Bands get to go on tour, usually stay-at home moms, sadly, do not. Usually…
But how can one refill that well of inspiration, look at the dilemmas of life from an objective distance, and reconnect with beau and babe in a not-so-9-5 kind of way?
Just pack up and go. Anyway. In spite of all excuses, and fussing about not enough time… (thats really the crux, we never know how much time we will have, right).
Not that there wasnt a year of planning and angling and giant piles of anchors and spare tires and expired safety flares growing in the garage. But now there is a tiny green boat hitched up behind an unpredictable old van and piles have been pummeled into drybags and an artkit has been made for the road. So work can continue as inspiration flows with the miles, land and sea-miles. They say there is no sky like a mexican sky, so perhaps I will use colors, like prickly pear skin and the burnt orange of desert rocks. Cortez blue and Saguaro green to fill up the well.
*The images in this post are a set that is packed in the depths of the van to be dropped off in Truckee, CA at Riverside Studios, a wonderful shop/gallery that carries my work. Both are 16″x20″.
Silver lining 17″x5″
Every year the fall comes and I get itchy, antsy for the crispness in the air and for new adventures and change. When I was young, Maine’s Common Ground Fair marked the change with bluebird days and annual sighting of my blacksmith friend Zack, (who still exists, see his wonderful workHERE) then dockside departure preparations for sailing ships, and winter work seasons in the sun or even southern hemisphere….
Now its the first day of preschool.
But im still itchy, expecting that change to come that will somehow re-arrange complicated life into a new and clearer path.
In the meantime, standing by…. i am preparing,
Sneak peek of Emergency Preparedness Poster Series, coming soon to an Island near you.
It has also been a summer of love in the studio, with a bunch of commissions for anniversary gifts and wedding Kettubah. here are some snippets, and best wishes to all the happy couples.
Sadly, this summer has also seen the passing of loved partners and changing of longtime loves. It is an imperative reminder to me that we can never be prepared to loose someone, so instead may we have and hold and love so sweetly, making the most of whatever time we get to share.
Last year I bought a 1969 chevy van. It is so great, it has its own corny, sexy, song.
It was bought to haul around the region my large pieces of framed artwork. 6 feet of glass, times many such pieces, quickly overwhelms even a stationwagon. Not to mention installation projects and 50 gallon drums to fill with message bottles.
This year, big art pieces….not so much. As my path with this art-work thing goes on its winding way, all roads lead to books, and illustrations,and less 6 foot sheets of glass (for the moment). Luckily the van has another purpose and is gearing up to haul my small family and our tiny boat to Baja for an expedition in the Sea of Cortez this winter.
Currently on the docket are illustrations for a collection of sailing stories and thoughts from the smiling guru on simple living Teresa Carey. I am also working on the mock-ups for a Northwest childrens’ adventure story. Already on their way to print are “S is for Salmon”, made from the Salmon and Salal Alphabet project images, and a cameo illustration in an upcoming book from Ivars.
Perfect work to be done with nothing but a pencilcase and travel-size drawing board as the summer unfolds and we trundle around in that van full of food, bikes, running shoes and playing gear instead of frames.
Sometimes life fits into the space it has. Like Goldfish.
Dear Lake #6 from Urban Lakes install.
For this year i am thinking that i want to make more things for myself and my loved ones, there will be plenty of art, but i want more banana breads, and jars of jam, and hand stitched curtains, and superman insignia silkscreened on everything my son owns. I want to turn off the internet, (wasnt blogging intended to be done at a cafe?) read more books, plant a not so improbable garden, and listen to all the stories my mom can tell me.
Resilience and Revelry are what im thinking of this year. …. and maybe running, ive been doing lots of running.
12 miles today and more to come thanks to some lovely inspiration tangled up in an art contract. This year I will make a series of images for each of Rainshadow Runnings’ trail races and ultramarathons. As we started to go back and forth to make it all happen I began to think that maybe it was a little bit of fate that they contacted me, and really what excercise do i have time for if not running? No, crazy gear, no pool schedules to wrestle with, and as it happens the dog needs to get walked and the kid needs to get to school anyway. So ive been running, recently in the rain, and along the Truckee river during a trip to set up a show at Riverside Studios, and over Christmas in frozen midwest cornfields reminiscent of the movie “Winters Bone”.
It is clearing my head, and letting fresh ideas flow….
So the running part is not my resolution, its the making space in life, so that these new ideas and old ideals can grow.
Happy new year.
“Along Highway 139″ 18″x24″
(Sketchbook entry fall 2011)
“the waiting hungry multitudes
Setting up to brainstorm for the Whalefall exhibit… sand + water + fish + ocean environment + waves, surface + all the feeders + depth + tiny shrunken cups from the deep ocean + waves + currents + barnacles + whaleships + research boats + bahamian banks babies + sounds + other whales + beach belly rubs + alaska spy hops + in the distance far offshore + blow + orcas from jakes boat + finbacks in the wake coming home on Halcyon + up through the Westwards steel hull, then in the water as we swam + and then the thought of oceans depth and falling……. to the sea floor, and a soul that fell and we tried to raise it, but never really did , stayed there in that deep blue sea. Probably sheparded off by whalesong to a different strange place that I dont know how to tell my son about. The thought that maybe this is part of my connection to the idea of a whalefall, this story in my heart— it sat so heavy on my chest that a giant sigh came out and the tears ran and throat choked up in a way that doesnt happen when i just tell the story. We are looking so hard for connections these days, social network, webs and share buttons, and they are in everything we do and say and feel. Already our own web of history and sights and sounds. Im thankful to be in a life where i get to play these thoughts out to new realizations, to take a simple word and work with what it does to me and make it tell my story for me. Let that story and its pictures out. More sighs are here, Ely is waiting for stories to be read. All this in an empty shop window. Wow.”
So one night I was sitting in the mountain cabin ( this is not the sad story) and listening to a podcast from Radiolab about loops and one segment, one word really, caught my attention. Whalefall- when a whale dies in the water and falls to the sea-floor, (along the way providing food and nutrients for a whole world of creatures for a very long time after its death). I had never heard this or even thought about the possibility and was drawn like a moth to the ipod and listened to the segment with notebook in hand oddly captured by it. Months go by and I keep thinking about it and why it struck me so. Then an opportunity for an art installation in an empty storefront comes up and I decide i will try and work with this idea somehow. From there it becomes a rather Butoh-esque thing as product is set a side and making art for process sake takes over. The notebook entry quoted above comes in here. Now a year later the installation is up at One Main Street in downtown Auburn, and it is a pile of ideas and things and images that have come along and connected the dots from here to there, most will walk by and say “huh”. One group of boys said “is that supposed to be art” to themselves outside as i was finishing up the install. Its not really pretty, has its moments, but it is the traces of me figuring out how a piece of my mind works and seeing the ripples of one day 15 years ago in so many things that i am doing now. I should say thanks to the Auburn Empty Storefronts people for giving me space and resources to do this thing. It does remind me a lot of my work as a Butoh dancer, pretty naked and pretty out there, mind wide and running, with an audience who are wondering what it is they are supposed to be seeing. I guess thats the real question, what will all thats come befor help them to see?The exhibit will be up in downtown Auburn till Christmas, and if anyone knows a sciencey, or whaley, or conservationy, or marine biologisty friend who might want to use the “whalefall” image at the top of the post, let me know. I would love it to live on.
In the 1980s a woodblock artist called Mary Azarian went to work in a rural one-room schoolhouse in Vermont. Finding it bleak and uninspiring, she set strait to work making a set of alphabet posters for the walls depicting rural life and objects. The alphabets’ fame spread and later the Vermont Board of Education commissioned sets for every school in the state. After falling in love with her work and this story, I started to look around at my own sons pre-school and the other learning places in our lives. Despite many fancy alphabet sets on display at kids’ stores, I kept coming across playrooms and library corners without this most essential literary tool. I would guess this is a product of extensive budget cuts and a culture of teacher-out of pocket expenses for anything “extra”.
So I proposed (to the CityArtist grant committee at Seattle Office of Arts and Culture) to make an alphabet set using papercut technique and then transferring it to silkscreen to reproduce the copies by hand. The 20 set first printing would be donated to schools, libraries, and community centers in the greater Seattle area. 5 of these locations would be chosen to do an in-person “demonstration”. This visit will include me introducing the alphabet by reading through the letters, bringing in show and tell items related to the images, and describing creative process of making the posters from field sketches to long hours in the printshop. I would also bring a small silkscreen setup so each child/person can pull their own small print of a favorite letter. These demonstrations are going to be be kicked off with a family friendly presentation at my local Ballard library, ( October 13th 2pm) to explain the project and art making process to community, friends, and family. …. Watch out those Salmon specimens are slippery!
To my great delight this project has taken flight and will also be turned into a book to be published by Sasquatch press, still a year to go on that process but ill keep you posted on release dates. At the moment i’m busy silkscreening the last of the letters and compiling my list of childrens’ programs who will receive the handmade sets, if you have a worthy place in mind let me know with a comment, i need them to be spread out all around the city.
For those of you who have run off to Port Townsend for October, ill have a bunch of pieces in the ”Black and White” show at the Simon Mace Gallery. See EVENTS page for details.
pdf of poster
When I think of home it is still a saltwater farm, and a blonde man, and a swirl of swallows so busy, so certain of purpose as they build.
This month we will present Straight Back Home to You as a multimedia installation in Gage Academy of Arts’ Steele Gallery. It is an idea that was blown in on the wind and kept me up all that night. I am lucky to know the lovely new curator at Gage, Shelly Leavens, and even luckier to have been given an opportunity to make an idea into an exhibit.
I drew a napkin sketch with an improbable nest at the center, so i called the remarkable sculptor Margie Mcdonald. Scampering through the picture was a woman, so I got in touch with mover and shaker Amy Ross and she assembled a team. I imagined subtle counterpoint to McDonalds dramatic structures….and the ephemera of Sarah Jones had to be worked in. But what would be the sound?… Emily Eagle is crafting that part. And with all of this there must be one perfect bite or smell or bit of drink…. Jess Thomson is the one for that in my life.
Now here it is, a thing forming around me, that I get to push and pull together at the end when they have done their good work. Maybe with a thousand birds of mine, and childs building blocks, and the artifacts that we keep through all the changes, all the moves, and all the paths we make from our front door.
See the installation on the third floor, 1501 10th ave E. Sept. 7- Oct. 6
Come be part of the fun and pies and performance during the reception on Sept. 21st. 6-8pm.
*ill be sure to add some photos when we get to installing…