the wallpaper of our lives

To me, in my head poetry and painting are doing the same job.

On Sneaking Poetry in….

My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum, NEKO CASE

“I think the fear began in about fifth grade. Right off the top they said poetry was supposed to have “form.” Even writing a tiny haiku became a wrestling match with a Claymation Cyclops for me.”

Yes, why did they insist on constraining us, putting us in little boxes? Making us follow rules? I am allergic to this. All of my beloved poets, those I’ve accidentally stumbled across have a conversational tone, those picking garbage up off the streets and find ways of sticking it in. As Case says in her essay:

We all have the right to poetry! How could I still think it’s for other people? Smarter people. What’s doubly confusing is I don’t have the same reservations when poetry is accompanied by music. Perhaps I feel that way because there is music all around usit’s the wallpaper of our lives. It’s not considered precious in American culture unless a symphony is performing it. 

On influences:

Lynda Barry and Sherman Alexie save my life constantly. They battle identity crisis with a sense of humor and a language that speaks so hard to me because they came from my home, in my own time, and they talk to me in our special parlance. 

(they saved me too)

I’m envious of the poet for being so mobile. They aren’t stuck with supplies and hazardous odors. They aren’t saddled with a need to store these things you make. You can even keep their work in your head if you have the good fortune of memory.

I too am making a argument. We all have the right to poetry and to not be stumped by it. There will be more.

Reality Check

There was a point once where I really thought my life was going to be just like this. No really.

This is a condensed version of a film called The Reality of Karel Appel from 1962. Starring of course the Dutch artist name Karel Appel.

If you can’t tolerate most of it at least scoot forward to the 6:44 mark where he stirs up a cup of tea, signs his painting and takes his gloves off.

In the longer version he proclaims, “I paint like a Barbarian, in a Barbaric age“.

Halfway through the film, after an exhausting day of hitting the canvas the camera decides to follow him around to see what makes this man tick.

He takes the train, goes to the market, visits a scrap yard, overlooks a cemetery and my personal favorite of youth….goes to a fashion show. Then back to the studio.

Musique Barbare by the venerable Dizzy Gillespie which still holds water.


Utopia – Over and Out

As noted in Charles Pierce LeWarne’s book Utopias in Puget Sound 1885 – 1915, in 1898 the little burg of Edison, WA became the National Headquarters of The Brotherhood of the Co-operative Commonwealth, with the BCC hoping to establish a socialist colony.  It was a short lived but hopeful measure with membership rising to 3,558 in December that year. As with most human pursuits a power struggle and disintegration ensued thus leading to the demise of BCC by year end of 1903.

Never-less the charming destination named for inventor Thomas Edison and boasting 133 inhabitants in the 2010 Census Bureau continued to maintain a sense of charm, welcome and sweetness unparalleled in the area. A sign stating ‘Welcome to Edison, the Kindness Town’ greets you as you ramble towards Edison’s main intersection at 25 miles per hour a good mile after you pass the honor-system dahlia stand (‘Place Payment Here’).

Photo credit:The Edison School

I fell in love with Edison a few years back and claimed it for my own escape, with it’s grand bird-watching slough-sitting and wine consumption opportunities not to mention peace of mind.

I should mention my first visit was in the fall, a fairly different experience than what I now witness of the ant-hillish weekend visitors during the summer. I should feign ignorance that a Food and Wine magazine article last year announced “This Tiny Town in the Pacific Northwest Is About to Be Really Famous for Food ”. I should also fess up to my own contribution of returning again and again, guilty of the same crimes of tourism as a cruise ship guest filing out with the masses to descend on small Alaskan fishing villages all at once. I am part of the equation.

Alas, yesterday quite another nail in the coffin perhaps more than any other threatened to signal the end of this particular utopia.

While picnicking on the rustic tables located between the establishments named Tweets and Mariposa a large shadow suddenly darkened the atmosphere. I turned my head to see the ominous black silhouette of a Rolls Royce SUV*, that which I have never even seen the likes of in Seattle. A chill of opulence passed through the air.

That and the distraction of an unused wad of bills still in my front jeans pocket nagged at me as it comes to pass the formerly cash-only Tweets and Mariposa now take credit cards. This leads me to question how much longer the ghosts of The Brotherhood and subsequent artist colonies will still be around to haunt this little place.

A few thoughts:

Footnote 1  – From  Utopias in Puget Sound :


People who joined colonies were motivated by a blend of idealism and opportunism. The promises of colony promoters were like beacons to men tired of the economic frustrations of the 1890’s. Although the colonies fell short of fulfilling the material offerings promised, they suggested the opportunity of change to a new and promising life, a brotherhood of well-meaning men working together, and eventual security. Perhaps in each man there is something of the dreamer, the wanderer who would pull up stakes and start life afresh. [p. 230]….Return of general prosperity may have hurt the colonies. The rise of communitarianism in the 1890’s was in part a response to the severe depression. As conditions improved, the appeal of colonies seems to have decreased. [P. 234].


Footnote 2  From Utopias in Puget Sound :

(I love this passage as in reality Utopia is never really utopia.)

Close living conditions hindered privacy and facilitated quarrels and the spread of disease. A teenage boy was exasperated by fleas…Bitterly one mother wrote, “I, with my son had one room (had there been ten of us we would have had the same) in an apartment that is not [as] well lighted, heated or ventilated as a stable would be.”  [p. 91].


One of the many historical photos in the entryway of The Old Edison.


Footnote 3 – Reality Check (personal experience) :

The first year I frequented Edison I had stars in my eyes about perhaps quitting my current life and moving up there. I started asking around about what kind of work people were able to find to make a living there. The best suggestion, “you could probably get a job at the Bread Farm” (the local bakery). I stacked that information against the local housing listings and descended into a quick reality my dream was not going to happen.

*Regrettably I admit to not being well versed in luxury cars and I inaccurately identified the vehicle, which I am now told is the appropriately named a Rolls Royce Ghost.
Photo credit : Garth Amundson [in exchange for Rolls Royce royalties].

Lois Dodd

JS: There is a confidence and singularity that characterizes your path, especially your choice of subject matter. How have you been able to maintain this?

LD: Well, you are always influenced by the people around you. How do you find out who you are if it isn’t from other people? But painting may be the only thing in life that I’ve been confident about.

You have to have something that you don’t ask anybody else about. I’ve always been aware of that with painting. No one else can really help you, or say whether it’s good or bad. It’s just you and it, and that’s great. You can handle everything else in your life much more easily, because you have that place where you are on your own.

From an refreshingly unpretentious interview between painter Lois Dodd and Jennifer Samet on Beer With A Painter.

The Florence Experiment

My sister, brother-in-law and nephew are currently on a whirl wind Europe tour-of-duty. When I read this I loved it so much I asked (my sister) Donna if I could post her experience….also because Carsten Höller.

We saw a lot of Renaissance art today, so it made sense to balance it by participating in a modern art project as well. Enter the Florence Experiment, a joint art and science effort studying the effects of humans on plants by strapping them to random humans and sending them down a giant enclosed slide. My plant got a dose of terror mixed with whee.

At the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy through August 26, 2018.
Daily including holidays 10.00-20.00, Thursdays 10.00-23.00 (that’s Military Time)

As per the project:
Carsten Höller is well-known for his work on the interaction between art, science and technology and for his installations focusing on strong visitor involvement. For this project he works with Stefano Mancuso, a founding father of the plant neurobiology, whose interest focuses on plant intelligence, analysing plants as complex beings endowed with astonishing sensitivity and with the capacity to communicate with their surrounding environment through the chemical compositions that they manage both to perceive and to emit.

Painting at The Alice

Grace Rosario Perkins has an painting exhibit up currently at The Alice Gallery.
Every time I see a painting show I like I will post about it immediately.

I wish I had taken better photos, the installation of these abstractions hug the walls and take over some of the flooring. I always appreciate someone working out of the confines of of our typical canvas square.

According to Rosario Perkins her work is autobiographical in nature and eludes to landscapes.

As per The Alice website there will be a closing reception and reading 9/1/18.

The Alice Gallery Hours: 12-7PM on Saturdays
6007 12th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98108 (the second floor).

PS Root around on the artist’s website, she’s done some interesting collaborations. For instance this one called We Belong Together.

Seattle Art Fair 2018

All art fairs are overwhelming, this one is no exception (Seattle Art Fair).

1 Room across the expansive Century Link parking lot gets my vote for the best stop of the evening.


Seattle Art Fair runs August 2 – 5 at Century Link Field.
Friday, August 3,11:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday, August 4,11:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday, August 5,11:00am – 6:00pm

And 1 Room across the way (255 S. King Street Seattle, WA 98134)
Friday, August 3: 12:00 – 9:00 PM
Saturday, August 4: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
Sunday, August 5: 12:00 – 7:00 PM