Friday, October 29, 2010

My Own Private Dias de los Muertos

Since I couldn't get down to Oaxaca this year to join Michael deMeng for his workshop during Dias de los Muertos, I have been celebrating at home, on my own, in my workshop, inspired by listening to corridos, especially those of Chavela Vargas, and especially the tragedy of la Llorona, a woman whose soul was consumed by toxic passion, amor perverso.  This is my evocation of the story, a demi-parure of necklace and earrings.  This will be part of my costume for the holiday, my own, private Dias de los Muertos, to set aside a day to commune with my own loved ones who now live in my heart and, in my hopes, in another dimension, at one with the Universe.  And also to pay my respects to la Paloma y el Sapo, whose great, passionate love and great, passionate art have enriched my life.

The necklace is made of rebar tie wire, a medicine bottle, a milagro of la Corizon, the glass lid of an old mustard pot, a yak bone mala bead in the form of a skull; sweet, rich red African pottery beads and betel nuts; the earrings are an evocation of Carl Jung's gift to Frida, the silver hands depicted in her self portraits, and made of desert-blasted rusty tin. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Found Object Dollies

These are clothespin dolls made for the holidays.  They started with the cranky faces of toddlers from carte de visites -- I find the ones of children especially fascinating, even more when the baby Victorians pout -- irresistible!  The clothespin dolls make a good project to use up those bits of fabric that seem too nice to throw away but too small to use.  And the wings came from my secret stash of rusty debris out in a coulee in Eastern washington.  I decided not to use the cans with bullet holes.  Peace!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time Capsule Found Object Necklace

 An old watch case, a glass vial of watch parts, a bit of steel wire, beach glass, galvanized tubing of unknown purpose, a leaf skeleton, and the image of a pouting child long grown and gone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quick Before It Melts

Just one more 'shroom shot before the snows really fly -- this one found just before we reached the summit meadows of Mt. Persis in a grove of hemlock and heather.  There was a short bout of snow above 3,000 feet last Thursday.  Couldn't resist a snow capped mushroom, at all -- wouldn't want to fry it up to prove it, but I think this is a King Bolete.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mushrooms in the Fall

A bonus day of sunshine in early October, just above Snoqualmie Pass in Washington state, and the woods seem filled with treasure.  This time, after a hot, well watered summer, and recent rains, the treasure is mushrooms -- popping up rapidly, some appearing after we have passed by and found on the return to our trail head.  I think these are Amanitas and they make me think of boiled eggs, but don't eat them!  The lore of mushroom edibility is variable and not something that can be passed along in print -- it really takes a teacher and long-time familiarity with an area and a species, since the mushrooms are often hard to identify, and mistakes  can be fatal.

Above, as she emerges from the forest duff, and below, fully emerged.  Possibly an Amanita; what a pretty name, and beautiful lemony color with cottony white "gems" that make me think of meringue.  But also possibly quite poisonous.

I'm not attracted to them for food, but they have the most wondrous shapes and colors.  And I like to think of them as what they are, the fruiting bodies of a wide-spread, subsurface mycelium, popping up just to spread the spores of the organism.  What follows are more pictures, of more unidentified treasure, maybe poisonous, maybe not, but beautiful nonetheless.

They bring to mind all sorts of myths and symbols -- fairy rings, toadstools, the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, made all the more entrancing if you get down to visit with them eye to eye.  Many have distinctive aromas, ranging from fetid to sweetly earthy.

And as for  morphology, they are so richly varied and variable that it could consume a lifetime of study and fascination.  What governs their shapes?  How is the shape adapted to environment; is it an adaptation?  What advantages may a shape give; for that matter, is there any sort of competition amongst the mycelia?  Perhaps quite ignorance-governed questions of a layperson, but they reflect that there are still broad areas of mystery all around us, if we will only look and question.

 For my part, I can look and look and wonder, and know that some time, somewhere, a mushroom is bound to pop up in my art work, a banner of the mysteries below, the ones hidden behind the ordinary  ground where we walk, the trees that shadow our way, so secretly wide-spread that one is considered the largest living organism on the planet.  Don't you just love it?  We can never, never, never know it all!