Made by Hand

Material Studies and New Transmissions

The rain is back but before it came I had a busy weekend finishing up a round of applications and proposals for new opportunities. Who knows where we’ll be this time next year. Some highlights from the weekend of making, recording and arranging below.

Material and process studies including body (and tree) casting, 3D printing, laser cutting, bronze casting and more.

Material and process studies including body (and tree) casting, 3D printing, laser cutting, bronze casting and more.

I learned that the trees around my little house are not hemlocks but pacific red cedars. This little one between my house and shed is the first tree portrait….. still in process. Technical issues with my recorder and now weather. How those rangers manage to continue to collect data through the snow and rain I really want to know.

Updating my Teaching page and Sculpture page today. I have been busy!

Amended Proposal

forest-time:::transmissions from a future forest

January 1, 2019

Today I sit at a snowy 6500 feet above sea level, inside a modest cabin, about 20 miles north of Lake Tahoe. I’ve been here alone for 6 days, skiing, filming, hiking and writing at the University of California’s Sage Hen Field Station, for the first session of a 4 part artist residency. My original reason for coming here was to conduct research and develop a new segment of my ongoing project Lessons From the Forest. Lessons from the Forest part 5, Forest-time, was to be about how multiple time scale co-exist, or how diverse life cycles are interwoven in an ecosystem. Imagine the lifetime of a tree transposed over that of a chickadee, coyote or mushroom. I’ll conduct extensive fieldwork across the Sierras, Coastal Ranges and Northern Cascades to produce a new body of work including sculpture, video, live cinema performance with projec- tion mapping and song.

Frozen water and wood, in Sage Hen Creek. The complexity in the patterns, nearly overlooked, is astounding and beautiful.

Frozen water and wood, in Sage Hen Creek. The complexity in the patterns, nearly overlooked, is astounding and beautiful.

At the center of my trans-disciplinary project, is an investigation into the idea of Time, how this concept or construct is rendered in a forest, in a computer, a human. How might nonlinear perspectives on time allow us to see beyond anthropocentric, existential hang ups to a less hierarchical and more equitable global society, economy and ecology? Time is more material, less linear than we were led to believe. It’s in the sound, in the soil, the trees, the sea, the salmon, the whales, their bones, your bones. Whose time is it anyways? Or is it that time owns us or is there just no such thing? Only a multi-layered infinite now.

On November 8th, 2018 I began to reconsider the focus of my research as I watched in horror and from a distance the devastation wrought by the Camp Fire in Butte County CA. Even though my loved ones were miles away from the flames, images and stories from friends living in the Bay and Sierra Nevadas, buying masks just to be outside under a strange sky dense with particulates and an ominous red sun overhead, I could not help but think this felt familiar. At home in Washington, my phone pinged as I received automated texts from former employers in California, announcing school closures across the Bay. I flashed back to October ’17 when I woke at 1AM to the smell of smoke, my phone glowing with texts from Sonoma State University, announcing campus closures and evacuation instructions. Flash forward to 2018, this is no anomaly, this is the new normal.

Enhanced satellite image of 2018 Camp Fire in California provided by NASA's Earth Observatory.

Enhanced satellite image of 2018 Camp Fire in California provided by NASA's Earth Observatory.

Indeed, multiple timescales co-exist because what was done to forests in the West by white settlers, speculators, railroaders and loggers a century ago, through clear cutting and industrialized reforestation, combined with climate change has delivered us these montane ecosys- tems ripe for wildfires at a scale never known before. Absorbing the news of all the lives lost or violently disrupted due to western wildfires, we are beginning to understand that how the forest goes, we go.

Logging of old growth redwoods, in Humboldt County California, before 1900. Courtesy  Shorpy.com

Logging of old growth redwoods, in Humboldt County California, before 1900. Courtesy Shorpy.com

Is the image so entrenched in western mythology of vast and dense mountain forests, spread- ing beyond the horizon, really a product of western expansionism and powerful extractive economies? How were forests managed 200, 500, 1200 years ago? How will healthy forests be maintained in the future and how should our relationships evolve to fire?

With logging interests greatly diminished (or rather relocated to Canada), in a 180 degree turn, ecologists, land managers and foresters are moving away from the fire suppression model that created in large part the dangerous wildfire conditions that currently exist throughout the west. More and more, we may look towards controlled burns, or with the co- operation and ecological knowledge of indigenous peoples, cultural burns.

Carr Fire, Redding California, 2018. Image Bob Strong Reuters

Carr Fire, Redding California, 2018. Image Bob Strong Reuters

So today we look to the past to build a future forest.

AMMENDED PROPOSAL:

Forest-time is new eco-feminist sci-fi that begins as a power-point presentation on fire ecology, past, and present, that gradually devolves into a primal live-cinema performance about sticky entanglements across ecologies, economies and time-scales. Produced in tandem with Forest- time, Transmissions from a Future Forest will exist as a new series of sculptures and props inspired by ad hoc forestry data collection instruments and equipment.

Data collection sight, Sage Hen Field Station, 2019

Data collection sight, Sage Hen Field Station, 2019

My sculpture, performance, writing, sound work, and video is layered, like a cosmic ecological sandwich. I identify systems that involve both human and extra human participants. [In my view there is no divide or border between us, despite our best or worst efforts. There is no wall long or tall enough to stop the interweaving of the species’ fate.] But I am no scientist, or authority on anything but my own way, and that is even questionable at best. So my work asks ques- tions, about relationships, between us and them, humanity and animals, plants and people, our bodies and the universe. In the gaps between our working with and against it, our feeling at home or out of place, there lie deeper truths that can lead us to our better nature and a more stable future. Because it’s all nature. Understanding our place in it leads towards under- standing ourselves.

Sources:

Anderson, M Kat, Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources, university of California Press, 2005

Egan, Timothy, The Big Burn | Teddy Roosevelt and the fire that saved America, Houghton Mifflin Har- court, 2009

Ferguson, Gary, Land on Fire, The New Reality of Wildfires in the West, Timber Press, 2017

Sage Hen Day 8

I am missing a few days, I know. i will catch up later today when return to Squaw Valley and have more bandwidth. One more ski this morning before I start to load out. Many images and thoughts to share.

Sunrise at Sage Hen Field Station

Sunrise at Sage Hen Field Station

The tittle cabin I called home for the last 8 nights. Gas stove, hot shower, easy access to trails, what else does a girl need!

The tittle cabin I called home for the last 8 nights. Gas stove, hot shower, easy access to trails, what else does a girl need!

I keep reminding myself that I’ll be back again in March and June or July and finally in September to record the seasons in the forest. To be continued as they say.

Sage Hen Day 5

how long have I been able to go into the forest and forget myself. That is why I return. It’s something I’ve done since I had control over my body could go where I wanted and where I went was the forest. The scale, the sound, the richness of the air, the many many ways of being a being, a haven, a universe with no expectations beyond the simple sense that one will eventually fall down and be food energy for the next generation.

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Day 4 Sage Hen: Today....

Today was something, is something else. Very internal. I’ve been here in relative isolation for 5 days. That’s not the same these days with email and instagram and face book and NPR streaming. But mostly I’ve been alone with my thoughts and this place. Just starting to know my way around. 

Today was different than yesterday. No big surprise and grateful for that. I was less focused on tree identification. I had some writing to do. By the time I went out I was bit disconnected from what I felt yesterday which was a visceral sense of deep belonging and love. It’s in that poem. I know, it’s too sappy. Sometimes that I am. And I admit it. Then I move on. 

Today I went off trail once I noticed the meadows opening up to the left of me. My so lovely and open. Is this the way the forests once were? I’m not all that clear on how the woods were maintained before Anglos arrived…. 

I went out. First little moment happened when I needed to cross a creek. On foot I guess I would have walked through the water but with skis and the angle of the drop off due to the snow pack I found an old snag spanning the little river and decided to cross. Hmmm. But I had to be careful. Awkward moving these days with a new ankle and an old hip. Halfway across things are looking good until somehow left and then right ski slipped and I was tangled still half on the log and half on land. Gene now what. Dropping my poles I struggled, lift the leg no that hurts what now stuck come on get out and finally high leg lift and wow free! And off I skied into the meadow. Shuuuush…..!

Open. Something is blowing in. A cold front but still the day was warm enough. I moved over the snow into the open mountain meadow, like a valley of sorts, or a fen, keeping my eyes open to my surroundings. I didn’t exactly feel alone.

Sage Hen Creek has many tributaries that run under the snow pack and make gentle bulbous humps in the meadow given some snowpack. The trees, firs and pines (I’ve only identified 3 cedars and not in this area), stand watch around the perimeter. As I enjoy my ride across the white stuff I notice tracks, criss-crossing the meadow, small and larger, many weaving around rocks, up over and across the plane up into the higher mountains rimming the fen. I’m drawn towards these trails and tracks and start to read them more. There I can see tiny tracks coming out from a hole that abruptly disappear at a larger impact as if the tiny being was lifted up into the air. Ahh. This is a dangerous place. My struggle crossing the snag, this small creature’s life suddenly cropped in flight. 

I ski the rim of the meadow, not wanting to leave but knowing that my mildly injured body is in need of moderation so I turn back toward the established trail. Near the bank where I need to climb to get to the road I spot something in the snow, it’s red, another impact at the edge of a hole. What happened? Did they get eaten or did they escape, I wondered as I looked deeper into the burrow to see drips of scarlet going down deeper into the snow pack. 

So much going on here when we are not here. My hike back to the main road was a bit challenging, and I had some moments of doubt as the sun started to descend but just then there it was. Main trail. I was closer to home than I thought.

Later on after answering emails and working on more drafts I went out to time the hike to the main road. 38 minutes not bad but then decided due to various concerns that I’ll forgo going to town tomorrow. I’ll stay here for the full term, until Thursday. I have what I need. Coffee, booze, food, Time.




Sage Hen Day 3

The smell of sage and fir transcends time. No wonder I dreamed of you last night. The cold, the crisp crinkle of snow under boots. It makes me think of you and youth and cold flushed skin against white blue snow. We were alive. Timeless. This is where our memories live well. Nestled among the pines and incense cedars. Reveling in the scent of spring thaw. But it’s still winter according to measurements. The hard soil gives way to a warming earth. What future fire burns us out of being? How much are we to blame? Runaway wildfire children. Takes longer to heal than I ever imagined. Maybe we are just different now. And now. And even now changing.

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Sage Hen Day 2

There are some amazing snags here, as well as living trees suffering from something, beetle infestation? Enormous piles of trees stacked I’m told by a giant tree combine that can cut down and de-branch a 40 foot tree every 60 seconds. The Sierras are in the grips of a cycle of infestations due to drought and warmer winters. This leads directly to increased risk of forest fire. As the trees go, we go. The Forest Service here is hoping to thin the forest to provide more open spaces and meadows to act as buffers against a runaway fire.

Skied 6 miles today. I’m sore! Old and new injuries haunt my dreams of trekking all day long. I’m reminded that like the trees and rabbits, moss and rocks, I too am changing. Just as I admire the beauty in the snag, the moss covered rock, craggy shaggy incense Cedar or twisting twin Jeffrey pines, I can love this body too that has carried me through time and space. Rest tomorrow and write more. Maybe just a 3 mile ski!


Sage Hen Day 1 (12/27/2018)

I made it. First few hours, already on the skis. 12/26/2018

I made it. First few hours, already on the skis. 12/26/2018

As usual there were a few bumps in the road but I eventually arrived late afternoon at Sage Hen Field Station just outside Truckee, CA. Right now, the sun is rising up over the mountains to the east. Clouds mix with the deep blue sky that reminds me so much of this place. A deep manganese blue like that reflected in Lake Tahoe.

Today I will explore. I’ll put on my skis and see where the trails take me. There are trails all around and I’m likely to run into folks but I’m essentially all alone here. Someone comes by to check on the buildings and the heat but I’ve not seen them yet, only heard them. A little snow is falling from a rogue grey cloud. We may get some weather, a flurry or a dusting, but the forecast is mostly clear for the next 7 days. Even with the clouds above, I’ve not seen this much blue sky in what feels like weeks. Back home in Washington, a grey rain coat has settled in on Puget Sound that likely won’t lift except for the regular yet all too brief bursts of sunshine, until March or April. It’s all right. Water is life.

Plans for today are slowly coming into focus. Explore during the day. Research online about the local ecology, fire history and this evening write all those letters I’ve been putting off. I am anxious, not for my work here at Sage Hen, but for other things that I packed along with me. The solitude granted by this artist residency is just what I need to tackle and complete those other things. When I leave I’ll have completed almost all that is needed. At home a mildly mad dash to assemble new images while also preparing for a new quarter….

But now I am getting way ahead of myself. It’s about time, this project, why I am here. Below is a kind of description for the project at hand, the one that will premier in Seattle this spring/summer!

The road home, for now, Sage Hen Road, Truckee CA.

The road home, for now, Sage Hen Road, Truckee CA.

forest-time

(forest-time) is new eco-feminist sci-fi that begins as a media presentation on fire ecology, past and future in the Pacific Northwest, and gradually devolves into a primal live-cinema performance about sticky entanglements across ecologies, economies and time-scales.

Based on research conducted in the western states of Washington, California, Nevada and British Columbia, Canada (forest-time) will feature human and Ai performances, video, field-recordings, soundscapes and song.

At the center of a layered performance, is an investigation into the idea of Time, how this concept or construct is rendered in a forest, a computer, in a human. How might nonlinear perspectives on time allow us to see beyond anthropocentric, existential hang ups to a less hierarchical and more equitable global society, economy and ecology? If we can see time in the trees more accurately than in a clock what is the point of all these alarms. Time is more material, less linear than we were led to believe. It’s in the sound, in the soil, the trees, the sea, the salmon, the whales, their bones, your bones. Whose time is it anyways? Or is it that time owns us or is there just no such thing? Only a multi-layered infinite now.

Trees can tell us with staggering accuracy what happened in the past by the number and quality of the rings found inside their heartwood and sapwood. It’s called dendrochronology. There’s also dendroclimatology, the study of tree rings to detect environmental patterns like drought and fire.

Now is place-based. It is “here and now” yet place is also the Past especially when we can see it in the earthy material around us. A sundial might come close to telling time but a material sense of time, like that expressed in a forest or a coastline can be more real than any digital or analog display. If you care to look, you can see the past, feel it, pick it up and hold it in your hands.

Fieldwork for this project is nomadic and takes place across time and space, tracing a road taken by many Now moving (myself included) north along the coastline to find work, affordable housing, water, clean air and a livable Future.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't always see the sun, so a sundial is less reliable. Trees can tell time.

Morning ski

Morning ski

Outside by 9 to begin to get the lay of the land. Clouds, snow dusting, sun. I found a fantastic site to study. There are a number of very large wood piles. The 4th one on my ski today was a sight to behold. Trees stacked horizontally in some loose order under a light blanket of snow probably 3 stories high. I need to return to really get a sense of scale. Why were they all cut? Beetles is my summation. Thinning the forest of sick and dying trees to protect the living. But this last stack still had some green in the branches.

After skiing for an hour and a half my shoulders and ankle began to stiffen. I’ll return tomorrow. The next field trip today is around camp again. I’m going to see which doors are open. The kitchen looks promising. Might need a bucket for compost. Starker Leopold’s cabin is at the edge of camp. I’m going to head out there as soon as I finish my coffee.

I almost feel like I’m a refugee here. I almost didn’t make it. Now I am here and ideas are swarming. I want to know more about the invertebrates that over-winter here, my current companions. Coyote for sure, rabbits, some birds I heard singing today, and some tiny tracks, a snow mouse? Thinking I can find the lifecycle of these critters and compare. I also want to learn more about this place, this human built place. I can feel something here, a deep belief that the land, the animals and trees are vital to our own survival. This place, Sage Hen, was established by Stryker Leopold, Aldo Leopold’s son.

I just finished the Big Burn by Timothy Egan, which is about the birth of the Forestry Service and Conservation, and the impact of western expansion, speculation and capitalism on the great fire of 1910… A really great relevant book especially now as we grapple with increasingly destructive wildfires. On the last pages Egan quotes the Wilderness Act, which established, “a National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people, and for other purposes… where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Yes, that’s the moon up there. It’s waining but still pretty bright at night. Hope to catch a glimpse this evening.

Yes, that’s the moon up there. It’s waining but still pretty bright at night. Hope to catch a glimpse this evening.

Being alone here at Sage Hen right now I feel that way. Like a visitor. Yet while I appreciate the values that gave birth to the Conservation Movement, brought to political life by Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, I believe in our present ecological era it might be more prudent to think of ourselves not as visitors but as actors within a diverse and complex ecosystem, filled with innumerable players all with agency, all with rights and purpose. What role do humans wish to play? All these ideas are swirling around after less than 24 hours here. Zowey. Time to go outside and explore some more!

NEW WORX // NEW YEAR

Last day in Bellingham 2018. Preparing for my first research trip for Forest Time. Lot’s of things cooking, simmering. Yesterday finally made a decent tree cast! This one from a live tree in my yard. The casting rig I put together worked! Now I need mold making agent with high resolution. Cast my leg as well but it was a fail. Still somehow I am okay with the result. Like it has motion blur. Gonna keep it.

Cast of my neighbor tree. Thanks for working with me tree friend.

Cast of my neighbor tree. Thanks for working with me tree friend.

You can see the burlap of the mother mold, air bubbles and the mold is torn but somehow I am happy with it.

You can see the burlap of the mother mold, air bubbles and the mold is torn but somehow I am happy with it.

Checked the weather in Truckee and it will be cold. Maybe a little snow fall and maybe a little sun. A mixed bag. Anxious. Need to pack and make a box for my skis and tools. Must return to school today to finish chasing bronze pieces and the little dream boat pictured below. It’s Christmas Eve but for me it’s another work day.

Remake of a renamed sculpture, alaskan, but I like to call it little dream boat.

Remake of a renamed sculpture, alaskan, but I like to call it little dream boat.

Where am I going? I am going to Sagehen Field Station in the Sierra Nevadas to work on a project about forest ecology , fire ecology and time, human time and how it relates to forest time. This project will develop into a live cinema performance and sculptural installation. This is my first of 4 planned trips to the field station to conduct research and gather materials. I will be alone there this time, for 8 nights in the forest in the mountains. I joke with my friends that I won’t really be alone, I’ll have my phone with me, and my computer and all the other nonhuman critters and entities experiencing the time and space together. We’re going to have a party!

In my lifetime, I find when I totally give up and just do what I want it kicks things up. And that’s not luck or qualitative, it’s what is true to life. Is it luck? That depends on if you have expectations. I have them, don’t get me wrong but if I can forget them for a few minutes I can soar with more energy and abandon. Like this is it, your life, a 2 hour movie. Do it right (now).

So give up. Let it all go. Unravel, peel unfold. Unravel feel and Unravel, real and now it’s here and then it’s gone. Where does it go? When you unfold, and light shines on the creases, your landscapes are exposed…

Rivers flow.

(in process)

Video still from a project I made with the wonderful Sarah Cameron Sunde   . Chasing the high tides, summer 2016, performance for video.

Video still from a project I made with the wonderful Sarah Cameron Sunde. Chasing the high tides, summer 2016, performance for video.



We work

First quarter down. 2 more to go. This project, I’ve been doing it now for 4 years so I think 9 times now. Spreading a lot of cardboard and paper mache animal heads into the world. This project feels like a collaboration between my students and myself. I did not make those… adjectives please. Just look. They are stunning. I know though that it’s not just the cardboard, or the careful making, the glue mixed with water and painted paper. It is who they are and who they can be. It’s also the anonymity. And at the same time the insta-value, getting it our there. What I see is a future filling up with dreamers and dancers and lovers and writers and fixers and bikers and mothers, brothers and fathers and sisters, a getting together, collectivity.

This term we entered the library silently. Proceeded across the sky bridge and as we approached the separate stairs we split half taking left half right and gathered together on the landing in the rotunda. After some coded instruction we all took a deep breath and then began to hum. HUmmmm until students people came to gather to look over the railing down the stairs into the rotunda. We finished and inhaled just to hear applause… in the library. Breaking up the study session to say “Relax, we will get through this together….” and then we went away.

WWU students taking it…..levels

WWU students taking it…..levels

Space Wind

I had strange dreams last night. Maybe I had dinner too late. My father was there, trying to get at me. I was flying above him but then I lost my powers and floated down to earth. I awoke at 3:20, a usual time for me, to hear the wind and watch the silhouettes of trees dance above the skylights in my roof. Branches swayed and swept the air, trunks bent like blades of grass under an invisible hand. The high moisture content in the Northern air saved us, lending the trees extra agility to respond to the restless wind as it filled the night sky with sound and fury. When I finally fell back to sleep I dreamt it was a full moon and as the clouds parted the moon drifted off center in some celestial orbit to reveal a familiar planet. It was earth. But then where was I? Suddenly I started shaking uncontrollably, and woke myself. It was a beautiful and fearsome sight. I was out in space, disconnected from this place. But I also had a strange sense like… don’t be afraid.

Don’t be afraid. We are all just floating out in space.

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Lost wax weekend results!

Last weekend, it was just last weekend, after arriving home from 5 days in Northern California, the Sierras and foothills, I made some life casts, transferred them to wax and then began the long I’ll say arduous process of bonze casting. Goodness. So much work and so much fun. We had a team so we all worked together. I held the dead end, Doug drove the live end, Ruby drove the winch and Carly oversaw. Here are some results. Still so much chasing to do but I am hooked. I like the rough edges. I let the gauze in the wax model remain. Amazing what survived the burnout. Plan to execute a few more molds this weekend. Perhaps cast into Quickcrete or paper pulp, looking for something I can do in studio that is sort of lightweight but not nasty to work with…. so many options.

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Teaching is the best. We never stop learning. Grading now that’s not the best but I learn so much through that too. How students are responding to my curriculum, the good, the bad, the ugh! That’s what is happening today. One week left of classes then Finals week. And my first quarter at Western Washington University is (nearly) fini! So far sooooo good.

(forest-time) a proposal for a performance

(forest-time) is new eco-feminist sci-fi that begins as a media presentation on fire ecology, past and future in the Pacific Northwest, and gradually devolves into a primal live-cinema performance about sticky entanglements across ecologies, economies and time-scales.

Based on research conducted in the western states of Washington, California, Nevada and British Columbia, Canada (forest-time) will feature human and Ai performances, video, field-recordings, soundscapes and song.

At the center of a layered performance, is an investigation into the idea of Time, how this concept or construct is rendered in a forest, a computer, in a human. How might nonlinear perspectives on time allow us to see beyond anthropocentric, existential hang ups to a less hierarchical and more equitable global society, economy and ecology? If we can see time in the trees more accurately than in a clock what is the point of all these alarms. Time is more material, less linear than we were led to believe. It’s in the sound, in the soil, the trees, the sea, the salmon, the whales, their bones, your bones. Whose time is it anyways? Or is it that time owns us or is there just no such thing? Only a multi-layered infinite now.

Trees can tell us with staggering accuracy what happened in the past by the number and quality of the rings found inside their heartwood and sapwood. It’s called dendrochronology. There’s also dendroclimatology, the study of tree rings to detect environmental patterns like drought and fire.

Now is place-based. It is “here and now” yet place is also the Past especially when we can see it in the earthy material around us. A sundial might come close to telling time but a material sense of time, like that expressed in a forest or a coastline can be more real than any digital or analog display. If you care to look, you can see the past, feel it, pick it up and hold it in your hands.

Fieldwork for this project is nomadic and takes place across time and space, tracing a road taken by many Now moving (myself included) north along the coastline to find work, affordable housing, water, clean air and a livable Future.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't always see the sun, so a sundial is less reliable. Trees can tell time.

Tree bark after controlled burn, Bend, OR

Tree bark after controlled burn, Bend, OR

Bronze Pour Today!

Saw a wonderful show at the Henry Gallery in Seattle before Thanksgiving Break. It was particularly thrilling as it featured Cast-offs, an installation of life casts, the work of Martha Freidman. So inspiring. A few day slater I found myself sitting on a plastic sheet on the floor of my living room with bowls of blue alginate and white plaster, casting funny parts of my body. Then I poured wax into the molds and with much help built investment molds. Four days later after 3 nights of taking 10PM kiln check duty, I shut the ovens down last night and today in less than an hour we begin the pour!

Solo Life Casting last Sunday!

Solo Life Casting last Sunday!

I’ll document as I can. Wish us luck!

Letter #3 (TimeBomb)

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Letter 3

December 19th, 1989

We will all wake up together. A piece of graffiti on the Berlin Wall. I’d seen it before, but in the future, as a photograph in a bar in California. The way it makes me feel to even hear my inner voice say those words. How could it feel for someone who was experiencing it for the first time. I watched it on TV. I remember feeling something, a kind of fullness in my chest and tightening of the throat as I realized what was happening. History was crumbling. Individual citizens,  students, teachers, merchants, people were responsible for the demise of seemingly untouchable rulers. The regime’s paranoia had been a potent distraction in the everyday lives of the regions’ inhabitants. Their political system was no longer tolerable.

Though at the time it felt like I’d just turned on the TV, switched the channel, this was not a sudden revolution. Hardly ever. Revolution is slow. It churns undetected, underground and at the edges, sometimes dormant, other times awake but frozen, thawing, warming, swelling. It takes so long for the heat to build. Then all it takes is a spark, one dreamer, one wild one, a dancer, a painter, a rock wall climber to initiate the first action. Against the bloody cold legacy of previous street battles between the occupiers and the artists, this time back in 89, despite, or more likely because of the the backwards power structure… the many overcame the ruling few.  

They moved through the streets like a velvet serpent, collective impossible, deep maroon dreamers. The many found a common love in their Rulers’ eviction. The commons shimmered through the television pulsating with exaggerated color. The crowds were a sea of winter caps, kept warm together. As I watched alone, on the 18 inch Zenith I saw their collective exhales form a mist rising up above their heads.  In the cold November night air, changing the atmosphere. Us. See what can we do if we’d only trust each other and see how we can be…. 

But it doesn’t all much matter. I know how this is going to end. 

Give it a few decades and the new class of Rulers will surface and this brilliant triumph will seem like a dream.  Give it a few more and it’s lost in a sea of cached data or long recycled printed matter. Books at the bottom of the sea. It ended like a dream, in an era of conscious unconscious, collective complacency, collective exhaustion… what do we have to love now that we’ve let our dreams end.

Love and risk are twins. One can’t exist without the other. 

Last night I I took this photo with a disposable camera. A friend processed the film. I made some copies. I thought you might appreciate the sentiment. 

To wake up, 

together.

Airport poem


Four hours or less of sleep. At the airport. Fogged in. All flights grounded. 6 hours wait.

Had to cry for a dead friend to get the airline to transfer my ticket. Thank you friend.

Sometimes it feels like there is such a thin layer separating us from the ones who’ve gone away. Maybe that’s just my heart brain thinking, trying to make it more tolerable. They are gone. We are here. Then we are gone away.

We are all earth slips. Slivers of the universe singing names. Trying to profess love for one another while we hate ourselves. And all we really hope to do is dance the night away, sleep hard and be good one day. Kindly animals, hopeful beasts muddling thru the mud that remains from years and years of subterranean tears.

It’s too sappy. yes, but it’s early winter and I’m still mourning the sun and warm salty skin. Streaks of red in my hair deepen to a brown like the earth under ground.

3 more hours left at the airport.

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Poems for a Sculpture #111380

my mother and her loyal companion

my mother and her loyal companion

Many many years ago on this day our dog Rusty was hit by a car. I was watching the Flintstones. My mother came into the kitchen. I screamed. My father buried her under a field of black-eyed Susans (can we unpack this?) in the back yard in Michigan. I never saw her body. It might have been the same year the Challenger crashed. Sally Ride. A TV was rolled into the classroom, wait, no I was already in California. What happened? The memories slip and slide. It takes blurry grey scale mental images of architecture to remind me of time. Otherwise it all just happened.

Mind soup.

Rusty. Her coat was a true dark russet. Deep earthy red. I just started to love her. When she’d run and turn a corner across the waxy wet lawn, under the pines and bowing maples, sometimes she’d slip or more accurately flip in a twist, yet always land on her fast four propelled to her destination in a feat of extra-human agility.

Then she was gone. And then we had to go. Us, during that short time in our 4 lives when we lived together. We had an obligation. Hotels and indoor swimming pools. I recall feeling feelings way beyond my ears, thinking at 8 yrs old, this is all so absurd. We just lost one of our pack and now we’re at the Hilton swimming...

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We scream the names of those we loved before and lost. So many ways to lose a love, distance, schedules, death. Even the way it moves through your mouth, it sucks air back in. Death is a sonic event. I can feel it like a plugging in the ears when the plane veers abruptly upright into the heavens filling us up with silent screams. how many ways did I lose you? How many ways did you lose me? Before physically we separated. It’s a long peeling off. Then there’s nothing left but a hollow metallic body and the engines hanging in mid air. What holds us up? What holds us. To each other, apart. Gravity may it hold me down. I’d float off for sure without it’s sure weight on me now just to find you somewhere high up there and ask you for one last dance.

for Jubilee

J + J

J + J