Day residency near Goldendale, WA

I took a 24 hour break from thinking about painting/photographing construction sites and went up with my sister to Rainbow Springs near Goldendale, Washington. The grass was pink with tufts of green and some scatterings of purple and dayglo yellow. The light and clouds, in typical PNW fashion, were dramatic. There was silence (except for the birds and bugs) and at night, complete darkness. We hiked to Ekone Ranch, followed a welcoming team through the horses and foliage to look at lady slipper flowers, and stayed for lunch (volunteering to wash dishes). We spent the last hour or so sitting in front of the canyon – I was able to get an underpainting started, while my sister read excerpts from her book about the social hierarchies of baboons. We have been processing the news of a family member’s sudden passing. The processing still continues but I’m glad my sister came up north this weekend.

anslem kiefer and joseph beuys at The S.A.M and The Broad

As 2017 comes to an end, I’d like to dedicate a post to two museums I visited in Seattle and LA during September – the S.A.M (Seattle Art Museum) and The Broad – and how Anslem Kiefer and Joseph Beuys unexpectedly connected both of them for me.

Earlier in February, when I was visiting my sister in LA, I fell in love with Anslem Kiefer’s work when I picked up a retrospective book on him at LACMA’s Art Catalogues Bookstore.  From his color palette, his subject matter (German history, mythology) manifesting in landscapes/spaces and the residue of objects, textural surfaces, to the cursive text on some of his pieces – Kiefer’s paintings were almost (minus specific subject matter, of course) everything I had been wanting to work towards in my own paintings.  It’s a beautiful surprise, but also slightly devastating to be reminded that the work you’ve been wanting/trying to do has already been done and done BETTER.  Up until this point, however, I was beginning to unconsciously shut out influences from major figures in art – but Kiefer would become a new easter egg for me to keep my eye out for.

In July, I attended Art of the Archive: The Intersection of Archives and Art by by Jennifer Strayer and Geoff Wexler at the Oregon Historical Society.  The presentation included slides of artists whose works drew upon existing archival collections or were interpreted as their own archives, along with blurring the line of what is and is not an archive.  One of the artists mentioned was Joseph Beuys and his vitrines – glass display cases holding a variety of items such as animal fat, wax, felt, jars, a painted violin, and beyond. Beuys’s almost-anthropological survey of objects encompassed both the organic and the industrial – human struggle verses healing.  I was already slightly familiar with his other works (most famously, his performance installation I Like America, America Likes Me (1974) ) – but I was unfamiliar with his vitrines.  But if my Mnemonic Whale had an Opa, it would certainly be them.  Thus, I found my second easter egg for wandering museums.

Kiefer was a student of Beuys when he taught at the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie between 1961 and 1972.  These artists, who both worked in various mediums, have been continuously linked together because of their timelines, nationality and how their work illuminates Germany’s post-World War II-struggle to reckon with the country’s dark past. It was only fitting to find the work of both Beuys and Kiefer displayed in the same room.

So when my friend Kim took me to the S.A.M for the first time, and I saw Beuys’s Felt Suit (edition of 100) on one side of the wall and a couple of Kiefer’s massive paintings on the other, with Katharina Fritsch’s Mann und Maus (1992) in between – I squealed and hopped up and down.  This is something I never do (“squealing” especially).  When my sister took me to The Broad in LA a week later, I let out another minor squeal.  There they were, a few of Beuys’s vitrines right next to Kiefer’s Deutschlands Geisteshelden (1973).  It was settled – my Beuys/Kiefer room radar was activated.

I loved The Broad – my sister and I stumbled upon it during a free admission day.  I’m aware that this 2017 blog post about the two very famous male artists who inspire me does a disservice to the many other inspiring talents on display.

My other loves include: Jenny Saville, Jean‐Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Ellen Gallagher (eXelento, 2004), Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Julie Mehretu, Cindy Sherman, Susan Rothenberg, and Kiki Smith.

The Broad

Seattle Art Museum

My favorite mountain

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Mt. St. Helens is my favorite mountain. Granted, if she blew up right in front of me, she may not be my favorite mountain (since I’d be drowning in lethal hot ash). But in her current dormant state, I can appreciate her up close and personal. It’s more of her energy that I’m drawn to than her specific location or shape. I couldn’t quite describe what kind of energy, but my sister put it best when she sweetly said, as we were playing with our bare feet in the white dust diagonally from Spirit Lake – “This is a wounded place”.

Things that passed through my mind and our conversations during our hike in front of Mt. St. Helens (in no particular order):

– the 6th extinction
– whether La Croix is a suitable substitute for desert hydration as opposed to bottled water
– abuse
– existing and extinct ecology
– global warming
– body modification as means of protection/defense
– Roxane Gay’s book, Hunger
Native Americans
– bodies being soft verses being hard
– how orange, purple, and yellow are my favorite wildflower color combination.

The dichotomy of women’s bodies and the earth have been discussed for years and years and years. Describing parallels from my end will only ring very cliche, but I recommend reading Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin (1978).

(Of course I’d also be interested in finding references that stem from more recent intersectional feminist perspectives – i.e woc and non-binary).

I’m glad my sister and I are closer.

Archival Screening Night in Seattle 

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(I’m working on trying to to tie my library job and former archive studies into this blog a bit.)

Last night the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle hosted Moving History Returns: Saving Our Magnetic Media, presented by Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound (MIPoPS).

These 20 clips and short films were from the Seattle Municipal Archives, Sally Sykes Group, Scarecrow Video, the Wing Luke Museum, Seattle Public Schools Archives, King County Archives, Seattle Art Museum, and the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.  The videos were apart of MIPoPS’s digitization project – most of the original formats were in 16mm, Hi8, and VHS.

Although I’ve gone into library work and haven’t been involved in the archives world at all since I graduated, screenings like this remind me why preservation and access is so important – and it’s another step towards feeling linked to the PNW in general.

My favorite video (transferred from 16mm to VHS to digital) was from the King County Archives – Waste Away [The Mole] (1966).  This promotional piece was produced by the county and government to showcase its mobile trash compactor (called “The Mole”).  Footage of garbage waves and tumbling torn scraps, plus rotating rusty dumpsters, reminded me of the visuals at my old job as a park janitor. It was quite interesting to hear the narrating voice, speaking from 1966, on the awakening awareness of waste disposal and consumerism.

http://www.mipops.org