Saturday, May 31, 2014

Water of the Past, Water of the Present

Malad Gorge, c. 1970s

I stopped here, collected my first sagebrush, and stared at the canyon in the mid afternoon sun earlier this month after crossing the Idaho border. It was the first revisited location this summer, a spot near the interstate to stretch weary legs. There is more graffiti on the bridge now but there is a paved path on the other side which brought me to this vista below. I did not see a dead calf in the rapids - an event that was seared into my retina at the age of fifteen - however, I did search for anything out of the ordinary (and did not find it).


Malad Gorge, Idaho, 3 May 2014

Boise River, c. 1970s

Every photograph taken on my phone or DSLR in the past month of the Boise River along the Greenbelt, evokes memories of the slide shows my brother and I saw of our hometown as a child. In May, there is no evidence of ice, only the high, quick moving waters of melted snow from the mountains as depicted in previous blog posts.

The following four photographs are of the next destinations: Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho and Alberta, Canada. Every summer, often multiple times with the other parent, we journeyed to Northern Idaho. It is a place my parents love, passed down to the next generation. My brother and I do not travel there as much as we used to (hm... eight years ago for me and who knows for Javy) but its prominence in our youth defines much of what we love about the Western landscape today. Speaking of adoration, I appreciate age turning these slides cyan given the context of this current series. I may be disappointed when the water isn't this "blue" in real life.

Sunnyside, Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, c. 1978

Cape Horn Road, Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, c. 1970s

Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, c. 1974

Jasper National Park, c. 1968

This year marks my first excursion into Alberta, Canada. I have desired to visit glacier melt for decades and it is my mother's photograph above that introduced me to this phenomenon. Little did we know about global warning at the time, while snacking on popcorn looking at my family's history with water on slide shows in the dark. This may be one of the most meaningful locations of the series, particularly since it is one of three locations on my list that I have never seen. I have no history of this location, only its image.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Art About Instagram: From Surel's Place

The last post about Surel's Place before the next leg of the journey begins. Check out all the new pieces on Instagram as nearly two dozen were created on this residency.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Riverside Hotel Swimming Pool, Boise, Idaho

An unexpected surprise was the close proximity of Surel's Place to a swimming pool I have fond memories of due to Polaroids from the past (though very few impressions exist without those photographs). The Riverside Hotel was formerly the Red Lion Riverside and every once in awhile, they would have specials for locals to spend the weekend in the summer time. We did that once and my skin was so wrinkly from spending the entire day in this part of the pool below.

As mentioned in a previous post, I visited this location most this month, watching the status of leaves swirling in the water from the winter, draining and gradually refilling. On the day I received permission to photograph it, the water was glorious and I could have spent the day lounging by the water, all in the name of art.

Other than the local YMCA where I first took swimming lessons, I have very little recollection of spending time in swimming pools while growing up in Idaho. Lakes, rivers, and hot springs were the preferred environments.

I am most fond of the photograph above but will debate further as it may be too similar in content to this.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stanley, Redfish Lake and the Salmon River

This was one of my favorite days of 2014. Mom and I hit the road in the late morning for Banks Beach, the Payette River, Kirkham Hot Springs, the "secret" camping spot, Redfish Lake, Stanley, and the Salmon River. It was a long day featuring avalanches, road construction due to rock slides, and slowly driving through herds of elk and yearling deer at dusk. Here are the high points:

Banks Beach Campground, Payette River (when the water is low, a sand bar makes this an ideal swimming location and one of the very first areas where I went in the water outside of a bathtub or a bucket).

Two crazy (because the water was ROARING) guys in kayaks with cameras strapped to their helmets zoomed by as I stood here in awe, preferring to look at them rather than hide behind my phone documenting a blur.

The "secret" spot on the Payette River = one of my favorite campgrounds in all of Idaho. This rocky ledge is featured in the photograph below on the far left.

From here on out, there was snow along the road. We passed (read: marveled at) this winter's avalanche after the Grandjean Summit. The trees were stripped, the river was buried, the road was scarred. The mess involved after this melts is hard to visualize.

It dawned on me somewhere in the middle of Nebraska that I neglected to include Redfish Lake on my list of important bodies of water. Needless to say, its placement is official and the image I will most likely use is the painted jar of water from the previous post on Rebecca Solnit.

Spring recently arrived as all the grass was flattened from heavy snow and very few wildflowers were present.

Imagine canoeing on this lake in July because that's all I was doing while walking along the cold shore.

Redfish Lake River looking like its full of gold.

The mountain elitist states that the Sawtooths are the second best range in the lower 48 from a formal perspective (closely following the Grand Tetons). The view from Stanley before dinner at the the Sawtooth Hotel.

I will never forget the summer I learned how to dive in a flat rock in the Salmon River at this spot in the photograph above. It took forever to convince me that it was okay to throw my head in first though sometimes I still hesitate at the thought.

The black triangle marks the approximate location of the most fascinating fish hatchery below. I had a hard time devoting my attention to the three bald eagles above or the salmon in the ponds created from mine tailing.

Fish Hatchery, Yankee Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho, 2014

Artist's Talk Today!

Ready or not, here I come.

Sadly, this event marks the end of the residency at Surel's Place. I will not lie and say that returning to the city where I spent the first 24 years of my life was easy, but it did provide access to the subject matter needed to delve into this new series on water as autobiography. In addition, I confronted aspects of the past by wandering the halls of the Boise State University Art Department, visiting old friends who I didn't realize I missed as much as I did until now, and the best part, hanging out with my mother for the first time in four years who provided the facts behind the fragments of memories I have about water.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kirkham Hot Springs, Middle Fork of the Payette River

Every time I see a hot springs, I compare it to Kirkham. This trip didn't prove to be the greatest weather condition as the air was cold and so were the pools due to the very high Payette River. It was great for photographs but not so much for soaking or swimming.

The view from Highway 21.

The bend in the Payette shortly after Kirby Whiterock's car sailed off the highway into the water. The first (and most memorable experience) I had with death as a ten year old.

The new warm pool next to the campground/parking lot.

No separation between the hot pools and the river due to snow melt.

Hello sulfur - another Idaho olfactory experience.

Once again, thanks Mom for all your help!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rebecca Solnit's "The Faraway Nearby"

That which I did not think possible: Rebecca Solnit's The Faraway Nearby has booted my previous favorite by the same author: A Field Guide to Getting Lost. What could be more perfect than reading a chapter each day for two weeks about storytelling while creating artwork about a narrative as seen through water? I could quote passages from 3/4 of the book but will not. There is one concept that Solnit mentions in the beginning and the end; it struck me to such a degree, that I tried to photograph it.

"Where does a story begin? The fiction is that they do, and end, rather than the stuff of a story is just a cup of water scooped from the sea and poured back into it."

"We never tell the story whole because a life isn't a story; it's a whole Milky Way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit where and who we are."

Redfish Lake, Idaho, 2014

It was easy to relate this to an autobiography of water as I have spent the month collecting slivers and shards that belong to the past and the present. I knew I wanted to photograph Surel's old paint jar the second evening I saw it above the sink. It was the color of the water of the Middle Fork of the Boise River, the Payette, and Redfish Lake. Pouring is a welcome addition to holding a glass for all to see. The intent was not a literal interpretation but rather thinking about this image falling into the middle of the story, not knowing how it will end. Here the color is an illusion, not matching the background, but giving the impression that it belongs in this space. Is the story lost or has it been told? Is it silenced or is it set free?

Collections Photographed on the Front Porch

I fell in love with the blue square of paint that appeared on the front porch prior to my residency at Surel's Place. It is my backdrop for items I have collected or those that I discovered in the house that I wanted to remember.

Unfortunately, I never found another piece of sagebrush that was as potent as these three photographed on a cloudy day.

My father had the "Women" sign identical to this above his studio door and visitors always confused it for the bathroom. I wondered where the "Men" sign went as a teenager and then I found it in Surel's garage.

Wishing I was a painter (only on occasion) because I would have a collection of paint brushes like this.

Fake and real. I need a lunch bag like the one on the left because we all know I have plenty like the one on the right.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"A Chronology of Water: A Memoir" by Lidia Yuknavitch

Rochelle loaned me Lidia Yuknavitch's A Chronology of Water... in the winter. It sat on my end table for months. Knowing she was graduating and I would be attending a residency focusing on my interest in water during the month of May, I plowed through this book in April (the second of surprising things accomplished before the semester ended). Many thanks, Rochelle, for knowing it was the perfect publication for me to read at this time.

Here are some highlights that directly relate to my series in progress (oh title, why aren't you forthcoming?):

"Events don't have cause and effect relationships the way you wish they did. It's all a series of fragments and repetitions and pattern formations. Language and water have this in common." (page 28)
"In water, like in books - you can leave your life." (page 152)

"It is possible to carry life and death in the same sentence. In the same body. It is possible to carry love and pain. In the water, this body I have come to slides through the wet with a history. What if there is hope in that. (page 247).

On 5th May 2014, two days after arriving at Surel's Place, I wrote the following about the previous paragraph: It's not just the body that has a history but the water and its relationship to that body. For Yuknavitch, her story was a chronology. For me (and perhaps this is because I am still immersed in another series with the same title), it is my autobiography in water. It's about what my family deemed important as a child (water as destination) and what they passed on to me. It is about giving meaning and specificity to the locations (that which I could not do with Nine Fake Cakes and Nine Bodies of Water to the degree I would have liked). It is about narrowing down who I am by seriously discussing where I am from and the places I once called home (though all are so far out of reach in the Midwest). It's about longing for and giving homage to the past (in some cases the past is yesterday and in others, the span of my life, my parents, my grandparents). At the same time, none of this will be advertised, unless asked, as these photographs have to be as universal as the cakes were in their appeal to others. This is not my story - this is everyone's.

We will see how effective I will be at the latter. Still sorting through images for more blog posts. It is not easy creating a lecture on what I have accomplished this month when I know so very little about it myself.

Ed Burtynsky's "Water"

There are two things that I surprisingly completed before the end of school year and leaving for the Northwest. One of them was read Ed Burtynsky's Water (reviewed here by Blake Andrews). Most of his artwork is political and it was unexpected that many of the photographs focused on formal qualities. I have a connection to all of the images below, whether it is an action (Xialangdi Dam...), a location (Texas), an area I long to visit (Georgian Bay), or return (Spain and Mexico). Making a subject entrenched in political and environmental discourse into an abstraction is currently of great interest.

Ed Burtynsky, Xialangdi Dam #1, Yellow River, Henan Province, China, 2011

Ed Burtynsky, Pivot Irrigation #25, High Plains, Texas Panhandle, 2011

Ed Burtynsky, Pivot Irrigation, High Plains #8, High Plains, Texas Panhandle, 2011

Ed Burtynsky, Georgian Bay #1, Four Winds, Pointe-Au-Baril, Ontario, Canada, 2009

Ed Burtynsky, Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station, Baja Mexico, 2012

Ed Burtynsky, Artemia Salterns, Gulf of California, Sonora, Mexico, 2012

Ed Burtynsky, Colorado River Delta #2 (near San Felipe, Baja, Mexico), 2012

Ed Burtynsky, Benidorm #1, Spain, 2010