(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…
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.
“Go North, Go Simply”
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.
Current Line 25″x35″
Ill be on hand Thursday June 14th for West Seattle Artwalk.
What a good excuse to see the citys best sunset.
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
Come Sit a While poster
My grandmother used to pat the seat beside her and say “Come, sit a while”. It was a time to set everything else aside while you took notice of your place in the big wide world and watched the grass blow in the breeze, the tide come in and out. Those moments sparked the idea for this show, a closer look at the local flora and wild landscapes thriving just outside the city.
Ive been writing press releases about slowing down and taking time to really notice things around you, while at the same time letting my own life nearly bubble over. This month I officially filled up the calendar for 2012, with a mix of art shows, projects, and commission work that came from the “say yes to everything” mantra of 2011. It seems impossible that I have gone so fast from a few black scraps of paper on the work table, to work scheduled a year in advance, but it has.
With that realization comes a strong wish for me to take my own advice, to slow down and look carefully, at my own place, my own impact, and my own direction.
And I did take on one more little extra project, but its also deeply rooted in slowing down and simplifying. Check out one simple question , and stay tuned to see what I come up with for them.
Below are a few previews from the upcoming show. For more details and to attend the artist program on April 17th see the news page.
Mackerel Skies 22″x54″
I think this year for christmas I am getting inspiration.
*I asked for a flat file, dreamed of a cashmere hoody, and truly need new tires for my bike (the go everywhere, carry everything,one less minivan, crucial-for-life item).
All this month, like my own advent calendar (and better than cheap chocolates that you open a new door to every day) things have been coming my way. Inspiring people and places, in all types of media are streaming in. At the same time the light is shining on my own web of connections within the work that is already started……A strong breath blowing under the fledgling fire and giving it oxygen to burn bright.
At the top of my inspiring list is a Biology professor at the University of Washington, who is trying to revitalize the study of Natural History with the help of new technology and his own web of creative folks from all different disciplines. Check out The Natural Histories Project, and an upcoming article in “Science” journal by J.Tewksbury and collaborators that will have some of my art tucked into the background.
by commission 16"x11"