Busy is good, and I've been busy. I've been busy enough that I haven't plopped down here on Blogger for months to crank out the latest drivel; busy enough that a foot surgery and its subsequent recovery put the screws to an already busy schedule; busy enough that my client waiting list is now two years long and is toying with three. I've certainly been blessed with work, so it's strange that, through a series of disjointed factors, I'm about to intentionally make things even more busy by beginning a new endeavor – The Riojas Internship.
Three students, Phoebe Burfeind, Ellen Egger, and Kaylin Ware have already committed themselves to this internship, which will inaugurate this coming August for the 2023-24 academic year. Those three students represent the full roster our house can accommodate. Before I totally spill the beans, however, a little backstory is needed.
This past summer, my wife, Mary, and I finally became empty-nesters. We live in a rambling, old farmhouse that, among other things, suffered through a hideous 1970s remodel. When our youngest son, Samuel, still lived at home, his bedroom was given a total makeover with the help of his brothers.
The end result was nice. Very nice. It included new electrical, new drywall, new flooring, new doors, and a tasteful paint scheme.
It was so nice that, when the nest was officially empty, the remodel rebooted on an adjacent bedroom, then spread to a third room, with sights put on the final room of the second floor.
No, we weren't attempting to make the house sellable and ride the crazy waves of the housing market. We simply wanted better studio spaces for artwork and perhaps a nice guest room. Then things went a little sideways.
While delivering two panels to All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mary and I were chatting with Alysha Ware, the wife of Rev. Jeffrey Ware, and their daughter, Kaylin, who has considerable art skills. Kaylin had been homeschooled and would soon be facing the prospect of furthering her education at the college level. The specter of iffy art programs, however, dominated the horizon of collegiate choices. The question of 'What do we do?' was brought up. Something like a fleeting glimpse of an idea shot across my brain. What had been pleasant conversation turned a corner into a semi-gelatinous germ of an idea. And it wouldn't let go.
That was in mid-October. Less than two months later, the idea was solidifying and I was emailing Pr. Ware, his wife, and daughter, while seeking the advice of wise Lutherans who had connections within the workings of synod and education. Mostly, I was seeking their advice on my sanity, but I was also trying to gauge feasibility and reality. In the end, I simply could not find an excuse to do otherwise, so I pushed forward with the concept of an internship.
But why? Why do this? Why now? Why, at this time of my life, should I add more to my schedule and essentially create more work when others my age were easing into retirement? The reasons were compelling.