Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lessons in Ice, Stone and Flowers

This past weekend, I joined friends for a climb of the Adams Glacier, an ice-filled cleft on flanks of Mt. Adams. More amazing than even the majestic view up this technical terrain is the small glacial lake below and the lava boulder field where we camped, studded with sparks of small, tough flowers that manage to bloom at 7,500 feet of elevation, providing nectar and pollen for bees and humming birds, nestled amongst volcanic bombs and pumice.

The lake is intensely colored due to suspended glacial flour, which is rock ground fine over centuries by the slowly descending glacier. Once filtered, the water is sweet and cold. The lake is emerging from the ice now, and small ice bergs there lack only in scale to compare with the arctic floes. Although globally melting, the world is still so very beautiful. Where there is such beauty, there are tremendous possibilities and boundless hope.

So, listen to the lesson, friends -- bloom and make honey where you happen to be growing. A fierce environment is no excuse, bee busy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fungi Fun Woods Hike

Ever seen one of these in the woods? On a hike up to Blanca Lake in the North Cascades yesterday, I found lots of them. They are from a class of fungus called polypores, folk name "Artist's Conk," formally Ganoderma applanatum. You can find them grown on deadwood and standing snags. When they are fresh, they bruise a brown color on the white side, and can be engraved with pictures and writing, thus, the folk name, Artist's Conk. I have seen them at souvenir shops in the mountains, and I have one I collected and painted on, and a very large one that has no image, but has dried and will end up in an assemblage one of these days.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One of my favorite things is old portraits. I am curious to see if those people looked anything like we do now, for one thing. But even moreso, they are profoundly touching -- here's a young man in his Sunday best, now long gone; though his portrait survives, his name is lost. Something about this ironic combination of death, life and identity reaches me deep down. It says something about our condition today, as well, and the questions we may have -- will my name and I be separated when I have died, will someone write my name on the back of my portrait, to keep me together? What is identity, is there identity, is it my appearance, my face or my name? Using these images in my art helps to probe questions like that, but also makes me smile; I feel a tenderness toward these people, my sweet ol' ghosties.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Orphans, Consistency, and Evolving Work ~ Well, I just kept photographing, and see that I had some older pieces from a few years back that I was unconsciously retiring. These small teddies were made from Depression Era feedsack cloth, all handstitched because they are too small for machine stitching, and made from my own pattern with button joints for head, neck, arms and legs. They were only 4 inches high standing up, but once I migrated over to found object assemblage, they became orphans of a sort. Now, with everything photgraphed, I see that they really don't seem so out of sync with the newer things. Each one seems to have an individuality, and being so small, with a legacy from the Depression Era (I know people who wore dresses made of that cloth), there is a nice reminder that people find a way to enjoy themselves and have a little beauty in their lives, always, and especially in hard times. Interested in really putting the present days into a more right-sized perspective? Try reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, and then see if you can still moan about your 401(k)!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009