people better understand their relationship with themselves as well as others. I totally don’t know what I don’t know! Accepting that simple fact can eliminate the stress that comes from making simple or complex decisions. I find a great deal of comfort in that. Maybe a corollary statement would be “Throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.” Accepting that you don’t know what you don’t know allows the universe to work its magic! It’s pretty funny that I learned about the Johari window while I was in college many years ago but didn’t connect it to this quote. I guess “I don’t know what I don’t know” also includes things I have forgotten!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is just like I am – kinda all over the place! I gravitate to portraits in acrylics, mixed media, and Photoshop. I spent the last four years obsessing over the atrocities of the 45 administration and painting “Sad Girls” to release my anxiety. I’m in recovery and the new series is entitled “Reimagined”. The plan is to revisit paintings and photographs and yes, reimagine them. The latest is a trapunto piece reimagined on organic cotton and printed online at Spoonflower. I can’t remember the last time I sewed, but polishing up my grandmother’s and my mother’s silver thimble is making the process quite blissful. Excited is one of my favorite words! Sometimes people ask me if I’m nervous about one thing or another, and I usually reply, “No, I am EXCITED! I am always most excited about people; grandchildren, children, my husband, family, and friends. Then I am excited about positive change. I love projects. Here are a few: I always wanted to be an art teacher, I planned for that. After teaching for 37 years, I retired and then new exciting adventures with my friends and family emerged quite serendipitously. ~First came the Fund 4 Design & Art Education with my partner in crime Marlene. To date we have given over $100,000 to students awarded an Isaiah Scholarship. https://www.fund4arted.org. ~I worked for my brother Howard, alongside employees who felt more like family, my children, and cousins in a 95+ year-old industrial supply business. You are probably wondering what in the world an art girl would do there? I thought the same thing at first but found that creativity and caring thrive in the most unexpected places. ~ Do you like to bake? I don’t, but my daughter and I founded BAKEZ and ran the catering bakery for a year! The best part was playing with Lisa. ~ And then my friends Enid, Jen, Linda and I created an art gallery. Yes really! With inspiration and support from Rabbi Robyn Fisher, we completed the Gallery of Light at Beth Or in March of 2020. You can guess the rest. Covid hit and we went online offering Openings, Talks, and Workshops. Over 1,000 people saw our last opening on Facebook! https://www.galleryoflight.org/ ~ Buying and selling a house in the Carolinas right now! I am here today because “I don’t know what I don’t know” and because I don’t if it sounds good I will generally go for it. Not a single one of these projects was planned – they just happened. The common thread is that they all allowed me to utilize my creativity in one way or another- truly life-affirming. I value time and have been on narrow bridges when I feared my time on the planet might be running out. I appreciate the power of creativity, gratitude, and resilience as a result.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my friends are visiting us in Hendersonville, Nc, or Miami, FL our journeys would take us into the worlds of nature and art. In NC, we would hike on foot or by car into the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Dupont and Pisgah Forests to explore the waterfalls and the trails. Easy trails are the stunning Hooker and Triple Falls where the Hunger Games were filmed. There are many falls to visit on the drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway up to the Pisgah Inn where we would have a picturesque lunch and linger on the chairs overlooking the grand expanse of the mountains. An artsy visit wouldn’t be complete without exploring the River Arts District, the Blue Spiral Gallery, and American Folk in Asheville. Don’t even get me started on my favorite restaurant anywhere – Nine Mile! In Hendo, we would visit Suzanne Camarata at her always inspiring and mostly affordable, The Gallery at Flat Rock, then head downtown to walk on the historic main street. We would go to Pops for breakfast or Umi later if we had any room left in our bellies. The trip wouldn’t be complete without checking out the thrift stores, a drive to Jump Off Rock, or to the village of Chimney Rock. and The Flowering Bridge in Lake Lure. In Miami, our first nature stop would be the magnificent and tranquil Fairchild Tropical Gardens. It changes with the seasons and never disappoints. A long drive down to the Keys for some fresh snapper and conch chowder is a must. Museums and art venues abound and the trip wouldn’t be complete without stops at the PAMM, Lowe, Rubell, the Wynwood Art District, and our own Gallery of Light at Beth Or. We would head over to Chef Adrienne’s new location, dangerously close to my home for a fabulous fine dining experience.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This Shoutout is dedicated to my family and dear friends who always listen, help me with decision-making, and offer total loving advice and support no matter how crazy they may think I am!
Other: https://www.galleryoflight.org https://www.arteacher.com https://www.fund4arted.org