Northwest River Stones

stonescase3-800photo: Randy Powell

All through the Northwest cold weather I worked on this collection of drawings, photos and assemblages about, to, and for the humble river stone. Like most humans they are abundant and self effacing (with a few notable exceptions!) and their beauty can be quite profound when one takes the energy to really look.

Here are some of my “rock people”.  You can click on the small images to inspect them more closely.

stonebooks3-800photo: Randy Powell

Each of the eleven sub-volumes opens in the manner of a stone rolling downhill and contains a part of my poem “Conversation with Stones” on its last page.  Each has a photo of a stone behind a screen of cut paper.  Each screen reflects something about the four drawings (prismacolor and graphite on black Arches).  Each sub-volume is hand bound in a style which someone may have done somewhere before me, but I suspect I made it up.

stonebooks1-800photo: Randy Powell

Each cover contains a sheet of Mica to look through.  Mica is a rock that separates into thin transparent sheets and breaks into sparkly  bits. In the research for this project I read that  mass burials of local Native Americans from the period of epidemics–brought on by collision with European cultures–are notable for their lack of Mica powder which was sprinkled over individual bodies of the dead in earlier times.

stones4-800

colophon-800

Printed on Asuka paper using an Epson Stylus Pro 9900 and Ultrachrome inks.

The book cloth is an artist-made layering of a loose weave linen on Arches Black (IIYEEEEE!  Hair pulling time!)

Special thanks to Randy Powell — artist, neighbor and a fellow graduate of School of the Art Institute of Chicago — for help with the documentation of this project.

Text of the poem, a slightly condensed version of the poem used in a previous artist book.

Riverless,
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,
and…
you are undeniably obscure.
You are a history of torrents substantiated by passion,
and…
you are the intent of small nows.
I am heavily seeking your eyes in my dreams.

You are adamantine laughter,
the strong, stony scent of earth
and the unyielding hooves of dreams.
You are a formidable condensation of lizards, grim swallows,
and difficulties of praise.
You are the austerity of stubborn of 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 crusher of ships.

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.

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 sequence.

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

You are all that is durable of dreams.

You are worn out, rounded energy,
sanded intensity,
polished integrity,
eroded ego,
abraded ambition.
You are the crumpler 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 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.

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.

Heavily verified and
painfully proven,
you are a labor of lessening 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.

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

Conversation with Stones container closed

Shop Fox

Mr. Wildcard can make more than guitars.  For those book makers out there who are interested in having a press clamp, here’s a honey-do the Wildcard recently did for me.

Press clamp
Press clamp

We bought a “delux press clamp” from Grizzly Industrial for $70.  The Wildcard scrounged up the off-fall from a maple butcher block counter top and some scrap walnut which he had stored and moved for the past several years.  I found the perfect breadboard of Black Acacia at our local big box store for $20.  Some nuts and bolts. Y voila!  A press for the book construction process, something I had always wanted but not put high on the list because I thought them too expensive.

He found he had to make a couple of small modifications: 1) sand the oil off the breadboard, and 2) add a cross piece near the center of the breadboard to keep it from spinning.

No more “heavy” art books to weigh down projects.  Maybe I can jettison Janson.

Thanks, hunny.

Another Trip to Blue

Oola in her new prom dress
Oola in her prom dress

Once again Oola dons her celebratory prom dress.  We have been awarded an artist residency at Blue Mountain Center in upstate New York this summer.  Oola is practicing her imaginary canoe to get in shape.  This time we won’t forget the swim suits!

I am planning to do something of an artist book/installation in the woods.  Without Oola…..just me and the bears…..

We’ll keep you in the loop.  Does an artist make books in the woods?!

Infinity Detail

Here is a book that has been fermenting for a while. I’ve been tearing up old prints and making new ones from the pieces.  And I was curious about light coming through the paper. This version has been produced digitally.

Artists Book, Infinity
Infinity Detail

As the book emerged I saw that it wanted to take on some aspect of the infinity symbol.  So then – of course – there crept in that old nagging Catholic question, “What exactly is ‘Infinity’?”  “What exactly is ‘the moment’?”.  “What is ‘now’?- as soon as you are aware of now, it is ‘then’.  I hear that other animals don’t ask these questions.  Is that true?  What is “Truth”? Do other animals have “Truth”?………..

Infinity Detail, selected page
Infinity Detail, selected page
Infinity Detail, selected page
Infinity Detail, selected page
Infinity Detail, construction
Infinity Detail, construction

You can see more (and larger) details at www.jandove.com/index.php/artist-made-books/infinity-detail

I had planned to post my reflections on a recent trip to see the Balclutha in SF. But after the event yesterday in Connecticut my mother/teacher heart was elsewhere.  It goes out to the families in that unspeakable tragedy, and to every parent who is holding children closer today.  May the healing begin soon for all.

Father’s Day

Neither  Oola nor I traveled much this summer.  Oola lazed about an imaginary pool, and I took my daily walks in the center of one of the most famous and desirable areas in the world — our own SF Bay Area.  I like to go to the Emeryville Marina and walk the path from the Bay to the pier to the yacht harbor.  I follow the occasional suspicious sea lion and watch those amazing young men stay alive on their sail/boards or lift themselves high into the air with their kite/boards.  (I don’t know what the real names of those toys are, but they produce some amazing sport.)

I did have Oola help me scatter some nasturtiums on the Bay for Father’s day, and with a little help from the Mysterious One I just finished this artist book about the experience.

Here are some sample pages:

Muß ist eine harte nuß.
Muß ist eine harte nuß.
Your baptism with the sharks
Your baptism with the sharks
And your long journey.
A great thirst of small birds, And your long journey.

To see the full sequence, go to

http://www.jandove.com/index.php/artist-made-books/fathers-day