Nine months of work and anxious procrastination later, and I have finally finished my artist book “Meditations on a Credit Card”. I call this the completion of a Journey of Sorts.
I received a Visa card. This card is dark grey with red edges such that when one looks into the wallet, this card shows up first. Genius marketing, I thought.
I also had stacks of old prints which I had cut up for book markers — which nobody wanted. I imagined them with bloody edges. This book started coming together. Now…I’m only reluctantly an observer of marketing ploys, but I thought about this card, about revolving credit and about the pain it can bring.
This artist book not a tome on our economy. It is a collection of short musings on capitalism, consumerism, and financial plastic.
A picnic table in the rain
One seat is still available.
What does it profit man to gain the whole world and lose his planet?
Once, when speaking about the corrupting effect of the profit motive on the production of art, Ursula Le Guin said “We live in Capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the Divine Right of Kings.”
The root of the word materialism is from the Latin “mater” which means mother.
My book “Build” which I featured on this blog several weeks ago was accepted into a show called “Built” at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland OR. which opens next week. It is a book about things to build in the time of tyrants.
If you are in the area, drop in and have a look. It promises to be a great show. You can check out the online portfolio here, and you can tell Oola if I am wrong. We’re taking the train down and would be happy to see you at the opening.
If you come to visit Port Angeles, you will be captivated by its beauty. If you stay for a while, you will get a more realistic look. This is a artist book about the Port Angeles that is growing in my heart.
Here’s how it happens.
The clouds sink under the mountains
to the south.
Venus hums above.
A red copter circles the sea
to the north,
and tankers shoot the harbor to light.
A solstice breeze questions
between the trees. The town below
circles like a frost dog
to begin its sleep.
On the bluff above bag-piper sings vespers,
a little ragged
but sad and sweet.
Grey frigid noon.
A gathering of crows
warms the highest branches.
Then they scatter, an episode worthy of Hitchcock.
a creek of newly melted snow
rampages. Its teeth bite the sky.
It shouts escape from its cement captivity,
gallops bridge under bridge under bridge,
barely notices the cable-bound timber
that lines its course.
These water-dense logs
provide a homeless shelter
hidden from vigilantes,
nights of cold rest
imprint the sand.
The crows spy
an orange syringe in the rocks.
The belted kingfisher hovers,
The creek surges into the sea,
mane and tail.
Downtown you will find a great whale.
Its skin — an iridescent bubble —
undulates in the early breeze,
head draped over warehouses,
tail sunk into deep harbor.
One immense bone — a chiseled,
polished, stone vertebra — anchors
our whale to the cropped lawn and regulated roses
in the city park.
One sleepless woman watches
and remembers a time before the whale fed itself
to crabs and smoke-eyed ravens.
Her twisted fingers speak of cold
and the the hunger of small birds.
She watches the morning children
emerge from SUV belts and tumble
into the park.
Untutored by memory
measure their thin edges
to the convex and concave
of the whale’s vertebra.
Affixed to the present, they grin into dad’s camera
through a neural canal.
Scenes and Musings in PA is a book of my observations made in the town of Port Angeles, WA on the northern slopes of the Olympic Peninsula.
The Whale is based on a sculpture by Alex Anderson at the Valley Creek Estuary Park.
The horse draws its inspiration from poems by Pablo Neruda.
The anonymous bag-piper really did play, magically and alone, on the bluff above downtown PA as described.
I made the drawings on a Wacom tablet, directly into Photoshop. We are very lucky to have an active figure drawing group not very far from Port Angeles.
Photos, drawings, writings, design, printing and binding, and paste paper by me. (The binding is a double dos-a-dos construction with a slip cover.) And Oola stole the old map of Port Angeles from the web.
Spring is pumping like a hurdy-gurdy here, and the first salmon berries are poking their pink goodbyes to Winter.
People who have lived in Port Angeles for a long time tell me that this cold is unusual, even for Port Angeles. I have a new appreciation for those who say “Snow is beautiful. Let it stay in the mountains where it belongs”.
But staying indoors, in the studio, is a good way to produce more art. And here is my latest. It is called “Build” and it is a dialog-with-self about what creative people can do to resist the authoritarian forces that have been chilling us for the past many weeks.
You can click on any image to see a larger version.
“Build”, front and back, closed
The size closed is 10″w x 13.5″h, x 4″d. It’s made of an old wine gift box, linen, acrylic paint, scraps of leather, telescoping tubes, plexiglas, handmade paper, and some of my figure drawing (dancers) pigment printed on transparent film. (A couple of years back these drawings were printed very large for an artist book installation.)
Here is my text which I hand printed in the little book.
To construct something complex by putting parts together over a period of time.
Tyrants divide and dominate. They manipulate communications to spread the fear of “other”. Then they work the resultant loneliness to their personal gain. Tyrants reward the venality that allows the tyranny to live and metastasize.
The bully has no use for tellers of truth. No forbearance for people who think their own thoughts, write their words, share their stories, dance their dances, generate peace. No tolerance for the Victor Jaras of this world.
Yet, there are many ways to resist despots, all requiring courage. This book urges rejecting the lies, mending the broken bonds and curing the loneliness. It advocates the building of community — groups too large and joyful in their purpose for the tyrant to crush.
This book suggests the following physical and metaphorical items for individuals and communities to build.
Build friendships, families, a nest, a bridge, a menu, a book, a bookshelf, a library, a house, a home, an armature, a trellis, a boat, a life, a seedbed, a garden, a nursery, a farm.
Build a base camp, understanding, a sanctuary, a troupe, a shelter, a future, a chord.
Build harmony, a sand castle, a montage, a movement.
Build diversity, trust, a path, a reputation, peace.
Build a theater, a team, a dialogue, build strength.
Build a tree house, stamina, links, a framework, a lean to, a habitat, a buttress, scaffolding, a gazebo, trade, structure, meaning, a fire, build resistance.
Build what gives joy. Build it well.
Build a ground-swell.
[Victor Jara was a popular teacher, poet, singer/songwriter, theater director, and political activist in Chile in the time of Allende. When Pinochet came to power in 1973, Victor was tortured and killed by the military junta.]
You can see this book in action, and hear the text in a 2 min. video.
Next month I will drag Oola out from under the double down quilt to take an Amtrak ride to the Bay Area. We will see what adventures come from that.
No new journeys yet, but Oola and I are planning to brave the traffic in THE BIG CITY in two weeks to visit and/or volunteer in the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair, then on to the Sammamish Library in Sammamish WA for an artist book show-and-tell. Both adventures will be as a member of the Book Arts Guild in Seattle.
In the meantime, I have not been twiddling my thumbs. Having become intimidated by a large project which I embarked on early last year, I have been trying out stuff on a smaller scale and thinking of the work as “studies”. Here are three:
You can enlarge any image by clicking on it.
The finished sizes of these studies are about 18″ x 26″ x 4″. They are developed from my electronically drawn figures, digital photos, and rubbings of street features, all in Photoshop. They are then pigment printed on Habotai silk on an Epson 9900. I sew the borders on to the central image, then attach the small stones using iridescent fly fishing thread. I embroider slashes in the silk with cotton thread and “suture” them with binder’s waxed black linen thread. Other materials include transparent film, silk-wrapped branches, silk-wrapped coil, copper wire, telephone wire, lead fishing weights wrapped in waxed cotton thread.
No physical road trips lately, but here is an offering of an artist book I just finished.
It started from one of those dreams some of us are plagued with, the one where you drive round and around and either never get back to the beginning or pass the beginning/end repeatedly. (And what a road trip that would be!)
It is also about a memory of a specific experience in a place that no longer exists.
It consists of two physical parts. The first is a small accordion book of artist written text. The second is the carousel construction in which the universal dog tries and tries to get through the fences to the memory in the trees.
Some of the vignettes behind the fence might seem oddly familiar. A couple are secrets or very personal. The viewer is invited to get very close to the fence to figure out the stories.
And the text, which does not configure exactly stanza to panel:
To place memories on
a long-lost map.
How quiet the air
all that long night vigil!
At the time
they could not understand
the stillness of the dead.
Hoop of long white skirts
Turn, turn, turn, clap.
Turn, turn, turn, clap.
The accordion, the dance.
Long sighs of
rise from an ordered plot.
another illusion smashed.
It was always the
tries to find the way back
to something long unfinished.
To see and hear a one minute video of this book in action:
This time the journey was to Dove Studio in Port Angeles where a group of us played around with marbleizing paper and cloth. This is a technique I learned from Joan Flasch (the best) in art school years ago. This technique is like the Fourth of July, full of oohs and aahs.
Marbleizing is a way to put pattern on paper, or fabric (or fingernails or car parts or tennis raquets…). We limited ourselves to paper and fabric. What you do is get yourself some thick water and float some paints on the surface. Mess with it and then drop your item on top of it – gently.
Here is Pamela placing drops of acrylic paint on the surface.
Then she makes patterns in the paint.
The room sucks in its collective breath.
You can see the images enlarged by clicking on them.
Diana and Katie experiment with ways to drop fabric on the paint to avoid the dreaded air bubble.
After a couple of hours of too much fun:
Everything a girl (or a cat) could want (notice the wine which Diane thought we might need) in the Wildcard’s Picking Parlour.
When everybody went home, Oola and I gathered up the leftover materials and played into the very small hours.