On Saturday night I will be sitting in a classy shoe store sipping wine and trying not the notice the tiny bit of fluff that got behind the glass of that one picture. The rest of art, the other that is not just the making has been whirling in around me like a wave lately. And the learning curve is steep.
This morning I got a call about filling in at the LAST minute as an artwalk artist for Market Street Shoes here in Ballard, the result has been a very cranky tot, a tired artist, a huge lesson in framing oversize art from the amazing ladies at Annies art and frame, and two gorgeous 26″x60″ images that are dressed in shiny black cocktail frames and visible through the plate glass window to all passerby on the main drag in Ballard. There are also some other pieces from my studio, some that have been posted here like the hat lady and terrarium, and a couple things hot off the presses. A random bunch ill admit, but in looking at what I had on such short notice, I saw a tale of a homemaker still caught up in her adventures and the sea, and a bit too full of big ideas to settle comfortably down into the life of the stay at home mom.
Im calling it “Now and Later”. Come join me for a drink on Saturday night 6-9, the art will be on display till the 8th of September.
Looking north from Saddlebag island, the high ridge of Lummi island looms in the distance. The current lines wind their way, following underwater bathymetry and their own fickle whims. In eddies at dusk we found porpoise and sea lions, salmon and seabirds. (12″x18″)
I have a family that still fits in a 15′ sailboat.
In the rest of life we have, what feels to me, like way too much stuff. Boat trailers, bikes and bikes, a weedwacker, a motorcycle, and even what constitutes a second home (its off the grid on a mountain and has no hot water but we have and do sometimes live there).
Some days it bogs me down, all those things.
When I was my sons age we lived on a 30′ sailboat with no standing headroom, and depending on my dads temperament, no motor.
So it is blissful freedom to pack food and the fewest things in our tiny boat and head out into the islands for a few days adventuring. To be out all day long and sleep under stars and be lulled by the waves, to have almost nothing and need even less.
To be reminded that if that was all i had, my family, their love, and a wild bit of space, it would be plenty.
Walking through the South Lake Union neighborhood the other night had me caught up in thoughts of the city and my life in the midst of it.
I drove up here at 18 in a VW Karmann Ghia, fresh from heartbreak in the desert and searching for an old friend and a place that was nowhere id been. All that I’d heard about Seattle was flannel shirt music and a Rolling Stone article that highlighted suicide, heroin, and the insidious gloom. To me it felt a dark and gritty place where people came to jump off into the unimaginable frontiers of Alaska, Canada, and the wide open Pacific.
That first day the city was in perfect dreary November clothes, and I slept on the couch of a friend of a friend of a friend. Actually, the v-berth of a sailboat moored along the ship canal in Ballard.
Fate tripped up my aimless wandering and the raindrops talked me into staying. I promptly got an unmentionable piercing, a job making coffee, and fell for the sailor.
Now, back on the wide bright streets of the newly transformed heart of the city, the lights on the Vulcan cranes wink at me and the lake sparkles all around the edges. Did all that grit and grunge grow up, have kids, and move back to Ballard?
This nostalgia is due to recent sightings of the new Center for Wooden Boats festival poster which features one of my papercuts. I love it, partly because Erin at the Center did such a great job of layout, but also because it feels like I’m celebrating my time in this place, in and around Seattle, its boats and characters helping and holding me as we both change and grow.
“He is a hoarder and I am a purger, so together… we curate,” she told me as I ooed and ahhed around their apartment. I was truly flattered and very nervous to think that a piece of mine was soon to fit into this collection of things. The last couple commissions ive done from phone calls and email, and in the end at delivery, gotten my only glimpse of the lives that my art would become a part of.
Now having met the prized thirty year old algae on the windowsill and seen the view that inspired this whole project, I was working with a lot more impressions. For better or worse.
I sent out sketches, and proofs and despite attacks of spring fever on both ends the piece was completed and ready to deliver (the most scary moment of all despite approvals at all stages).
There was happiness, even hugging. But the best piece for me was some praise of the process, and appreciation for a chance to see inside my notebooks and my story, while sharing theirs with me. She told me I should be emphasizing the “experience”.
So here are some of the pieces of this puzzle.
Also for more great voyeurism check out the 2011 Sketchbook Project as it stops here in Seattle on its world tour. 10,000 moleskine folios From fine art to first graders and everything in between, including me. June 10,11,12 At Form/Space Atelier 12pm-4.
I once had a mentor, teacher, co-worker, who would often say “quality, quality,quality” as the simple answer to some question about what to do or was a job done well enough. For the years I worked there it rang in my head and made me go back to redo a million little and big things that were shoddy or rushed.
Today I talked to a friend I havent seen in years, one who at 22 already had the worn hands of a sailor long at sea and eyes begining to wrinkle at the edges from time in the sun and wind. She was a person who put all of her energy and care into everything she touched, and did so silently, with an almost painful modesty and quiet perseverance. That was the embodyment of quality and craftsmanship and has always been endlessly inspiring to me.
Now she runs about on boats from Alaska to the South Pole, so its hard to track her down, but even her voice over the phone made me unconsciously stand up a little straighter and take another look at the thing on my work table that I didnt quite love but was about to send out into the world anyway, an “its good enough” under my breath.
I want to take more care.
An onion is a sure thing.
It is easy to keep for months, and will be the same tearfully wonderful kitchen staple after a winter in a sack as it was the first day picked. It is also a gateway vegetable. The simple onion inspires me and suddenly there are buckets of beets in sand under the porch and nooks and crannies stuffed with jars of pickled and jammed everything.
I gave away a whole braid of onions in the fall, feeling overwhelmed with produce, they’re just onions…
Now im out of my own, but rather than regret reckless generosity, I want it to remind me to hand out the precious stinging nettle pesto and all the treasures that come along this year with the same generous abandon.
I remember water as a gentle thing.
Lapping quietly along the rocks, rising on the tide.
Un-noticed in the fog and unheard against the rolling clang of the channel marker.
It filled in all that was our view and then went away again, exposing acres of mudflats and seaweed and places for lazy seals to sit.
Today an ocean away that gentle water is licking the wounds of the land laid waste by waves of another sort.
The moon even came in close to check on things.
This piece is going to live by the water in Vancouver BC, may we all see fair winds and calm seas for a while.
(Odems ledge, papercut, 24″ x 36″)