The Journey

I have always followed a creative voice and I never know where it will lead me. All of the art I have experienced and all the places to which I have traveled influence my work. Today I want to share a story about the journey of my three St. Nicholases.

It has been a busy travel year for Holly, Byzantine and Snow, and they are looking forward to staying home for Christmas.

Their genesis began during the long, hot summer of 2012 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and they were my constant companions when I was not practicing, rehearsing or performing for the opera. I enjoy playing second harp in the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and that summer I was lucky to play The Pearl Fishers by Bizet and King Roger by Szymanowski.

I knew I wanted to work with three distinct palettes and various elements, although the basic silhouette of the canvas and the saints was the same. In 2013, after the canvases were designed, stitched and finished as stand-ups, they began their own journeys.

Holly led the way with a trip to Elmira, Oregon. He was so pleased to have been chosen to grace the cover of Needlepoint Now, published and edited by Elizabeth Bozievich.

This is Elizabeth’s commute to her magazine office.


Holly had a wonderful time during his photo shoot with Elizabeth and Carol and all the other wonderful women who create that publication.



Enthusiastic morning salutationsphoto







From Oregon, Holly traveled to Virginia to visit Jo Christensen as he had been chosen to be included in the latest edition of her fantastic book.

Jo and her husband were traveling to Houston for Christmas, and they were kind enough to bring Holly home in person and save him the uncertainty of UPS shipping.

Meanwhile, Snow and Byzantine had been chosen for subsequent issues of Needlepoint Now. The thought of shipping them weighed heavily upon their mother, that would be me, and in a flash I realized for the price of shipping I could fly Southwest with their fantastic free luggage policy, and deliver Snow and Byzantine in person.

It was a marvelous trip. Elizabeth and Jay were welcoming hosts and I enjoyed exploring new territory with Elizabeth. Here she is starting to set up Snow St. Nicholas for his photo shoot.
                      I was invited to join her stitching group and we had a lovely time. I took Holly and Snow home and Elizabeth offered to transport Byzantine to TNNA in January. So, the three friends were reunited in San Diego for their TNNA debut.
     They loved meeting all the people who paraded past them all day long, and showing the people at Kreinik and Rainbow Gallery how their fibers and metallics had completed their finery.
     At the conclusion of the show, as I was hurriedly packing all my hanging valentines and St. Nicholases into suitcases to return to Houston, with very little time to make my flight, a great woman named Snookie walked up to see them.
She exhibits at Woodlawn In Virginia and encouraged me to entrust them to her care.
A little history: The Needlework Exhibition at Historic Woodlawn in Alexandria, Virginia is the nation’s premiere show of contemporary needlework. The exhibit honors Eleanor “Nelly” Custis Lewis’ legacy by displaying her needlework as well as inviting the public to display theirs.
     Visitors see hundreds of needlework entries on display in every room of the historic mansion among the museum collections.
Snookie McInnis lives in Potomac, MD, runs a terrific needlepoint business called From Start to Finish, and regularly exhibits at Woodlawn.
     Back home, I managed, with Lynda’s brain for dimension and space, to pack all three saints in one big box, and off they went to Snookie. I was so happy that they arrived safely and I knew Snookie would shepherd them carefully to and from the exhibit.
      I was not able to attend the show, but my niece Lindsay and my friend Candace were able to. I believe there were about 500 pieces of needlework.
     All three won ribbons and it has been hard to ask them to take them off, they are so proud.
     Holly and Byzantine won red second place ribbons, and Snow won a white ribbon – one of two Director’s Choice ribbons.
                Snookie and me
   The saints lived with Snookie for several months. In July, The Lincoln Center Festival brought Houston Grand Opera to New York City to present the New York premiere of The Passenger, one of the most important and meaningful works I have ever been involved in.           After our week there, I visited Snookie and we boxed up the saints for travel back home.
 I am grateful to all the stitchers who have bought the St.Nicholas canvases, and I hope you have as much fun as I did bringing them to life with stitching. People call them different names at first glance… Bishops… Santa Kings… Santa Claus… I am just glad the idea for them popped into my imagination and I was able to bring them to fruition.
 Wishing joy to all of you this holiday season,

One thought on “The Journey

  1. Joan, Your traveling Men of St. Nikolaus have taken on a life of their own, with each finding its own adventures. I wonder if milk and cookies were part of each visit? At least stardust? Congratulations and than you for sharing. This is the making of a Christmas movie… Sisterhood of the Traveling Santas.

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