EDGES, UNEVENLY SPACED

THE SUN SETS QUIETLY BENEATH AUBURN CLOUDS.  CLOUDS HOVER HERE.  WISPS OF STRATA TRANSITION ACROSS THE LAND AND MAKE THEIR WAY TO THE SEA.  BEYOND THE DARKNESS OF DESCENDING NIGHT, WIND WHIPS THROUGH THE CITY FROM THE FURTHEST SHORE.

Beyond the islands that make up Washington’s archipelago, one is aware of how small we are, at the edge of the world.  The sea stretches out into nothing.  Beyond the furthest edge of the nothingness the horizon appears as one faint line.

Feeling’s a hard

Thing to do well —

And slightly absurd;

I’d rather smell.

                         T. Roethke

How different the language between land and sea are from one place to the next.  Seattle, has tamed its shore.  Green space succumbs to the ever present demand of the city.  It is tucked away to a tidy overlook park, or positioned on a ledge of some sort and organized to capture the most spectacular view.  Secondary to the urban context.  A main highway separates the city from the water in the place where the shoreline used to be.  It is really just the light that reminds one of the ocean.

We reflect back to the earth what we absorb from it; we give back what we take in; what seeps in.  In Seattle it is the light.

That dance of space, the rotation of the sky…..

city lights at night

the passing of the weather

a tumultuous sky…

There is something magic about this imposition on the land.  At night rows of homes climb the hills of Seattle and reveal the shape of the earth.  The city shimmers.

My courage kisses the ground.

I am looking out over the ocean this evening.  The atmosphere is dark, and the is sky stormy.  I keep having dreams of tornadoes, imposing on old Victorian houses.  Collections of women run upstairs in these dreams, banding together against the violence outside.  Perhaps this is a metaphor for change.  Events in life wash over us and we are different afterward.  There are few boundaries between our interior and exterior spaces.  The very fine skin between ourselves and otherness is permeable.  Unlike raindrops on a pane of glass, much seeps through and saturates our interior.  Color and light.  The act of making art is in many ways about giving back.  Reflecting some of this change in what we are making.  Colors, impressions return from outside and come through us in our work. It is the most palpable expression of how impressionable we are as human beings. Perhaps this is a reflection of our humanity — being a conduit for the vastness that surrounds us.   Writing about change today.  I am not sure where to begin.  What is this place to me now.  What will this moment be about.  Where am I going.

If you can’t think, at least sing. 

About feeling in work, in landscape work.  Working in this realm, in this story of artists — finding a meeting point at the center.  Clarifying this — the artist legacy, the landscape legacy — where these two things meet.  With cage, perhaps.  Change. Chance.

Finding myself in Freeway park accidentally. On wandering in the city.

Being open to miraculous encounter

[  ]

Appreciating the scale of Seattle, the rise and fall of mounds of earth, emerging out of the sea.  Enclosing freshwater.

A cloud climbs to the moon;

Thought within thought can be

Bleak stone upon bleak stone.

 An opening from above, into the light of presence.  Being present in a windstorm, with the sky alight and raging.  A sharpening of the senses.  Ah the trees.  So visible again.  All the peculiarities of bark and dried nut laid bare.  A slight shimmering in the arc of a branch.  The light from above, flickering.  And the tree wavering.

By light, light; by love, love; by this, this. 

 

 

 

 

poetry adapted from T. Roethke

 

 

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EDGES, UNEVENLY SPACED

WHITE, WHITE WINGS

Freedom to me is a luxury of being able to follow the path of the heart, to keep the magic in your life. Freedom is necessary for me in order to create, and if I cannot create I don’t feel alive.

How does a person create a song? A lot of it is being open, I think, to encounter and to, in a way, be in touch with the miraculous.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/22/joni-mitchell-in-her-own-words-malka-marom/

WHITE, WHITE WINGS

Sifting Ground; Wind over Water

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SEATTLE IS WONDERFUL WHEN IT RAINS. AUTUMN PRESENTS A PALETTE OF COOL AND WARM TONES THAT TRANSITION ACROSS LAND AND WATER.  BEYOND INTER-BAY THE OLYMPIC MOUNTAINS ARE VISIBLE ON THE HORIZON.  AN ANCIENT RIDGE LINE HOVERING IN THE DISTANCE.  IT APPEARS TO EMERGE FROM MYTH, SITUATED AS AN UNMISTAKABLE LAVENDER MASS ABOVE THE CLOUDS.  HORIZON LINES DISSOLVE THROUGH LAYERS OF ATMOSPHERE BENEATH THE BLUFF, AND THE SKY MEETS THE CITY IN MAGNOLIA.

It seems the world is meeting in Seattle.  Old friends are arriving in the city, sprouting almost, as if they’ve always been here.  Early last week my friend Sara from the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia arrived to prepare for an exhibition she is having here in December.

We met at Magnolia Park in Seattle’s west end.  Sara, her husband Nik, and I quickly wandered away from the undersized urban park with the wide view and descended down an old concrete stairway.   It wound down a cliff and we emerged from the overgrowth on a path behind a narrow street.  To our left a strip of homes hug the palisade overlooking the Sound, each more precariously balanced on the clay edge than the next.

At the base of the road, we follow a pathway down to a small public landing on the water.  The tide is out.  We can see a rough area about a meter wide revealed along the edge of the shore.  This fleeting landscape stretches from where we stand to the furthest point in Discovery Park several miles down the embankment.  Onward, we set, toward the ocean.

~~~~~

There are few places I have been where time is visible.  Today it is a painters world, animated by the backdrop of the passing wind.

We discover, as we walk, the sensibility of the Sound.  Each place has a unique ethos — a rare and entirely consequential set of characteristics that distinguishes it from others. Its language is bound in the rock, sand, trees and atmosphere of the landscape.  It is easy to believe that we, quite small in comparison to the environment around us, discern each place as wildly different, simply because we cannot comprehend its whole.

It is more disciplined, perhaps, to understand this frame as a human convention created to simplify a complex world, even as we know each tract of land is woven interchangeably with all others.  Yet, ecologies are perceivable.  Not as individuated, isolated organisms, but as a map that reveals a deeper order — the earth’s painting; made visible as a distinct series of layers that are particular from one local to the next.

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We walk on through gentle wind.  A rainstorm approaches from Seattle and coolly passes us, whipping up the clouds and stalks across the inlet sea.  We watch light rise, fall and fluctuate through falling rain; the swell approaches our path in steady bands across open water.

Time here is palpable.  The ocean, mountains. Yellow earth, and sky.  Red alder, douglas fir, and red cedar. A myriad of cool, silvered blue.  To be immersed in the Sound and feel its eons, its age, and the terror of its magnitude; while being captured by its transient and irresistible beauty, is to begin to feel this place.  Each moment is manifest in the passing of light across the landscape, and therefore discernible from the first — the October evening sky changes place with the ocean, and the horizon dissolves.  It is there perhaps, but beyond the steady lapping of waves a gray wall moves through us.

Next to the backdrop of the cliff-face, between the water and the earth, we wind a narrow path along the shore.  Night falls, blanketing everything, and we arrive at the furthest point of the remote promenade. The land behind us glimmers with the lights of the city. The land before us opens up and we are greeted with the ocean.

~~~~~~

It is inspiring to spend the evening on the Sound with an old friend; nonetheless an old artist friend.  It called up my roots and my love of my work in a way I needed to be immersed in again.  In looking at the land through a painter’s eyes, everything is suddenly brighter.  Every mark, stroke and wash across the sky is alive — internalized, saved, housed for a later date when it will come spilling forth in gratitude for the day spent walking along the coastline.

Landscapes become us in ways one least expects.  They enter our sensibility through subtle means that are not obvious at first.  Taken by the drama of a windswept October evening is but one way these external maps chart our internal terrain, and inform our perception.  We look again for the ageless, cool blue and the warm windswept sky that we have never seen anywhere else before.  We find this play of tone in ourselves again and we draw it.  And it transforms us.

 

Sifting Ground; Wind over Water

Coming round; familiarity and the hidden waterfall

A poem archived on one of my favorite blogs, The Yellow Diaries, by Lisa Ray:
We shall not stop our exploring
And at the end of our exploring
we shall arrive where we started. and know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remember the gate
through the last of earth left to discover
is that which was the beginning
At the source of the largest river
the voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple tree-
not known because not looked for
but heard, half-heard in the stillness,
between two waves of the sea
Here now a condition of complete simplicity
costing not less than everything.

TS Eliot

Coming round, to ideas again that have been shelved for two years.

An unexpected and in some ways unavoidable emergence into familiar territory.  New eyes see into former inquiries in a way that couldn’t be planned when their arc began.  In many circumstances it is the same territory, familiar territory, and in many others it is no longer of the same hue.  Changed, perhaps tarnished by experiences that weather the surface in a way that deepen it    …creates a glow of knowing around it that makes it dreadfully more serious, but also richer.

Arriving at the beginning and knowing this place for the first time

Is also a not knowing.  Realizing that in having the first thought, first inclination toward something, there was a great deal of not knowing in this initial gesture. Leaning in, and feeling one’s way around, arriving at a familiar landscape and slowly, methodically, learning its processes.

Familiarizing oneself, into knowing.

Through the unknown, remember the gate

And retiring all of it.  Thrusting oneself into a chasm.  The knowing became too heavy.  Releasing and shedding all of this intimacy of a thing, of a place into a simple moment of inquisitiveness.  The freshness of curiosity, returned.

And life retains a glow, a shimmer that betrays the vibrance of all things, once again.

At the source of the largest river

richness resides…

…….

Coming round; familiarity and the hidden waterfall

Revisiting Mountains

mountain

A new environment can overpower with its distinct resonance.   Rolling mountaintops.  Water.  I’m wondering how long it will take for the tenor of this place to seep into my work.  Apparently it rains here often, but everyone says this only happens in the winter.  Seattle appears to be the Pacific Northwest’s best kept secret.  No one wants to let ‘outsiders’ know it’s sunny here the rest of the time.

A month of beautiful days, each more resplendent than the first, have resided into the autumn season. It is raining now.  Lightly.  Raindrops that are barely audible outside.  It’s slightly cooler, and the pine is more pungent on the wind.

What an incredible place I have arrived in.

 

Revisiting Mountains