Meditations on a Credit Card

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 orbit within your circuit revolves off-center

Vertiginous wheel. Everything now. Everything roulette.

You can eat the whole enchilada at http://www.jandove.com/pages/creditcard.htmlYummm…See you there.

 

“Built” at 23 Sandy

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.

Scenes and Musings in Port Angeles

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.

Scenes and Musings in Port Angeles
Scenes and Musings in Port Angeles

1.

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
the darkness
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.

2.

Grey frigid noon.

A gathering of crows
warms the highest branches.
Then they scatter, an episode worthy of Hitchcock.

Below,
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
where,
hidden from vigilantes,
nights of cold rest
imprint the sand.

The crows spy
an orange syringe in the rocks.
The belted kingfisher hovers,
dives.
The creek surges into the sea,
mane and tail.

3.

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
they climb,
leap,
shout,
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.

You can enlarge any image by clicking on it.

Build

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.

Artist Book, Build
“Build”, front view, opened

You can click on any image to see a larger version.

"Build" from the side
“Build” from the side
"Build", from the back, opened
“Build”, from the back, opened
"Build", detail
“Build”, detail

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.

Build:

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.

Studies

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.

Study 1
Study 1
test1-detail-800
Study 1, detail
test2-800
Study 2
test2detail-800
Study 2, detail
test3-800
Study 3
test3-detail-800
Study 3, detail

 

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.

Motherhouse

No physical road trips lately, but here is an offering of an artist book I just finished.

motherhouse-cover800

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.

Motherhouse, artist book
Motherhouse in linear form

Motherhouse, artist book

motherhouse-milagrobest800

Motherhouse, artist book

motherhouse, artist book

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.

Some of the vignettes behind the fence are familiar. A couple are secrets or very personal. The viewer is invited to get very close to the fence to figure out the stories.
What is happening behind the rich man’s fence?
Some of the vignettes behind the fence are familiar. A couple are secrets or very personal. The viewer is invited to get very close to the fence to figure out the stories.
A very sheltered moment

And the text, which does not configure exactly stanza to panel:

Some of the vignettes behind the fence are familiar. A couple are secrets or very personal. The viewer is invited to get very close to the fence to figure out the stories.

Motherhouse
1.
To place memories on
a long-lost map.
2.
How quiet the air
all that long night vigil!
At the time
they could not understand
the stillness of the dead.
3.
Hoop of long white skirts
swirling.
Turn, turn, turn, clap.
Turn, turn, turn, clap.
The accordion, the dance.
4.
Long sighs of
would-be-wild
olive trees
rise from an ordered plot.
Freedom –
another illusion smashed.
5.
It was always the
motherhouse.
Even now
universal dog
tries to find the way back
to something long unfinished.

To see and hear a one minute video of this book in action:

https://vimeo.com/180533536

Can anyone point me to a laser cutting resource in the great Northwest?  If not, this hand cut book will be a one off.

 

 

Marble-ing in Port Angeles

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.

Pamela Hastings
Pamela applies drops of paint to the water (sized with carageenan) and watches it spread.

Magical!

Then she makes patterns in the paint.

Pamela Hastings

The room sucks in its collective breath.

You can see the images enlarged by clicking on them.
Katie Yeager
One of Katie’s works captured on Masa.

After a couple of hours of too much fun:

the usual suspects
Katie Yeager, Pamela Hastings, artist Francesca Cameron visiting from Portland, and Diane Williams

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.

 

 

Murdock Beach

Did you ever see a round rock?  Not round 2D like a pancake. Round 3D like a perfect sphere.  Well I hadn’t,  so I was intrigued when some friends told me about a beach where you can find them.  So was Oola.

The place is Murdock Beach, (sometimes known as Round Rock Beach) off of Hwy 112, down a rough dirt/mud road to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Being that Oola and I are novices, my friends kindly showered us with examples.

Murdock Beach on a brighter day, minus tide
Murdock Beach on a bright day with a minus tide and with Vancouver Island in the distance

Here is a “round rock”.

spherical rock

It is called a “concretion” or a “nodule”. What happened is when a marine critter died, something about it created a chemical reaction in the mud surrounding its remains and the mud hardened.  There is a fossilized sea creature inside this rock.  Here is a youtube video to explain the phenomenon better.

My friend artist/quiltmaker Diane Williams found this one.

Concretion inside a matrix
Concretion inside a matrix
Artist and teacher, Diane Williams
Artist and teacher, Diane Williams.  She also organizes the art shows for the Library in Port Angeles.

You can see that if you take the spherical part from the matrix, you would have something that looks like a pitted avocado.  And that is what Pamela Hastings showed me, along with something that was created by a creature with different ambitions.

Pamela Hastings
Artist, Doll Maker, Pamela Hastings

murdock14

That rock on the left would make a great head for one of her dolls.

Actor and sometimes teacher in musical theater at Cornish (and Pamela’s little bro), Hugh Hastings  found these.

Hugh Hastings
Hugh Hastings

There are more stones that look like “hot dogs in a bun” that hold fossilized items such as reeds.

fossilized reeds

My new friend, artist Katie Yeager found these spheres.

Katie Yeager
Katie Yeager

Then a few minutes later she displayed these with an explanation:murdock6

Here we have two balls, a tit, a penis circumcised and a penis uncircumcised.  (What is art without sex?  Nothing, I tell you, Nothing!)

Sound of throat clearing — Oola and I love rocks that have messages or drawings on/in them.  She found these strange drawings all over the place.

linear drawing on rocks
linear drawing on rocks

We didn’t find any pictures of Jesus’ face but this reminded me a little of octopus paintings from Minoan Crete.

snail trails on stones
Drawing of an Octopus?

If you click on the image to enlarge it, you may even see the artists!

BTY.  Murdock Beach is part of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  A sign indicates that rocks are catch and release.

PS Warning, the dirt/mud road contains surprise whoop-dee-doos, so unless you have a FWD, take is slow.  Take it slow anyway, and enjoy!

going home

PPS Warning.  Check your tide chart or wear your Wellingtons.  There is no beach at high tide.

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

Singular Artist Books at Robert Graves Gallery

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

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.

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
98801

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