The summer is flying by, and I realize I haven’t posted very often here. It’s not because I’ve been slacking, I’ve just been very focused on the Sketchbook Skool courses I’ve been taking, which in turn has led to being immersed in the new community of artists I’m meeting there. I’ve also been working away diligently at my eight Call & Responses pieces, which of course have to stay secret until October. I just finished the above piece as part of a “16 Trees” challenge that evolved from the course, and there are two more from that series below.
Bard in the Quad is a Corvallis summer tradition for us. Above you can almost make out Will Shakespeare himself, strolling down the steps of the student union to announce the beginning of this year’s production, Taming of the Shrew. We felt a bit low-tech with our vintage webbed lawn chairs in a sea of folks reclining in what amounted to folding canvas Barcaloungers with built in ice buckets and champagne flutes… As always with a Shakespeare play, I came away wishing I had made time to re-read the Cliff Notes before I went so I would have a better grasp on the innuendo. It was a nice little romp even so, although chilly by any summer standards.
The students returning in a few weeks to campus are in for a slight shock as they cross the quad – two giant trees are gone without a trace. One, a monstrous oak, just collapsed in the middle of the day two weeks ago. That prompted a closer look at all of the trees nearby, and another one was apparently infected with the same invisible disease. It’s gone too, not even a sliver of a stump left, just a little bare patch with grass seed marking the spot. Can’t have rotten limbs mashing students, I know. But I mourn for all the dying trees in this town (and there are lots, especially white bark birches), and the ones being ripped down for road repairs and new townhouses, and it takes so long to replace their quiet beneficent presence.
We just finished hanging “Call and Response III” at the LaSells Stewart Center Giustina Gallery on the OSU campus – whew, that’s a lot of work… but so worth it. I love the way the “pods” go up, and it’s fascinating to be a part of the group dynamics. Over the course of the eight hours we spent together, we each stepped in to specific tasks and roles, eventually evolving into quite an efficient team. Now, tired but happy, we are looking forward to Monday night’s reception. And we’re also pretty pumped to think that Michelle Obama, and any number of dignitaries will very likely see our works while she’s in town for the OSU graduation ceremonies – woohoo!
The rooster piece pictured above is not technically part of the Call and Response suite, but it’s also being shown at the gallery. It’s my newest work, incorporating a “coloring page” design from last year. It’s fun, but looking at all of our work in the gallery, it occurs to me that nothing I do is subtle. My colors are always saturated, vivid, perhaps even LOUD. Maybe I’ll make that a goal, to see if I can tone it down a bit in the next few months. Then again, I like loud!
The OSU Sheep Barns are literally a five minute drive up the hill from downtown Corvallis, so I’m not sure why it’s been at least 10 years since we ventured up there. But the spirit moved us this weekend, so we treated ourselves to watching the wonders and terrors of nature at work.
The layout is a little different than it was years back – fences keep you way back, and there are lots of signs about germ transmission, and hand-washing stations… but the smell of sheep poop still pervades the cold damp air, and there’s plenty of bleating and baaing. The lambing season is upon us, so it’s a popular outing for families with small children. I’m convinced that lambs receive random signals from outer space which send them leaping and jumping for no apparent reason, surprising even themselves from the look of it. “Gamboling” is just the perfect word for that. The mother sheep look a bit dazed, but the shape of their mouths makes it look like they are smiling!
The pregnant ewes, some of them literally wider than they are high, even seem to smile… maybe they spike their hay up there, because it sure looks miserable to me. Ah, sweet mystery of life – what a convoluted process, this birthing and dying!