Sunday, June 28, 2009

Art (Sleep-) Walking

Hooray! We survived another great Salida Art Walk weekend.. tired, but happy.

Earlier in the week Roberta Smith, Lisa DeYoung and I set up a display of handmade books at our local independent addiction-feeder, The Book Haven. Once we figured out what we were doing with our assortment of books and book-making gear, we put together what we all felt was an attractive collection. Unfortunately I could never get a photo through the window that didn't have the rest of town reflected as well, so you'll have to take my word for it from this image taken inside the store.

Proprietor Lisa Marvel invited me to hang some linocuts in the shop, as well. Recognize that crazy thing over the piano?

To complete the ensemble, the DM played for a few hours at the store yesterday afternoon, and promptly sold all of the CDs he brought with him. This afternoon we popped in again, and heard the disc playing on the shop sound system. Very nice!

I sold a couple of linos and a leather journal, so we're both pleased with the weekend results. Several friends from the Front Range made surprise appearances, which made the weekend extra fun. Now if we can just recover some sleep.

Not too likely, since this time next week I'll be heading off for five days of workshop teaching at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. I think the Field Sketching I sections are both sold out, but last time I checked there were a couple of spots left in the "II" class, and in the leather journal-making class. Come on up! We've had so much rain this month that the wildflowers ought to be spectacular.

This means, naturally, that there's a whole lot of gear-switching and task finishing coming up this week. AND, in the "of-course-it-would-happen-NOW" category, the DM came home between gigs yesterday to discover a large chunk of the guest room ceiling lying on the floor. It's a long story involving a plaster patch administered before we moved in. Let's just say it didn't hold and add it to the "to do" list. (sigh)

But don't despair... guess what THIS is:

Yup. In-progress drawing for a new complicated linocut. Life is good.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Crazies, Part II

It's Art Walkin' Time!

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday in downtown Salida.

I'll be showing handmade books and linocuts at the Book Haven, along with friends and colleagues Roberta Smith and Lisa DeYoung. On Saturday from 4-8pm I'll be on hand at the Book Haven talking to folks about print- and book-making. Come on by and say hi if you're in the neighborhood.

David the DM will be playing Chapman Stick on Friday at Apogee Studio (5-8), Saturday at the Book Haven (12-2) and Saturday evening at Krivanek Jewelers (5-8). Of course he'll have the new CD, Residue, on hand, too!

Summer Crazies, Part I

The 61st Annual FIBArk (First in Boating on the Arkansas) Festival was this past weekend... an annual event which finds Our Fair City doubling in size for a few crazy days. Sometimes TOO crazy. (A lot of our friends actually leave town during FIBArk... it's not a bad plan.)

It's still new to the DM (his second FIBArk), so we stuck around and went to some of the events. It's really quite nice to live a scant 4 blocks from the Festival, since we could walk down whenever we needed to get out of the house, cruise the scene for a bit, and then wander back home.

So... a few of our personal highlights:

Tenderfoot Hill Climb. Don't even THINK that we DO this race. We just like to watch our crazy FRIENDS do it. You see those dots? Runners. From 1st and F streets, three blocks, cross the river, run to the top of S Mountain, and run back to the starting line. The first place runner usually does the entire thing in under twelve minutes. I kid you not.

The Parade. It's a small town. The parade route is... hm... six blocks long? But every Shriner outfit known to mankind shows up for this thing, along with the usual contingent of outrageous floats and obligatory cute kids twirling batons.

Our friends Jack and Linda providing tandem parade music.

The Salida ballon ride folks firing off their balloon jet. (I couldn't help but wonder what it cost them to do this for several blocks.)

Local band, the Groove Farmers. The DM's partner in "Your Surrogate Cousin" is sitting in on harmonica for this one. (That's Eric on the far right, red hat.)

It was also the opening weekend for the Salida Farmer's Market. Hooray! We picked up a few goodies to tide us over until our share from Weathervane Farm starts next week. Yummy!

The unfortunate end of all this frivolity was an apparently professional hit on three local restaurants in the wee hours of Monday morning.... really quite appalling. The biggest weekend of the summer for many of our small, family-run businesses, all lost. Kinda makes you want to smack someone, doesn't it?

Coming up next? Salida Art Walk in just three more days! Yikes! Are we ready? Of course not.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Woot! Woot!

Guess what this is:

It's one of seven crates of these!

Just arrived on the doorstep... David Tipton and Clanky Frog Studios are pleased to announce the release of Residue! Fourteen original compositions on Chapman Stick.

Well, okay, it probably won't be released until tomorrow, because someone we know needs to set up the order page on his website. But it's here! Hooray!

You might (or might not) recognize the cover photo as Salida's own Sands Lake, taken by me during one of our rare fog events. See? There's a REASON for running outside to record things at the least provocation. You never know where it might come in handy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sketchbook date

Crowned crane and hornbills

I had to make another run to the city this week. It's always a major undertaking, since the two large cities nearest to us are 2 and 2 1/2 hours away. A down-and-back trip is common, but grueling.

This time I managed to sneak in a couple of hours to run off to the zoo, sketchbook in hand. I got there early, just before the (people) gates opened, and managed a couple of pages of scribbles before the crowds got enormous and irritating.

The hardest part about drawing in a public place like the zoo is not the drawing, but the people. I'm going to avoid a rant because a) it could get ugly and b) I'm tired, but c'mon, adults! How about at least TRYING to pass good information on to the kids you're hauling around? Despite signs and information in front of every exhibit, it's appalling the sort of misinformation I overhear while I'm working. Adults just make stuff up if they don't know!

Well, kids do, too.

The funniest thing I heard all day came from kids who must have been 5 or 6 years old. A group swarmed around me as I sat sketching in front of the giraffe yard. One boy noticed that some giraffes had darker spots than others, so immediately announced that "Boy giraffes had black spots and girl giraffes had brown spots." The adult with the group responded with, "Really? I never heard that before. Is that true?" To which aforementioned child responded, "Oh, yes. My dad told me. (pause to decide how to back up his claim) He works here. (Another pause.) He takes care of the giraffes. I help him. I feed the giraffes...."

Kid #1 was definitely warming to his topic, and the story was growing when Kid #2 literally did an end run around Kid #1 (and me). Kid #2 insinuated himself between Kid #1 and the rest of the group and said, conspiratorially, "Well. MY dad told ME that giraffes can suck your brains out just by sticking their tongue in your ear. You don't wanna get too close to THOSE things."

Next time I go to the zoo, I'm taking ear muffs. For multiple reasons.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Linocut cogitation

It's pretty obvious there hasn't been a lot of linocut action around here lately, but I have been thinking about the next one in the "underfoot" series. We've had amazing (for us) amounts of rain the last couple of weeks, so it seems pretty natural to look for something green to tackle.

Green. Dare we even go there?

I've been taking some photos and doodling a few sketches, but until this morning nothing really started to speak to me of possibilities. As usual, I seem to be focusing on really complex compositions. Check out these candidates:

I like this last one a lot, but the first two in this series are vertical and I had it in mind that the third would be as well. I'm going to have to cogitate on that for a while. I don't think it works well to turn this one vertically... but maybe.

Of course, I could always just DO it, and not worry about whether it "goes with" the others.

I'm going to go paste 'em in my sketchbook and draw on them for a bit to see what grabs my attention. Other than lunch. Which should be soon. Maybe now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


As if you didn't already have enough to do online... you can now follow Brush and Baren on Facebook!

Out of the silence....

Gosh. More than a week of nothing much to say. Have I perhaps been kidnapped by aliens?

I think there's a lot going on... at least I'm plenty tired every night, so that's my assumption. Lessee... what's happening?

Talking about linocuts and trees with an Arts Center Board member and forester.

Last weekend the DM and I had Fun in the City. I have some work hanging at the Fremont Center for the Arts in Cañon City, which is about an hour from Salida and halfway between here and the Front Range city of Colorado Springs. We had the show opening to attend, long-neglected friends to visit in Springs and a need to do our part to support economic recovery, so made an adventure out of it.

The Fremont Center for the Arts is located in a former post office, complete with the back sides of old PO boxes facing the gallery space. The opening was well-attended, even by the local press, but what a surprise! The Center director approached me to ask if I actually lived in Salida (Chaffee County) or outside of it (Fremont County, where the Center is located). It seems the local reporter was interested in featuring my work in his story, but couldn't (or wouldn't) if I wasn't from Fremont County. I wasn't. No story.

I know that this sort of thing happens all the time, but I confess it took a few minutes to shake it off and not take it personally. Seems silly, doesn't it? (Both the incident AND my reaction.)

Following the opening, we wandered across the street to the Cañon City Library lawn, where a great little jazz combo was providing evening music. Two of the players had just graduated high school (!)... I never got the name of the group, but they were quite good. Swingin' tunes and a pistachio almond ice cream cone put ridiculous reporters right out of my mind.

Yesterday and today have been a whirlwind of meetings and projects. There are three different interp panel projects hovering on the brink of completion... sometimes it's agony to get the last little details tied up. This afternoon, however, we began installation of the new Collegiate Peaks Byway signs... here, some shots from the smelter site.

Chaffee County roads personnel doing the heavy work of installation.

I realize that from these pictures this location doesn't seem particularly scenic byway-ish. It's a crumbling industrial site. But these signs are placed at the base of an amazing structure that played an important part in local history, and it's on the National Register of Historic Places, to boot.

I got to help out with the complicated sliding-panels-into-place portion of the installation.

A 365-foot smokestack is all that remains of a huge smelting and refining operation built here in the early 1900s. The Denver and Rio Grande railroad came up the Arkansas River to transport ore during the gold and silver booms, and Salida was formed as a rail and merchant hub. At the time it was built, this smokestack was the tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi River.

There is, of course, controversy and intrigue surrounding the stack. The smelter originally had two shorter smokestacks, one 85-feet and the other 150-feet high. They belched toxic fumes across the valley. Crops and livestock sickened and died. There are stories that the company quietly paid "pollution vouchers" to compensate local farmers and ranchers, but eventually the problem became too widespread. Publicly the company claimed they built a higher stack to handle their increased workload, but privately they admitted it was to get the smoke higher into the air, where it would blow farther away and presumably become someone else's problem.

Some things never change.

The tall stack was built, but less than two years later the company was bankrupt and forced to close. The other buildings were dismantled, the bricks used to build several local homes and the machinery sold for scrap.

There were several attempts to tear down the tall stack in the years following, but in the 1970s locals mobilized to have the stack named an historic structure. It is now owned by the Salida Museum Association, which hopes to some day create a museum on the site.

Greater Arkansas River Nature Association Director Alison Ramsey, Salida Museum Association member Larry Kovacic, and Chaffee County Roads employees John Nelson and (uh oh, I don't remember) survey the installed signs at the base of the big stack.A portion of the smelter complex between 1917 and 1920.
Salida Regional Library Centennial Collection photo.

There's more going on, too, of course! Tomorrow I take down the show at Mother's Bistro in BV. (Held over an extra week because the next exhibition wasn't ready yet!) And we're well in to Alyson Stanfield's "Blast Off" workshop. She's keeping us plenty busy so far, with examinations of goals, visions, blockades, and today? Finances! Yikes! So far, so good, though. I think we're all learning a lot.

Linocut in Progress: The Finish and the Rescue

 In the first post about the process of this linocut I mentioned that I was distracted and unfocused during the time I worked on it... whic...