Ive been working on an artful identification guide to 6 Northwest trees. They are some of our most common and types that all of us trailrunners, dogwalkers, and urban wanderers should know.
I was inspired by my own lack of knowledge, one of those “think you know but really dont” times. When my 5 year old can rattle off the tree species in Discovery Park faster than I can (thanks to the awesome Nature Kids Preschool there) then it gives me pause.
I received a grant from local King County arts funder 4Culture to make this set of images. They have been reproduced as a cardstock take-a-way, and piles of them will be available free for passerby at parks and outdoor recreation spots around King County in November. Sites include; Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center, Camp Long Visitor Center, Seward Park Aububon Center, Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center and the Ballard Branch of Seattle Public library.
If you are interested in seeing the set of papercut images full size and all together, and presented in a cool printed metal format….. they will be on display at Venue in Ballard through November, if not longer.
For a great book that is a beautiful and broad reference for us treehuggers, check out “Northwest Trees” by Arno and Hammerly. It has excellent pen and ink illustrations and sets each species in its place in the larger picture of our forests and history.
In the 1980s a woodblock artist called Mary Azarian went to work in a rural one-room schoolhouse in Vermont. Finding it bleak and uninspiring, she set strait to work making a set of alphabet posters for the walls depicting rural life and objects. The alphabets’ fame spread and later the Vermont Board of Education commissioned sets for every school in the state. After falling in love with her work and this story, I started to look around at my own sons pre-school and the other learning places in our lives. Despite many fancy alphabet sets on display at kids’ stores, I kept coming across playrooms and library corners without this most essential literary tool. I would guess this is a product of extensive budget cuts and a culture of teacher-out of pocket expenses for anything “extra”.
So I proposed (to the CityArtist grant committee at Seattle Office of Arts and Culture) to make an alphabet set using papercut technique and then transferring it to silkscreen to reproduce the copies by hand. The 20 set first printing would be donated to schools, libraries, and community centers in the greater Seattle area. 5 of these locations would be chosen to do an in-person “demonstration”. This visit will include me introducing the alphabet by reading through the letters, bringing in show and tell items related to the images, and describing creative process of making the posters from field sketches to long hours in the printshop. I would also bring a small silkscreen setup so each child/person can pull their own small print of a favorite letter. These demonstrations are going to be be kicked off with a family friendly presentation at my local Ballard library, ( October 13th 2pm) to explain the project and art making process to community, friends, and family. …. Watch out those Salmon specimens are slippery!
To my great delight this project has taken flight and will also be turned into a book to be published by Sasquatch press, still a year to go on that process but ill keep you posted on release dates. At the moment i’m busy silkscreening the last of the letters and compiling my list of childrens’ programs who will receive the handmade sets, if you have a worthy place in mind let me know with a comment, i need them to be spread out all around the city.
For those of you who have run off to Port Townsend for October, ill have a bunch of pieces in the “Black and White” show at the Simon Mace Gallery. See EVENTS page for details.
A fixed location.
The fields breathe
their amber afternoons,
and gray mornings. Grasses
sweep the wind
The thick webs
of autumn spiders
snap, then dance.
leans over the fence,
gives apples to horses.
from barn to where the pond
dips down into cattails
releases cowbirds and killdeer.
So certain is this field,
—Anita K. Boyle
Among the alders hide my ongoing work at capturing the world around me in stark black and white. Anita K Boyle will be joining me at the Sammamish Library on Tuesday the 17th to celebrate the crisscrossing inspirations of our creative energy and the natural world. I will show off my work at the City Hall (next door) and then speak a bit about my own process and naturalist leanings, Anita will read more of her lovely poems, and to finish, a representative from a local non-profit “Sammamish Walks” will talk a little about various ways and opportunities to learn about and enjoy the area.
City Hall will be open from 6-7pm for viewing, the Library program starts at 7ish in the meeting room and runs about 1 hour. Kids are welcome (its a new library with a great kids area).
Anemones are the first star of my new alphabet…..but we are all trying to slow things down right, so ill hold on to that a little bit longer.
The picture above is at Sammamish City Hall (and looking for a more permanent home) 28″x 60″ 2012
What’s distance to me? Even birds
in flight need no assistance.
I need a space with light. A few trees.
I’m no judge of anything.
The earth sings
with ease. Frogs sound
throughout the night.
I’ve wandered here awhile.
I’ve all the music I need.
This is not a disgrace.
I’ve planted the willows
on the first island of the lake.
If the red-winged blackbird means yes,
—Anita K. Boyle
Come Sit a While poster
My grandmother used to pat the seat beside her and say “Come, sit a while”. It was a time to set everything else aside while you took notice of your place in the big wide world and watched the grass blow in the breeze, the tide come in and out. Those moments sparked the idea for this show, a closer look at the local flora and wild landscapes thriving just outside the city.
Ive been writing press releases about slowing down and taking time to really notice things around you, while at the same time letting my own life nearly bubble over. This month I officially filled up the calendar for 2012, with a mix of art shows, projects, and commission work that came from the “say yes to everything” mantra of 2011. It seems impossible that I have gone so fast from a few black scraps of paper on the work table, to work scheduled a year in advance, but it has.
With that realization comes a strong wish for me to take my own advice, to slow down and look carefully, at my own place, my own impact, and my own direction.
And I did take on one more little extra project, but its also deeply rooted in slowing down and simplifying. Check out one simple question , and stay tuned to see what I come up with for them.
Below are a few previews from the upcoming show. For more details and to attend the artist program on April 17th see the news page.
Mackerel Skies 22″x54″