By Ben |

convention center on the far side of the river, ferry dock in foreground

Monday, July 9

On the first day of the conference, we rode the ferry together over to the convention center and had an overpriced breakfast in the conference hotel; then I rode back to our hotel on the Savannah side of the river.  Jessie attended an all-day workshop on image-based narrative inquiry, while I gave my successor at Prairie Star District UUA an orientation to her new tools and responsibilities.  I also drove out to a grocery co-op on the far side of Forsyth Park to pick up some food for future breakfasts and moved the car to a cheaper lot for the week.

When Jessie returned to the hotel, we went for a swim and had dinner at Vinnie Van Go-Go's before attending the conference's opening reception.

Tuesday, July 10

art therapists on the tour trolleyFor the first real day of the conference, Jessie got up quite early, leaving me sleeping for another hour or more.  When I woke, I found a text message telling me that she had forgotten a bag of T-shirts for the students to sell, so I brought them over to her on the ferry during a break in the schedule.  While I had a conference call and did other work on my laptop, Jessie attended several sessions on autism and heard the official announcement of AATA's partnership with the Autism Society of America.  

We had a picnic dinner of uninspired Greek food outside the convention center before attending the arts & crafts marketplace (an opportunity for art therapists to sell their own art to each other!) and a trolley tour of historic Savannah.  We got back to the convention in time to catch the end of the independent film Canvas.

Wednesday, July 11

historical plaque outside the "Jingle Bells" churchWhile Jessie was attending a presentation by Bruce Moon on art therapy education as performance art and having lunch with undergraduate program directors, I went out in search of a laundromat.  We rely on Google for navigation a lot, but this time it literally led me astray.  First it sent me to a wholesale dry cleaners with no public facilities, then to a public laundromat that required tokens that were only sold in much larger quantities than I needed.  I wound up in a pretty rough neighborhood, but I got the laundry done... and dyed pink!  Went back to the hotel and discovered a coin-op laundry room just down the hall from our room!  I was not a happy camper, but I did stumble onto the historic UU church where James Pierpont worked (left).

painting at a City Market galleryIn the afternoon Jessie saw a performance by a hip-hop artist who freestyled with words suggested by the audience... unfortunately the academic audience suggested words like "hyperbole" and "heuristics."  For dinner we tried to go to a barbecue place I had spotted, but it was closed, so we went to a health food restaurant called Kayak Kafé.  After dinner we explored the City Market Art Center and nearby galleries and shops (right), and then I attended (via Skype) the final meeting ever of the Prairie Star District UUA Technology Advisory Committee, wrapping up my 6 and a half years as PSDUUA's Web Coordinator.

Thursday, July 12

Jessie prepares for her presentationJessie attended a breakfast with guest speakers from the National Endowment for the Arts and Johns Hopkins, and then she went to a workshop on tapestry and the art of story.  I joined her for her own presentation on using art directives to teach research methods to graduate students.  It was very well received!

We had lunch at a place called Goose Feathers.  Jessie attended the AATA business meeting in the afternoon, and we had dinner at Bayou Cafe again and did some window shopping before attending the traditional final night dance!


Friday, July 13

Jessie at Mercer HouseAfter breakfast at the hotel (a luxury we had saved for our last full day), we went for a stroll around Forsyth Park before going on a tour of the Mercer Williams House, the setting of much of the action in the book and film, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  The current owners of the house live upstairs, so we only got to tour the downstairs.  On our way out to Tybee Island, we stopped at Bonaventure Cemetery, a quintessential bit of Savannah in my opinion, with its impressive growths of Spanish moss and elaborate memorials to both the famous and obscure.

Jessie and Ben on Tybee beachTybee Island is Savannah's beach town, and we were overwhelmed at first by the variety of options and the spread out feel of the place, after a week in the dense historic district.  We wound up having a light lunch at The Sugar Shack before heading to the beach.  Jessie was unaccustomed to wading in rough surf and stubbed her toe badly, and we both got sunburnt, but we had a great time!  The waves were big enough that people were actually surfing standing up on boards, something we had rarely seen in person.  We did some souvenir shopping on Tybee's main street and, starting to run low on energy, stopped for an early dinner at The Crab Shack on our way back to Savannah.

Back at the hotel, Jessie took a nap while I ran down to Bay Street to pick up a handmade wooden motorcycle model I'd admired earlier.  When I got back, we went for a swim in the hotel pool with an extremely butch lesbian couple with freshly sheared mohawks, one of whom turned out to be an art therapist from Louisville who had not attended the AATA conference, but they happened to be in town at the same time.

Refreshed by our evening swim, we decided to go out for a second dinner.  We stopped at a cafe on City Market with peculiar anatomical lamps, unusual pizza, a powerful peach sangria, and a memorable tiramisu torte.  We couldn't resist a final stop for Gelatohhh -- Jessie chose "ricotta fig" flavor!  And with that we wrapped up our time in Savannah.

Continue to part 3