Singular Artist Books at Robert Graves Gallery

September 26, 2015

Last week, Oola and I mounted a show of my artist books in the Robert Graves Gallery at Wenatchee Valley College in Wenatchee, Washington.  Oola has weak arms but an indomitable spirit.  We survived the adventure thanks to all the help we got.

View of Artist Book show at Robert Graves Gallery

View of Artist Book show at Robert Graves Gallery

I made a new book called “Conversation with Stones” for this exhibition.  It grew out of my admiration for the shapes and colors of river stones I have found in abundance in my new place on the planet, and from the thoughts that occurred to me about them.

Conversation with Stones (front view)

Conversation with Stones (front view)

I made the drawings of the dancers digitally and printed them on transparent film.  The “stones” are of handmade paper, shamelessly painted to refer to the mystical qualities I find in them.  The words and phrases from the stones are gathered up into a poem which is posted on the back wall of the installation and near the end of this post.

Conversation with Stones (view from back)

Conversation with Stones (view from back)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

A small fan to the side of the installation gently moves the pages and gives an animated quality to the hand.

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail of drawings)

Still Life: Ocean With Rock

you are both the memory of a brook and
a message from the stellar stream.
You are
the life of mountains,
firm, solid air,
rigid wind
and …
you are resistant to authorization.

You are
as unquestionable as wild apples,
as verifiable as the mocking bird,
as indisputable as the moon,
you are undeniably obscure.
You are a history of torrents substantiated by passion,
you are the intent of small nows.
I am heavily seeking your eyes in my dreams.

You are
Demanding as an obduration of lilies,
Formidable and tough as portending high noon.
You are a condensation of lizards, grim swallows,
and difficulties of praise.
You are the tough austerity of stubborn distance.

You are
the solidified lives of dragonflies,
hardened moss,
compacted fireflies,
a density of stars,
compressed stirrings of fury.
Unbreakable joy,
you are heavily verified
and …
a painfully proven gnasher of ships.

You are adamantine laughter,
the strong, stony scent of earth
and the unyielding hooves of dreams.

You are
inflexible dust and impenetrable musings.
You are thunder from the sierra,
the clatter of the daily grind and the hiss of gradual loss.
Joy … and pain,
you are the waterfall and the river bed,
and the record of a marriage.
You need not speak of past difficulties.  They are written on you.

You are worn out, rounded energy,
sanded intensity,
polished integrity,
eroded ego,
abraded ambition.
You are the crusher of ecclesiastics
and the one who grinds away the fiction of time.
You are
the sermon of abrasion,
the exhaustion of permissions,
and the diminishment of uniforms.

You are all that is durable of dreams.

Your language is long and slow.  It takes two rocks and a river to say “clack”.
Your language is communal and patient.  It takes many rocks and an ocean to say “clatter…hiss”.
I am an impediment to your sequel.

You are
You have journeyed from the center of the earth.
YOU are between the rock and the hard place.

You say to me,
“I used to be a boulder but now I am a color singing in the river.”
You say,
I am the survivor stone,
the remnant”.
You say, “The rock that was rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone.”
You sing how
you once destroyed a monster with a loaf of your bread,
and how you fed a village with a bowl of your soup.
You teach me how to prop open a door.

Heavily verified and
painfully proven,
you are a labor of leavening and profoundly wild.
You are the history of friction,
a cascade of attrition,
an abrasion of assurities.
You are the dwindling of certitudes,
the decrease of truisms.
You are the geography of erosion.
You grind down the hard nut.
Wear it down.
Wear it away.
You weather the choices.
You are a distillation of lessons
and a tutor to endurance.
You are the bones of the ridge.

Music of the commune, you are the cloister stone – river stones and water.
You are a lessening of mountains,
the moments and the ruins of a search.
You cause the loss of rough edges.
“Noli te bastardes carborundorum” say the young. “It has happened” say the rest.

There are two old stones in the shallows.  Together they watch over the new generation of salmon.
Cla-  -ack
Return to the universe.

Some of the other works in the exhibition:

“Dirt” and two scrolls from “Homeless Furniture”

“Dirt” and “Woodswoman”

Waterbook as installed in Robert Graves Gallery

Waterbook as installed in Robert Graves Gallery

The show will be up through Oct. 30.  If you are in the area, you are welcome to visit.

Robert Graves Gallery
Wenatchee Valley College
1300 5th Street (The gallery is more easily reached from the 9th St. entrance to the college.)
Wenatchee, WA

Gallery Hours
Mon – Fri:  11am to 3pm
Sat – Sun: Closed
Or by appointment
509-470-7844 or 509-633-1001

Artist Book Collection at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

September 22, 2015

A few weeks ago Oola and I headed for beautiful Bainbridge Island to see a show of artist books in the jewel-like Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

Bainbridge Island Museum of ArtWe had made reservations to hear Cynthia Sears talk about the work in a show called
“Artist’s Books Chapter Five: Women, Now and Then” in the Sherry Grover Gallery.  When we got there we found to our dismay – then to our enchantment – that the speakers would be artistbookmaking/calligraphy collaborators Carolyn Terry and Annabella Serra.

They are working with painstaking fervor on an alphabet book both dark and delightful.

click on any image to see more detail

Carolyn Terry and Anabella Serra

Oola immediately fell in love with Carolyn’s earlier books with its drawings, paintings and carvings of insects, other animals, and other surprises.

Oola is captivated by one of Carolyn's accordion books.

During all of this we were surrounded by a display of awe inspiring books — technically first-rate, content impressive, pushing the boundaries, and mostly just downright heartrendingly funny.

Take for examples:

Summer Hat with Flower by Diane Jacobs

Diane Jacobs' hat

Strips of paper printed with all the insulting terms that have ever been applied to women and woven into a hat which when worn protects the wearer from the ill effects of the offensiveness.

What She Needs by Sande Wascher-James with text by Sophie Tucker

“From birth to age 18 a girl needs good parents.
From 18 to 35 she needs good looks.
From 35 to 55 she needs a good personality.  And from 55 on she needs cash.”Sande Wascher-James

American Breeding Standards by Ellen Knudson

In this book Ellen takes the rules for breeding good horses and applies them to the female human.Ellen Knudson, Female Standards

The gallery was lighted perfectly for displaying books.  Not so great for taking pictures.  We crave you indulgence because something really special happened after the lecture and the looking.

Cynthia Sears came back into the gallery with a package, which turned out to be the newest addition to this book art collection.  And Oola, who loves anything like Christmas, was watching it all.


With evident delight Cynthia unwraps JoAnna Poehlmann’s  Cancelling Out, an accordion book of famous final words. JoAnna Poehlmann


I have been told that there will be more activities surrounding this outstanding collection beginning in October.  Ami Goldthwaite, the book room host, is available Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 – 2.

Amy Goldthwaite, at your serice

Check out the BIMA’s website for the  most current scheduling.

The WildCard and Malcolm Clark

August 6, 2015

Sometimes, that which you are looking for just shows up at your front door.  Yesterday blues player Malcolm Clark arrived at WildCard Guitars.  They sat down to play, and will probably be doing more of that in the near future.  Click here to be taken to a video of them playing “Born on a Bayou” on the front porch.

The WildCard and Malcolm Clark

The WildCard and Malcolm Clark

Steve is playing his Dionysian model solid body guitar.  Here’s one he made made for a client in the past, inlay by yours truly.

solid body guitar

dionysian model

Trip to the Northernest Westernest

July 30, 2015

Yesterday we decided to find out what extreme North West in the L 48 looks like, land’s end.  So we took a 70 mile drive from Port Angeles along Hwy 112 and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Cape Flattery in the west, all in Mom’s Memorial Prius.


Please click on any photograph to see an enlargement.

Roadside Wildflowers! At first the vetch was in full riot mode.



Then as we moved farther west we encountered Fireweed.

Even late in its season it fills the roadsides.  I saw it blanket a large swath of forest clear cut looking determined to defend and heal the land.

More and more wildflowers everywhere the eye landed.  Most of the names I do not know. A joyous extravagance!

Our first stop was a tiny town called Joyce with an old but well maintained general store/post office and – again – a love of colorful flowers.

Joyce general store and postoffice

Joyce general store and post office

There I noted two curiosities.  First a nearby building that advertized “Frozen Ice”.  Oola pondered: could there be another kind of ice?

Frozen Ice

Frozen Ice

Secondly, there was a small but closed museum.  In the museum yard there is a huge – I mean monstrous huge – tree stump with tackle.  The tree was eight-hundred-plus years old when it was cut down.  On the road I encountered dozens of lumber trucks, none of which held any logs that compared even minutely in diameter to this old stump.  The lumber industry cuts stuff down and ships it out on an industry time line.

stump and tackle

stump and tackle

The white tags say the tree was this old when the general store was built.

Not far down the road we saw this.flagAnd considering events since the recent Charleston shooting it’s probably best to leave this a quote without comment…other than to say that there are folk in this area who like to go out into the woods and play survivalist games seriously.

Farther along the road we took a short turnoff to

Great beauty, and as elsewhere along this highway, invitations to solitude and contemplation. UNTIL one looks up and sees this travesty at the top of the hill that creates Pillar Point:

Clear Cut

Clear Cut.  The lumber industry insists that this is the only way they can make enough money.

Oola opined that the fog was looking for its missing trees.

Farther up the road we entered the land of the Makah Indians including Neah Bay.  I loved driving through their forest filtered light.

Forest light

Forest light

We stopped at a burial ground.  It was sad to see so many American flags.  So many have died as veterans of American wars.

Makah graveyard sculpture

Makah graveyard sculpture

Soon we were almost to the goal of our trip, land’s end.  One small problem, my knee was reliving an old injury, and as it turned out, I could not walk the last half mile of Cape Flattery to the Pacific Ocean.  Here is a google picture of how it looks from the air.

Cape Flattery as seen from the air

Cape Flattery as seen from the air

It was sore disappointing not to see the caves, waves, and spectacular ocean rocks, the photos of which I had viewed on Google maps.  But when the knee heals I will go back.

Our consolation prize was to gently drive the Cape Loop Road to the tranquil Waatch River

Waatch River

Waatch River

and back into Neah Bay where we were too late to see the Makah museum.  It was time to go home but there was one more adventure waiting for us.

We saw the first falling of leaves and realized that yes the days are getting shorter — back to the lengths we were used to at lower latitudes.  Just east of Neah Bay I stopped the car on a bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the Snow River.

Snail Rock at the out point of the Snow River

Sail Rock at the out point of the Snow River

We were viewing the scenery when I observed people from the nearby car gesticulating and pointing cameras in the direction of the kelp beds below.  I asked what they saw and they said “a great big whale”.  Sure enough, Thar she blew! A big, languid, lithe, grey whale exercising her baleen in the shallows.  She was so big that even at our distance on the bluff we could hear the wind of her exhalation with the spray.

Whale spray

Whale spray

There was no hurry in her.  In fact – truth be told – she reminded me of those big, dramatic, brown slugs I used to find in the garden.  But she was magnificent.  My camera’s memory disk decided it was full, but there is one more picture.  Wish it were a video.

Grey Whale feeding

Grey Whale feeding

It was regrettable but we really had to make tracks.  And yes that really is a 9% downgrade – my favorite!

The road home

The road home

Wildcard Guitars, PA

June 13, 2015

Four years ago Oola and I traveled to the tiny luthier shop of Wildcard Guitars in Oakland, CA.  Since then Wildcard (Steve Card) has moved to Port Angeles, WA ( where the world is clean, quiet, friendly, affordable, spacious, polite, smart, beautiful, uncrowded, capable, curious…) and he opened his shop there.  Here’s a peek.

Wildcard Guitars storefront

Wildcard Guitars storefront

Wildcardguitar's show room

One corner of  Wildcard Guitar’s show room/Pickin’ Parlour with a couch and magazines for weary guitar widows.

The Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce welcomes Wildcard Guitars to PA

The Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce welcomes Wildcard Guitars to PA

Here’s the other side of the show room, with Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce doing a ribbon cutting.  Oola was fascinated by those big sharp scissors.  No one seemed to mind.

Wildcard Guitars flowers in the display window.

Wildcard Guitars flowers in the display window.

One of Steve’s Canadian neighbors brought by a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne in welcome.  The champagne was soon polished off, but the flowers seem to catch the eyes of passersby, so Steve continues the habit.  People like their flowers here.  Hard to grow tomatoes though.

Moving right along, there is much more room for Steve to work.

Wildcard workshop, north side

Wildcard workshop, north side

Wildcard guitars workshop, north side

Wildcard workshop, south side

Wildcard workshop, South side

Above is a neck and fingerboard for a new commission.  You see the slot carved out for the truss rod.

Humidity room with Go Bars for gluing

Inside the humidity room

Because of the rain and humidity Steve built an 8ft. x 8ft. “box” inside his workshop to keep his wood from distorting, and to get good glue joints.  He demonstrated how the Go Bars might be used to glue a bridge to a guitar top (you have to imagine the top).

Steve has so much space now he calls it “Palatial!”.

If you ever travel to the area, you can find the Wildcard shop at

111 N. Oak St
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Call for an appointment and Steve will be sure to greet you in person.

(360) 504 2961


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362

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

1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362


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.


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.



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