Monthly Archives: March 2014

We’re Going to Burning Man!

Playastan Crossroads Perspective 2 02-12-2014I found out this week that my project for Burning Man, Playastan Crossroads, was greenlighted for funding. I’m so excited!

It’s a big project for me — small to medium size for the event. My team is fabulous. You know it’s going to be good when the first person you ask gives an enthusiastic, “Yes!” The team has already worked so well in putting the proposal together that I have no doubt it will be a fulfilling and successful process. Peter Weston is our lead carpenter/designer, Charlie Caddock is solar engineer, Ed Wachter did our architectural drawings, and I’m lead designer,  project manager, and textile artist.

There’s a long road of hard work and many logistics to figure out between today and August 25th but we’ve got many offers of help and the energy is really, really good.

So just what is the Playastan Crossroads?

The idea is in response to this year’s theme of Caravansary. I immediately thought of the remarkable textiles of the Silk Road. It’s also a way to bring what I do, work in soft materials, to the harsh environment of the playa. Below is the text from the Burning Man art grant application for a full explanation.

I hope you can join us this year on the Black Rock Desert to watch the wind play upon the rippling silks, rest a while in the shade, add your story to the lore of the Crossroads, and see this vision become a reality.

Playastan Crossroads Statement:

Viewed across the playa, an oasis of color and pattern emerges from the dust. It is a place to take respite among large-scale moving silk banners, each hand-painted with traditional textiles designs from along the Silk Road. This is the Playastan Crossroads, where the traditions of the past meet the visions of the future. Powered by the wind and the sun, it is a resting point, a crossroads where travelers can share their stories and experience a moment out of time.

Physical Description:

Five interconnected elements come together to create the Playastan Crossroads: a forest of painted silk banners, an elegant central wooden structure with seating, journals in which guests can add their thoughts and stories, an ambient soundscape powered by the wind, and a decorative lighting design to entertain nighttime visitors and provide safety.

EPSON MFP imageBuilt on an octagon aligned with the cardinal directions, concentric circles of large-scale silk banners will be planted in the playa surface creating four “silk roads” that lead to a central wooden structure. The thirty-three banners, each one unique, will be hand-painted, using a modified batik process, with traditional textile designs of the peoples who lived along the Silk Road. Four sets of eight banners will range in size from 2-10 feet tall by 4 feet wide and be hung on bamboo poles 12-18 feet in height. In shades of violet, deep red, and golden yellow, the banners will gradate in both size and color from the outer ring to the center of the wooden structure, where a golden banner will rise 21 feet above the Playa surface.

The open octagonal wooden structure is 17 feet in diameter and 13-foot-6-inches tall and, in its skeletal form, references the tents of the desert nomads. The curving shapes of the structure are inspired by Islamic arches. The wooden ribs of the structure are made from two layers of nine-ply Baltic plywood joined with a series of cedar blocks to create girders with enhanced strength. These girders will be sealed with a clear finish to show the beauty of the material. Panels of richly patterned upholstery fabric will provide shade without masking the graceful arches of the structure. Eight interlocking wooden benches will provide seating around around a central octagonal table.

Playastan Crossroads Plan 02-12-2014The central table will be inscribed with the cardinal directions to orient travelers. On this table, visitors will find Journals and pens (all tethered to prevent MOOP). These Journals will be hand-crafted books with with weathered pages, snippets of stories, and drawings. Here the citizens of Black Rock City are invited to add their stories to the growing lore of the Playastan Crossroads. On the highest central pole of the structure, a wind spinner provides additional motion and the music of chimes to supplement the soundscape created by surrounding wind chimes.

At night, an EL wire sculpture will glow in the center cupola of the structure. EL wire will also emphasize the graceful curves of the structure, providing an ambient glow through the night. Solar panels wired to deep cell batteries will provide lighting for safety and to add nighttime interest.

Playastan Crossroads Site Plan 02-12-2104


Contrast and Complexity

IMG_2131My family recently took a trip to the Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Penninsula. We had traveled there in December and the house and location were so nice that we returned for another weekend with some friends. I love the dynamism of our coastline here and the contrast between the damp chilliness and winter light of the outdoors with the cozy warmth of the indoors. I always enjoy going new places and seeing new things, but there’s also a rich satisfaction in revisiting a beloved place in different seasons.

IMG_2154It was interesting to repeat the same walks I took a few months ago and observe that I noticed different things. In December, I had applied to the Bellevue Arts Museum’s Wood Biennial and was waiting to hear if I was accepted. (I wasn’t.) What caught my eye then was the forms of the driftwood, the way it was shaped and smoothed by the wind and waves into powerful, yet feminine forms. I was particularly intrigued by the way the hand of man was evident, the natural shapes bound with remnants of metal and rope. I published pictures from that trip in a blog post called Looking Forward, Looking Back.

IMG_2219On this trip, however, even though I traveled through the same landscape what caught my eye was different. I was drawn to those places where one world was contained inside another: a cluster of barnacles growing inside an empty clam shell, a tree growing up inside a boat abandoned on dry land, a view of the distant horizon through a hole in a driftwood log. Stones that were captured by the roots of a growing tree, long felled before it washed up on this shore, and yet still held strongly by the weathered wood. I’ve been working on a series of seedpods, each one filled with a world of translucent seeds, and that work was affecting the way I saw my environment.

IMG_2165I’m always somewhat aware that what I’m working on filters into the rest of my life and affects how I view the world. But traveling over the same paths at different times woke me up to just how much my interior thoughtscape affects my perception of the exterior landscape. As I walked along, I recognized the places I had been before, but I wasn’t pulled to observe and document them in the same intense way I had just a few months before.

IMG_2148I spent this past, rainy weekend doing an inventory of my art and then creating a spreadsheet of all the 3-d work I’ve made since 2008. I’ve put off this kind of administrative work for years. Not taking the time to get organized had added a lot of hours and frustration every time I had put in an application or proposal for an exhibition. Now all the information is in one place on my computer. It really wasn’t as onerous a task as I thought it would be and was actually kind of satisfying. It’s just another way that one world of complexity is be held inside another, only not nearly as pretty.


I Need a Spreadsheet!

Amidst, detail

Amidst, detail

It’s been a great week.

My piece, In the Beginning, was one of 54 pieces selected for the Miniartextil Gea 2014 show in Como, Italy. It was selected from over 350 entries from all over the world. I think the show is going to travel to other European cities. It’s a little hard to track all the details because all the info I’ve gotten is translated from Italian.

I was also invited to participate in a show at the Alden B. Dow Museum at the Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan. The show is called Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture. I was originally invited last October and they asked me to send them some shipping costs. Then, I didn’t hear anything more and forgot all about it.

Now, I’m scrambling a bit to find work for it. I have work slated for the Summer for the NWDC 60th Anniversary exhibition at the Whatcom County Museum and also am doing a two person show with Larry Calkins at the Aljoya Thornton Place. Right now I’ve got 5 pieces out to be considered for a sculpture show in Bellevue. I’ll hear back from them by mid-April and, even if I get in, they won’t take all five so some of those will be available.

It’s kind of an embarrassment of riches.

Thus, the need for a spread sheet. I’m not quite sure what is where and what’s available for which show. I need to pull everything out of my basement and studio storage, do an inventory, and take photos of everything, and put together a comprehensive list. I’ve been putting this off for years. I am ridiculously organized when it comes to producing work but terrible when it comes to paperwork.

And I obviously need to make some new work!


IMG_2127It’s always difficult to pour leftover dye down the drain. Even though fabric is a lot more expensive and the dye is really only a few cents an ounce, it always feels like a wasted opportunity. So I’ve decided that, since it looks like I’m going to have a continuing vending relationship with Lorraine Torrence, I’ll dye a few shibori scarves whenever I have leftovers. Here’s a shot of what I made this week. I think they’re lovely.

The Next (Small) Big Thing

IMG_2041 It’s the calm before the storm — or not. I’ve been working hard at putting out proposals and now I’m waiting to hear back.

The biggest thing I’ve got out there is a proposal to create an installation for this year’s Burning Man Festival in Nevada. I’ve applied for an art grant and should hear from them by later in this month. If we get funded I don’t know if I’ll be more excited or terrified. It’s a small project in the scheme of art at Burning Man, but for me, it’s big. By my calculations, it would be at least 8 weeks of full time work to create the banners I’ve envisioned. Fingers crossed.

I made a piece for a call for entries for the exhibition, Minitextil, in Lake Como, Italy. I should hear about that one by the middle of March, too. I don’t usually make pieces specifically for calls but I’ve been thinking about making really small pieces for a couple of years. It seemed that this was a good opportunity to follow through on that. It was a push but I finished and photographed the piece on the day of the deadline (phew!).

I’m  pleased with not only the piece, but also my photos. I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to be able to take good quality photos of my work. I love my photographer, he makes everything look so sexy, but I can’t afford to have every piece shot. I end up not submitting pieces for shows because I don’t have good images. I really need to get good documentation of every piece I make, so it felt good to be able to do it myself.

I also sent some images out for the Bellwether Sculpture Biennial and will hear on that one in April. I got a “no” from Fantastic Fibers in Kentucky, go figure. I’ve been the show twice before, and even won a prize there, but it goes to show that you can never predict what a jury will decide. I’ve read that if you’re not getting rejected, you’re not applying for enough things.

I will be having a two-person show June through September with Larry Calkins at Aljoya Thornton Place. Yes, it’s a retirement home, but they have really nice shows with established artists (like Alden Mason) and I’m thrilled to be doing a show with Larry. I love his work and we’re friends.  His work has a primitive aesthetic while mine is more refined, but I think there are more similarities than differences in what we do.Obviously the curator, June Sekiguchi, thinks so, too.

This blog post was meant to be a quick update about what I’m working on in the studio but it’s been hijacked by everything else that’s going on in my mind. It’s a bit chaotic up there these days. I’m kind of longing for a big project that I can really get absorbed into, rather than trying to keep all of these balls in the air. But for now I’m keeping my hands busy with some small, one could say mini, projects.

While working on the piece for Minitextil, I mocked up three other designs. This week I’m working on finishing those. They are kind of precious but pleasing, like working on doll furniture. My challenge is to make sure they don’t get “cute,” a problem at this size. less than 8 inches. Below are photos of the piece I made for Lake Como.

So it’s off to the studio to make some stuff while I wait. Think I’ll do some juggling.

seed front

seed back IMG_2037