Monday, April 30, 2012

A print of monumental proportions

Those are the DM's feet at the far end of the City of the World.
I made him stand there for scale.

If you were reading Brush and Baren last autumn, you might recall a post about my participation in the City of the World project.

City of the World is the brainchild of printmaker and certifiable crazy woman Maria Arango Diener– the third of her Monumental Collaborative Puzzle Print projects.

Monumental? You can say that again.

Maria cut 5 large sheets of cherry plywood into over 100 small pieces and sent them off to printmakers around the globe. Each of us carved our respective block and sent it back to Maria who, with the help of a few friends, reassembled and printed the resulting massive piece. More precisely, they printed FIVE large pieces for each and everyone who participated. 600 prints. Amazing.

My City prints arrived in Saturday's post... and here they are taking up most of the living room floor today. Maria's got all the gory details, and even some video of the print party on the MCPP blog. Do pop over and check it out...

Sunday, April 29, 2012


The print bench remains empty. Well, not exactly empty. I'm getting ready to hang a solo show at the Paquette Gallery here in Salida on Tuesday, so there are boxes of framed work stacked in the spot where I usually keep the registration jig.

I do have a couple of print-related things to share later this week, but tonight it's time for a little trip in the Wayback Machine.

Four years ago tomorrow the Darling Man and his packed-to-the-gills car arrived here from Ohio. Some of his belongings were already piled in the living room, which evolved from my space to our space in the time it took for David and the rest of his gear to step across the threshold.

A few months prior to that historic moment, however, we'd conducted a sort of living/working test drive at David's digs in Ohio. I shipped my computer, paints and paper to Cleveland for the entire month of January. Yes, January. In Cleveland. (If you don't believe me, check out the Cleveland posts.)

During that period I worked on an illustration for a wayside panel that was later installed overlooking the Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs. Crazy thing is, I never actually saw the sign completed until last Friday.

David had morning and evening gigs to play in nearby Manitou Springs that day, so in the intervening hours we spent a little time in the park. Our plan to do some hiking was blown away by uncomfortable wind, and while we were trying to decide what to do instead I remembered this sign. Off we went to find it.

Four years after installation the panel is in pretty good shape, except that the colors have faded significantly in the intense Colorado sun. We expect this. If a sign "guaranteed" to keep its color 10 years makes it to five around here, we're feeling pretty smug. (You can get a sense of what the colors DID look like here.)  The part of the illustration that shows the "Kissing Camels" formation has been worn off by countless fingers.. which I didn't expect, but I quite liked. It's good to know the piece has been useful to people.

It felt a little strange to stand next to this sign, both because I had only ever seen it on my computer screen and because it is so strongly connected in my mind to Ohio and the early days of my relationship with David. When I first walked up to it I felt as though I had discovered my forgotten diary propped up in a public place.

I've done a lot of wayside signs, but until yesterday I had never considered that they are as much about my history as they are about the natural and cultural history of the place where they are installed. It's an interesting revelation and I felt my attitude toward them shift just a little. They're no longer just public pieces, they are personal, too.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Testing 123

This is just a mini-post to see if I've set up my road-blogging account correctly. I hate to think of the world without Brush and Baren for nearly a month! (Don't you?)
We celebrated Earth Day with a hike on the beloved North Backbone trail this morning. About halfway along the path is a wide draw that the map calls Dead Horse Gulch. We'd never seen a carcass there (thank goodness), and had always wondered how it got its name.
Lo and behold! Today we found this just off the trail, and suddenly the world made sense.
Well, sort of.

(click to embiggen)
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Update: Well, I can see that I don't have nearly the controls from my phone that I do from my computer (or maybe I do but I just haven't found them yet). I don't like that embiggening the image goes to Picassa... I'll have to see if I can work around that. But that still worked pretty slick. I may get to post from my Big Trip after all! (All I'll need is to find WIFI.) Cool.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We Have a Winner!

It's been uncharacteristically quiet here at ol' Brush and Baren. Writing and painting(!), not printing, projects have taken over the studio. The printing bench stands dark and the inking slab actually has dust on it. Not my favorite state of affairs.

But who-ee! I must still be a printmaker, because the jury card was returned today from the National Small Print Show in Creede, with all three of my entries accepted for the exhibition. But here's the big surprise: I won first place! No. Kidding. It says so. Right here on the jury card.

"Autumn Reach," reduction linocut, awarded first place at
the National Small Print Show in Creede, Colorado.

I've had work accepted to this show several times over the last few years, but other commitments have kept me from attending the opening reception. The one time we did try to attend we were turned back by snow. (It was, as usual, the last weekend in May. Who expects a blizzard?)  I was delighted to realize that I'll be home (about 36 hours) from the Netherlands in time to make the journey this year so, baring another blizzard, look for us on May 26 at the Creede Repertory Theatre. Show opens at 5:30pm, print sale begins at 6:30. Show runs through June 25th and then travels to the Evergreen Arts Center, Evergreen, Colorado, with a second opening there on June 29th. Details at the Creede Arts Council website.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pushing a different kind of paper

I'm a printmaker, so I like paper, but this week I'm shuffling pages of a different sort.

It's time for another round of wayside panels for the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway and Chaffee County Heritage Area, and I've been tapped to do the research and writing. It's keeping me away from the print bench just now, but it's still fun to work on. I've decimated our library's local history section and I've been rooting through historic photo archives. At this point I'm mostly gathering notes and looking for interesting stories that address the project's themes.

Before work began this morning I took a short hike up the "Frontside," a trail that zigzags up the face of Tenderfoot Hill overlooking town. I'm still getting to know my new phone/camera, so I snapped a couple of images, including this one.

Salida in the morning. If you knew where to look, you could find our house.

I had a good chuckle when I got home and settled down to my research... and came across this image of our town sometime in the first 10 years of its existence. (Between 1880-1890, from the Salida Centennial Collection at the Salida Regional Library.) It's not from exactly the same spot, but if you find the diagonal of the old Monarch Spur line (center above and far right below) you can probably line things up in your head.

Salida before 1890. Salida Centennial Collection photo, Salida Regional Library archives.

Salida was, quite literally, born of the railroad. The town was platted by the Denver & Rio Grande when it laid rails to service gold and silver mines. The empty, scraped-looking section you see in the foreground of the contemporary photo once held a depot, roundhouse, and many, many rails... some of which are visible in the historic image.

The work I do as an artist is rooted in my place, but I tend to focus more on the natural history than the cultural history of my home. Projects like this one help me to remember that people are part of my landscape as much as the river and peaks. Does this mean I'm going to start doing work about trains? Probably not. The trains stopped running a few years before I moved here. But the rails are still here, slowly disappearing under dust and shrubs.

Dust and shrubs, you say? Hmmm... I wonder....

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Time Out

We had great plans to get lots of chores done around the house this weekend, but you know how it goes. This morning our brains shouted "DAY OFF!" and who are we to argue with gray matter?

We were out the door at 8:00 and on the North Backbone trail by 8:10. I love this trail, and probably said so a couple of dozen times during our hike. (Just ask the DM. He will roll his eyes and confirm it. At LEAST a couple of dozen times.)

My favorite tree. It's two-dimensional!
All those lovely arms are in a single plane.
When you get around the side of this tree,
there are no branches sticking out!
We park a car at the north end of the trail and hike the... what? Four-and-a-half? Five? miles back to the house. It takes us a couple of hours, and on a picture-perfect morning like this one there isn't anything I'd rather be doing. Seriously. Not even drawing or printing.
Sherrie (for the 14th time): "I love this trail."
David: "You don't say."
 The trail winds through piƱon-juniper woodland... juniper titmouse and pinyon jay territory. (Of course.) Mountain chickadees, bushtits, nuthatches, solitaires... ravens on a nest. A stout cottontail. And a fabulous view of our town, stretched out on the valley floor.
Our town from the North Backbone trail
It's nose to the grindstone tomorrow, but I won't mind so much now. Thank you, brain, for being good for "nothing more" than this today.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Exciting Conclusion

At the conclusion of last week's episode, Use-Only-Five-Colors Woman was engaged in an epic wrestling match with the nefarious Just-One-MORE-Color Woman for possession of the end-of-winter grasses linocut.

The battle raged on for some time, as our superhero and her super-adversary were of equal strength, skill, and stubbornness. (Emphasis on stubbornness.) In the end a compromise was reached... a stalemate, if you please.

UOFC Woman conceded that JOMC Woman could try a sixth color on just one print. Just to appease curiosity.

This is an embiggenable image... so you can decide the victor for yourselves.
(6th color added on the left.)

This action solved nothing, as both versions were deemed meritorious. In the end UOFC Woman and JOMC Woman each took possession of the half of the edition. There was some grumbling heard from both sides, and perhaps there was a little surreptitious fist-shaking behind backs, but territory sharing was embraced in the interest of studio-wide peace.

Whew! That was a close one.

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...