A few updates: the finished discs for Mette! They now live happily in Denmark.
A few updates: the finished discs for Mette! They now live happily in Denmark.
I wish you lived closer because Tacoma is so good to me.
I would love to share its goodness with you, but, alas, you live so far, far away.
What would you experience? Well, on September 21st, myself and 9 other Tacoma based artists were honored. Yup. All of us together; everyone's artwork installed in one place at the Spaceworks Gallery. First, we all were nominated--which was amazing--then each of us won a Foundation of Art Award from the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation! So honored. And I have to say, Gabriel Brown, of Spaceworks Tacoma, did a fantastic job hanging my stuff at the gallery. It wasn't easy! For more information about this award and the AMAZING things the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation does for our community, go here: https://www.gtcf.org/blog/gtcfs-10th-foundation-art-award-honors-10-pierce-county-artists/
Remember when I told you that I was going to Denmark this summer? Well, I did! My dear friend, Mette, in Denmark, has been chatting with me about creating artwork for her family's home since 2006. I know, long time--over 10 years! But this year we made it THE year!
The first leg of my trip included 3 nights stay in Reykjavik, Iceland at the Reykjavík City Hostel. What did I do the most: spent daily hours at the Laugardalslaug thermal pool, just a few minutes away from the hostel. Heaven, especially the pool with geothermal ocean water.
2006 was the last time I visited Iceland. I was with 5 other Icelandic relatives and, wow, Reykjavik has changed. There was so much more tourist this time around! Almost every sign was in English along with an Icelandic version, sometimes with the English version first. I also had trouble finding hand-knitted items that were actually crafted by Icelanders. After I mentioned this to Icelandic friends they confirmed my suspicions: most of the knitting is done outside of Iceland, by non-Icelanders outfitted with patterns to follow. I'm guessing, with little doubt, that the rate of return is higher this way. After hours of meandering searches, I did find a woman with hand-knitted items in the plaza on Austurstræti and Lækjargata. We had a wonderful conversation, once I told her where some of my Icelandic ancestors lived :) She informed me there were more tourists (mostly summertime) in Iceland than Icelanders. Very concerning. And I believed her.
Next, I spent 10 glorious days experiencing Mette's life, including her life with her two lovely children in Lyngby, a northern suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark. How did we meet? I lived with Mette and her family as an exchange student in 1988-89.
On this trip, the first time back since 1989, we walked, talked, biked, swam, ate, drank, and laughed. We jumped into her car and toured through Zealand, Funen, and Jutland visiting friends, camping, picnicking, walking, morning bathing in the ocean and laughing more.
So many coinkydinks happened each day that I soon was asking Mette, 'Did you plan that?' Then we'd break down, laughing and laughing. For example, while visiting Vadehavscentret in Ribe, Queen Margrethe II walked by, only about 1 foot away from us. She was museum touring with around 6 people and if Mette had not pointed out who she was I would have thought she was just another museum visitor. I'm SURE Mette planned it! It was a gorgeous place.
Something Mette definitely planned was a visit with her long known friends in Havnbjerg. After a beautiful evening of delicious drinks and food, their daughter, Sophia, a young, inspiring artist, asked if I'd like to draw with her. She had an elaborate water-soluble color pencil set and a soft colored bouquet she designed earlier that became our perfect still-life.
I have never been around a young person with such determination, such a hunger and willingness to learn. While we drew together she asked me why I did certain things--through translations from her supportive mother--and she never lost her concentration. Blown away by this person! Enjoyed every moment with this family.
I'd love to keep writing and describe what we did every day--the new Moesgaard Museum, MOMU, was amazing and the Louisiana was still as wonderful as in 1989-- and who I saw--like Mette's family, especially her dad who I haven't seen since 1989!-- but this would belabor our main travel abjective: in exchange for a flight to Iceland and Denmark, I will send Mette 5 of my Strata Discs.
And the award, with its show at the Spaceworks Gallery, prompted me to complete 4 of the 5 discs for the installation. Some even traveled with me on this trip!
Thank you, Mette, for a beautiful trip!!!!
Back home, I worked non-stop to complete the 4 discs for the show. Each one contains specific imagery to be included within their strata, symbolizing ideas precious to her and her children.
Strata Discs, Artist Statement:
I’m fascinated by soil.
The soil we walk upon is teeming with gazillions of tiny, unseen critters, with one gram containing as much as 5,000-7,000 bacteria species.
And most people don’t even realize it.
Most of my work revolves around those critters seen or unseen and the environment surrounding them. Each completed piece becomes a decomposing, creature-filled and impermanence abiding environment soon to crumble into soil. It’s what all matter eventually becomes--layers of history.
I like to imagine what a cross-section of this strata could contain—perhaps fictional frolicking creatures, colorful minerals, objects that have been disposed of or demolished, all of them past memories embedded within deposited layer.
The 4 finished Strata Discs hung in the Foundation of Art Award art installation:
Much love and happy travels,
Wow, how fast a year swings by. Hope 2016 was good to you! It was full of personal development and challenge, but also great love and understanding.
As a recap, January of last year I got on a plane and landed in Nome, Alaska to teach reading to 7th and 8th graders at Nome-Beltz Jr/Sr High School. Super steep learning curve for me, but, heck, I thought, I can hack being on the hot seat for 5 months, right? Right! I did it! It WAS hot, but as with all things uncomfortable, I learned a ton. About myself. About Alaska and native culture (was especially blown away by some of my student's dancing). About teaching. About 13 thru 15 year old humans. About public speaking. About how much teachers dedicate their whole lives to teaching, not just the hours they are in the school building but also through their weekends, evenings and vacations.
One such teacher is Teriscovkya Smith, aka 'Smitty', writing teach extraordinaire. I've known her since high school, I consider my sister, and is the one who got me out to Nome. She told me about Nome Beltz's heavy need for a substitute teacher to step in for a teacher going on maternity leave. She housed me, drove me around, advised me, supported me, introduced me to The Walking Dead and backed me every day. What am I trying to say? Pretty much, if she hadn't been around, I would have not climbed that curve and would probably have been burned by the heat. Thank you, T!
Here she is in all her cuteness and me, well, forgive me, I was COLD! That's supposed to happen when you snowmobile for hours, right?
What was my favorite part with my students? The last two weeks of school and the art each student created for an assignment Teriscovkya designed for both her classes and mine during that time. My room was full of art supplies, left from past art classes, so I let my students experiment and come up with art pieces that illustrated what they wanted for their futures, along with writing from 'Smitty's' class about music.
Here are some of the results:
A street in Nome:
The 2016 Iditorod, which finishes in Nome:
And a little photo series I call "Reclining Nome Nude" which I did with fellow teacher, I mean, model, Susanne Thomas.
This one is "Reclining Nome Nude On Pallet"
"Reclining Nome Nude On Ice"
"Reclining Nome Nude On Log"
Hiyo to you, my modern day pen pal. Yes, that’s what you are. Or perhaps, I could say, to be more accurate, my Communication and Malarkey Pal (CAMP)? I just made that up on the spot :)
CAMP. I like this. It embraces two of my happy place activities: camping, which encourages the concept of shinrin-yoku--Japanese for ‘forest bathing’, a form of bathing I can totally jump into, one I adore and would like more of in my future days. I try. I try-- and second, nonsensical and goofy blathering. In my world, encouragement of such activities with other humans are telltale characteristics of a good friendship, or pal-hood. You, my dear, are a good camper!
Speaking of camping, this always comes to mind in equal measure—my love of small spaces. And I'm talking about under 500 sq. ft.-space-love. How, you may wonder, is it possible for me to entertain such ideas: I don't have a gaggle of stuff! I've pared down to only the essentials. Ahhh, the lightness of being. Here's a photo of my current, organized belongings, most of which are business related supplies:
AND, even better yet, how about MOBILE small spaces? Have you seen this school bus that was converted into a living space for a years worth of living, for 6 humans?
I have, and have to tell you, it really speaks to me. Except for the smell of burning diesel. Besides visiting my bus driving paternal grandfather, who became one after he retired, that particular smell is my most prominent childhood school bus memory.
Forest bathing. Actually, I’d like to amend my previously pronounced love for this concept and say that not only do I like to bathe in a forest, but actually anywhere in nature. And I did just that this last summer in Moab, Utah.
My Danish sister and her immediate family (did you know I spent a college school semester in Denmark? She is one of the amazing daughters of the family I stayed with, and we hit it off then and have remained in sisterish contact ever since) were in the States over the summer and one of their points of interest was Moab, UT. This was the furthest west and north they were hitting; there was no way I was going to miss them while they were in the US, so I gathered all of my accumulated frequent flyer miles and planned a trip.
I flew in to Salt Lake City, and after what happened while still on the plane, I knew it would be a full of delight trip.
Before driving the 4.5 plus hrs to Moab after I reach the SLC airport, I needed to get something to eat. So prior to take-off from Seattle I made the decision to check out a SLC restaurant, one highly recommended by a person I met in Portland, who was born and raised in Utah. While still in flight I chatted with the woman next to me, randomly asking her if she knew of The Red Iguana.
“My husband works at the Red Iguana 2 (there are two locations). I’m going there directly from the plane,” she said.
I couldn’t believe it! Crazy coincidence, don’t you think? After getting my rental car, I drove her there, met her husband, she and I said our goodbyes, and the husband seated me in the restaurant. Delicious! Tasted 6 types of mole. 6! AND the husband PAID for my meal! Thank you, sweet strangers. Life is so funny.
What a great feeling to rent a car that is so much swankier than yours—which in my car world is just an economy one, you know, the ones with the beeper thing you push so all the doors unlock and has the added good gas mileage attribute—and drive, drive, drive and listen. Drive. Sing. Car seat dance. And listen to more music while soaking in the colors and textures of the ever-connected backdrop that surrounds you. I gotta say, this is pure bliss to me.
Utah, what a beautiful state. Moab. Dang, no words for its beauty. It rendered me awe-filled.
Here's to you fulfilling your travel desires too. Idea: how about we combine our lists and fulfill our common desires together? Top of my list, a car trip around the States with an emphasis on the east coast, especially New England. To see the leaves change...to finally see a firefly. Just one. Just one body-glowing-beauty. That, my friend, I'm most positive, I desire.