We are having a different kind of Mondays. The bike ride to school is composed of mostly dirt road and the mountains are out every day. Our new home has been a hard place to love at times, with blast furnace heat by the fourth of July and wildfires on the ridges nearby for most of August. Then suddenly the calendar ticked over to September and the air cleared, nights cooled, school started, and this new life has begun. The first piece to come off of my work table is going into the Northwest Outward Bound auction, at their raucous Black Tie and Tennis Shoes fundraiser next month. It is a hope for early snow to cool all those lingering burns around here and throughout all too much of the west.
What exactly “work” looks like now is an ever evolving line of conversations. My next book, B is For Bear A Natural Alphabet will be on the shelves in a month and my retail items will show up in Confluence Gallerys gift shop here in Twisp in time for Christmas. The snowy winter rolls out on the far horizon with plans for an exhibit of work inspired by my springtime Inside Passage trips, and work on a flannel covered, wooly hatted mountain storybook.
Looking back at last seasons sketchbook, I found this ramble done in the Deserter Islands of Queen Charlotte Sound but very much the essence of our move to different Mondays.
“..a deserter from the world of the big mortgage and the small vacation, too busy and not enough time. Running downwind from that life to a new one that looks up at the sky and notices changes in the air and the beauty in feeling, being, doing, living high.”
This spring there is a frenzy of action, movement, and change in all directions….
1. I had an awesome time as artist in residence at the Portland Childrens Museum, and got to watch the spring blossom on long bike commutes and afternoon sketching sessions. There is an exhibit pulled from my time there which will be showing in their gallery space though July.
2. My new book Arrow to Alaska hit the shelves… Find it at your local bookstore, or on my etsy site when i’m back from #4 and #5
3. Last weekend I celebrated summer weather during a Nature Journaling class put on by Cedar Root Folk School. We sketched and rambled and wrote and enjoyed Marrowstone Island. Above is a fish-head collected during my drift exercise.
4&5 Not one but two trips up the Inside Passage to Alaska! Tomorrow I steam off on the mighty salmon tender Chichagof, for some kids on boats fun and a week of pouring over charts and current tables in preparation for trip two. The “R2AK” or race to Alaska is a wild idea dreamed up by the head of the NW Maritime Center in Port Townsend, WA. For its first year in existence, 40 teams will sail or row or paddle (no motors allowed) from PT to Ketchikan. The first team gets 10,000$, the rest just aches and glory. Its a crazy field of boats and competitors. Check out www.r2ak.com for full hilarious details. I’m team GRIN. Ill also be posting a bit on instagram when service allows (@hannahviano). Look for field sketches done along the way, and hopefully a show of artwork inspired by the journey in the months to follow.
Art is adventurous work these days, and i hope to keep it that way. Wish me luck.
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.
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.