Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Nature Gathered Gallery Show

It's here, at last!! For twelve months, twelve artists have completed a nature-based work of art in various media to celebrate themes that are part and parcel of the natural world. Our challenge, Nature Gathered created 8" X 8" art pieces interpreting each artist's vision of birds, bugs, flora, fauna and more!! The journey is complete and we are showing our work in a month long show at the Sixth Street Gallery in Vancouver, Washington. Event details are as follows:
Wednesday, August 5th - Friday, August 28th
150 West 6th Street
Vancouver, Washington
(360) 693-7340
Opening Reception
Friday, August 7th
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Food, beverages and live music!
Pieces will be for sale during the show. If you are interested in purchasing a particular artwork, please contact the gallery for availability and pricing.
Hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Adrift in a Purple Haze

I have this crazy idea that I will replace the grass I hate to mow with a yard full of fragrant herbs and flowers that need little care or water, but can provide me with endless inspiration to create both art and tasty meals. I have a large herb garden in my backyard overflowing with mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, hops and around 20 different varieties of lavender (One can never have enough lavender!). And this year the flowers have been covered with honeybees, a welcome sight after so many years without them. So when I heard that there was a Portland, OR lavender festival in the works, I decided to travel to the lavender farms and buy the plants needed to start the transformation of my front yard and take a few (well, 106) photos of the farms.Since the Sauvie Island farms were closest, I headed to this heavenly little island in the Columbia River filled with farms and roadside mom-and-pop stands brimming with freshly picked fruits and vegetables. Once you cross the bridge onto the island, you feel the stress fall away from your mind and the smell of green-growing things brings back childhood memories of life growing up in the country. The worry and responsibilities of the real world fall away and you are surrounded by the beauty of nature.

The first farm I visited was the Sauvie Island Lavender Farm, a mall farm with u-cut lavender, plants and a gift shop with decadent, lavender-related goodies, including lavender wands woven from ribbon and an odd number of lavender stems with the flower head turned inward, creating a long lasting sachet. The air was alive with the fragrance of fresh cut lavender and the sounds of indignant chickens, whose daytime sleep was disturbed by curious children. I purchase two plants here, guaranteed to be heavy with blooms by next year.

I headed next to the Blue Heron Herbary on the other side of the island. I knew as soon as I entered the garden that this was a magical place to be. Lavender everywhere in every color, size and variety you can think of. And herbs – so many herbs – many that I have never seen before. Two small chickens roamed the property freely obviously not much concerned with the presence of humans. In fact, so unconcerned that one of them flew up and landed on top of my head and proceeded to make herself at home in my hair! The owner said these are the smallest breed of chicken in the world and come from Indonesia.

Although I arrived just before closing, the owners were gracious enough to let me wander their property and take photos to share with you all. A large garden in the front of the property filled with beds of different flowers and sitting spots where you could relax and lose yourself in the ambience of the moment. A green house area filled with plants for sale. The gardens surrounding the house filled with old, gnarled lavender plants heavy with blossom.

The wonderful gift store filled with lavender, bird and pet related items (I brought back a cat delight filled with catnip that became a nest of shredded remains in the paws of an inebriated cat). And in the back, a beautiful pond surrounded by lavender and filled with water lilies and cattails. As you passed, tiny frogs leaped from the lily pads into the water and the barn swallows buzzed by your head as they dipped and swirled above the water, collecting insects for the babies in the nest. The grounds were nothing short of amazing!!

And the best part, for those of you who live close to Portland, the owners said they would welcome any local artists or art groups to come out to the garden and make art in the midst of the beauty and inspiration of the gardens!! I know I will be back to do just that!! If you want to go, take highway 30, turn onto Sauvie Island Bridge and immediately turn left to circle under the bridge. Go 6 miles and turn right at the stop sign. It will be the first house on the left.

Sadly the day came to an end and I returned home, the proud owner of seventeen new types of lavender to plant as soon as the ground is no longer the consistency of cement.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Bevy of Birds and one Beseiged Cat

The chirping and screeching that intruded upon my normally quiet backyard alerted me that something was going on that was out of the normal. Figuring this might be a photo opportunity, I grabbed my camera and ran for the door. What I saw at first was a bevy of birds swooping and chattering at a grey tiger cat sitting under a lilac bush on my neighbors fence. I frequently chase the neighborhood cats away from stalking the birds at my feeders, so I started for the hose when I realized something I had never seen before was happening under my nose. The cat was not stalking the birds. The birds were stalking the cat. Several birds. Different species of birds working together to give this cat a reason not to get anywhere near their nests again. Robins and grackles and a Anna's hummingbird all took turns swooping at this cat, who was cowering into the bush to avoid being pecked. None of the birds would cooperate with the slower shutter speed of the digital camera so that I could get a photo of them with the cat, but got a few of the birds waiting on a nearby swingset waiting their turn. Nature never ceases to surprise me.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Twined Bindings

I jumped at the chance when my friend, Jan, invited me to join her in a bookbinding class at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts. The class, Twined Bindings, taught by Oregon artist Roberta Lavadour, would teach us how to combine twining (generally a basketmaking or weaving technique) with the creation of a book. Roberta is an excellent instructor and over the two days of class, not only taught us how to make her twined binding (she originated the design), but also taught us her shortcuts and secrets to creating books. The books you see above are the students' completed projects (mine is on the end on the right). Roberta paced the class instruction so that almost all of us were able to complete a book by the end of the class. Check our Roberta's website and view her OPB video feature from Oregon Artbeat for more information on this fabulous book artist.

The Oregon College of Arts and Crafts is set in a wooded area in north Portland. The campus is filled with workshops and studios, as well as a heavenly gift store filled with original art of both student and local artists. The campus if fun and funky as evidenced by this small sapling near the parking lot that had been completed wrapped with red yarn as an installation project. By the time you leave the campus, your head is spinning with ideas for future art creations.

Prior to going to the Book Arts class, I visited the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. Each year the Festival sponsors three events: a main exhibition (this year focused on modern mosaics), an open show where artists from throughout the area can submit three pieces of both two and three dementional works for judging and sale and an art faire. Hundreds of artists participate in the open show event and it takes quite a while to explore the art. The mosaic show was incredible. Not just the mosaics that graced the walls of ancient Greece and Rome, but funky, edgy uses of ceramic, glass and natural material that took your breath away. I toured the booths at the artist faire and spoke to several of the vendors and came away with, of course, a few bird prints. Unfortunately photography was not allowed for any reason at the show and I was unable to bring back photos to share of the event, although one of the booth artists let me photograph her simple arrangement of a goldfinch nest on a silver platter.

Later in the week, I attended work-related training in Ridgefield, WA and came across these barn swallow nests (if you look closely you will see two tiny heads peeping out of the nests) and a killdeer who would play injured to draw me away from its nest right up until I pointed the camera in her direction, at which time she stopped her drama and looked at me as if to say, "you didn't really think I would let you photograph my bad side, did you?"

Wishing you all a wonderful Fourth of July!!!!