Second Phase of Saving the Chamberlain House

Good grief! What a ride it’s been since I last blogged about what I’m now calling The Chamberlain Project. I need everybody to go read the first blog before you continue with this one because it lays out all of the information about why we’re here and why the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain house is an important American landmark that needs our help. It has been one of the most fulfilling and challenging things I’ve done as an artist.

Briefly, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a Union general in the American Civil War who rose to that rank without formal military training (he was a professor before the war). He volunteered for service, and then later became a four-term governor of Maine, followed by president of Bowdoin College. National history largely forgot Chamberlain until Ken Burns heavily featured him throughout his documentary series, The Civil War. Then in the early 90s, Jeff Daniels played Chamberlain in the film, Gettysburg, followed ten years later by playing him again in Gods and Generals.

Together, you and I are helping the Pejepscot History Center preserve and restore his home, which is now a museum.

CBS Evening News

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The wildest part of this whole thing is that the CBS Evening News did a feature on me a couple of months ago outlining my project and the Pejepscot History Center’s involvement in it. When I got the initial call from the producer in New York City, I actually thought it was a prank and I almost deleted the message!

CBS sent a crew to my home a few weeks later after some scheduling conflicts. Who would have thought the New Hampshire primary was a bigger story than trying to preserve and restore an American landmark? Said with humor. It worked out better having the scheduling conflict because it gave me time to get a head start on my second Chamberlain-related project, which we’ll discuss further down in this blog. You can see a photo from the shoot I did with CBS that day on the right. They were getting what’s known as B-roll of the new piece of art. B-roll is what you see on film while a journalist or narrator is talking over it.

I think I did all right. They shot about 45 minutes of footage for a 2-minute story at the end of the nightly broadcast. To be honest, I could do an entire hour-long show about how exciting and important historical preservation is, and the crew even mentioned how knowledgeable I was about the field. Clearly, I missed my calling. I should have gone to college to get into historical preservation.

Here’s my segment on the CBS Evening News.

The Numbers

Jessica Jewett

After my segment aired that night, I got a lot of new orders for not only the Chamberlain house drawing but everything else in my Etsy shop too. I got more than I expected and it was, quite honestly, more than I could handle by myself, so it has taken a while to get all of the orders shipped. I’m down to my last dozen or so right now, which will go out in the mail as soon as my latest restock batch arrives. This process has been difficult because I don’t have the money to get my own printer capable of doing 11×17-inch prints. I have to outsource the printing process.

I promised you all that I would be up front about the earnings and donations numbers. If you want more specific information, you can always pop me a message and ask.

We have raised $1,800 so far, which is being given to the Pejepscot History Center in three separate payments. I only expected to raise a couple hundred bucks in the beginning, so this number pleases me. People still buy the art print without me doing much advertising now that it shows up in Etsy searches and such.

The PHC has been incredibly grateful for our work!

The New Project

Right before CBS came to film my segment, I began putting together my second project. I’ve been in this art business long enough to know that sales will eventually taper off and you need fresh things to keep customers interested. I knew I was going to divide The Chamberlain Project into three distinct art pieces so I could keep providing the PHC with donations throughout the year of 2020.

Guy

The first thing I needed was a photo reference that I found inspirational for the story I wanted to tell in Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s wartime career. Enter my friend, Guy Gane, who is an actor, casting director, and tailor. He agreed to let me use him for reference (any artist who says they can work on highly detailed portraits without some kind of reference is either a liar or inhuman) since he has the same body type and similar features as Chamberlain, especially in the hands. Since Chamberlain was about four inches shorter than Guy, I chose a photo that would conceal the height difference rather than accentuate it. The photo on the left was the one I chose.

Next, I needed to mentally put this modern candid photo in a wartime context. What would Chamberlain be holding instead of a cell phone? Either dispatches, orders from his superiors, or a letter. What’s more emotionally compelling to the viewer? Letters from home, clearly. Everyone who has heard of Chamberlain knows something of the bond he had with his family.

I created a story around this piece of art from there, knowing I wanted to steer clear of Gettysburg because that topic has been done to death.

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In the last weeks of the Civil War, Chamberlain was a brigade commander in the Battle of Quaker Road on March 29, 1865. That day, he had been ordered to take the Confederate position and led his men on horseback until he was wounded in the arm after his horse had been shot through the neck. He was briefly knocked unconscious and witnesses thought him killed.

Riding ahead until the wounded horse couldn’t continue, Chamberlain dismounted and continued on foot until he got so far ahead of his men that he ended up alone, surrounded by Confederate soldiers. Quick thinking, a faded, filthy uniform, and a knack for mimicking accents convinced the Confederate soldiers that he was one of them until he managed to get out of the dangerous situation – all while suffering with a wounded, bleeding arm.

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My drawing imagines a quiet moment of contemplation the night after that close call. Chamberlain is depicted thoughtfully reading a letter from home and is surrounded by his books and a photograph of his wife, Fanny. Now that the danger has passed, he has time to think about what he could have lost if yet another close call had ended him after all. It’s a hint at the post-traumatic stress disorder to come, which is something not a lot of people talk about in terms of their heroes.

It was not easy completing this piece, on a personal note. One of my dogs was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and she died within two weeks of the diagnosis. Then my other dog broke her foot and the subsequent bone infection resulted in one of her toes being amputated, a procedure from which she is still recovering. COVID-19 messed with our household income and now the virus has spread to more than one house on my street. Given my weakened immune system, contracting the virus could be deadly for me, not to mention the surgery I was supposed to have on April 16 being pushed back to sometime this summer. I’ve also been nursing a broken heart.

Yet, I managed to finish this piece even with all of the terrible things happening around me. I suspect things in my personal life did, in fact, draw me closer to the mood of this piece. Maybe it helped me make it better. I need to believe I channeled my pain into something bigger than myself. That’s the artist in me.

In the end, this is how the second piece turned out.

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I, personally, like how it looks but there are always things I would change about every piece of art I do. It was done in a combination of Pentel mechanical pencils with .5 mm lead and Prismacolor Ebony pencils on mixed media paper. You’ll be able to buy various sized prints of the original art over on my Etsy shop. The original is 11×14 inches and has already been sold. Prints (5×7, 8×10, or 11×17 inches) range in price from $13.80 USD to $27.60 USD and are made on high quality cardstock with a glossy finish. Original art prices are calculated based on the materials used plus a $15 hourly labor rate, which is quite low for many artists.

Let’s not forget why we are here.

A portion (75%) of the sale of this drawing benefits the Pejepscot History Center in their efforts to preserve and restore the Joshua L. Chamberlain house for generations to come. The porches that Chamberlain himself built on his home of over fifty years are in structural danger due to wood rot and lack of maintenance over the last century. Together, you and I are going to help with the restoration costs. Buildings like this one belong to all of us.

What’s Next

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There will be a third piece (technically fourth if you count the church) to finish out the year and hopefully generate more donation revenue. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something involving Fanny Chamberlain because, most of the time, she is reduced to a footnote in her husband’s history. She was a deeply complicated woman in her own right with passions, interests, beliefs, and dreams of her own long before she was ever a married woman.

My plan is to do something revolving around Fanny Chamberlain, possibly in the downstairs blue parlor, which the family had built after the Civil War. I suspect I’ll have her playing the piano but I’m not quite sure yet. It depends on where my inspiration leads like it did when I chose Guy Gane to model Chamberlain for me.

How To Order

These are the links to order all pieces I’ve done relating to Maine. I had done the church a long time ago before all of this started but I figure it can be included here as well.

First Parish Congregationalist Church – BUY HERE
Joshua L. Chamberlain House – BUY HERE
After the Battle – BUY HERE

Please consider purchasing these art prints. It’s such a worthy cause. I realize there is a lot happening in the world, and I’m doing my part for those causes as well, but we should care about American history too. We need to be thinking about what kind of tangible legacy we’re going to leave our children and grandchildren. Wouldn’t you want to teach your descendants to celebrate and honor a man who believed in the qualities of a better world that we’re still fighting to create? What better way to honor him and his family than to help preserve the place they loved and called home for over half a century?

If you’re not interested in buying my art, that’s quite all right. There are choices.

One option is to let me collect the donations at PayPal.me/ArtByJessicaJewett and I’ll get it to the Pejepscot History Center for you. Please specify that you are donating to the Chamberlain house in the notes. I’ll send donations on the 15th of every month (when there are any) and I will give you copies of the receipts.

Or you can make a donation directly to the Pejepscot History Center, but please make sure you specify that your donation is for the Chamberlain house. They don’t have digital donations aside from the annual membership drives. The new 2020 membership drive hasn’t been created yet since they are closed until February 4.

To donate by mail:

Pejepscot History Center
159 Park Row
Brunswick, ME 04011

By phone: Call (207) 729-6606 to provide a credit card number. They take all major cards.

In person: Drop by their offices at 159 Park Row during open hours.

Once again, I thank all of you for joining me on The Chamberlain Project’s journey!

The Pejepscot History Center is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Your gift is tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

I’m not affiliated with the Pejepscot History Center in any way, nor do I work for them. My fundraising efforts are as a private citizen.


Donation

Please consider making a donation to help me keep up with the cost of art supplies, living expenses, equipment related to my disability, and so forth. The minimum is set at $10.00. Thank you for your generosity.

$10.00


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We’re going to save the Chamberlain house!

af0aff4365aeb4f3debee9d880a14d28Short story (although I beg you to read the entire blog): I’m selling a drawing of the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain house and donating the profits to preservation and restoration efforts.

SOLD! BUY THE CHAMBERLAIN HOUSE ORIGINAL ART HERE.
BUY THE CHAMBERLAIN HOUSE ART PRINTS HERE.

Now, let’s have the whole story. The links will be at the end of the blog again too. I don’t know if my efforts will be successful but my hope is you’ll feel my passion by the end of this blog.

We’re here to talk about something very near and dear to my heart – the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain house in Brunswick, Maine. The porches that Chamberlain himself built on his home of over fifty years are in structural danger. Together, you and I are going to help. Buildings like this one belong to all of us.

Briefly, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a Union general in the American Civil War who rose to that rank without formal military training (he was a professor before the war). He volunteered for service, and then later became a four-term governor of Maine, followed by president of Bowdoin College.

His wife, Fanny, was a rare example of an independent woman, having a career of her own as a music teacher and an artist before she decided to get married. The two of them were quite liberal in a lot of ways; believing women should be admitted to college wherever they chose, believing in the right to contraception and family planning, believing in racial equality, and so forth.

For a bit of context into the time and place the Chamberlain family lived, they knew Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and attended church with her for years. Stowe sometimes held gatherings of Bowdoin College students in her home where she read chapters of Uncle Tom’s Cabin aloud. Chamberlain took Fanny to some of these readings while they were “dating” (dating wasn’t the term in those days).

968497ed4cf524aa8abf7c61cac8037eNational history largely forgot Chamberlain until Ken Burns heavily featured him throughout his documentary series, The Civil War. Then in the early 90s, Jeff Daniels actually played Chamberlain (seen in character on the left) in the film, Gettysburg, followed ten years later by playing him again in Gods and Generals.

His impact reaches far beyond Maine. Even I live in Atlanta and I’m just three miles from both Chamberlain Street and Oakland Cemetery where one of his best friends, General John B. Gordon, is buried.

You’re beginning to see why this family and this house matter to American history. We could sit here discussing Chamberlain’s fascinating life and undeniable affect on Maine history until we write a book. In fact, there are a lot of books about him, his military commands, and his family.

Not only did the family live in this house for over fifty years, but Henry Wadsworth Longfellow rented rooms in the same house before they bought it. Longfellow’s presence in the house is still felt today in the upstairs parlor where a portion of the wallpaper he put up is still there.

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This is the house today. Originally, it was only one-and-a-half floors. Chamberlain had the entire structure moved to the corner of Potter and Maine, and then lifted about eleven feet off the ground to build an entirely new first floor addition. He designed most of the first floor himself, including a beautiful curved staircase that greeted guests upon walking through the ruby red foyer. It’s is one of the most architecturally important houses in the state of Maine due to the odd mixture of building and decorating styles blended together from different popular aesthetics in the nineteenth century – Cape Cod, Gothic Revival, and some Art Nouveau influences. Chamberlain wasn’t even a trained architect or interior designer.

The Pejepscot History Center (PHC) rescued the house from demolition in 1983 after decades of being rented out to Bowdoin College students. It had been chopped up into seven apartments and the interior was painted psychedelic colors when they acquired it. Almost 37 years under the careful stewardship of historians and volunteers has seen great strides toward preserving and restoring the home to the way it stood when Chamberlain lived there, but only partially so.

As of my last visit, renters still live in the upper portions of the house in, I believe, three apartments because renting brings in money for upkeep. Many of the unoccupied rooms upstairs haven’t yet been restored either, including all of the Chamberlain family bedrooms. The downstairs bathroom with original fittings and the master bedroom upstairs were being used for storage instead of teaching and tourism. It takes a lot of money to preserve and restore historical buildings. Brunswick is a small town and Maine is a small town state.

FB_IMG_1578705918469Why does the decay of an old house matter to me?

My family name is Jewett. That was, once upon a time, an influential name up in Maine, so much so that if you take a drive over to South Berwick, you can tour my ancestors’ home. I’m related to Sarah Orne Jewett and she left her home to Historic New England when she died. If you click on her name, it’ll take you to the website for that house. There, you’ll see the potential when important places have the resources for full, meticulous restoration and preservation. I have a vision for the Chamberlain home being just as preserved, studied, and restored as the Jewett house.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Chamberlain house twice. Tour guides were wonderful and well-informed, the gift shop was better than most battlefield gift shops, and there was a beautiful wheelchair ramp built onto the back porch – a rarity for historical landmarks. In the above photo, you’re looking at my first trip to the house twelve years ago when I was quite sick and underweight compared to now. Sick or not, historical preservation is my passion. So I went to Maine.

I’d like to show you more photos from my trips to the Chamberlain house. I quickly grabbed some from my collection so you can see how special this place is to many of us in the American history, women’s history, and Civil War fields.

In 2018 and 2019, the PHC raised $48,000 for serious restoration work on the exterior of the house. They even got the wheelchair ramp rebuilt on the back porch as a bonus. It was a really spectacular job and it all looks like it belonged on the house from the beginning, although General Chamberlain never had a ramp back there.

The old ramp and porch.

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The new ramp and porch.

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I’m showing you this because I want you to see what’s possible through the help of donations, foundations, and grants to not only restore historical landmarks but also to make them accessible to more people in the future. Places like this really depend on tourism for cash flow in addition to the few grants that are available. Tourism matters economically to small towns. It pays to have interesting landmarks, speaking in practical terms. We’re American. We understand that money talks.

Take a look at this photo of the house from the 1870s. Do you see the glass porch on the first floor, and then the open air porch above it? Pay attention to those.

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I’m letting the Pejepscot History Center explain what happened. This is from their fundraiser page. I’m not sure if the fundraiser page is still open, but if it is, I’ll update this blog with a link.

Thanks to $48,000 raised from foundations and individuals over 2018-2019, we were able to undertake extensive exterior restoration work on the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum starting in the spring of 2019.

Four faces of the building have now been lovingly restored, but in the process, considerable rot due to deferred maintenance in the past was found and corrected.

This led to fewer funds available for addressing the final part of this Phase I restoration effort: the two historic porches on the southeast corner of the building, which have some of the most interesting architecture on the building, and provide considerable structural support.

Unfortunately, they too have more deterioration than originally anticipated, necessitating additional funds to repair and rebuild the porches correctly.

Chamberlain raised the house 11 feet in the air in 1871 to add the lower story, thereby adding the first floor porch himself. He especially loved these porches. Over the years, he and the family enjoyed sitting on them and raising plants in the ample southern sunshine.

IMG_20200106_124930So I decided to make donations interesting. Individually, none of us can afford the $20,000 the PHC needs to raise to save Chamberlain’s porches from decaying and deteriorating. I know I can’t.

But what I can do is use my skills as an artist to draw attention to the house and make it worth your effort to help rescue the house. I’m a portrait artist most of the time, selling commissions of ordinary people as well as portraits set in highly researched historical scenes. To me, the Chamberlain house like all other historical houses are like living things with souls and sets of memories all their own.

The idea occurred to me that if people were willing to buy my portraits of people, perhaps they would be willing to buy a “portrait” of a house. I had already done a Christmas-themed piece of art showcasing the Chamberlain family’s church, First Parish, and I was interested in doing another piece anyway. If I could use my artistic drive to raise awareness for historical preservation, all the better.

So I got to work. Watch the video below to see me in action.

Yes, the manner in which I do my art is a bit different. We’ll go ahead and address the elephant in the room since many of you might be new to my website and my art. If you didn’t guess from my other photos, I’m physically disabled. I was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis and the nature of it means I need to do everything with the tools in my mouth, whether it’s writing, typing, chopping vegetables, sewing, or creating art. I’ve had about nineteen surgeries to date with a high probability of two more surgeries in 2020. Selling art is how I make extra money.

This time, however, I’m not making money from the art. I’ve decided to sell both the original and various sized prints made from the Chamberlain house piece for the benefit of the restoration project. When I sell this piece, I will make a donation from 80% of the profits (I need 20% for shipping, materials, etc.) to the Pejepscot History Center and I will make public all of the pertinent documents. That way everything is crystal clear and there are no questions.

This is the completed piece of art.

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It took me about three weeks to complete it. I used a combination of Pentel mechanical pencils with .5 mm lead and Prismacolor Ebony pencils on 11×14-inch mixed media paper. Each detail of the house was researched and replicated to the best of my ability down to the placement of the trees, the curtains from the 1870s photographs, the wrought iron fence design, and the woodwork. If you look up top, you’ll see the famous chimney Chamberlain added after the war with the Maltese cross. He was a Fifth Corps officer and the Maltese cross was their insignia, a symbol found throughout the house.

You’ll be able to purchase this piece of art in my shop.

SOLD! BUY THE CHAMBERLAIN HOUSE ORIGINAL ART HERE.
BUY THE CHAMBERLAIN HOUSE ART PRINTS HERE.

The original, as in the actual piece of art I worked on, is 11×14 inches and costs $385.00 USD. Prints (5×7, 8×10, or 11×17) range in price from $12.00 USD to $24.00 USD and are made on high quality cardstock with a glossy finish.

Orders larger than 8×10 inches are shipped in a tube with the art rolled inside to protect it from rough postal workers. Orders 8×10 and smaller are shipped in flat bubble mailers reinforced with cardboard. All customers are given a tracking number so they can keep an eye on their packages with the postal service as well. Every order within the United States includes free shipping. Shipping for international orders will be calculated at the time of purchase.

Please consider purchasing this piece. It’s such a worthy cause. I realize there is a lot happening in the world, and I’m doing my part for those causes too, but we should care about American history too.  We need to be thinking about what kind of tangible legacy we’re going to leave our children and grandchildren. Wouldn’t you want to teach your descendants to celebrate and honor a man who believed in the qualities of a better world that we’re still fighting to create? What better way to honor him and his family than to help preserve the place they loved and called home for over half a century?

If you’re not interested in buying my art, that’s quite all right. There are choices.

One option is to let me collect the donations at PayPal.me/ArtByJessicaJewett and I’ll get it to the Pejepscot History Center for you. Please specify that you are donating to the Chamberlain house in the notes. I’ll send donations on the 15th of every month (when there are any) and I will give you copies of the receipts.

Or you can make a donation directly to the Pejepscot History Center, but please make sure you specify that your donation is for the Chamberlain house. They don’t have digital donations aside from the annual membership drives. The new 2020 membership drive hasn’t been created yet since they are closed until February 4.

To donate by mail:

Pejepscot History Center
159 Park Row
Brunswick, ME 04011

By phone: Call (207) 729-6606 to provide a credit card number. They take all major cards.

In person: Drop by their offices at 159 Park Row during open hours.

The Pejepscot History Center is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Your gift is tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

I’m not affiliated with the Pejepscot History Center in any way, nor do I work for them. My fundraising efforts are as a private citizen.


Donation

Please consider making a donation to help me keep up with the cost of art supplies, living expenses, equipment related to my disability, and so forth. The minimum is set at $10.00. Thank you for your generosity.

$10.00


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Spineless Stanley Hazard (And Other Adventures)

There may come a time when I can look Jonathan Frakes in the eye and have a conversation without turning tomato red and losing track of basic language skills. This past week wasn’t that time.

But we’re getting closer!

drawing5We have to start way back in 1987 when the Civil War led me to the Final Frontier. I watched the second part of a huge miniseries called North and South that actually began in 1985, but I don’t remember seeing it then. I was pretty young and going through some rough things in my family. The important thing is North & South had a character called Stanley Hazard played by (drum roll, please) Jonathan Frakes, seen here in Book III in 1994. At the same time that he was making Book I and II of North & South, he was also starting to work on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Presto! I followed “the guy with the blue eyes and the chin dimple” (quickly covered by a Civil War-appropriate beard) from the 19th century to the 24th century when I wasn’t interested in sci-fi at the time.

That’s love, folks.

Most of you know me enough by now to understand that I was born with a desperate need for connection to 19th century American history, so me as a child watching a giant Civil War miniseries, despite its major historical costuming flaws, isn’t that unusual. When Jonathan Frakes narrated a documentary called Lee & Grant a few years ago, I lost my mind when I heard his voice and had to pause the TV long enough to tell everybody in my house. I’m just like that. It’s part of my charm.

Last year, I met Jonathan Frakes when my friend invited me on the Star Trek cruise. Let’s revisit that glorious moment.

Jessica Jewett, Jonathan Frakes

He did a Q&A that week and walked right by me because I was too chicken to ask a non-Star Trek question. What I really wanted to know was whether he did any preparation to play a villainous puppet like Stanley Hazard, whether he has interest in the Civil War period in real life, etc. Stuff that matters to me, not that Commander Riker isn’t a fantastic character. Trust me – I wouldn’t kick Riker out for eating cookies in bed. But I’m so invested in American history that I went to college for it before I got too sick to continue. Rooting out other people interested in American history is my stock and trade. So after the Q&A where I remained silent last year, I silently resolved to have North & South art autographed this year just for myself.

That brings us to last week. I boarded the cruise ship armed with unfinished Stanley Hazard art and sequestered myself in a corner of the pool deck to work on it before our ship even left port. They don’t tell you when autographs are right away and I was afraid there wouldn’t be time to finish it. Portraiture is my business, you see. I was swamped with orders well beyond Christmas and I barely had time to sketch out Stanley’s bewildered, resentful face before I left for the cruise. So I had to work on the ship in between activities.

Here’s how the progress went.

At home:


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On the cruise:

How did it turn out? In my opinion … meh. My problem with it was the rolling, rocking ship and the unfamiliar surroundings. I need my little artist habitat to do my best work, although I did enjoy people coming by on the pool deck to tell me they liked it.

One of the crew people on the ship in particular spent quite a while talking to me about my art. I told her all about Jonathan Frakes and showed her what he looked like in the present so she could spot him when she met him. Every time I saw her after that, she had intel for me like, “Oh hi! Mr. Frakes up in VIP lounge now,” (she was Asian, I think, so English was a little tough) or, “Ah, it’s you, Miss Frakes Girl. You see him yet? You finish your art?” She even showed me the photo she took with him one night in that VIP lounge. I never asked for the intel but she was fun. Like, really, what was I going to do? Sneak into a place I wasn’t allowed to go? That’s not cool.

20190107_102430Yet I did see Jonathan every day on the ship. Most of the time he saw me too, but there were a few times when he was engrossed in talking to other people or headed somewhere fast (someone with legs that long moves much faster than I do) and I just didn’t want to be a bother. I ran into him immediately on my way to breakfast on the first day at sea. A big smile came over him and he rubbed my arm and spoke familiar greetings. I hadn’t had my coffee yet but that was a better wake up than caffeine. If you’ve ever been the target of his real smile, you know what I mean. I couldn’t believe it seemed like he remembered me.

The oddest thing was that we ended up on the same tender boat headed out to Grand Cayman. A zillion boats going back and forth all day and we ended up on the same one just a few rows apart. I don’t think he ever saw me since he was with his friends and I kept to myself out of equal parts politeness and shyness. You will have seen a photo of him snorkeling that day on Twitter. He went out there to see stingrays. As soon as I got off the tender, I went the opposite direction as him. Again, I didn’t want to be a bother.

It got better from there. He always had a big smile for me when we saw each other and said things like, “There she is,” or used kind endearments like “my dear” and the like.

20190106_211012Apparently one night while I was trying to find Jonathan’s photo op line, Jason Isaacs very nearly bumped into me and said hello but I never noticed him. So naturally my brother, who loves Jason Isaacs, made fun of me for the rest of the night and swore he was going to tell Jonathan that I was so laser focused on him that I completely missed Jason right in front of me. He never ratted me out. I think he values his life too much. But he might have had a point. Let’s be real. I spent a lot of time looking for a dress that made me feel like a lady to wear in my photo op. I didn’t say that, of course, but I was hoping Jonathan would notice it. He has to be a mind reader or he sincerely meant it because he said, “Beautiful dress,” without being prompted. The photo here is me strolling the pool deck after seeing him. I look drunk. I swear I wasn’t. I rarely get compliments from men that aren’t followed up by unsolicited photos of nude genitalia or being propositioned to send my own nude photos, so it was a moment.

I don’t fit in this century if we’re honest about it.

The autograph session for Jonathan was close to the end of the cruise, so I had plenty of time to finish my North and South art. I never could get it the way I wanted because of poor lighting and total exhaustion on my part. If you’ve never traveled with me, then you won’t know how much pain I go through every day. I don’t like to dwell on it in the moment, which means someone like Jonathan won’t ever see me suffer. The more I smile, the more my body hurts. Traveling causes more pain and more pain causes my artistic skills to decline. You guys probably can’t see it in Stanley’s finished art, but I can see exactly where my physical struggles overrode my creative drive.

However, Jonathan sincerely seemed to like what I did. I was terrified standing in line because people say he can be indifferent or cold sometimes. They say that about Michael Dorn too. My worst fear was him mumbling hi, how are you, scribbling his name, and moving on to the next person. The reward for an artist isn’t money at all but the fulfillment we get from seeing our work touch another person, especially if they are the muse. I really wasn’t expecting back flips, mind you. I just dreaded feeling passed over.

So Jonathan’s handler took the art first and got very excited over it. She asked to take a photo and she said he was going to love it. I have no idea what she did with the photo but I hope she liked it. When my turn came, he gave me that smile and said, “There she is!” as if he’d been expecting me. He took the art from his handler and he didn’t say anything for a second while I chewed a hole in my lip in abject terror. Then looked over the paper at me and said with a grin, “Spineless Stanley Hazard!” Relief flooded my body and I burst into laughter. He spent time studying my art and saying, “This is so great.” I wanted to say that North and South brought me over to Star Trek TNG through him but I was starting to fall into the dumb, speechless, tomato red thing I do around him. Luckily he was busy trying to plan how and where he was going to sign the art to notice that I was starting to freeze.

When he asked for my name and started to write the J, his eyes slid over to mine and he said, “Don’t you have three names?” It took me a second to realize he probably meant my name on Twitter. I’m listed as Jessica Jewett Jones @JJ9828 on Twitter so people who read my books or buy my art as well as people who know me in real life can find me (Jones is my legal name, Jewett is my name for books and art). I don’t know if he saw the panic alarms going off in my head. He never replies to people, so I figured he didn’t read his tweets. I have a have a habit of live tweeting Riker-centric Star Trek episodes. I express Beardo love on @swear_trek too. Twitter has to be the only place he’d see me with “three names” unless he has a secret Instagram account.

Who knows what kinds of embarrassing tweets he’s seen when I thought he wasn’t looking? Oh well. I never truly say anything online that I wouldn’t want the rest of the world to see. You just never know who’s watching. It’s fine for him to know that the Riker Maneuver in the movie (or generally Riker in combat command) turns me into one of those Victorian women in need of smelling salts. You know what? I own it. Still, I was teased the rest of the night for being busted.

I don’t know if photos in the autograph line were exactly kosher but my brother was behind me and he knew how important that night was to me. He discreetly took a few photos while Jonathan and I were talking. Hopefully we won’t get in trouble for this since it wasn’t done obnoxiously.

All joking aside, after Jonathan signed my art and handed it back to my brother (bonus points to him for knowing I can’t hold objects in my hands without being told), he caught my eye and got serious to say something to the effect of, “It’s always a pleasure to see you. Always.” It was a crowded atrium and I was honestly overwhelmed. But he made a point to make me feel valued and wanted. That meant everything to me.

Here’s the finished art with his autograph.

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The next time we bumped into each other was unexpectedly at Brent Spiner’s theater show. My brother saw him sitting in my row on the other side of the theater, which was cool, but I wasn’t going to approach him. I never approach him, in fact. I just wait to see if he notices me and he usually does. He spotted me as he was walking by and he called out, “Hey, baby!” and blew a kiss at me with his whole hand. Nope, I can’t tell you what songs Spiner sang for a big part of the show after that. And for most of the second half of the show, while Spiner sang love songs, Jonathan sat right across the aisle from me and it took all of my internal fortitude to stay focused on the show.

I had hoped to catch him one more time on the last day to thank him for being so lovely to me all week. That never happened. I slept in late and then I spent the afternoon with my brother at the bar above the pool deck, ironically not drinking any alcohol. It was just a nice place to sit and watch the world go by.

There were so many other great things that happened on my trip, like Gates McFadden accidentally shoving my chair into Wil Wheaton, but it’s all too much to write in one blog. I mainly composed this one for myself so I could remember the things that were most important to me. If you found it interesting and made it to the end, you’re the kind of person I want to know and I thank you for hanging out here. I think I might do more North and South art once I’m not so buried in commissions too. We’ll see.

Yes, I am going on the Star Trek cruise next year as long as Jonathan Frakes will be there. I’d probably go even if he wasn’t there since it’s my friend Wendy who buys my passage, but he makes it so much more fun for me. And maybe I’ll figure out how to stop blushing like a virgin and say something more intelligent than hi and thank you. That’s really irritating me. I’m a 36-year-old woman who has had almost two dozen surgeries, a dozen broken bones, I’m a domestic abuse survivor, I’m more than a decade sober, and I can’t stand women that get all shy and silent around men. I’m a goddamn warrior! I can handle a 6’4 man like a queen! Next year, I’m going to blow his socks off with my charm and intelligence. He’ll go home and tell Genie Francis how awesome I am (ha!)

Next year’s autograph art? Will Riker vs Thomas Riker. So mote it be.

rikers

Oh, PS, it’s Wendy who has the photo ops and she’s in the middle of moving house during a snow storm. I’ll update this blog when she sends me the photo ops. In the meantime, go ahead and follow my social media at the bottom of this blog for more photos and my latest art projects.

Star Trek the Cruise 2019, signing off. Back to real life.

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