Northern HWY 101

Mother Killdeer on her four eggs
Mother Killdeer on her four eggs

There is city park in Port Angeles where HWY 101 (under the guise of Front St.) runs by Wildcard Guitars and Dove Studio.  Each evening for the past couple of weeks I have been checking in on Mother Killdeer — much to her consternation I must admit — just to see how she and her 4 eggs are doing.  She and her mate have chosen this spot next to the gravel parking lot and next to this water sprinkler for a nest.  What an eye they have for protective coloration!  She stays so still, you would think the sprinkler would move first.  And the eggs are so big. (and every mother out there says, Ouch! that must have hurt.)

But it is time to go to the SF Bay Area to visit family and do a couple of art errands.  Oola and I will travel on HWY 101 (mostly).  So we say  goodby to the Killdeers and head out early on the next adventure.

On the first morning in the Olympic National Park it looks like

Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent

the lake is having as much trouble waking up as we are.

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

The wind picks up, and soon we are on the Pacific Coast.  We make a stop at rugged Ruby Beach where abundant wildflowers are whipped about on the bluff.

A few hours later we are in Cape Disappointment State Park.  It is located where the Columbia River meets at the Pacific Ocean.  And you will remember from your history, this is where Lewis and Clark and company completed their contract.  I wanted to camp where they camped.  And, if signs can be believed, I did.

Cape Disappointment lighthouse
Cape Disappointment lighthouse

It was named Cape Disappointment by an English fur trader/merchant of dubious reputation, John Meares.  There is a wicked sandbar at the mouth of the river.  It looks like the waves are breaking way out in the ocean.  Because of this dangerous feature, Captain Mears could not enter the Columbia River and gave the area this name.  A lighthouse was built on the 200ft bluff to warn other seamen of the danger entering the River.

In 1805 Lewis and Clark showed up and wondered how the peaceful Pacific could be so wild.  They camped here, but the weather was so miserable they relocated to the south side of the River.

Artist Maya Lin started her Confluence Project here.  I stood here maya-lin
to try to understand the geography of the place and to take photos, not realizing the importance of the art I was standing on.

Columbia River, Baker Bay, from the Maya Lin viewing platform

Of course, people come to Cape Disappointment for many reasons.

Oola boogie boarding

This one looked pretty cold and dangerous to me!

Being keen to see family, I decided to cross over to Interstate 5 where we passed this magnificent site:

Mount Shasta

On into California participating in fun-and-death with impatient 18wheelers.  The time saved was much too stressful.


After good family visits it was time to do the errands.  BUY ART SUPPLIES! One of the places on my list was

Dharma Trading Company in San Rafael

the place to find everything needed to add color to fiber.  In my case I needed to pick up a large roll of paper-backed silk for inkjet printing.  When the warp and weft are straight it makes wonderful hangings.  New project in the works…. printing some of my “discovered figures”, photos, and street rubbings on this luscious fabric.  Then doing everything possible to contrast its beauty with violence.  Don’t ask why.  I don’t know yet.

Up the California coast on 101 this time.  Precious stops in Coastal Redwood groves.  I don’t know of anything more quieting than just BEING in a grove of these trees, tallest on the planet.  Something in their bark just seems to neutralize all the poisons.

California Coastal Redwoods
And these are not even old growth!

My sources tell me that Lewis and Clark and Co. did not like fresh fish, like salmon.  Sick of the weather on the north side of the Columbia and sick of being hungry and sick, they took the advice of local Indians who told them that there were elk on the southern shore of the River.  When the weather cleared enough for the company to trust their boats to the waters they came upon herds of this.

Roosevelt Elk stopping traffic.
Municipal Art?

In Crescent City I had to stop the car for this 40 ton concrete work of sculpture.  I had to find out about it.  As it turns out, these “dolosse” are used all over the world to to strengthen breakwaters.  Who knew?  (Mr. Wildcard did.)

Breakwater reinforcement in Cape Town, South Africa

Their name means something like “knuckle bones” in Afrikaans.  They were developed South Africa in the 1960s to protect jetties by dissipating the energy of incoming water rather than blocking it.  Genius.  Does Life imitate Art or what?!


Another “arresting” sight on the side of the road!

Path to the Elwah River and the site of the dam that is no more.

Getting close to home, where it almost always smells like summer camp.

Finally home, and after a hunny smooch, a trip over to check on Ms. Killdeer.  As I suspected might happen, the eggs have hatched.  Three nestlings running about catching bugs, but it seems that a crow made a meal of the fourth.

Three hatchlings.  The twins seem to think they are posing for Diane Arbus.


Webster’s Woods at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

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.

Port Angeles Fine Art Center
Port Angeles Fine Art Center

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.)

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

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.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

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.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods
detail in Webster's Woods
detail in Webster’s Woods

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.

Webster’s Woods

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.


Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

We found an open dell, and this elegiac group.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

We found sound wood, and the chance for communal performance.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

We found evidence that we had arrived at the correct conclusion from the wrong direction.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

I read that there will be more installations this summer.  Definitely we’ll be back.  I hope you get to visit, too.

1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Paul Farinacci, artist of social commentary

It has been a while since Oola and I traveled on any “plane”.  That foolishness dealt with, I would like you to meet — if you haven’t already — one of my fellow travelers at Blue Mountain Center.

Paul Farinacci is an artist with whom I spent a few whiles in pleasant discussion of the kinds of stuff Artists talk about.  Paul gave the suggestion — and the hand —  to light one of my book installations by candles (big citronella buckets, if you are into details).  But mostly he was bent on getting two pieces done for a show.  He worked longer into the beautiful Adirondack nights than I ever did.

Paul’s work is the kind that you might pass by if you are not the kind to take close, slow looks.  At first it reminded me of Grimm’s fairy tales. The more I looked, the more Daumier and Dorothea Lange and Mark Fiore came to mind.  It even made me wonder how Goya would deal with the social issues we are facing in our place/time.

During our residency Paul was working on 2 paper maché sculptures in his series about testing school children on their academic progress. Each work is covered in NY State testing pages.

Click on any image to see its enlargement.

“Death by #2” is another of my favorites.

deathby#2Paul makes sculptural buildings which are lighted inside, so that you can play the voyeur to see what is going on.

And another favorite:

Assisted Living

Paul also makes huge drawings of which you can see representations at the New York Foundation for the Arts website:

If you are in New York, you can visit his work at the Lyceum Gallery, Suffolk Community College (Riverhead NY) until Oct 26.

Well worth a second, third, and fourth look!

Trip to Another Place

This post is not a road trip, per se, but it did start in Mom’s Memorial Prius.  It was rent day, and I had to go to the landLord’s building in the next city. You can guess that this is not our favorite place.  But Oola and I dutifully climbed the stairs.

When we got to the top, we were stunned by the sight of a needle-felted wool sculpture.  This, by any standards, was no ordinary sculpture.  Oola gulped in recognition of her long lost cousin – a trailer trash zombie named Trailina.

Trailina. Oola's long lost cousin

To make a long story short, Trailina’s creator, Bird Mccarger, agreed to come visit us in my studio.  Oola and I had discovered not only her long lost cousin, but also the fountainhead of a whole lost family.  Oola was overcome with joyous vapours.

Oola's long lost cousin. The resemblance is amazing.

Come for tea they did, with a little vodka in a hip flask.  Oola and Trailina had a lot of catching up to do.  And I had the pleasure of talking art with someone who really understands issues that are important to me.  Soon we were cackling in mutual recognition.

Bird, who went to California College of Arts (“and Crafts”, she emphasized), discovered that what she really loves is the process of making miniature things that are personal and intimate.

Then on-line she discovered dry felted dolls.  She thought they were hilarious.  I went to the web and looked, and the process I saw left me dumbfounded.  You use this fragile, barbed needle — that can draw blood — on wool, wrapping and poking over and over to make the shapes and add to them layer by hairy layer.  Check this out: the amount of work, not to mention danger to the fingers, involved in making a simple, stupid pumpkin:

But, not a lot of equipment is needed, and the process does not poison your space or the environment.  It just takes an amazing amount of time in the obsession pit.

Bird confessed to being annoyed by the BIG HIGH ART thing that we both experienced in art school.  We agreed that bigger=better is a “guy thing”, a remnant of the “heroic” age of Modernism.  I remembered how disappointed I was, having seen reproductions of Motherwell paintings in the art history books, to see them in person.   I had thought them beautiful in miniature scale, but in life they looked bloated, overblown, with no perceivable reason for being gigantic, except that maybe they could sport a bigger price tag.

Bird – a true craftsperson — said that big Fine Art is “a manifestation of a hedonistic society that masturbates all the time”.  Bird says things like that.  So does Oola.  I personally do not see any difference between good art and good craft.  I think that Bird is an exceptionally good artist who deserves a lot more time to make what she makes.

We talked about the greed of our society, about the need to fill your hut with “stuff” and guard it aggressively.  The need to make more money that anyone could ever use in a lifetime.  We talked of the aggression of our society, and how that aggression is only a mask for fear, the fear of losing all that stuff that greed piled into your hut.   How the oil companies, the banks, the pharmaceutical companies are “entities of fear”.  And how fear limits how much of the world you can see, limits your manifestation of your inner self, limits your ability to create.

We talked about humor.  How you will be making what you think you are making, and something will sneak into your work and surprise you.  Bird likes poking fun at our pop culture, and at what people think they know.  I posited my current mantra that humor is — at root — the expression of rage and pain.

For all of us who wonder why anyone would wear the words we have seen on their butts.

Bird agreed, and began talking about the dolls that had come with her.  Trailina is a pregnant zombie (there is a story there!) and she is tacky.  Trailina talks about Bird’s mother-anger that our kids have to grow up in an over-sexualized, porn, pop-culture that is “frickin ridiculous”.  As a mother of a teenage girl, she sees 14 year olds looking like they are ready to “hook it up” on San Pablo Ave.

Mystery Meat

Miss Trie Miet, detail

“Miss Trie Miet” is a drag queen.  How come men are more beautiful than me? she asks.  Bird posits that it is because men in our society developed the impossible standards of beauty that girls and women foolishly aspire to.  Standards that in essence say “Be young beautiful boys for your Greek boyfriends.”  (That is “Greek” in the historical sense; forgive me Ianos.)


“Florabella” is reverence for movement and physical control, and for not relying on someone else to tell you you’re beautiful.  Flora reminded me about an experience I had once, in my bellydancing days.  I was all costumed up and waiting to go “on”.  I saw a bellydancer in the room who was beautiful and whom I had never seen before.  I stared at her, and she at me.  When I cocked my head so did she.  Then came the shock of recognition. She was I in the mirror, and we were the REAL THING.

It is possible to be a cranky “bitch” about what bothers you, but nobody will listen.  Bird has discovered how to make us listen.

Both Oola and Bird insisted on family snapshots:

Bird and Oola
Bird and Oola

To see Bird’s websites, go to: