On a recent drive to somewhere else I stopped to admire the scenery from the edge of Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park.
I heard the sound of giant wings pushing against the air and then the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Looking up I saw a splendid Bald Eagle. He flew over the lake, presumably looking for lunch, and then he graciously returned for this cameo shot in the movie I call My Life.
It was awesome in the fullest sense of the word. Oola was struck speechless.
A little later she recovered and resumed her chin-wagging with other travelers she met on the road. One of them, Sparky, was warmly dressed for this cold morning. Oola politely agreed, Yes, it really was VERY COLD.
As my eyes wandered across the water I was reminded of all those student hours in the darkroom flipping negatives to make mirror images. And all the while, here it was. Who Knew?
It was a remarkable morning — one for the records.
On the slope rising from the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains there is a circular home called the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. I use the word “home” advisedly because it is the place where once lived Esther and Charles Webster. Now, thanks to Esther, it is the home for much beautiful art.
Surrounding the Art Center is Webster’s Woods, a special place to mosey and reflect.
Oola and I visited on a winter afternoon, and she really liked the address. This has become one of our new favorite places. (Please click on any image to enlarge; they are well worth it.)
One of the reasons I like this place is that, with few exceptions, I could not find the names of the artists. The whole area seems more an expression of a community than of any single person. It seems that each year, artists add new work, much of which returns to the environment over time.
There is a foot path — kinda — and you can roam it from any direction.
Questions of monumentality and ego are absent — except by their absence. This is about the earth, the people, and time.
You might meet others like yourself on the path.
Always there is a straggler, or maybe the rear guard, or maybe just a dreamer — about to be swallowed up.
You will find wonderful work disintegrating into time and the earth.
I have seen blue ball sculpture before, but THESE blue balls are talking about a relationship with the trees — over time and through growth; and through stress when the wind blows from the Strait to the Mountains.
You may pass something by — Oola found these — only to discover later that they are beads hammered into the fallen tree. This is my favorite of all that I saw in the woods that day.
We found an open dell, and this elegiac group.
We found sound wood, and the chance for communal performance.
We found evidence that we had arrived at the correct conclusion from the wrong direction.
I read that there will be more installations this summer. Definitely we’ll be back. I hope you get to visit, too.
PAFAC 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. Port Angeles, WA 98362
Didn’t Mom tell you not to judge a book by its cover? Did your teacher say that art is about revealing inner reality? Artist Sue Roberts upholds both these maxims in her pointed and funny show “Family of Sorts” currently at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (You can click on any image to see an enlargement.)
Attracted to “story” as I am, I was immediately drawn to this show (and gratified to see that artist has just ignored the vilifications which were heaped on visual narrative in my art school days). Beyond the story, though, I was attracted to the painterly excellence applied to the ceramic work. The artist doubles the intent of the work by skillfully adding semi-opaque 2-D layers which amplify the normal 3-D features of the work. In the case of “The Gun Family”, the underpainting and overpainting on the surface gives a subtle and most appropriate grit-and-glitter result to this social commentary on interpretations of the Second Amendment.
The artist uses another technique which adds meaning to her stories: Some of the work has a homespun look.
In “The Pleaser” the costume conveys this meaning. But also, the dry and unsophisticated feel of the surface emphasizes by calling into question the complex maneuvering required for being a successful “pleaser”.
Compare that to
“Talons” which for the most part is polished with a coat of encaustic (a beeswax and resin concoction applied with heat). The resulting seductive surface adds another layer of meaning to the “story”, especially where it contrasts with the unpolished “skin” of the talons.
In “Oblivion” the artist treats the ceramic surface with what appears to be more established glazing techniques. The colors and surfaces are less subtle, the story more specific. What contemporary person does not recognize this chap who is oblivious to his world and to the oblivion in the falls ahead?
If you are in the area, go see the show. It is up until March 15, 2015. There is a master class with the artist on March 14. Find out all about it at pafac.org.
1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Leave time to see the sculpture garden! More about that to come
Oola has been a bit down in the mouth with all the overcast skies and rain since we arrived. So when we woke her with the news of a brilliant day, she rolled over and went back to sleep.
The weather can change here seemingly in an instant, so that when Oola decided to get up, the sky was gloomy again.
Still, the radio prognosticators had promised a great day, so we piled into Mom’s memorial Prius and began the 20 mile drive to Hurricane Ridge — the mountains we saw from across the harbor in the last post.
We climbed up and up until the clouds that were covering Port Angeles were beneath us. At about 5200+ feet we came to a ski-bunny area. And — WHAAAAT? — no snow. Our Sequim friend and long time area resident had said that this is very early for the snow melt.
But the air was intense, and the light was dazzling. It was not hard to make the best of the situation.
Oola soaked up sun for a while.
I shamelessly snapped tourist/calendar pictures one after another. (Click for image enlargement even though no imagery could do justice to what was in front of our eyes.)
The deep, steep valleys were carved over millennia by water and glacier. Gazing on them brought to mind “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert which I have been reading. I highly recommend it to you.
Oola soon had her sunny disposition back and began to play in the ski area. Here is a picture of when she tried out her tight-rope walking skills on the ski lift.
Meanwhile I brooded on the absurdity of trying to make poetry of that which is already poetry. On the way home I saw this,
and thought it stood a better chance of becoming a poem than all the picts I took at the top of the mountain.
After a week of unpacking and of dealing with pass-the-buck bureaucracy worthy of a Russian novel, the Mysterious One and I made a quick decision to investigate that spit of land north of us called the Ediz Hook Reservation for Native Birds. Didn’t see a whole lot of birds but we did see this looking south over the harbor to the mainland and our neighbor, Olympic National Park.
Looking north, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada IS there.
And there were a few hardy people with their boats. Cheryl didn’t have a boat with her, but she had a delightful pet ferret on a leash. She made me think about what Cecilia Gallerani might do with her time when she wasn’t posing for da Vinci or waiting on Ludivico.
Sometimes a Road Trip is a journey of necessity. I took such a trip last week when I left my lifelong home in the SF Bay Area to take up new (and more affordable) digs on the northern Olympic Peninsula. On such a trip one usually does not do a lot of sight seeing due to the pile of the odds and ends of one’s life in the back seat of the car.
Still there is beauty and surprise to be encountered along the way.
I wonder about this rest stop. Presumably it is advisable to let one’s pet get thoroughly wet before getting back in the car!
and incongruity in a glimpse.
There are fears to be confronted. (This is a biggie for me.)
There are social issues to be mulled
and marital concerns to be pondered.
There is beauty such as is found on calendars.
And there is beauty to spite the real world.
There is that heady sensation called ALMOST THERE .
Finally, after three days, my new home. We’re supposed to be able to see Canada from the front windows.
You are looking at some lovingly restored, turn of the (19th) century corbels spaced on the corners of the Olympia-Lacey Amtrak station. How do I know they are “corbels”? Because the sign says they are “corbels”. Actually the word jangled a hardly-ever-used synapse formed in my art history days. So dusty was the memory that I had to look it up. According to the Apple dictionary a corbel is a projection jutting out from a wall to support a structure above it. — Makes sense. Another useless bit of information revitalized.
Two things about this little gem of a railroad station: It is run by volunteers, people who really love trains. They seem to love helping clueless travelers like me. And they seem to love things like cheering, describing to each other, and counting aloud how many cars on a freight train from Canada.
Two things I have noticed in my short stay in Washington: Maybe it is the influence of the neighboring Canadians, but the people we have met have been kind and generous.
For example, the Mysterious One – who is a little short of his sell-by date — and a friend of similar vintage were unloading some heavy particle board sheets in the alley by our back door and causing a blockage in the thoroughfare. A “youngster” drove up in a pickup truck. Now, where we come from there would have been some honking, maybe a rude finger or two, and scornful disapproval. But this young man got out of his truck and asked to help load the wood. He made himself useful, then he drove on.
I had similar experiences. And while shopping for our supplies, we received info and assistance from all ages and colors of knowledgeable sales clerks. Nary a surly one among them. We were amazed!
We have heard funny turns of phrases. One that stuck was by a man who disapproved of the design of a car. “It looks like an upside-down up”, he said.
So, the people, while generally conservative in this area, seem to be people we will like and want to work with. But all is not choruses of angels, even in Port Angeles. There is homelessness and heroin addiction in my new neighborhood. And the seagulls aim with devastating accuracy.
I climb aboard and begin the trek home, with plenty of time to ponder the imponderables, like why do all the pigeons sit atop one house and avoid all other roofs in the neighborhood on this rainy day?
PS At the moment of this posting the train is stopped. I hear the conductor announcing “we have the situation under control”. That is comforting, I guess. There are people with walkie-talkies. HMMMMM.
This morning we drove a rented car from Olympia up to the north of the peninsula. The land was green and magnificent along the Hood Canal, the waters and the cottages wouldn’t let the eyes go. We spotted our first Bald Eagle. (Sorry, we were too slack jawed to grab a picture.)
But the sky was grey and the road was wet.
All us Californians have heard about the rain quantities in this part of the world. But the Mysterious One and I had been told about the micro-climates here. In particular we were told of the “Blue Hole” over Sequim and Port Angeles. We learned, but did not really believe, that the mountains of Olympic National Park cast a rain shadow.
We’ll we came around the curve toward Sequim and there was the Blue Hole!
I was flabbergasted by the snow on the mountains, which seemed to be right in the back yard, because the air is so clear. The land flows gently down to the sea from those mountains, and has been use for dairy land for a few many years now. Hence the picture of a dairy farm with Hurricane Ridge in the background and the Blue Hole overhead.
I don’t know enough to write about the native peoples here. But some have casino enterprises on tribal land. Oola and I probably won’t become involved in that activity. I read in the local paper that the Clallam County tribe is looking into pot (which is legal here in WA, but — we have found — not always welcome.) “The U.S. Dept of Justice said that Native American tribes can grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands”, says the local paper. There is controversy, and much discussion.
We did, however, stop for brunch at the Longhouse’s Market and Deli outside Sequim. There we found this beautiful totem sculpture named “The Salmon Bringer”. Designed by Dale Faulstich, and carved by him along with Nathan Gilles, Harry Bulingame and Bud Turner in 2007. What a beautiful statement, especially in this world where some people are trying to capitalize on Frankensalmon, and the native rivers of the West Coast are dammed, drained, polluted and overused.
We are traveling on the Coast Starlight, but won’t see much of the coast since we are getting aboard in the Bay Area instead of LA. This is not a good way to travel if time is your major consideration. But if you want to experience the old days, with sleeper cars and full service, this is one of the last.
Our trip would take 20 hours and there was much to see.
So much that at first I didn’t notice that Oola was missing.
Getting into the upper bunk requires the skills of a contortionist but we finally fell asleep to alpha waves produced by the rhythm of the train climbing into Mt Shasta territory. The shadows of trees pointing to a misty moon were mesmerizing.
I awoke to a stunning sunrise.
And when I could finally start putting one thought after another, I realized that we had forgotten to bring Oola. I think she overheard the Mysterious One’s comments concerning the pillow, crawled into one of the packed boxes of art supplies in the Oakland studio, and will not be found again until we are all safely in Port Angeles — permanently.
The scenery was stunning. Too bad on her for missing it.
The other passengers pleasant to talk with. But Oola didn’t think the joke was funny.
Tomorrow we will rent a car and drive the rest of the way to Port Angeles. Meanwhile, I have to think of a way to make it up to Oola.
The Mysterious One says he will get her a corn dog.