December 11, 2012
(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.
June 10, 2012
Due to a storm off the Azores, I nearly forgot to pick my son up from preschool.
Ann Davison was the one sailing, the first crossing of the Atlantic by a lone woman sailor. I was the one reading her book “My Ship is So Small” in the back yard grass and musing too long over the rigging of a passing catamaran while waiting to cross the locks.
A series of inspiring projects have been causing me to loose myself in sea-fever after a good few years of being content to play at the very edges. Ann Davisons’ tiny boat, the Felicity Ann has just landed in Port Townsend and a group of amazing ladies have taken up the charge and plan to work with the NW school of wooden boatbuilding to create a series of empowering opportunities for women and girls starting with the restoration. Felicity Ann Boat Project.
Also in the works is a sweet little documentary being made by an old Outward Bound friend of mine, Teresa Carey, who has her own small fame these days for blogging about her experiences as a singlehander and striving for simplicity. The movie is called One Simple Question and documents an expedition she made with her partner on their own tiny boat in search of icebergs and answers. Watch the trailer, I love how she can ask big questions with the winning charm of a rosy cheeked girl from the great lakes.
Maybe not so much of the Sea but at the heart of Seattle, the Center for Wooden boats just opened their North Lake workshop and warehouse, next to Gas Works park in what used to be the mysterious and wonderful land of sea squatters and schooners called Metrodock. I made a piece that fits in panels between the old wooden studs and looks toward the buildings long and happy future as a community anchor for the North end of the lake.
Lucky me lucky me if only i could go to sea.
For the moment it is well enough to be involved with some wonderfully seaworthy endeavours. My own current show called “Hydrodynamics” is up at CLICK in West Seattle. In this series of papercuts I have been playing with the many qualities of water and the different types of linework and form I can use to tell the seas’ stories.
Ill be on hand Thursday June 14th for West Seattle Artwalk.
What a good excuse to see the citys best sunset.
April 10, 2012
A fixed location.
The fields breathe
their amber afternoons,
and gray mornings. Grasses
sweep the wind
The thick webs
of autumn spiders
snap, then dance.
leans over the fence,
gives apples to horses.
from barn to where the pond
dips down into cattails
releases cowbirds and killdeer.
So certain is this field,
—Anita K. Boyle
Among the alders hide my ongoing work at capturing the world around me in stark black and white. Anita K Boyle will be joining me at the Sammamish Library on Tuesday the 17th to celebrate the crisscrossing inspirations of our creative energy and the natural world. I will show off my work at the City Hall (next door) and then speak a bit about my own process and naturalist leanings, Anita will read more of her lovely poems, and to finish, a representative from a local non-profit “Sammamish Walks” will talk a little about various ways and opportunities to learn about and enjoy the area.
City Hall will be open from 6-7pm for viewing, the Library program starts at 7ish in the meeting room and runs about 1 hour. Kids are welcome (its a new library with a great kids area).
Anemones are the first star of my new alphabet…..but we are all trying to slow things down right, so ill hold on to that a little bit longer.
The picture above is at Sammamish City Hall (and looking for a more permanent home) 28″x 60″ 2012
What’s distance to me? Even birds
in flight need no assistance.
I need a space with light. A few trees.
I’m no judge of anything.
The earth sings
with ease. Frogs sound
throughout the night.
I’ve wandered here awhile.
I’ve all the music I need.
This is not a disgrace.
I’ve planted the willows
on the first island of the lake.
If the red-winged blackbird means yes,
—Anita K. Boyle
December 1, 2011
Most of which do not involve glass and matt cutting and unwieldy wooden frames that barely fit in the back of my 4-runner (this is a good thing because the 4-runner has recently been sold and life is a car-free experiment these days).
Things that do fit nicely in the my backpack, or bike trailer are:
Otter and Octopus A Northwest Alphabet Project- a Seattle CityArtist grant proposal that would help me create a series of environmental alphabet letter posters for display and use in schools, libraries, and community locations where fledgling readers hang out. Fingers crossed.
the Winter Harvest Card Set- Ive been conspiring with friend and foodwriter Jess Thomson. We’ve made a set of cards with my papercut images on the front and her lovely recipes on the back (inside is left blank for notes and well wishing). Together the set makes a cozy winter dinner party menu. They are on the shelves at the Book Larder and Picnic, two great Seattle shops and on etsy.
Also keeping me busy are holiday card designs for a kindred biking Ballard family, Oceanographer logos to go on the sides of C-vans, holiday present commissions for coastal and mountain dwellers, and for one lovely lady who is emailing me ideas from an icebreaker in the Southern Ocean…….
I am also terribly excited about water-jet cut metal designs and the Whalefall project that made me cry in my breve at the coffeeshop this morning, but ill save those for next time.
September 27, 2011
“Sandy Point Shipyard” papercut 2011 12″x18″
Recently, we all went home to Sandy Point, Maine.
My parents, who sold the family house on Mill Cove at the mouth of Penobscot Bay to spend a retirement running around on boats and changing lots of minds, my son who had never worn a rockweed crown on a sprawling mudflat, my husband who got beaten to the proposal punch on Monhegan island, and me (who cried while reading the childrens book “Miss Rumphius” at the park by the library befor departure).
It had been five years. Befor that there was always some seasonal work, or important reason for at least a few weeks visit each year. I was worried, that coming back would tear at me, loading on acres of regret and confusion about where i want to be.
The house is now in the hands of a cousin and is bigger and better and tidy around the edges in a new way that suits it fine.
It was all ok. There was nostalgia, but no regret.
I had more emotion (and maybe the hint of a tear) during a ferry ride out into the islands, passing by North Haven, and Hurricane. An archipelago where i lived and taught in boats and on the bald faced granite for many summers.
The places always change, the shells that hold us come and go. A boat fire for one friend, sales and foreclosures for others, and the creep of the elements and wild mountain rose for our cabin in Curlew. But even when those things lost were built with our own hands, i think it is the land that holds the heart. A warm pine island wafting through the fog, or the canopy of live oaks lousy with squirrels, even the ethereal light of my neighborhood in the urban checkerboard.
In the early 1900s Sandy Point boasted a busy shipyard churning out 3 and 4 masted schooners on two railways, I grew up down the beach in the old boarding house that once lodged the lumbermen from the mill. Now Sandy Point is a sprawling sandy beach and a straggling of pilings. Sand is reclaiming the traces of the past all along that coast.
“Sandy Point Shipyard” will be included in my Shared is the Sea exhibit at the Northwest Maritime Center (see EVENTS page for details).
ALSO COMING UP!!!
This Saturday is the opening of Columbia City Gallerys’ Paper,Rocks,Scissors group show. My piece “Rock #1″ is looking big and bold, along with my friend Emma Levitts fine print “Cave” and an interesting assortment of other quirky artists in a cute little gallery. As if you needed another excuse to hop on the lightrail and play in this up and came neighborhood. Details on my events page.
August 22, 2011
It is a drift of little black paper cuttings on the floor.
It is piles of sheet paper with coffee table books keeping them flat.
It is hand exercises and a new crush on Mary Azarian and the Farmers Alphabet.
It is a fat, happy envelope from a gallery, and then sooo many hours spent lost in a
design program that my eyes go bloodshot and the show cards have to wait.
It is also the movement of hands across paper, trying to translate everything I know
about a wave into form. From ocean nights high in the rolling rigging of sailing
ships, and bodysurfing in golden glinting froth in Baja, and watching from the pebble
beach that once was home.
From the roil to the ripple, how does it taste and feel and smell and leave me different.
If I wrap all of that into such a simple picture, will it somehow show through?
How gows the work? It goes well, busy. Rich and full.
Today I finished a piece for 2 good friends who run around outside, climbing and
biking and skiing, higher, further, more. They met and were engaged and married in
mountain towns across the world. Now love lives with them in the Methow Valley.
Another year, another mountain shared.
SEE the top image in Shared is the Sea, this October in Port Townsend
August 13, 2011
On Saturday night I will be sitting in a classy shoe store sipping wine and trying not the notice the tiny bit of fluff that got behind the glass of that one picture. The rest of art, the other that is not just the making has been whirling in around me like a wave lately. And the learning curve is steep.
This morning I got a call about filling in at the LAST minute as an artwalk artist for Market Street Shoes here in Ballard, the result has been a very cranky tot, a tired artist, a huge lesson in framing oversize art from the amazing ladies at Annies art and frame, and two gorgeous 26″x60″ images that are dressed in shiny black cocktail frames and visible through the plate glass window to all passerby on the main drag in Ballard. There are also some other pieces from my studio, some that have been posted here like the hat lady and terrarium, and a couple things hot off the presses. A random bunch ill admit, but in looking at what I had on such short notice, I saw a tale of a homemaker still caught up in her adventures and the sea, and a bit too full of big ideas to settle comfortably down into the life of the stay at home mom.
Im calling it “Now and Later”. Come join me for a drink on Saturday night 6-9, the art will be on display till the 8th of September.
July 14, 2011
Looking north from Saddlebag island, the high ridge of Lummi island looms in the distance. The current lines wind their way, following underwater bathymetry and their own fickle whims. In eddies at dusk we found porpoise and sea lions, salmon and seabirds. (12″x18″)
I have a family that still fits in a 15′ sailboat.
In the rest of life we have, what feels to me, like way too much stuff. Boat trailers, bikes and bikes, a weedwacker, a motorcycle, and even what constitutes a second home (its off the grid on a mountain and has no hot water but we have and do sometimes live there).
Some days it bogs me down, all those things.
When I was my sons age we lived on a 30′ sailboat with no standing headroom, and depending on my dads temperament, no motor.
So it is blissful freedom to pack food and the fewest things in our tiny boat and head out into the islands for a few days adventuring. To be out all day long and sleep under stars and be lulled by the waves, to have almost nothing and need even less.
To be reminded that if that was all i had, my family, their love, and a wild bit of space, it would be plenty.
June 23, 2011
Walking through the South Lake Union neighborhood the other night had me caught up in thoughts of the city and my life in the midst of it.
I drove up here at 18 in a VW Karmann Ghia, fresh from heartbreak in the desert and searching for an old friend and a place that was nowhere id been. All that I’d heard about Seattle was flannel shirt music and a Rolling Stone article that highlighted suicide, heroin, and the insidious gloom. To me it felt a dark and gritty place where people came to jump off into the unimaginable frontiers of Alaska, Canada, and the wide open Pacific.
That first day the city was in perfect dreary November clothes, and I slept on the couch of a friend of a friend of a friend. Actually, the v-berth of a sailboat moored along the ship canal in Ballard.
Fate tripped up my aimless wandering and the raindrops talked me into staying. I promptly got an unmentionable piercing, a job making coffee, and fell for the sailor.
Now, back on the wide bright streets of the newly transformed heart of the city, the lights on the Vulcan cranes wink at me and the lake sparkles all around the edges. Did all that grit and grunge grow up, have kids, and move back to Ballard?
This nostalgia is due to recent sightings of the new Center for Wooden Boats festival poster which features one of my papercuts. I love it, partly because Erin at the Center did such a great job of layout, but also because it feels like I’m celebrating my time in this place, in and around Seattle, its boats and characters helping and holding me as we both change and grow.
June 10, 2011
“He is a hoarder and I am a purger, so together… we curate,” she told me as I ooed and ahhed around their apartment. I was truly flattered and very nervous to think that a piece of mine was soon to fit into this collection of things. The last couple commissions ive done from phone calls and email, and in the end at delivery, gotten my only glimpse of the lives that my art would become a part of.
Now having met the prized thirty year old algae on the windowsill and seen the view that inspired this whole project, I was working with a lot more impressions. For better or worse.
I sent out sketches, and proofs and despite attacks of spring fever on both ends the piece was completed and ready to deliver (the most scary moment of all despite approvals at all stages).
There was happiness, even hugging. But the best piece for me was some praise of the process, and appreciation for a chance to see inside my notebooks and my story, while sharing theirs with me. She told me I should be emphasizing the “experience”.
So here are some of the pieces of this puzzle.
Also for more great voyeurism check out the 2011 Sketchbook Project as it stops here in Seattle on its world tour. 10,000 moleskine folios From fine art to first graders and everything in between, including me. June 10,11,12 At Form/Space Atelier 12pm-4.