Archive for May, 2010

I had a day or two of little work outside because of rain, cold, and such.  Call me a wimp.  I did want to share a video taken at my work site.  The first is one of rafters going by in the cold, rain, and such and having a good time while I waited for the rain/wind to stop.   The river was running swiftly but not too deep.  Several rafts went by with school age children and an adult or two.

The second video is of an irrigation system going in a field for what looks like oats.  Out of view were several deer heading to the water for a drink.  The deer are pretty domesticated as they are seen every late afternoon and evening walking the Salida streets, sidewalks and yards of a fairly urban small town.  Below is a still image of the deer behind our workspace on Hwy. 50.

Some of you have already seen a still shot of my studio mate Apache but here he is…. eating again!

Prep work for a piece. Water, tilth, dirt, and clay - My 2010

Darling Mules of Salida at the base of Tenderfoot.

Strange Finned Creature - I love an Art Car!

5 deer visit the back of our studio looking for us.

My First Visitors - Lillie and her horse Ransom

Michael gets to see One Strange Thing for $1 at the Flea Market. My treat.

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I spent some time at Columbine Manor, a long term care community here in Salida, CO.  As part of the residency we are asked to do a “give back” event to the community.  I chose the only LTC community for my give back day as they are often the forgotten members of our greater community.  The week of Mother’s Day is always National Nursing Home Week and May is always Older Adult Month.

What we did:

All About Water:  I visited with the Volunteer Director upon my arrival here and set up a date for May.  She shared with me their lump of air dry clay that needed to be reconstituted which I reworked for our use.  The amazing activity staff gathered up about 20 or so interested individuals.  We had introductions; I shared my work from my laptop (as a projector meant to be lent was broken/unavailable) and why I was here in Salida; I talked about Colorado Art Ranch and the theme of water for this residency.  I brought in the tools I was working with:  my large mold, shovel, buckets, and my dirty gloves.   I shared some passages and imagery from some resources about water.  I had everyone close their eyes and I conducted a simple guided imagery exercise while having them visualize a special place in their life that had water.  I asked them to think about whom they were with.  What they smelled, heard, tasted, and touched in addition to their surroundings.  I asked the participants to breath deeply throughout and then asked them to gently open their eyes.  Some individuals shared their experience and thoughts about water, their memories, the environment, and life in Colorado with water.  One person shared her experience as a young girl, going to a healing pool in western Washington where her asthma was cured.  Another person shared his memories of swimming in the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center and “making a lot of bubbles” he said with a smile.  We shared a cool glass of water.

With assistance we passed out clay slabs to make “postcards” of their favorite place that included water.   Another participant made her postcard with lots of waves, moving her arm around as if conducting the clay into place.  A person with memory challenges and an artistic background (she made many fashion sketches for clothing and patterns) made hers a literal postcard and wrote a simple message to her son seated next to her.  They were both pleased to be embarking on a project together and to utilize creative skills from a lifetime.

I salute the professionals and para professionals who work in long term care every day.  As a Certified Recreation Therapist Specialist and consultant in long term care (and 30 yrs of experience in long term care communities) I challenge all of us to discover ways of integrating elders into our lives creatively and often.  If you need some names and numbers in the Chicago (or Salida) area, I would be obliged.

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An update:

I have been working for a week outside along the Arkansas River.  A beautiful setting is an understatement.  The  proprietors of the land where I am digging, along Chaffee County 163, have been accommodating and wonderful.  Their horses have visited and I have especially enjoyed Apache – the Appaloosa.  I grew up with Appaloosas and I like to think it is my dad coming back to visit and cheer me on.  Jeff, the keeper said Apache is the most daring.  Sometimes he wades across the river when it is full and rushing nearly up to his back!

I worked out the formation of the pieces into a star burst pattern and the piece is coming along.  I can’t get too hooked on stability with the soil/clay as the wind and sun have cracked many of the pieces already.  I will make as long as I can every day until the Artposium 21-23 and be satisfied.  Most days have been sunny with a lot of wind when the afternoon comes around.  I know I have been breathing more deeply and that feels good.

I also learned a lot from Craig about fly fishing.  She was one of 50 women up and down the river on Saturday.

A Wilson Snipe can be added to the bird list I don’t keep.  A wonderful, long beaked bird along a creek nearby feeding into the river.

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On making

Sewing:  The Dominant Paradigm

Cinnamon Cooper

Feminism.  Making.  Videnovich Farms.  Kiva.  Excellent Article.


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Still working on Take Me Back – An exploration of water, local clay, and time

I made some decisions about what form to take and will post images later but I also wanted to post some images of water that I have taken in the last 36 hrs.  I consider them meditations of sorts.

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A friend in Chicago sent this link to images from the Chicago Tribune.A biotech event at McCormick Place

Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune/ May 4, 2010

Statues of a modified ear of corn, left, and a non-modified ear are on display at the Bio International Convention at McCormick Place in Chicago.


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Many people have read the most recent National Geographic issue on Water.  1% of the earth’s water is potable.  Of that 1%, 70% of it goes towards agriculture.  You and I benefit from that growing of course.

Take Me Back – An exploration of water, local clay, and time is in response to many things.  The preciousness of object making.  Making a zero impact on the earth making art.  Corn, as Pollan says “the SUV of plants” and it’s clamor for fertilizers and water.  Corn impacting the humidity of a region during peak growing season.  And ideas and thoughts I have yet to have.

I came to corn and agriculture because of its beauty.  That was 11 years ago.  I realize now that it is 20 lifetimes of inspiration and art to make.

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I think I have found some clay or at least I know what I found will pack well for the piece.  After two days of driving, consulting geological surveys, coordinates, and maps;  being invited to take samples from the private property of a woman working at the Soil Conservation Service – “We have a lot of clay!  Take all you want!”  (thank you to Evelyn!  Wonderful dogs.  Husband pulling up on his ATV and asking “What are you doing?”)  It has been an adventure.

The place has three things I was looking for.   Soil/clay veins, water source if needed, and easy, visual, public access.  The third one was the most difficult in a way as private lands meld into federal which meld into some gray areas.  I was driving along the Arkansas River Northwest of town after having consulted the soil Survey of Chaffee-Lake Area, Colorado, compliments of the US Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service and the Chaffee County/Salida Map and Recreation Guide 2006 compliments of Salida ArtWorks.

After some driving and wondering about the soil/clay behind all of the barbed wire and “No Trespassing” I came to a lovely place along the river and CR 163 in the middle of agriculture, horses, a holding lake and snow capped mountains in the distance.  Slightly off of my map, I was hoping there still would be clay.  Swallows were flying all over the desert lake about one foot above the water.  Beautiful.  (Swallow is Schwalbe in German.) I drove back towards another spot that I was considering and turned around and drove to the nearest home and property of the area that was calling me.  A friendly dog met me at the gate that had a sign “Lock gate after entering.  Horses loose.”  I passed two older horses (soon to find out 25 and 28 yo) and knocked on door.  Michelle answered and I introduced myself and my project.  She had a white cooking apron on and had been washing dishes.  She said “Cool” after I described the project.  A few burros, several horses, and a donkey were happily grazing the spring greens in the adjacent field.  Michelle talked of their mission to house the elder horses and company for the duration of their lives.

I was given permission to dig where I had described.  The setting is breathtaking.  I will post images over the wknd and work with the three samples collected in the last two days and see what unfolds at our shared work space.  Sleep will be easier tonite.

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