Dirt

May 20, 2015
How to Develop a Healthy Immune System

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System – back view

There are artists who can work under the restrictions of a theme.  There are some who prefer to muddle about and try to make sense of what happens.  Well — it’s more complicated than that, but I am definitely one of the latter.

Once some of my students and I went on a field trip to the studio of Neda al Hilali.  To one of their questions she replied “My studio is the only place in the world where I can do whatever I want.”  Bless her, and I ask “why would I want to dance to anyone else’s tune when I am in my own studio?” So when I read of a challenge to artists and poets from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington concerning the U. N. International Year of the Soil, I surprised myself by responding.

The results are two small books reflecting some of my understandings and feelings about soil, the “skin of the earth”. They are constructed with a modified concertina binding developed by Heidi Kyle.  The first is How to Develop a Healthy Immune System.  I’ll let the book speak for themselves. To read more easily, click on the picts to enlarge them.

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System – front view

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System – text page

The second, How Soil Becomes Dirt, is based on something that has bothered me for many years.  There is a lot of construction going on in my neighborhood.  I am both fascinated and repelled by the huge machines and the crushing noise; by the stripped-bare tactics that seem to be part of the mentality of heavy construction, prisons, forestry — you know — the usual list.  I took some picts and combined them with biblical quotations to make this.

How Soil Becomes Dirt

How Soil Becomes Dirt – text page

How Soil Becomes Dirt

How Soil Becomes Dirt – Front view

How Soil Becomes Dirt

How Soil Becomes Dirt – back view

I was nervous about sending these out (because they break from my long established creative process). But I was very pleased to get a encouraging letter of acceptance from the jury.  The books are included in the show “Dirt: Scientists, Artists and Writers Reflect on Soil and Our Environment” at the Collins Memorial Library of the University of Puget Sound.  If you are in the area, please visit the show which will be up from August 6 to December 4.

Collins Memorial Library
1500 N. Warner St. #1021
Tacoma, Wa 98416

253.879.3669

Lake Crescent on Hwy 101

March 11, 2015

On a recent drive to somewhere else I stopped to admire the scenery from the edge of Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park.

I heard the sound of giant wings pushing against the air and then the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  Looking up I saw a splendid Bald Eagle.  He flew over the lake, presumably looking for lunch, and then he graciously returned for this cameo shot in the movie I call My Life.

Bald Eagle over Crescent Lake

Bald Eagle over Lake Crescent

It was awesome in the fullest sense of the word.  Oola was struck speechless.

A little later she recovered and resumed her chin-wagging with other travelers she met on the road.  One of them, Sparky, was warmly dressed for this cold morning.  Oola politely agreed, Yes, it really was VERY COLD.

Oola and Sparky The Dog

Oola and Sparky Theee Dog

As my eyes wandered across the water I was reminded of all those student hours in the darkroom flipping negatives to make mirror images.  And all the while, here it was.  Who Knew?

Crescent Lake, Olympic National Park

 Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Crescent Lake, Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

It was a remarkable morning — one for the records.

Webster’s Woods at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

March 4, 2015

On the slope rising from the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains there is a circular home called the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.  I use the word “home” advisedly because it is the place where once lived Esther and Charles Webster.  Now, thanks to Esther, it is the home for much beautiful art.

Port Angeles Fine Art Center

Port Angeles Fine Art Center

Surrounding the Art Center is Webster’s Woods, a special place to mosey and reflect.

Oola and I visited on a winter afternoon, and she really liked the address.  This has become one of our new favorite places. (Please click on any image to enlarge; they are well worth it.)

Webster's Woods

Webster’s Woods

One of the reasons I like this place is that, with few exceptions, I could not find the names of the artists.  The whole area seems more an expression of a community than of any single person.  It seems that each year, artists add new work, much of which returns to the environment over time.

There is a foot path — kinda — and you can roam it from any direction.

Webster's Woods

Webster’s Woods

Questions of monumentality and ego are absent — except by their absence.  This is about the earth, the people, and time.

You might meet others like yourself on the path.

quartet

Always there is a straggler, or maybe the rear guard, or maybe just a dreamer — about to be swallowed up.

quartet2

You will find wonderful work disintegrating into time and the earth.

Webster's Woods

Webster’s Woods

detail in Webster's Woods

detail in Webster’s Woods

I have seen blue ball sculpture before, but THESE blue balls are talking about a relationship with the trees — over time and through growth; and through stress when the wind blows from the Strait to the Mountains.

blueballs

Webster’s Woods

You may pass something by — Oola found these — only to discover later that they are beads hammered into the fallen tree.  This is my favorite of all that I saw in the woods that day.

redberries

Webster's Woods

Webster’s Woods

We found an open dell, and this elegiac group.

Webster's Woods

Webster’s Woods

We found sound wood, and the chance for communal performance.

Webster's Woods

Webster’s Woods

We found evidence that we had arrived at the correct conclusion from the wrong direction.

Webster's Woods

Webster’s Woods

I read that there will be more installations this summer.  Definitely we’ll be back.  I hope you get to visit, too.

PAFAC
1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362

pafac@olypen.com
360-457-3532

Sue Roberts at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

February 28, 2015

Didn’t Mom tell you not to judge a book by its cover?  Did your teacher say that art is about revealing inner reality?  Artist Sue Roberts upholds both these maxims in her pointed and funny show “Family of Sorts” currently at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (You can click on any image to see an enlargement.)

The Gun Family by Sue Roberts

“The Gun Family” by Sue Roberts

Attracted to “story” as I am, I was immediately drawn to this show (and gratified to see that artist has just ignored the vilifications which were heaped on visual narrative in my art school days).  Beyond the story, though, I was attracted to the painterly excellence applied to the ceramic work.  The artist doubles the intent of the work by skillfully adding semi-opaque 2-D layers which amplify the normal 3-D features of the work.  In the case of “The Gun Family”, the underpainting and overpainting on the surface gives a subtle and most appropriate grit-and-glitter result to this social commentary on interpretations of the Second Amendment.

The artist uses another technique which adds meaning to her stories:  Some of the work has a homespun look.

"The Pleaser" by Sue Roberts

“The Pleaser” by Sue Roberts

In “The Pleaser”  the costume conveys this meaning. But also, the dry and unsophisticated feel of the surface emphasizes by calling into question the complex maneuvering required for being a successful “pleaser”.

Compare that to

"Talons" by Sue Roberts

“Talons” by Sue Roberts

“Talons” which for the most part is polished with a coat of encaustic (a beeswax and resin concoction applied with heat).  The resulting seductive surface adds another layer of meaning to the “story”, especially where it contrasts with the unpolished “skin” of the talons.

"Oblivion" by Sue Roberts

“Oblivion” by Sue Roberts

In “Oblivion” the artist treats the ceramic surface with what appears to be more established glazing techniques.  The colors and surfaces are less subtle, the story more specific.  What contemporary person does not recognize this chap who is oblivious to his world and to the oblivion in the falls ahead?

If you are in the area, go see the show.  It is up until March 15, 2015. There is a master class with the artist on March 14.  Find out all about it at pafac.org.

1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362

360-457-3532

Leave time to see the sculpture garden!  More about that to come

Trip to Hurricane Ridge

February 16, 2015

Oola has been a bit down in the mouth with all the overcast skies and rain since we arrived.  So when we woke her with the news of a brilliant day, she rolled over and went back to sleep.

Mistake.

The weather can change here seemingly in an instant, so that when Oola decided to get up, the sky was gloomy again.

Still, the radio prognosticators had promised a great day, so we piled into Mom’s memorial Prius and began the 20 mile drive to Hurricane Ridge — the mountains we saw from across the harbor in the last post.

We climbed up and up until the clouds that were covering Port Angeles were beneath us.  At about 5200+ feet we came to a ski-bunny area.  And — WHAAAAT? — no snow.  Our Sequim friend and long time area resident had said that this is very early for the snow melt.

But the air was intense, and the light was dazzling.  It was not hard to make the best of the situation.

Oola soaked up sun for a while.

Oola sunning on Hurricane Ridge

Oola sunning on Hurricane Ridge

I shamelessly snapped tourist/calendar pictures one after another. (Click for image enlargement even though no imagery could do justice to what was in front of our eyes.)

The deep, steep valleys were carved over millennia by water and glacier.  Gazing on them brought to mind “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert which I have been reading.  I highly recommend it to you.

Oola soon had her sunny disposition back and began to play in the ski area.  Here is a picture of when she tried out her tight-rope walking skills on the ski lift.

Oola plays on the ski lift.

Oola plays on the ski lift.

Meanwhile I brooded on the absurdity of trying to make poetry of that which is already poetry.  On the way home I saw this,

cherry blossom and reflection

cherry blossom and reflection

and thought it stood a better chance of becoming a poem than all the picts I took at the top of the mountain.

 

On Ediz Hook Road

February 10, 2015

After a week of unpacking and of dealing with pass-the-buck bureaucracy worthy of a Russian novel, the Mysterious One and I made a quick decision to investigate that spit of land north of us called the Ediz Hook Reservation for Native Birds.  Didn’t see a whole lot of birds but we did see this looking south over the harbor to the mainland and our neighbor, Olympic National Park.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge

Looking north, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada IS there.

Canada across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Canada across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

And there were a few hardy people with their boats.  Cheryl didn’t have a boat with her, but she had a delightful pet ferret on a leash.  She made me think about what Cecilia Gallerani might do with her time when she wasn’t posing for da Vinci or waiting on Ludivico.

Cheryl and her ferret

Cheryl and her ferret

Lady with Ermine

Lady with Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci

 

Oakland to Port Angeles

February 9, 2015

Sometimes a Road Trip is a journey of necessity.  I took such a trip last week when I left my lifelong home in the SF Bay Area to take up new (and more affordable) digs on the northern Olympic Peninsula.  On such a trip one usually does not do a lot of sight seeing due to the pile of the odds and ends of one’s life in the back seat of the car.

Still there is beauty and surprise to be encountered along the way.

evening colors

evening colors

I wonder about this rest stop.  Presumably it is advisable to let one’s pet get thoroughly wet before getting back in the car!

pet rest stop

pet rest stop

Morning frost

morning frost

morning frost

afternoon mist

misty day

misty day

and incongruity in a glimpse.

dog's best friend

dog’s best friend

There are fears to be confronted.  (This is a biggie for me.)

Breakdown

Breakdown

There are social issues to be mulled

rest stop beggar

Begging

and marital concerns to be pondered.

two-way road sign

two-way road

There is beauty such as is found on calendars.

Mt. Shasta in the morning

Mt. Shasta in the morning

And there is beauty to spite the real world.

view of Mt. Shasta

Another view of Mt. Shasta

There is that heady sensation called ALMOST THERE .

Quinault River bridge

Quinault River bridge

Finally, after three days, my new home.  We’re supposed to be able to see Canada from the front windows.

evening colors

view from the WildCard’s window

More to follow.

 

 

 

Heading South on Amtrak

December 17, 2014
Corbels

Corbels

You are looking at some lovingly restored, turn of the (19th) century corbels spaced on the corners of the Olympia-Lacey Amtrak station. How do I know they are “corbels”? Because the sign says they are “corbels”. Actually the word jangled a hardly-ever-used synapse formed in my art history days. So dusty was the memory that I had to look it up. According to the Apple dictionary a corbel is a projection jutting out from a wall to support a structure above it. — Makes sense. Another useless bit of information revitalized.

Two things about this little gem of a railroad station: It is run by volunteers, people who really love trains. They seem to love helping clueless travelers like me. And they seem to love things like cheering, describing to each other, and counting aloud how many cars on a freight train from Canada.

Two things I have noticed in my short stay in Washington: Maybe it is the influence of the neighboring Canadians, but the people we have met have been kind and generous.

For example, the Mysterious One – who is a little short of his sell-by date — and a friend of similar vintage were unloading some heavy particle board sheets in the alley by our back door and causing a blockage in the thoroughfare. A “youngster” drove up in a pickup truck. Now, where we come from there would have been some honking, maybe a rude finger or two, and scornful disapproval. But this young man got out of his truck and asked to help load the wood. He made himself useful, then he drove on.

I had similar experiences. And while shopping for our supplies, we received info and assistance from all ages and colors of knowledgeable sales clerks. Nary a surly one among them. We were amazed!

We have heard funny turns of phrases. One that stuck was by a man who disapproved of the design of a car. “It looks like an upside-down up”, he said.

So, the people, while generally conservative in this area, seem to be people we will like and want to work with. But all is not choruses of angels, even in Port Angeles. There is homelessness and heroin addiction in my new neighborhood. And the seagulls aim with devastating accuracy.

pigeons on a roof

pigeons on a roof

I climb aboard and begin the trek home, with plenty of time to ponder the imponderables, like why do all the pigeons sit atop one house and avoid all other roofs in the neighborhood on this rainy day?

PS  At the moment of this posting the train is stopped. I hear the conductor announcing “we have the situation under control”. That is comforting, I guess. There are people with walkie-talkies. HMMMMM.

The Blue Hole

December 16, 2014

This morning we drove a rented car from Olympia up to the north of the peninsula. The land was green and magnificent along the Hood Canal, the waters and the cottages wouldn’t let the eyes go. We spotted our first Bald Eagle. (Sorry, we were too slack jawed to grab a picture.)

But the sky was grey and the road was wet.

All us Californians have heard about the rain quantities in this part of the world. But the Mysterious One and I had been told about the micro-climates here. In particular we were told of the “Blue Hole” over Sequim and Port Angeles. We learned, but did not really believe, that the mountains of Olympic National Park cast a rain shadow.

We’ll we came around the curve toward Sequim and there was the Blue Hole!

Outside Sequim, the Blue Hole

Outside Sequim, the Blue Hole

I was flabbergasted by the snow on the mountains, which seemed to be right in the back yard, because the air is so clear. The land flows gently down to the sea from those mountains, and has been use for dairy land for a few many years now. Hence the picture of a dairy farm with Hurricane Ridge in the background and the Blue Hole overhead.

I don’t know enough to write about the native peoples here. But some have casino enterprises on tribal land. Oola and I probably won’t become involved in that activity. I read in the local paper that the Clallam County tribe is looking into pot (which is legal here in WA, but — we have found — not always welcome.) “The U.S. Dept of Justice said that Native American tribes can grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands”, says the local paper. There is controversy, and much discussion.

totemWe did, however, stop for brunch at the Longhouse’s Market and Deli outside Sequim. There we found this beautiful totem sculpture named “The Salmon Bringer”. Designed by Dale Faulstich, and carved by him along with Nathan Gilles, Harry Bulingame and Bud Turner in 2007.  What a beautiful statement, especially in this world where some people are trying to capitalize on Frankensalmon, and the native rivers of the West Coast are dammed, drained, polluted and overused.

Amtrak to Olympia

December 15, 2014
Amtrak station, Emeryville

Amtrak station, Emeryville

We are traveling on the Coast Starlight, but won’t see much of the coast since we are getting aboard in the Bay Area instead of LA.  This is not a good way to travel if time is your major consideration.  But if you want to experience the old days, with sleeper cars and full service, this is one of the last.

Our trip would take 20 hours and there was much to see.

Bridge and Reflections

Bridge and Reflections

So much that at first I didn’t notice that Oola was missing.

Getting into the upper bunk requires the skills of a contortionist but we finally fell asleep to alpha waves produced by the rhythm of the train climbing into Mt Shasta territory.  The shadows of trees pointing to a misty moon were mesmerizing.

I awoke to a stunning sunrise.

sunrise

sunrise and irrigation canals somewhere in Oregon

And when I could finally start putting one thought after another, I realized that we had forgotten to bring Oola.  I think she overheard the Mysterious One’s comments concerning the pillow, crawled into one of the packed boxes of art supplies in the Oakland studio, and will not be found again until we are all safely in Port Angeles — permanently.

Snow in the Cascades

Snow in the Cascades

The scenery was stunning.  Too bad on her for missing it.

Mount Hood

Mount Hood

The other passengers pleasant to talk with.  But Oola didn’t think the joke was funny.

Tomorrow we will rent a car and drive the rest of the way to Port Angeles.  Meanwhile, I have to think of a way to make it up to Oola.

The Mysterious One says he will get her a corn dog.

 

 

 


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