In honor of all things great and small. 

 Miniature Theater found in an antique store in Sante Fe, New Mexico 2017

Miniature Theater found in an antique store in Sante Fe, New Mexico 2017

Why the alter? Is it not the most religious route? For a woman who believes in the sun and the moon and the stars- why this? If Mary Oliver suggests "Attention is the beginning of devotion"-  does she not mean, the attention extended to all things great and small.

If art is in relationship to the mind and body, these alters are miniature theaters of process. I am curious about the attention that concave space can create. Innate by design, the moveable feasts offer different things: blinders, reflecting sound, solitary space or that one little thing that I want to show you. A series of alters - In honor of all things great and small. 

Boca de Chorro

I thought I had known New Mexico before. This time, I had just watched “I Love Dick” and I had been summoned.

 Shadow Tree, Cynthia Patterson. Taos, New Mexico 2017

Shadow Tree, Cynthia Patterson. Taos, New Mexico 2017

I was sent for by the artist Lynda Benglis, to share her desert studio space. She decided I would take leave of my family, and work on my art. Using photography, drawing and sculptural ceramics, I processed my abstract allegories.  She in turn started what she wanted- the Boca de Chorro residency.

Lynda and her hands. New Mexico 2017

In revisiting New Mexico I learned how wildly young I had been before. Standing calmly I held my space quite differently, out in the desert alone. Now, a woman in my forties, I held the responsibilities of children, marriage, and time that can not be attained without jumping the ravine.

 Inner Garden. Sante Fe, New Mexico 2017

Inner Garden. Sante Fe, New Mexico 2017

The body of work evolved from making spaces to live in, to alter spaces that one can relate to. The shifting of home-centric meditations to movable feasts.

 The one that got away... The first alter, before it broke. Saxe Patterson. Taos, New Mexico 2017

The one that got away... The first alter, before it broke. Saxe Patterson. Taos, New Mexico 2017

The first showing of this body of work will be slowly replacing Margaret Walter's "40 Years of Painting Out". A closing event will be posted for September, when the new work has taken over the space. Visit through the month as the two shows merge and shift.

Studio Two Zero Two

202 Main Street

Walla Walla, Washington

 Her self and her dress. New Mexico 2017

Her self and her dress. New Mexico 2017

This blog is made from process images. 

Building for my possibilities

Funny thing, watching my husband Dylan jump on his old commuter bike to restart the habit. Early work means five am departures in a sleeping town. I had picked out the bike for him, with my idea of what he would want. Green. Lights. A water holder. Multi gears. Panniers. The works. Paid with my precious flower money all those years ago. Back when George W was the world’s worst president, and oil was the reason for war. Albeit paired down, the top notch set up worked as his means of commuting for over 5 years. As things shifted, and so did Dylan’s attention. The sitting bike became my son Henry’s ride, before his license and the tires of rubber became four.  

Last night Dylan stated, at dinner with friends, he had renewed the effort, to see if he "needed" a new bike. Truth was, he had always wanted something different. Silence. Single gears. Stream lines. Blue... or "murdered out Black." Permission was only self granted with practiced dedication.

This could be said about my studio, I used the space to prove that I would. Coating every surface with the urgency of time lost, and ideas spinning. Machines piled with new projects, tools were added and learned and improved. Work covered the walls

But.

Fuses caught on fire, bugs crawled through cracks, and the ceiling shed over freshly gessoed surfaces.... when squirrels scrabbled over head. This was nothing in comparison to the wind, the heat and ultimately the cold.

This spring, new electricity, insulation, wood sheeting and drywall makes for a new space, in an old garage. Stable, safe and clean come with a reckoning. 

In 2013 I had my first break out show in our valley, at AMO ART. A year of time, to build a show. I pushed myself off the kitchen table scratching into space and mass and idea. Atmosphere paintings, massive drawings, and a free standing screen took up the lion share of the gallery. I made the work and then I presented myself as an artist. This was no small feat, for a woman who knotted and tied herself with the obligations of family. 

Much of that work sold, and found homes. I stored the screen. Made of 6 sheets of 4 x 8 foot sign wood attached to 6 handmade frames. These peculiar frames, that I assembled out of joist braces and 2 x 2 stick lumber, were bigger then needed. I could not manage to make them fit. Fitting meant more cutting, and more complications than I was prepared to do.  Pulling the screens apart I recalled the pain and process of assembling them.

 The first studio. The concrete as my table, and the fence as my walls. The z-hangers still reside on the fence as a marker, and the house has new owners.

The first studio. The concrete as my table, and the fence as my walls. The z-hangers still reside on the fence as a marker, and the house has new owners.

As this was several years ago, in a land before a studio space. I worked on a hot open drive way. The concrete as my table, and the fence as my walls.  My comfort tools were mostly for painting and plastering. Things that had to be built were made with a hand saw, and my husband’s screw gun (which was I constantly in trouble for using). Regardless, I was determined to not need other people’s help or worse - to wait for other people to help. 

Needless to say, the screen was an undertaking I was proud to store. This was my work and a symbol of my leap.

Yesterday, like all dreams that come to an end, I held my breath. Maybe I should show the screens one last time, creating rooms that are…. I opened the stored panels, and noted the perfection of the screws placement. I easily removed the stick frames off the back. Low and behold, the work did not hold up. The work that I had stored with insistence, was not what my memory had assumed. My preconceived notion was an ungrounded idealization - like a crush, that is consummated with a lukewarm kiss. 

Vindication. By placing a wood layer, I can attach any work to any place in the wall. The power of the screens, remains as a blessing. The wood sheets are being hung as I type.

Let no stud hold me back. 

Sidenote: This process was months, if not years, in the making. After multiple diversions, and self ridicule, the studio was disassembled and the project began. Thanks to my friend Molly's urging, I simultaneously I began to obsessively watched Jill Soloway, Elieen Myles, & Chris Kraus's I love Dick.  

Mari Jalbing

Many years ago I was invited to a luncheon at Sonia Schmitt's house. Sonia had been both a mentor and a friend for many years. She was the first to hire and more importantly instruct me to become a florist at her restaurant, White House Crawford, in Walla Walla. For nine years I built flower arrangements at her restaurant, and over the course of 17 years, we have become friends.

I don't know what year it was, that Sonia invited a group of women, artists or art enthusiasts, to a luncheon at her home. We were gathered to honor a visiting artist and Sonia's dear friend who  was having an art show at the administration building at Whitman College.  

What I do remember was the artwork, paintings with college and brilliant color. I remember moving around both at Whitman and at Sonia's house with an electric feeling. I knew this. I got what it was. I liked this woman. 

She was funny, and humble, and laughed.  She made work of many layers, colors, and collage. I had been researching Romare Bearden, for Carnegie Picture Lab. I was very attuned to the thought process behind what collage meant. Or rather, what it meant to me- A confluence of sorts, different ideas, each addition to an image came from a different standpoint. Fitting together, her work made lush landscapes or a botanical representations. 

This was all before I was making my work so seriously. I was dabbling. I still held the reins close to my heart. I was deep into Carnegie Picture Lab then. The Napkin Ring Project had yet to start. Walls were still being carved into, wood was burnt with patterns, drawing developed on tiles, I had yet to scream - I am an artist - at the top of my lungs. But I was standing on my toes and I was holding my hands close to my heart. I knew I was about to leap. When I met her.

Admittedly, I was taken, if not nervously so. If I may be so bold, we liked each other. There was a bit of an exchange. Back then I didn't have much to follow up with.  I don't know why. I certainly was not comfortable with my own work yet. I wasn't traveling out into the world. I don't even know if I was reading novels. I was rebuilding myself. Life was my art program, my gardens, my small children, and let us never forget, my husband's work.

I asked Sonia about her, because Mari was first, her friend. I laughed when I heard her husband had been made a federal judge by President Bush. Oh dear, a conservative federal judge not my kind of people. I laughed heartily, as if I knew. Gah, I was so ignorant.

Today while I was driving my little blue truck, doing errands and watching the sky, NPR again talked about the Seattle Judge Robart and his decision to contest President Donald Trump's band of seven countries, primarily Muslim immigrants. Again I heard about the dangers that the world was racing towards. Again I heard the fear that blinds. 

Who stands up to fear? What exists within the fortitude to be able to do this?

Today a man, who I once laughed at, stood up to halt the Trumpain. Today a conservative federal Judge, with quiet intention amidst a few bumbles and mumbles, sat alone on a bench in Seattle and spoke for our country. His word granted a temporary restraining order against President Trump's executive order. A man who makes his life with a woman. A woman who is an artist. An artist who uses layers, and colors, with bits and pieces of differing views, and pasts, and minds to build a new picture, a collective picture. This artist is Mari Jalbing.

Gifts of Generations Pasts

In a thought towards collecting my writing in one place. I am sharing an article written from The Carnegie Picture Lab Newsletter, 2014. It was at a time, when my work with Carnegie Picture Lab was starting to round up. Why yes that is me, with my handsome grandfather, in Concord, Massachusetts probably around 1975, just before my father lost his hands. It was a piece that helped establish a cycle of woven writing that I follow still. Just like the photographs that I make whether I am in New Mexico or Maine, my writing follows a similar folding, and then unfolding.

 From the Carnegie Picture Lab Newsletter.

From the Carnegie Picture Lab Newsletter.

http://carnegiepicturelab.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Carnegie-Picture-Lab-Newsletter-2014.pdf

Letters to the you in me.

excerpt: Jan. 25. 1 7

White flag

for the grenades

that we all feel like.

Is it not

that we come from privilege that 

we can choose to not honor that privilege

and then expect to keep that privilege.

 

Visiting, due to a touch of the Cancer

In the event of finding ones self in a hospital. 

Which seems to happen to everyone, class, race, or poverty not withstanding, 

And given that you are in the waiting room, and not on the surgery table, the mind wanders. The mind seeks. Sadly sometimes it's questions of who is covering the voices of Disney's latest incarnation of the Lion King - Patrick Dempsey or Rob Lowe? Or perhaps it's a bit more. 

As I waited, as my eyes sought calmness, as the hours were extended, the Lion King felt like a drug not a window. 

During one break, My sister and I found a real window. And that was a relief. 

But in the waiting room with three television sets, one with the Lion King. The second with the Wide World Wrestling Federation, with men and women in tights screaming and parading around. The third screen told us the stage of procedure progress. Either he was in procedure, out of procedure, ready for visitors, in PACU, or please check with Desk, recovering out of PACU.... our attention was held with distraction. The air heavy. Filled with families holding their breath, only to let out a sob when an unidentified code blue broke through the air. The scenario was not for the faint of heart. But like anything, we became accustomed.

 Waiting.

Waiting.

 

 

We did not see art in the waiting room proper, to off set the screens. Only in the halls, where there was no place to sit. To be fair their was one print over the reception desk, and I can only imagine, it was there to give the waiting an alternative to look at.  We, the waiting, were all guilty of sending piercing eyes to the only human who might know more about what was going on then us.

Our dad has had the opportunity to spend a great many hours in hospitals. As an old friend has said, he has a lot of history of surviving. And, of those many hours, days, weeks, the constant tv never brought him meditative healing or peaceful distraction. In the 1970s-1980s those hospital stays brought with them a conclusion- art in hospital rooms could be a care alternative, calming and meditative for the patient. Even using the existing monitors, a picture book of landscapes shown in slide formate, would be more calming then Dallas or Three's Company. 

When my father left the hospital, he was a medical success of a new kind, he was the first manwith to have a transplanted hand. His right hand was now his left. 

In the eighties, he began a picture book program using his photography combined with his grandmother's historic photography of Henry David Thoreau's Concord to create a video slideshow. According to him the nurses wanted to take over the images and he left it in their hands. Oddly, this practice has progressed, of course we've all seen it, as a screensaver on our personal computers. A similar version, using photoshopped images, is on rotation at my local dentist.

In my own work of creating spaces, and exploring art's role in society, I have revised my artist parent's work. This past year I worked on a proposal to draw with raw lines, unorganized gardens, and forests and wild plants in black and white, on therapy room walls and dosing rooms in a rehabilitation foundation. Maybe more remarkably, the proposal was designed to be a research platform for the foundation's doctors. Could immersive art provide a better experience to their clients? Although the proposal is still waiting for approval, the idea is thus: Using art as a tool to create an environment for a human to heal. To use art as an immersive experience for the client, and the clinician together.

Chanting fans and double teaming wrestlers, and the hours past our original prognosis. And I longed for somewhere that was healing, to me, the waiting family member- or as another friend later told me - as a great representation of the most feared individual at hospitals.... M.A.D.  Middle Age Daughter, those terrifying women who come to advocate for their dear parents.

Earlier in the day, I was so heartened, when I arrived for the emergency operation.  I flew into San Francisco the night before from winter, leaving my family and a successful art season in the North West. My sister, who had taken two days off from her horse training, left her husband and her baby with our mother, and was driving our father up from her farm in Interlaken. He had spent the week walking to photograph, his art practice is seeing. We three were ready, and basically healthy, except for a misdiagnosed tumor that had been growing for too long. All cancer aside, we felt strong. 

 Arrival destination.

Arrival destination.

I sat in a fully windowed hallway on a bench in the middle of a mural under a poem. Pulling my legs up, and tucking them under me, I sipped my (actually very good) Americano from the in-house coffee shop, I watched my dad and sister arrive. I was participating in what was clearly to become the money shot of the day.  Clearly. 

Upstairs the art moved back into frames, and they lived in the hall ways. They were destinations as the week wore on, for the patient, and us the dutiful daughters, to see as a reward for getting up and moving. Hobbling at first from exhaustion, we would move through the halls, dad resting on window sills to make phone calls, or to look at the view. 

 Talking to his dear mother Mary.

Talking to his dear mother Mary.

 

We would discuss the art, or the bygone process of silver prints. We found children's work and favored artists, sharing the halls. We explored to remember we could. When mobility was our friend, we found a patio, next to my father's room. Protected from the windy elements, we sun bathed. 

 Sun. 

Sun. 

 

As we sat, the outside reminded us that when this was all through, there was still a world moving and building and growing. We were overdue for a real walk and the practice of seeing.

Long gone are the days to use the hospital as a place to heal and recover. That is best done at home.  Staph is not a fun virus to play with, there was enough with the touch of Cancer that held us there.  

And yet, healing begins in the quiet moments between beeping monitors and pin pricks. 

Between catheters and drug needs. Minds need quieting, love without requests. 

 Elizabeth, and Bill

Elizabeth, and Bill

Exhausted from helping the healing, and tracking the details. Reactions and expectations, and explaining to each new person the nuances that made up Bill Anderson.

I just wanted a layer of art, to silently sits with us, without all the small talk. I didn’t want the Rob Lowe voice, which was actually Matthew Brodrick's to cross my consciousness. Thirty years later the role of art in hospitals and healing centers still hangs on science’s approval. Certainly, our dad had survived before, and he would again.

 Let's get out of here.

Let's get out of here.

 

If only to get back to what was important, walking and seeing.

 

 

Prepping, The Napkin Ring Project.

I dressed to go out. Really I did. I even woke up at 1 am to run out into the night to turn the studio heater on, because the snow had not let up. 

no one home

But then it occurred to me. No one was home, and the studio is really just a dry space not a insulated warm space. The rings were in a clean state. I would be running back and forth anyhow. All I needed to do was apply and shine the wax on the napkin rings for photographing, and cataloging, and really... Lets be honest, no one was home. 

S section

So after grabbing a stash of records from the S section, or rather Nina’s neighbors, I lit a fire. Running in and out to collect my rings, I got distracted... with a conversation the children and I had yesterday about raising money for the YWCA years ago with our friends the Bowers. Real money (or so it was in our minds) was raised with these sweet bird feeder ornaments. And wouldn’t you know it, I just had the materials right here…. ten minutes later, this. Not bad right? Well now to watch if I have the bird's approval and love….

Bird Ornaments

When I brought wood in, and realized some needed to still dry off from the snow... and the rings needed a shelf to heat up on for the wax to be applied. I reached deep, and pulled forth my inner Martha Stewart… Who knew a snow day could be so sweet. 

martha set up

So many new rings for the Holiday pop-up. This coming Sunday, December 11, 2016 at Saffron Restaurant, downtown Walla Walla. All afternoon, from 3-7 pm with Bubbly to share. See you there!!

 

 

 

 

December 2 2016

The copper is glinting all over the studio. Shiny hot spots. And all of my turned over panels, freshly painted to begin again, serve as platforms for the growing troops. Fearless they stand to gather the teams.

In the cold, cold studio, the napkin rings are mounting. Face and mind and fingertips, senses that also join the table, are acknowledged. The afternoon sun will illuminate.

Silver is the Perfect Color- Mike Henderson

Mike Henderson, Painter.

Quick History: Notes from an Interview.

During a lecture this past winter at Whitman College, Paul McCarthy, made a reference to a painter that had made an early impression on him. Influencing him to spray paint everything in his yard and everything he owned silver.  This man, Mike Henderson, who painted in silver because “it was the answer,” was a classmate at San Francisco Art Institute before Paul left for the University of Southern California.

Apparently Mike Henderson did not really know, or register Paul until a few years ago. In March 2008, Paul curated a show of important influences, “Low Life Slow Life” at CCA Watts Institute for Contemporary Arts. Although he looked for other work, he ultimately showed, Nonviolence, 1965, 72 x 120 inches and Castration 1968, 72 x 120 inches. “Both works depict aggressive violence perpetrated by men in uniform, one wearing an arm band with a swastika.” Around the time of the show, Paul reminded Mike of a story from school. Mike had came back to his studio at SFAI and, found a painted silver paper with christmas lights on the floor of his studio, in front of his paintings. That, Paul pointed out, was him. 

This July I approached Mike for an interview, to further my own explorations into silver. 

Although accepted into other programs, Mr. Henderson attended San Francisco Art Institute.   Ultimately, SFAI was the only school that did not reject him after finding out the color of his skin.  This, among other influences led him from a small town watercolorist to abstract painter and experimental film maker.

He counts early exposure to Van Gogh, Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Georgia O’Keefe. He recollected early conversations, at SFAI with Bruce Nauman. A significant moment with art historian Dr. Miller, rotated Mike's mind around the old adage, "if a tree falls in the forest will anyone know?" This was provocative, in the time of civil rights. And later, a discussion at Skowhegan with Al Held and Jacob Lawrence, were direction changing. Specifically, it was after he spoke with Al Held that he left the political work behind.

Mike’s daily life brought his work into focus. A blues career brought him in touch with community, outside of school. His humanitarian work for the Black Panthers, bringing food to the hungry, and appliances to needy. As an African-American living in a “hub of diversity.” He fed his “desperation to compete”  and to not be treated like a minority. Mike would make over 50 huge paintings each semester to“catch up” with the expectations he set for himself. Ultimately he received his BA and masters in 4 years.

Previously, his paintings were political. He was surrounded by cops, civil rights, listening to Eldridge Cleaver give lectures and demonstrations. He was looking for an answer. He saw for the first time, a white boy be placed in a choke hold, for standing up for a black person. 

He sequestered himself into his mind. Using 80 feet worth of canvas, he stretched 15 paintings. After a week of many 24 hour days of painting, Mike Henderson bought a 5 pound bucket of silver paint. And he began to repaint his canvases, and then his sneakers. Intense in thought, he would interact with society with the flecks dispersing over his skin and hair….  All of these experiences and more, brought him to what he thought was the answer to mankind. 

Mike decided that “silver was the perfect color.” “It remains itself and reflects its surroundings” If you covered yourself in silver, you could remain yourself and reflect another. “Freedom of speech… who you are… the nucleus of thinking… civil rights… this color would some how make it easier” 

“People could loose themselves in another culture.” Thinking about how to not be a “culture vulture.”  And how a person could “…respect community and walk through.”

“I would be you, you would be me.” (And yet still maintain and respect the self.)

There are two of the fifty or so paintings made from this from this era, still in existence.  In the early 80’s, while on his band’s tour in Europe, a fire destroyed much of his work.   His attitude towards the blues, and his practice of performing music brought great relief to his art practice. “Once you’ve got that note, its gone.” He had made the work, and that was what was pertinent.

Two years ago, after 40 years, Mike retired, or quit as he likes to say, from being a professor of artfrom at Davis, University of California. I hope to visiting Mike’s studio to further our conversation, to see the two paintings, and watch a few of the experimental films he was making at the same time as the silver work.

--

Thanks to Karen and Paul McCarthy for clues on how to find Mike, and thanks to The Haines Gallery for the introduction.

The Conversation, with Mike Henderson, was by phone. August 7th, 2016

Paul MacCarthy, presented by Whitman College and Walla Walla Foundry, Artist Lecture Series. February 16, 2016

 Erik Bakke, “Low Life Slow Life” at CCA Watts Institute for Contemporary Arts. March 2008 www.whitehotmagazine.com

Be brave.

Today I could hear the rain on the roof of my studio. The napkin rings piled up, between safety goggles, paint brushes, and glasses of lemon water.

This fall marks the transition in the Napkin Ring Project away from my experimental trunk shows. What with gallery stores and artisan shops stepping forward to carry the rings, I've become a bit more... polished. 

The essence of the idea is to have the rings last. To hold your attention. To hold you place in the conversation. By buffing the surface down and bringing the shine out, the open copper surface accepts the wax. New storage bags are on their way, fingers crossed everyone fits, with a fresh logo from Scott Grossman. And I'm working up an identification cards, if you will, with clues on design from Peter Miller's finger pointings.

It's funny as things get more methodical, sometimes they become less sexy. Yet each time I figure out, one more thing, I realize just how courageous I was to begin when I did.  

 

Tricia Harding's Napkin Ring Box

Tricia had her way with my rings. Take a look see. I think she is on to something, don't you?

 Front view.

Front view.

She has always had a knack for keeping me organized. 

 Inside view

Inside view

If you know us, there is something quite poetic in this. She is literally, and as always creatively, containing me. Everything is the better for it.  

Raika's Room

I wish I knew the exact day, 

that she knew, 

she wanted the drawing.

This is Raika, she hired me to draw on her room, when she was 12.

The room is the perfect size for a week of installation. Eight feet wide and ten feet long, with a huge window, closet, and entrance door, with 7 foot and 8 inches ceilings.

The first request was Birch or Aspen like trees. 

The bough's trunks needed a place to stand, so I brought the sweet woodruff from my own garden, a place she has been many times. 

In need for one more element, I asked her father, as Raika was off working to pay for the drawing. 

Digitalis. The foxglove.

A flower that resides at its own pleasure, in the back yard of my childhood home,  and at the front gate outside Raika’s window. 

Apparently it is a favorite of hers, too.

The last step was the trigger drawing.

Raika, now 13, can take the drawing with her where ever she might go.

 

Corvallis, Oregon July 28, 2016

Push & pull

Corvallis, working on a new commission. I have stopped to gather my thoughts for letters and thank you's and... where am I and "draw the horizon" moment.  

 Push and pull. 

Push and pull. 

So excited it hurt.

I was so excited about this I could hardly breath. Today. I see so much more work to be done.

Before I go on, let us just hold this for a moment. Right here. 

Now just imagine, these three panels as three walls in a room. I'm going, you coming?