Guest Blog Post: The Reinvention of Lee Gale Gruen

Think it’s too late to write a memoir or to take on a new career? Actress/author/blogger/lecturer Lee Gale Gruen describes how, since she retired, she’s reinvented herself many times over…

Self-reinventor Lee Gale Gruen

When I retired from my 37-year career as a probation officer, and I found myself with nothing meaningful in my life and decades looming. I mistakenly enrolled in an acting class at a senior citizens’ program, thinking it was a play discussion group. When I was forced to perform in a scene in front of the class, my lifelong stage fright kicked in. However, my shaky voice strengthened as I became completely immersed in my character, unaware of the sea of eyes watching and judging me. What a high! I became hooked on acting.

After my mother died, my outgoing, charismatic father, Marvin, became depressed and withdrawn. “Come with me to my acting class, Daddy” I blurted out to cheer him up. After some convincing, he agreed.

Midway through the class, the teacher called on Marvin to perform an improv with another class member. He really hammed it up and later asked me, “So, when are you picking me up for our next class?”

That started us on a magical journey attending the class together for three years, bonding more than ever. I wrote the humorous Dad/Daughter scenes we performed in the class showcase every six months.  The audience members loved us; Marvin loved the attention; and I loved acting and making him happy. All six scenes are included in the book.

I transitioned into the world of professional acting.  As my fledgling second career started going uphill, my father’s health started going downhill.  I shared all my new acting experiences with him at the nursing home where he resided in his final years.

My book (available on Amazon.com) is an inspirational father/daughter bonding story with a twist: both of us were seniors at the time.

For more about Lee Gale Gruen and her book…

Email:  gowergulch@yahoo.com

Acting website:  LeeGaleGruen.com

Book website:  AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Public speaking video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cen-dN6SUU&feature=youtu.be

Author interview video:  youtube.com/watch?v=FIUm9e7NRKc

Blog: Reinventing Myself in My Retirement:  LeeGaleGruen.Wordpress.com

Old/New, Out/In: North Carolina Museum of Art by da-AL

North Carolina is far more than pine trees and the ‘pottery capital of the world.’ Noteworthy art fills the North Carolina Museum of Art’s two buildings — as well as its outdoors.

Khashayar with Awilda and Irma, 2014, by Jaume Plensa.
Intriguing from all angles, Khashayar with Awilda and Irma, 2014, by Jaume Plensa.

Over the single week that my husband and I visited a dear friend in North Carolina, we gravitated back to the fascinating museum. There was so much to see that we went back one, two, three, four days (plus we had fun here) and now…

Madonna and Child Sheltering Supplicants under her Cloak, 1470, by Peter Koellin.
Madonna and Child Sheltering Supplicants under her Cloak, 1470, by Peter Koellin.

 

Tippy Toes, 2007, by Alison Saar.
Tippy Toes, 2007, by Alison Saar.

 

Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinée, 1877-1878, by Mary Stevenson Cassatt.
Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinée, 1877-1878, by Mary Stevenson Cassatt.

 

Portrait of a Lady, circa 1610, British School.
Portrait of a Lady, circa 1610, British School.

 

The Kiss, modeled 1881-1882, cast at a later date, by Auguste Rodin.
The Kiss, modeled 1881-1882, cast at a later date, by Auguste Rodin.

When is the last time you took the time to admire a great work of art?…

 

Cutting Edge Art in North Carolina by da-AL

Here I am, looking into a porthole (one of several) into Infinity Room by Yayoi Kusama, at North Carolina Museum of Art.
Here I am, looking into one of several portholes of the Infinity Room by Yayoi Kusama, at North Carolina Museum of Art.

On the outside, the North Carolina Museum of Art doesn’t seem that huge. What makes it extraordinary is that everything in it is remarkable. So much so that I visited once and then twice and then thrice and four times (plus we had a great time here) I went somewhere else before returning, because — wait! — there was more to see, more calling me back…

Bride, 2010, by Beth Lipman.
Bride, 2010, by Beth Lipman. Here’s her site.

 

Spiral Woman 1984, by Louise Bourgeois. Here's her site.
Spiral Woman 1984, by Louise Bourgeois.

 

The North Carolina Museum of Art has an Infinity Room by Yayoi Kusama! Here’s a view into a porthole…

 

The Bad Promise, 2008, by Trenton Doyle Hancock.
The Bad Promise, 2008, by Trenton Doyle Hancock.

 

Wondrous Birds, 1892, by Hans Thoma.
Wondrous Birds, 1892, by Hans Thoma.

Do you enjoy modern art?…

Chinese Lantern Festival Videos, North Carolina by da-AL

da-AL in front of lighted Chinese astrology banner
Pigs are great!

What’s a Chinese Lantern Festival? It took visiting a good friend in North Carolina for me to discover. Theories vary about its origins, but always it’s tied to the Chinese New Year. This one was an eye-popping expanse of light sculptures beautiful enough to make all ages brave the cold outdoors …

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… And there were even performances! …

Here’s about Georgia O’Keeffe in North Carolina. Also, here’s about the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Women-Powered Art, and its Outspoken and Ancient Art and its Cutting Edge Art.

Have you attended a light festival?…

Outspoken and Ancient Art in North Carolina by da-AL

Brash and outspoken, traditional and gorgeous, if you love great art, North Carolina is happiness. This and this post, as well as this one and this one, introduced how much I love the North Carolina Museum of Art. (This one tells of NC’s amazing Chinese Lantern Festival.)That was in only one of their two buildings…

A second one houses a collection that dates as far back as Egyptian mummies…

Ancient art at North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
Ancient Egyptian art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

 

Ancient art at North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
Woman in the middle ancient Roman art at North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

… and as recent as works by the artists commissioned to paint official portraits of former U.S. President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama…

Judith and Holofernes, 2012, by Kehinde Wiley
Judith and Holofernes, 2012, by Kehinde Wiley. Here’s his website.

 

Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), 2013, by Amy Sherald
Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), 2013, by Amy Sherald. Here’s her site.

 

Semi-Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery, 2005 by Karen LaMonte
Semi-Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery, 2005 by Karen LaMonte. Here’s her site.

 

A 2012 version of sculptor/dancer/performance artist Nick Cave's Soundsuits -- they disguise and protect wearers from bigotry, violence, hate...
A 2012 version of sculptor/dancer/performance artist Nick Cave’s Soundsuits — they disguise and protect wearers from bigotry, violence, hate… Here’s his site.

What’s your favorite art museum?…

Georgia O’Keeffe in North Carolina by da-AL

What a great time my husband and I had visiting our dear friend David Hunt in North Carolina. He’s posted on Happiness Between Tails here and here. We hadn’t seen him in way too long — all the more reason that my recent discovery of the touching PBS series, “We’ll Meet Again,” gets me blubbering.

What did we expect of North Carolina? Who knows, but it wasn’t an abundance of terrific art museums!

Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose, 1931 by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose, 1931 by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)

Let’s start with the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh. We loved it so much that we visited it three times! No, was it four? If it wasn’t, it should’ve been! ( ! ! These ! ! aren’t ! ! understatements ! ! )

Lucky for us (and how lovely it was to be among crowds of NC fine art lovers!) we caught a tribute to U.S. art goddess Georgia O’Keefe, a.k.a. Mother of American Modernism before it ended.

Georgia O'keeffe sketchbook
Georgia O’Keeffe sketchbook

 

White Birch -- Lake George, 1925-26, by Georgia O'Keeffe
White Birch — Lake George, 1925-26, by Georgia O’Keeffe

 

Feather and Brown Leaf, 1935, by Georgia O'Keeffe
Feather and Brown Leaf, 1935, by Georgia O’Keeffe

Alongside her art, there were O’Keeffe-inspired works by contemporary artists. Here’s a sampling.

And here’s another wing and more of the museum. And here’s a post on NC’s Chinese Lantern Festival. Plus, more great NC Museum of Art’s collection here.

Where’s your favorite place to see great art?

Women Powered Art in North Carolina by da-AL

Great art, impressive art, and terrific art! That — though foremost the wonderfulness of spending time with our dear friend in North Carolina — defines the marvelous visit that my husband and I had. In this post, I explained how we had the good fortune to catch an exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art that featured work by the enormously influential American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. (And here and then here I tell about another wing and more of the museum, plus here I tell about NC’s Chinese Lantern Festival.) In addition to her art, the show featured works inspired by O’Keeffe…

Table Setter, 2016-17, by Monica Kim Garza
Table Setter, 2016-17, by Monica Kim Garza

 

The Land's Part (yellow, blue, green) 2017, by Loie Hollowell
The Land’s Part (yellow, blue, green) 2017, by Loie Hollowell

 

Confession, 2018, by Tschabalala Self
Confession, 2018, by Tschabalala Self

 

The Bridge, 2007, by Negar Ahkami
The Bridge, 2007, by Negar Ahkami

 

LA Curbed, 2017, by Carline Larsen
LA Curbed, 2017, by Carline Larsen

Is there an artist who inspires you?