Singular Artist Books at Robert Graves Gallery

Last week, Oola and I mounted a show of my artist books in the Robert Graves Gallery at Wenatchee Valley College in Wenatchee, Washington.  Oola has weak arms but an indomitable spirit.  We survived the adventure thanks to all the help we got.

View of Artist Book show at Robert Graves Gallery
View of Artist Book show at Robert Graves Gallery

I made a new book called “Conversation with Stones” for this exhibition.  It grew out of my admiration for the shapes and colors of river stones I have found in abundance in my new place on the planet, and from the thoughts that occurred to me about them.

Conversation with Stones (front view)
Conversation with Stones (front view)

I made the drawings of the dancers digitally and printed them on transparent film.  The “stones” are of handmade paper, shamelessly painted to refer to the mystical qualities I find in them.  The words and phrases from the stones are gathered up into a poem which is posted on the back wall of the installation and near the end of this post.

Conversation with Stones (view from back)
Conversation with Stones (view from back)
Conversation with Stones (detail)
Conversation with Stones (detail)

A small fan to the side of the installation gently moves the pages and gives an animated quality to the hand.

Conversation with Stones (detail)
Conversation with Stones (detail)
Conversation with Stones (detail)
Conversation with Stones (detail of drawings)

Still Life: Ocean With Rock

you are both the memory of a brook and
a message from the stellar stream.
You are the life of mountains,
firm, solid air,
rigid wind
and …
you are resistant to authorization.

You are
as unquestionable as wild apples,
as verifiable as the mocking bird,
as indisputable as the moon,
you are undeniably obscure.
You are a history of torrents substantiated by passion,
you are the intent of small nows.
I am heavily seeking your eyes in my dreams.

You are adamantine laughter,
the strong, stony scent of earth
and the unyielding hooves of dreams.
You are a formidable condensation of lizards, grim swallows,
and difficulties of praise.
You are the austerity of stubborn of distance.

You are
the solidified lives of dragonflies,
hardened moss,
compacted fireflies,
a density of stars,
compressed stirrings of fury.
Unbreakable joy,
you are heavily verified
and …
a painfully proven crusher of ships.

You are
inflexible dust and impenetrable musings.
You are thunder from the sierra,
the clatter of the daily grind and the hiss of gradual loss.
Joy … and pain,
you are the waterfall and the river bed,
and the record of a marriage.
You need not speak of past difficulties. They are written on you.

Your language is long and slow. It takes two rocks and a river to say “clack”.
Your language is communal and patient. It takes many rocks and an ocean to say “clatter…hiss”.
I am an impediment to your sequence.

You are
You have journeyed from the center of the earth.
YOU are between the rock and the hard place.

You are all that is durable of dreams.

You are worn out, rounded energy,
sanded intensity,
polished integrity,
eroded ego,
abraded ambition.
You are the crumpler of ecclesiastics
and the one who grinds away the fiction of time.
You are
the sermon of abrasion,
the exhaustion of permissions,
and the diminishment of uniforms.

You say to me,
“I used to be a boulder but now I am a color singing in the river.”
You say,
I am the survivor stone,
the remnant.
You say, “The rock that was rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone.”
You sing how
you once destroyed a monster with a loaf of your bread,
and how you fed a village with a bowl of your soup.
You teach me how to prop open a door.

Music of the commune, you are the cloister stone – river stones and water.
You are a lessening of mountains,
the moments and the ruins of a search.
You cause the loss of rough edges.
“Noli te bastardes carborundorum” say the young. “It has happened” say the rest.

Heavily verified and
painfully proven,
you are a labor of lessening and profoundly wild.
You are the history of friction,
a cascade of attrition,
an abrasion of assurities.
You are the dwindling of certitudes,
the decrease of truisms.
You are the geography of erosion.
You grind down the hard nut.
Wear it down.
Wear it away.
You weather the choices.
You are a distillation of lessons
and a tutor to endurance.
You are the bones of the ridge.

There are two old stones in the shallows. Together they watch over the new generation of salmon.
Cla- -ack
Return to the universe.

Some of the other works in the exhibition:

“Dirt” and two scrolls from “Homeless Furniture”
“Dirt” and “Woodswoman”
Waterbook as installed in Robert Graves Gallery
Waterbook as installed in Robert Graves Gallery

The show will be up through Oct. 30.  If you are in the area, you are welcome to visit.

Robert Graves Gallery
Wenatchee Valley College
1300 5th Street (The gallery is more easily reached from the 9th St. entrance to the college.)
Wenatchee, WA

Gallery Hours
Mon – Fri:  11am to 3pm
Sat – Sun: Closed
Or by appointment
509-470-7844 or 509-633-1001

By jandove



  1. Jan, this looks like an amazing show and your “Still Life: Ocean With Rocks” poem floors me.

    Time moves geologically across our hearts, minds, souls, our physical existence weathering choices, stratification of experience. We rise and fall within individual eternities. “Clack!”

    Hope all’s well in your world.


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