Tag Archives: magical

The Season for Sundance

First Stop

First Stop

I had a phone call last fall from a good friend, Sue Martin, an excellent artist from Salt Lake City.  I had been down with a shoulder injury, not writing, not painting and trying to endure the usual Timber Valley cabin fever.  All she had to say was “It’s time for us to go to Sundance again.” I didn’t even have to think. I got a plane ticket to Salt Lake, bought a furry warm coat for Park City and left for the Sundance Film Festival 2013.

Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah

Wow.  I am one of the world’s greatest film lovers.  I can say this with certainty. I remember coming out of the first movie I ever saw “on my own”.  I had seen “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” at the old Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon. When I came out of the theater still lost in make-believe and the magic of film I was convinced that EVERYONE was one of the “pod people” I’d seen in the movie.  I ran home a little scared but so happy and amazed that I could become almost part of the story I’d seen.  I loved the feeling of being somewhere else. Movies have everything that can pull me out of myself and into other worlds.

So I’m just back from Sundance.  Sue and I had a great time fitting in nine movies, lots of galleries, great food while fighting a weather inversion that left Salt Lake in cold icy smog.  But up at Park City, high in the mountains, we were above the bad air and into the snow and sun.  Beautiful landscapes, beautiful people and a world that was full of the excitement of directors, writers, actors and movie lovers.  I LOVED it. Sue and I had made lists of the movies we wanted to see.  After comparing them we picked ten that we both agreed on.  We saw two premieres.


Alexander Skarsgard

Alexander Skarsgard

“The East” was one of my favorites starring Brit Marling and Alexander Skarsgard (of True Blood fame).  Eco-terrorism, elite operatives and Alexander Skarsgard made for a tense few hours of great film.  “The Way Way Back” with Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell was a twist on the “coming of age” story that made you laugh and cry at the same time.  One of the “Spotlight” films we saw was a British dark dark comedy called “Sightseers”.  About two lovers, running away from a horrible mother take a “caravan” (travel trailer) around England.  Things happen.  That’s all I can say. “Cutie and the Boxer” was a movie about art…but more about relationships.  The two artists from the film were there to answer questions after.  They also did a demonstration of their art after the film near the theatre. Zachary Heinzerling, director, won the Directing award for U.S. Documentary in the 2013 Sundance Awards.

I was in heaven at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake.

Line at the Tower

Line at the Tower

“The Whole World is Wild at Heart and Weird on Top.”

                    —David Lynch

I was back in Timber Valley for a week when Ron and I went to see “Django Unchained”, last year’s Quentin Tarantino movie.  It was a kind of spaghetti western/Civil Rights movie so well directed by Tarantino that we were both excited and impressed.  This movie was powerful and unflinching in showing slavery and bigotry in a way we’ve never been able to read or hear about.  Sometimes darkly humorous sometimes violent, it made me proud of Tarantino for being brave enough to approach the subject so directly and unflinchingly.  Movies have power.  Art has power. Don’t ever stop making movies Quentin.

If you haven’t seen the old 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning” with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe about the slaying of three civil-rights workers in 1964 you need to stream it or rent it before seeing “Django”.

I also discovered an exciting gallery in Park City called Coda Gallery. www.codagallery.com  I saw some great paintings but fell in love with the work of John Erickson.  Page Juliano was nice enough to take time to show me some of his other work. I also liked the work of Kim Brown, a ceramic sculptor showing at the gallery. I was impressed.  Coda has beautiful work, a perfect setting and a great person to show you the art.  It also has a nice balance of painting, sculpture, color with a touch of humor that will keep me coming back.


"Breey Day" by Jerry Fenter

“Breey Day” by Jerry Fenter


Did you like Beyonce’s Zumba Workout at the Super Bowl?  How about those Ravens?

Remember the stock market is up, the country is in recovery, Obama is president, maybe Hillary Clinton will run in four years.  Be optimistic.  Buy art!!

Bread Magic

“Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words.  Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name.”

—from a café sign


Bread.  I have always loved making it.  Mixing it, watching the yeast bubble, kneading, shaping and covering it to rise are  meditation for me.  I haven’t made my own bread for years.  It brings back good memories. 

College .The Ultimate Earth girl makes two loaves of bread every morning then goes off to class. I get back to the tiny apartment near Portland State early in the afternoon.   The bread is gone. My friends are there.

“There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

Mountain Bread.  The smell of baking bread comes from the woodstove at the cabin in Rhododendron.  It’s cold outside.  Skiing weather.  My kids are hanging around the kitchen.  They like to punch the bread down after it rises.

“Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world lovelier than fresh warm bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?”

—Frank McCourt from Angela’s Ashes

Mt. Baker Bread.  Kneading bread.  Watching the snow fall on Mt. Baker from my kitchen window.  My mind wanders.  I look for the special dishcloth, the one that has been embroidered by my grandma, to cover the loaf while it rises. The bread won’t taste the same without it.

“All sorrows are less with bread.”


Timber Valley Bread.  Whole wheat.  An experiment.  Cody, my dog,  guards the rising dough in front of the fireplace.  I share the first piece with him.

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”

—Robert Browning

Sara’s Bread.  Not yet in the oven.  It will surprise her.

I Tell It On The Mountain

Resting SpiritCoyote

by William Stafford


My left hind-



in the track of my right



and my hind-right



in the track of my



and so on, for miles—


Me paying no attention, while

my nose rides along letting

the full report, the

whole blast of the countryside

come along toward me

on rollers of scent, and—


I come home with a chicken or

a rabbit and sit up

singing all night with my friends.

It’s baroque, my life, and

I tell it on the mountain.


I wouldn’t trade it for yours.


                                                                                             I found this poem in an old folder eariler today and had to share it with everyone.  William Stafford is one of my favorite all time poets.


All morning I’ve been rooting around in old handouts, notes, poetry, drawings, cartoons and all sorts of odds and ends getting ready for teaching my class in Mexico and my next workshop in The Dalles.  It just proves to me one time again how much I love to teach.  I’ve taught all ages, types and varieties of students since I was in high school.  Even when I think I’m going to walk away from it, something comes up, someone calls and I’m back into it again.  I love watching students learn to express their emotional selves in each painting or story that has been created during one of my classes.  I teach them to let themselves go and let the work bubble up from deep inside of them.  Instead of having students just copy my style I like to help them develop their own style and try to give them the courage to not be timid about what they paint or write.  I want them to laugh, have fun, explore and take risks.  It’s a magical state being an artist and painting and writing are sacred and always to be celebrated.  So spend this afternoon writing on the sidewalk or making paper dolls.  Read a book that you’ve wanted to open since you bought it three years ago.  Give yourself permission to create and play and believe in magic.  Get loose…practice being an artist.  Then tell it on the mountain!



“Resting Spirit” can be purchased through The Attic Gallery in  Portland, Oregon.  Their link is on my list.

Fantastic Fruit

fruit powered clockWhat is it?  Maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t know about such things.  I think I slept through some of my science classes but I loved this picture. It came in my e-mail. It’s a piece of art.  A perfect composition, a burst of bright colors and it’s useful too!  Here’s my phone conversation with my grandson Tavish who lives in Seattle and is five years old.  I talked to him after seeing the picture he took and sent to me.  After opening the picture  I called him and interrupted his drawing.

me: Hello Tavish.

Tavish: Hi Gramma. (sound of breathing and drawing in the background)

me:  I got the picture you took.  What is that thing anyway?

Tavish: Oh Gramma, it’s a clock.

me:  A clock?

Tavish:  Yes gramma, a clock that is powered off of fruit. 

me:  A clock…humm… how does it work? I thought you had to plug in a clock?

Tavish:  Gramma, it’s like the copper kind of gets the energy from the type of juice of the fruit.  I think it’s the energy in the juice…and the electrons in the wires.  It has a bunch of wires and electrons.  Then the zinc and the copper holds onto the electricity.  There’s copper on one side with zinc and zinc and copper on the other side, gramma.  So it’s balanced.

So there you have it.  An everyday miracle.  Magical realism at work.  Of course my grandson is a genius and an artist and a scientist and an archeologist.  He is not surprised by much, he takes things as they come and is always amazed and never stops seeing.

“Don’t be so surprised…all of this is life.”  Gabriel Garcia Marquez                                                                     




Old Things

old-chairIntimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

(William Wordsworth)

Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind

I think this is a beautiful poem.  I guess because it reminds me of my grandmother (a collector of old things and a professional thrift store shopper), my mother (would collect anything she found and was very good at it, although when she started getting Alzheimer’s the collection of hubcaps was pretty odd), myself (collects anything shiny), my daughter (has an eagle eye and love for antiques), my daughter- in -law (another trained eye for treasures) and my grandson (who already has collections of EVERYTHING and once ran up to me and said, “Look at my new  shoes Gramma!  They’re from the Goodwill!”)

I’ve collected since I was tiny.  I have a collection of plastic charms from the 1950’s that came in gumball machines which is actually listed in my will.  I can remember heading down to Grant’s Corner Store near our old house in Portland with my BFF Kathryn and we would stuff pennies into that machine every day.  Then we’d trade.  This was an important and serious business.  To this day we can ask each other questions about our collections and trades and the items float through my mind just like it was yesterday.  I also have a collection of wind up toys.  I must have at least 300 and keep looking for a nice display place for them.  My studio is full of tiny treasures, Catholic ritual items, old marbles and my mom’s collection of every key known to man.  It’s kind of messy, yes.  But don’t anyone try and take away the old Portland zoo key my daughter gifted me or there will be a fight. 

Old things contain secret leftovers from earlier times and people.  They have a magic in them that can be handed down in stories, songs and pictures to the people you choose to pass them on to.  I often think about who might have owned some of the things I’ve found at garage sales and in antique shops.  I even have a booth at Antique Alley in the Portland Hollywood District.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  If you find or are given a thing that someone else has treasured, that treasure and all the magic feelings caught inside it will pour into you.  I’ve even found antique postcards showing up in my newest artwork.  Found objects will help my students in Mexico to define the duality of the Mexican people and feel the spirit of the country. 

We outgrow love like other things
  And put it in the drawer,
Till it an antique fashion shows
  Like costumes grandsires wore.

                           –Emily Dickenson


If you have any comments to share about old things I’d love to read about your secret collections!

Still Time to Sign Up For Mexico Retreat

palm tree MelaqueYes, there is still time for my Mexico Workshop and Retreat in Melaque, Mexico, April 18th-April 25th.  There is one mistake on my sign up form…in case you need to call me to use a credit card or ask questions my number is 509-365-5119.  This trip is going to be magical.   Here is a shrine that made me laugh while walking by a grade school in Melaque during The Day of the Dead.  Obviously miracles are different for different people.  I loved it!Shrine to Brad Pitt

Sex, Tigers and Videotapes…an Artist’s Day



It’s a tough economy.  I’m an artist.  Artists are like the canaries in a mine shaft, first they stop breathing and then the economy goes into the toilet.  In hard times artists have to try and find ways to make ends meet.  Before doing art full time I was a high school teacher.  I’m told I’m one of the lucky ones who have the right certification and experience to be a substitute teacher.  I thought easy money.  On Friday I subbed for Mr. R who teaches 7th through 12th grade science.  Here are the highlights.

  • I arrive at a quarter to eight.  The secretary opens Mr. R’s door.  I find a lesson plan.  Before I’ve had a minute to read the plan in come about 16 ninth graders.
  • They are all talking at once.
  • The boys sit on one side of the room and the girls on the other.
  • The boys have their “tough guy” looks on their faces saved for substitutes.
  • The girls start drawing and popping gum. As far as they are concerned I’m invisible.
  • I can’t figure out how to take attendance. I need to take roll on Mr. R’s laptop and with the wild group in front of me I don’t dare take time to do that.
  • I decide to go role-less.
  • I start them on their Physical Science worksheets.  I find that they haven’t finished their worksheets from the day before.
  • I still foolishly believe that if I’m nice I might be able to teach them something.
  • I tell them to finish both worksheets and that Mr. R is still sick and won’t be back until Monday.
  • A kid I’ll call H. starts to make barking sounds.
  • I tell him to stop.
  • The other kids wait to see what I’ll do.
  • Everyone has to go to the bathroom. I only let one go at a time.
  • H continues to bark after I tell him that if he doesn’t want to work that’s fine, I still get paid, but he would have to read and be quiet.
  • H barks again.
  • I tell H that if he does that one more time I’m going to strangle him.
  • H says, “You’re threatening me?”
  • I say, “Get out of this room and go to the office.”
  • He slams the door on the way out.  The room is quiet.  All eyes are on me. 
  • I leave the room to make sure H has made it to the office.  Yes, he’s there and is telling the secretary that I almost “choked him out”.  He has a very dramatic way about him that’s almost endearing. 
  • I’m back in the room.  The period is over.
  • The next few periods go ok.  These are juniors and seniors and a small group.  They do little work but are quiet and don’t glare at me or throw anything sharp.
  • Then comes two periods of what Mr. R calls “The Armchair Naturalist”.  This means I stick a tape in the video recorder and the students write down the names of critters as they show up in the film.  Today the film is “The Tiger”.  This is boring.  I try to talk during the film to drum up a little interest…tigers are beautiful, right?  The 7th and 8th graders don’t think so, but they watch and are quiet.  I relax in the dark.  This was fine for about ten minutes.  All of a sudden I look up and the beautiful Indian tigers are shown happily mating on screen in full living color. The class is appalled.  The girls cover their eyes.  The boys laugh nervously but they are turning red enough for me to see their embarrassment in the darkened room.  I make light of the scene thinking it would pass quickly.  No.  It goes on for another three or four minutes.  I finally get up, turn off the video and tell everyone to finish their naming worksheets and turn them in.  I give them a couple of extra questions to answer. You’d think I’d pulled out their fingernails.  The bell rings.  Class is over.
  • Prep period then lunch and then the gym.  As a sub I’m not shown where the teacher’s lunchroom is.  I finally find it and eat a dry peanut butter sandwich with a root beer that I had to get out of a vending machine for $1.25. After lunch back to class. We have a special speaker in the gym even though I’m supposed to be teaching advanced math.  The speaker is a jock who looks like he just got out of the Marine Corps. 
  • The girls immediately hate him for no reason.
  • The boys act crazy.   One is running around like a little electron and won’t settle down. Remember these are 7th graders on a Friday and it’s the last period of the day.  He attempts to have them do isometric exercises. 
  • They glare at  him and kinda sorta do what he wants.  One girl sits down on the bleachers and goes limp with a loud sigh. Another hurts her knee and needs ice. The electron boy spins.They scowl at the Marine and kind of half do what he wants. Finally they get some free time to run and throw basketballs.  
  • The girls notice my sketchbook.  They gather around.  “You drew these?” they ask and for the first time look into my eyes.  “Yep,” I answer.  I wasn’t a substitute any more.  I was an artist.  I was now magical.  It was the best moment of the day.
  • The bell rings and I run to my car.