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A new website and delayed retirement bliss.

John Hiking

For the last several years my primary duty as Sherry’s sherpa Spouse was to carry stuff. So far I have been able to handle that job. Other jobs assigned to me were to take care of the business and tech stuff. I had hoped to clear the deck of as much of the extraneous chores required of a working artist so Sherry would have more time at the easel. I have to confess the tech part of the job has not been handled so well. Sherry should fire me, but I work for free. I did volunteer to cut my salary in half (sorry Math joke). In May of 2022, I retired from my work as a community college professor of mathematics. Mostly, I taught introductory statistics and survey of mathematics courses for the non STEM major, in other words math for math haters. With that season of life at an end, I was a recovering academic ready to make the transition to the golden age of retirement bliss. Here is my retirement goals list.

  1. Enjoy Life
  2. Travel
  3. Do whatever I want, whenever I want.

There were just a few easy tasks I needed to complete and the retirement bliss could begin. So here I am 13+ months later wondering what the hell went wrong.

When I retired, we still had our brick and mortar art studio and gallery,Walden’s Ridge Gallery, open in a rented commercial space close to our home. Refer to the second point on the above list. We planned to travel and did not want to be tied down to the gallery. We gave our landlord notice and moved everything out. Walden’s Ridge Gallery would cease to exist as a brick and mortar space. Our goal was to revamp our online gallery and hopefully find a few galleries interested in hanging Sherry’s work. One minor issue, where would we go with all the stuff? We donated or sold most of the gallery furniture, but this only made a slight difference to our storage conundrum. We still had and continue to have major storage issues with paintings, frames, festival equipment, art studio and classroom furniture, etc., etc., etc,. Remember that during this time I also had to move my office and extensive library. We quickly filled two external storage sheds and every nook and cranny of our home and travel trailer. I did mention my primary job was to carry stuff and I was being provided with ample opportunities. Frequently, I would be allowed to move the same stuff back and forth from one overcrowded storage area to another. I think this was to keep me in practice. By the way, I am open to advice as how this ongoing dilemma might be handled. Since another one of my goals is to stay married, a bonfire, although it has been considered, is not an option.

However, the lack of storage space and too much stuff has not been the worst of it. I was also the IT guy. We have had a website and social media presence built around https://waldensridgegallery.com since 2013. However, Sherry’s webmaster repeatedly fell down on the job. But, as already noted, since I work cheap and she had no other options, she chose to keep me in that role. We have been in the process setting up a new domain, a new website, and new social media accounts as http://sherryjsmith.com/ Those of you who are in any type of eCommerce business know there have been a few changes since I completed my web programming coursework in 2005. This company bought that company and with each merger or change the experience for the end user became worse and worse. Customer support used to be great. Now it is practically non-existent. I had used Weebly to build several websites over the years. However, Weebly had been acquired by Squareup, and with this merger came a loss of some functionality and a further deterioration of available customer support. I had hosted the old website with Bluehost using a Weebly add on. Bluehost, was perfectly willing to continue to collect the monthly payment but again support would be limited to non existent. Somewhere during this time, I decided to change from Weebly to WordPress. This could not be too hard. I will have the new site up an running in a few weeks.

So here we are 13+ months later and still no website. I will admit we have been on some great trips that will be the subjects of some future blogs. So here we are 13+ months, many WordPress tutorials, and consultant fees later and sherryjsmith.com is still a work in progress. I suppose in some ways it will always be a work in progress. However, the site is live and after we work our a few kinks, finish writing the copy, and add several new paintings, perhaps I will be able to get to the expected retirement bliss.

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This is a blog for all you artist spouses out there. Here you will find stories provided by me, John, Sherry’s sherpa spouse, business manager, IT staff and traveling companion. Many of these posts will be somewhat tongue & cheek, because if you are trying to survive as a working artist you need some good laughs from time to time. Thanks for visiting.

Recent Works

Painting of a twilight beach scene with light surf and a stand of sea oats on the right
Well used red and white skiff pulled out of the water. Coastal scene from Maine.
Original painting of abandoned old wagon painted red and green
Original plein air painting of spring scene from the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Features blue wildflowers and white dogwoods in bloom

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