Show-and-Tell at Arrowmont

For the past 4 days there has been some intense creative work going on here at Arrowmont.  Last night students put out the (mostly-in-process) results for an informal open house.  Here is a small sampling.

Derek Weidman, instructor

From the wood turning class Derek Weidman‘s students turned out wonderful creatures.  It boggles the mind to try to understand how these were created on a lathe.

Dennis  Hinds
Dennis Hinds, student

The wood turning facilities here are extraordinary.

Wood turning classroom at Arrowmont
Wood turning classroom at Arrowmont

From the papermaking lab:

handmade paper forms
handmade paper forms

From the history of ceramics class:

From the metal working studio:

And our favorite place of all:

Adam Neese demonstrates for guests
Kat’s book
Jan Dove covers stray red inkspots with "sutures"
Jan Dove covers stray red inkspots with “sutures”

We walked home to the light of a ghost moon.  (Some stayed and imbibed a bit of the other moonshine.)


Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts

Oola and I arrived in Arrowmont Sunday afternoon after an idyllic drive through rolling, green hills and short question-mark times in some surreal vacation “hot-spots”.  We found our bunks, unpacked and began to poke about.

Arrowmont admin and galleries
Arrowmont admin and galleries

To California eyes, used to the dusty, rusty tones of August, there is amazement that everything is so green and moist.  And even at this time of year — the flowers!

extraordinary flowers, even at this late date

And everywhere galleries, inside and outside:

Melanie Eubanks
Totem poles of past wood-turners
teachers' gallery
Gallery of work by this term’s teachers

The book in the vitrine is by Dan, our teacher this week.

Daniel Mayers
Daniel Mayers, from Arizona with Kat

Dan is teacing printmaking for book making this week,  His is a knowledgeable, patient teacher who allows one to go one’s own path (which the Oola in me certainly has done this week). Even at this basic level  there is a wonderful variety of approaches by students in this class, some of whom are seasoned veterans and some of whom are beginners. I hope to be able to show you a range of the work tomorrow.

Our classroom
Our classroom

This picture was taken on the first day.  Matters have expanded exponentially since then.

There are 5 other classes going on, making for a great mix of conversation at meals.

Melanie Eubanks
Melanie Eubanks, from Mississippi

Melanie is my roomie, thoughtful and not a snorer.  She is involved in a class in which they make work derived from historic models.  Melanie’s model for this is a Minoan wine vessel.  Tsk,tsk.  She doesn’t have a website to show more of her wonderful work.

Here’s Luke, fiber artist of great fame, who quilts people’s portraits using their clothing as “materials”.

The Quilting teacher, Luke
The Quilting teacher, Luke

Next door to us is the paper-making contingent.

The paper-making patio
The paper-making patio

More to follow.  Right now I have to acquire the skill of successfully exposing photos on water-etch plates.





Rock Art in Dry Fork Canyon

Since our itinerary brought us within a reasonable distance of Dinosaur National Monument, Oola thought we should see some dinosaur fossils. That sounded good to me so we stopped in the town of Vernal, UT ready for an adventure the next day.

There my eye happened on a brochure about some petroglyphs in the area. Ever the glutton for art, I thought we could do one tour in the AM and save one for after lunch. So we found our way to Dry Fork Canyon and the McConkie Ranch (the owners of which graciously allow the public to roam parts of their private land).

Since it was a cloudy day and what sun there was was behind the panels, and since I will not be returning here to re-photograph during this lifetime,  it is difficult to see these images.  I enhanced them (contrast only) in Photoshop.  Click on each image to see an enlargement.

A storm of the previous day left everything damp and cool. It had also produced a flash flood of which there was ample evidence. I found the well-marked trail and began to wonder about my ability to follow it. Twenty years ago, yes for sure, but now???…… The whole time as I grunted and scrambled, I though, “How am I going to get down?” Soon, with Oola urging me on, my greed overcame my good sense. And I said to myself, “Self, Quit Whining.  It’s better this way to help keep destroyers away from the images.”

a short but tricky way UP

When we came to the first panel, frankly I was disappointed. Without an overhead sun to cast shadows, things were hard to see. Then, as I squinted and stared, there came the first whumph!. Suddenly I saw the image, full of the visual intent of a human being who lived perhaps a thousand years ago, right here on this spot. KICKIN’ but … I have seen lots of Fremont Culture images, and these looked a little like a learner’s permit.

What are these two doing?
What are these two doing?

Still, having come this far I was not going to give up. Clambering about I found a few images that seemed to have been “enhanced” by much later hands, if I am correct, probably in a misguided attempt to “explain” the image, scratches instead of pits, “boots” instead of the typical “Fremont Culture” feet.

Then, I turned a corner and felt a heart-stopping “WHUMPH!”. This made all the sweat — and the price that I am going to pay tomorrow — as nothing.

Really, the original is so much more brilliant than the pict

It exudes authenticity, and the authority of the original maker-of-images. It combines painting with the chip-chip-chipping of the stone. It is a story from a past that I can never understand. I soon discovered more images of extremely good quality and form.

As I was looking, scrambling and looking, there came along the path a father-son duet. When you are with rock art people, you know you are with good people. We talked a bit, and Kevin, the father, advised me not to over-do it, that I looked very red to him. Though there was more to see, I decided it best to head back. Looking down it became apparent that some of my return would be by the seat of the pants method, inelegant but effective. Kevin and James soon returned and told me that they had seen an image of a bear. I was sore disappointed, in more ways than one.

The signs all say to stay on the trail.  But it is hard to keep one’s feet on the trail when the wet sandstone crumples under them. Kevin had James help me over the rough, slippy-slidey parts of the trail. They could have traveled much faster without helping me. And I am extremely thankful for their help. Man-angels still live, and chivalry will never die. (Oola is looking for the horse.)

Kevin and James from Houston
Kevin and James from Houston

Oola is dancing to know that there is so much individual good in the world to balance out the bad behavior.  This is probably why we haven’t disappeared as a species.

Kevin and James, if you are reading this, Newspaper Rock is south of  Moab, UT and if you walk into the canyon you will find many more hidden away, just waiting for you to clamber up.

Newspaper rock
Newspaper rock

If, in your tour of Utah,  you go through Canyonlands National Monument, be sure to visit Horseshoe Canyon.  You will not want to go home.

Horseshoe Canyon paintings

PS     (All bets off on the dinosaurs)

PPS   And Mysterious One, this is for you:


I knew you would want to take it home and fix it up!

Tennessee or Bust

Tennessee or Bust! We should have a sign tied to the back of Mom’s Memorial Prius.

In a way it seems strange taking a trip in reverse of the one that so many have taken to reach California.

Yesterday we stopped at a small park a little ways from Donner Lake and the town of Truckee. The park preserves the small valley on the Aspen Creek where members of the Donner family were stopped in their attempt to reach California by a snowstorm. Everyone knows the story of their battle with cold and starvation through that enormous winter. How Elizabeth Donner and Tamsen Donner starved to save their children. And how on the arrival of the rescue party, Tamsen refused to leave her dying husband, and was never seen again. Some say the group resorted to cannibalism to survive, some say they didn’t.

Donner Party
Campsite of the Donner Family

In the sagebrush there is a small pine tree dedicated by the Donner descendants to the pine tree that had formed the core of their make-shift shelter. The dedication tree stands alone on the slope, looking dead and mournful.

Oola noted this critter close by the dead memorial tree, It appears to be a moth. Anybody know what kind?

Donner Family camp
Moth at Donner family Camp

As it was getting late, Oola and I found a place to camp on Prosser Creek, which has been dammed to form a reservoir, and which is to all appearances nearly empty, due to the drought I guess. I was busy pitching tent when Oola declared the sky to be on fire.

Sunset at Prosser Reservoir
Sunset at Prosser Reservoir

We lay in the tent listing to the sound of distant thunder.

In the very early morning I watched Venus make her appearance over the rim of the Eastern mountains. After packing the tent, etc., I watched a family of young white pelicans take flying lessons from mom. One of them looked a little confused — or resistant to education —  but they were all beautiful.




Magic Carpet

Oola and I are packing for our road trip to Tennessee and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.  Oola has dragged out the old magic carpet and is practicing.  Mom’s Memorial Prius has been lubed, aired, oiled, vacuumed, and is being packed.  When you think of it in the historical perspective the Prius really is something that would have been seen as magic transport.

Oola on magic carpet
Tennessee or Bust

But now, it is very dirty and not about to be washed soon.  The drought in California is much worse than anyone thought — even groundwater is showing the strain.  Right now, it is very anti-social indeed just to wash the car.

We don’t know what we will see but will keep you apprised of the Sierras, the desert, the Platte River, the meeting of the Missippi and the Ohio maybe, the Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, the Smokey Mountains, and other wonders as we encounter them all abounding .  And of course, Arrowmont itself and my teacher,  Daniel Mayer.  I’m taking his week-long workshop “Low Tech/High Octane: Printmaking for Artists Books.”  No computers!

We will post whenever wi-fi is available.




Road Trip to Tennessee

Oola dons her party dress once again as we plan a road trip to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinberg, TN.

Oola in her new prom dress
Oola in her prom dress

I’ve warned her that it might get a bit sticky/scratchy inside that bit of polyester and nylon fluff.  But she won’t hear it.

I am taking a workshop called Low-tech/High-octane: Printmaking for Artist’s Books taught by Daniel Mayer  whose work I have admired from a distance.  Check out his “Book Arts Jargonator”,  a movable text volvelle!  I think early August  will be a great week for making books.

We’re leaving here at the end of summer semester and traveling generally on the I-80 — I-70 path.  If anyone has any suggestions of interesting places to see along the way, we would be glad to hear of them. Please send recommendations in the reply/comments box/link at the bottom of this page.