Archive for leisure

Beautiful Bighorn Canyon NRA

Posted in Art, Artist Residency, Drawing, flora and fauna, historic sites, Inspiring People, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, National Parks, Personal History, Soul Food, Wanderings, wild creatures, Woodblock Printing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2016 by WanderArtist

One awesome benefit of being awarded artist residencies in national parks is discovering and falling in love with new places! This recently happened to us at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana/Wyoming. We stayed at historic Ewing-Snell Ranch about twenty miles north of the Park Visitor Center in Lovell, WY. There are numerous visually and historically interesting structures at Bighorn, with Ewing-Snell being the one continually inhabited until most recently. Many of the ranch buildings have been lovingly restored over the last 30 years. Until this past autumn Ewing-Snell was the only one still used as a residence by the park service and it was provided to us as part of the artist residency. Sadly, the ranch burned to the ground on December 9, 2015. We feel very fortunate to have stayed at this wonderfully restored historic building, and we are extremely sad that it is gone.

With my parents, who were visiting from Lincoln, Nebraska, we had the amazing experience of watching the supermoon eclipse from the porch of Ewing-Snell Ranch. Since no street lights were visible in any direction we enjoyed a clear and open view of the moon as it put on an amazing show, rising heavenward over the vast expanse of park land. It is truly a memory we will cherish for the rest of our lives. In light of the burning to the ground of the ranch merely weeks later, we had only an inkling of how truly lucky we were to be there at that moment in time.

Ewing-Snell porch

Ewing-Snell porch

Over the course of our two week stay at Bighorn I worked on a woodblock print representing one perspective of the park. It was not an easy place to narrow down to merely one image simple enough for a woodblock print… So many interesting cabins, canyons, horses, bighorn sheep, mountains and vast panoramic vistas! We visited all of the historic ranches, and saw many of the wild horses that live in the canyon and the Pryor Mountains that flank the western edge of the park… we wandered up into the Bighorn Mountains on the eastern edge of the park where we witnessed the ranchers herding their livestock down the mountain from summer grazing on Forest Service lands. We also had the humbling experience of spending several hours transfixed by the amazingly tangible energy at an ancient power spot called Medicine Wheel. Bighorn Canyon and its surrounding area is a very magical and humbling place. Stay tuned for a future posting about this amazing place.

Lockhart Ranch and its owner, Caroline Lockhart, held my attention early in our visit. Lockhart was probably the talk of the town (small as it was) when she bought land and began ranching in the Dryhead region (now part of Bighorn Canyon NRA). One of the quotes from this city slicker and author/newspaper owner about living there was “My job is writing books and the last thing I had in mind when I came to the Dryhead was filing on land or engaging in the cattle business, and certainly not locating in a country where a fresh track in the main-travelled road is an event.” Though likely scandalous to some she never married, and she surely enjoyed being the person in charge – of her ranch and of her own destiny.

Lockhart apparently never planned to own a ranch but bought L/♥ (her brand) in 1926 when the owner defaulted on a loan she had made to him. The ranch was then just 160 acres but she expanded it to over 6,000 by 1952 when she finally decided to make Cody, Wyoming her permanent home. She raised cattle, kept a lover at times, wrote books and made an excellent living on the ranch. Truly an inspiration for the liberated woman!

As part of my Find Your Park Through Art weekend at Bighorn Canyon a handful of artists joined together to offer workshops and to hike, paint, photograph and draw together in some of the interesting sites in the park. I met some lifelong friends while working together to create a fun and informative weekend for participants. Painter Stephanie Rose led a workshop at Ewing-Snell on plein air painting, and Photographer Marilyn Feather led a sunrise trip to photograph the canyon with other participants. Both were full of energy, freely dispensing tips and sharing knowledge of their subjects, and were truly a pleasure to work with. Marilyn even shared Ewing-Snell with us for about four nights, dodging the local black bear and enjoying the comforts of a wonderfully remote home base.

I led a group into Hillsboro Ranch to draw, photograph and paint on the final morning of the Find Your Park Through Art weekend. Although my Bighorn woodblock print depicts a building at Lockhart Ranch, Hillsboro wound up being a favorite place, mainly for the variety of interesting structures, but also because of the stories of mountain lions seen in the canyon. When our group arrived at the ranch we soon discovered a domestic cat that had somehow made its way to this remote spot and was very happy for our attention. When we left Hillsboro that day one of the group members, realizing that the kitty could easily end up as a cougar snack, decided to adopt her and a few of us happily took turns carrying her out to the trailhead. We were all relieved to get her away from the wild creatures! Blackpaw now leads a happy life with as much food and love as any cat could hope for!

After our day at Hillsboro we returned to Ewing-Snell where I did a demonstration of woodblock printing for an inquisitive group. As I said, we fell in love with Bighorn Canyon and the surrounding mountains, and we hope to return and explore for a longer time in the future. I only regret that we will not be able to stay at Ewing-Snell Ranch again. This blog post is dedicated to the park staff who spent many hours lovingly restoring all of the buildings at Bighorn. We all appreciate your efforts and expertise, and we too were very sad to learn of the demise of this special historic gem.

Find Your Park Through Art !!

Posted in Art, Artist Residency, Drawing, flora and fauna, historic sites, Ideas, National Parks, Personal History, Wanderings, Woodblock Printing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by WanderArtist

Find your park through art poster

Find Your Park Through Art

Posted in Art, Artist Residency, Drawing, historic sites, Ideas, National Parks, Personal History, Soul Food, Wanderings, Woodblock Printing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2015 by WanderArtist

I am a printmaker, environmental sculptor, exhibit designer, writer, photographer, graphic designer and museum professional. I just completed an eight year tenure as Director/Curator of an exceptional museum in northern New York founded by Alice T. Miner in 1924. These days I travel – drawing, photographing, running, biking and hiking in some of the most inspiring places in the country, and I am currently creating a series of woodblock prints celebrating our national parks as part of my Find Your Park Through Art campaign.

For many years I have made a living as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator. Although I once owned my own gallery and studio, and may again in the future, for now I have chosen to prioritize working with people through teaching, creating art, and studying/re-creating my current surroundings in favor of pursuing my art in the more traditional sense of creating pieces for sale in the “art world”. I believe this direction will bring me closer to the essence of the creative process. Mine has become a literal and figurative journey, exciting and fulfilling through it’s components of travel and direct connection to the things in this world that inspire me, and with the by-product of confirming that gallery shows and exhibits needn’t necessarily be the primary means to define an artist’s work. For the near future, as our national parks commemorate their 100 year anniversary, my theme has become Find Your Park Through Art. To help draw attention to the Find Your Park initiative I will be creating artwork in numerous national parks. Through Artist-in-Residence programs, I hope to partner with other artists to help emphasize this theme by holding public events at which we will draw, paint, photograph and create artwork in the parks themselves.

drawing Tapestry Arch at Arches National Park

drawing Tapestry Arch at Arches National Park

Throughout my life I have cherished our national parks. From long trips as a child traveling with my family in a VW bus to my current open-ended journey, I have wandered the parks – committing them to memory and re-creating them on paper. When I am able to take the time to more fully comprehend each place and the significance of its past-present-and future, I then begin to interpret many of its gems in my artwork. Indeed much of this new awareness occurs through the very creative process itself. As an artist I hope to “translate” park resources into images that enhance others’ enjoyment and deepen their understanding of public lands, and in the process perhaps even stimulate more interactive and protective practices among the millions of visitors to our fantastic natural and historical wonders.

mule skull with moqui marbles

“It’s just flashes that we own, little snapshots made of breath and of bone… And out on the darkling plain alone, they light up the sky”…

During residencies in the national parks I make sketches in preparation for creating woodblock prints, interacting with visitors as I work. My public presentations include demonstrating the printing of a woodblock, or visually explaining the process of creating woodblock prints through lectures/multimedia presentations. I also hope to have others join me for a day of Find Your Park Through Art – during these events we will draw, photograph, create environmental sculpture and/or paint in the park together. A large component of this time will be offering tips and tricks, helping younger artists, and sharing different facets of our love of the park, and of art in general. Later we will gather again to share and discuss what we have created and explore how public lands can inform and inspire our art. I make my living as an artist while maintaining a more humanistic approach to my public. Teaching art and inspiring others has long been a goal and a passion for me. My primary inspiration is to live within the art itself, and to help others do the same.

The opportunity to pass time with my sole occupation as artist-in-residence has been an invaluable experience and inspiration for my art – it allows me long stretches of time within the parks to work on creating drawings, environmental sculptures and prints. Deadlines also push me to focus more fully on my surroundings and on drawing and printmaking. I hope to learn the flora and fauna of many of our national parks, and by slowing my pace and observing the daily and weekly changes from the broad scope of the landscape to the tiny details of things, I will find what most inspires me and create drawings from those ‘snapshots’ in my mind and in my camera.

preparing the ink palette

preparing the ink palette

rolling ink onto the block with the resulting edition of prints

For many years I have worked to interpret a museum collection for visitors of all ages and backgrounds – always managing to find common ground from which to foster enthusiasm and closer examination/interest in what they are seeing and learning. My experience and love of interpretation lend themselves well to being an artist-in-residence – I am able to connect and converse with whomever I meet as I draw or create prints in the parks.

Art can open people’s eyes to new and exciting perspectives on the places they visit. It is my hope that artwork, created during residencies, will act as a two-dimensional ambassador for the parks and waterways I interpret. There is power in the connection artwork can help to create between visitors and nature – and this further connection will be a boon to any park or open space. Through art I believe we can reach whole segments of the population of visitors who may not connect as intrinsically to their surroundings and who may find their own niche through combining art and time out-of-doors. Take the teenaged boy who has his nose buried in a video game… I guarantee he will look up to see what I am working on – he will look around – he will take it to heart. There is something magical to young people when they see someone working on art in a public setting… It spurs their imagination! That experience in turn allows them to observe their surroundings on a deeper level to discern what might be so special… And it makes them wonder if this could be part of their future.

wake robin

columbine

My Find Your Park Through Art campaign will be repeated at other national parks and I will spread the word through my public presentations and posts to my blog wanderartist.com. I have already helped to inspire others to take up this campaign and will be presenting a weekend with two other artists at Bighorn Canyon in the autumn with the title ‘Find Your Park Through Art’. We will work in the park together for two days with other artists from the public who choose to join us. It is my hope that this idea will catch on and will help others to embrace the Find Your Park campaign and to visit their national parks. Upon completion of each park residency I will donate one print to each park – offering them each a unique artist’s view of the park and it’s resources.

image donated to Homestead National Monument

My residencies have included:

Homestead National Monument of America (spring 2015)

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (autumn 2015)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park (spring 2016)

One Way To Nurse Twins

Posted in California, Central Coast, elephant seals, flora and fauna, Migration, Soul Food, Wanderings, wild creatures with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2015 by WanderArtist

So many blog subjects, so little time ~ but we just couldn’t wait to reveal this preview for an upcoming post because it just makes us smile, and we hope it does you as well… Onward!!

Step Into the Garden

Posted in botanical gardens, flora and fauna, Local Roaming, Soul Food, Wanderings with tags , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2014 by WanderArtist

These hot summer days are helping to precipitate some lovely blooming up at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Armed with our hats, water and cameras (of course) we strolled the garden and witnessed some of the most amazing flowers bursting forth in full glory… Including the favorite of many – lotus blossoms.

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The eventual result after the lotus flower has lost it’s petals is the large seed pod that – to me – resembles an old-fashioned shower head. This day we saw all stages of the lotus, from just budding to petals gone or falling as we watched. One lotus even had a large spider poised on it’s stamen waiting for it’s eventual meal of tender, juicy bee.

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I love the cattails this time of year. They are like velvet and so fresh and beautiful you want to cut them and bring them home.

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The Chinese garden was lush with lotus flowers, black eyed susans and people. We watched a brief Qi Gong demonstration/class in front of the pond. Currently the garden is preparing the silk lantern exhibit – which will open in September. A yearly event, it constitutes hundreds of illuminated silk sculptural lanterns all created in Shanghai with a central theme and design chosen by the Montreal gardens.

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This is the first time I have seen the Chinese Garden while the silk lantern exhibit is being installed. The pond was partially drained and you could see the platforms that will eventually hold amazing silk sculptures. The workers had begun with these lovely boats, which just peaked our interest to see the final result.

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The gardens were followed by a wonderful meal at Rumi – “Rumi invites guests to experience the authentic cuisine and ambience of the Middle East , Central Asia and North Africa – known by many today as the cuisine of the Sufis”… a favorite stop after lunch is Cocoa Locale where you can stock up on the most amazing and original cakes I have ever tried!

The morning at the garden, the lovely meal at Rumi, and the stop at Cocoa Locale were enough to sustain the feeling of a wonderful day despite an hour and a half wait to get back across the border in the hot sun!

http://www.restaurantrumi.com/

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/1479702/restaurant/Outremont/Cocoa-Locale-Montreal

Bouquet River Dip

Posted in Adirondacks, flora and fauna, Living Simply, Local Roaming, Soul Food, Wanderings with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2014 by WanderArtist

These hot Adirondack days my favorite road trip is south to the mountains and a swim in the Bouquet River along Route 73… We have a new favorite spot where, even on the hottest weekend day, we’ve not had to share the river with another soul! These photos were taken for fun with a GoPro camera.

Toys Built to Last

Posted in Soul Food, Toys with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2014 by WanderArtist

In a previous post I introduced you to John and his collection of (mostly) Model A Fords. In the garages and buildings he stores his vehicles can be seen numerous other cool objects he collects such as road signs, garage signs and license plates. He also has a very fun group of toy vehicles – most of them trucks. I had the pleasure of setting up an exhibit of some of my favorites at the museum.

Anyone who ever played with pressed steel toys knows the charm and indestructibility of such objects. One also learns the names of their favorites as they become imprinted on the brain at an early age… There are just a few brands represented in this group; Wyandotte or All Metal Toys, Buddy L and Tonka will be the most recognizable depending on your age and love of toy trucks.

Pressed steel became a popular material for toy trucks starting during the 1930s industrial boom. Steel scrap was often used and pressed incredibly thin by huge machines. The sheets could then be cut and pressed into molds to make all sorts of shapes and objects that were strong and could be painted in bright colors. These pressed steel toys were more durable than wood and seemed more like the trucks they were made to represent. The idea caught on like wildfire among toy enthusiasts and new companies formed to take advantage of the markets created.

Steel was to be used only for the war effort during WWII and production naturally dropped off. After the war, however, these toys were in high demand and became more detailed and realistic. With the introduction of plastic into the construction there was no end to the details and features included in the vehicles. Because of the basic steel construction, however, the durability remained. Many of the cars in John’s collection are still strong enough to withstand some serious play!

 

Wyandotte – All Metal Products Co

These trucks are my personal favorite because of their design. The lines and windows and curves appeal to my love of 1930s-1940s cars. They seem to have more character than the later vehicles.

All Metal Products Company was an American toy company founded in 1920 and based in Wyandotte, Michigan for most of its history. It produced inexpensive pressed metal toys under the Wyandotte brand name, and was the largest manufacturer of toy guns in the US for several decades in the 20th century. The company’s slogan was “Wyandotte Toys are Good and Safe.” To keep costs down, the company used scrap and surplus raw materials whenever possible, often manufacturing their toys from scrap metal obtained from local auto factories.

 

 

Buddy L Toys

Buddy L toys were first manufactured by the Moline Pressed Steel Company, started by Fred A. Lundahl in 1910. The company originally made fenders and other stamped body parts for the automobile industry. The company primarily supplied parts for the McCormack-Deering line of farm implements and International Harvester Company trucks. Moline Pressed Steel did not begin manufacturing toys until 1921. Mr. Lundhal wanted to make something new, different, and durable for his son.

Fred Lundahl started by making a toy dump truck out of steel scraps for his son Buddy. Soon after, he began selling Buddy L “toys for boys” made of pressed steel. Buddy L made toy cars, dump trucks, delivery vans, fire engines, construction equipment and trains. Many were large enough for a child to straddle, propelling himself with his feet. A pioneer in the steel toy field, Lundahl persuaded Marshall Field’s and F.A.O. Schwarz to carry his line. He did very well until the Depression, then sold the company.

 

 

Keystone Manufacturing Company

The founders of the company were Chester Rimmer and Arthur Jackson. Originally Keystone specialized in movie machines and producing comedy films for young children from 1920-1924. (Remember the Keystone Cops?) By 1924 they changed course and started to produce the Keystone brand of pressed steel toys.

Keystone started out big – they made larger-sized toys, and they produced lots of them. They were given permission by the Packard Motor Company to create reproductions of their well known full sized truck models. In addition, they made toy airplanes, trains and construction oriented toys.

Keystone also made toys for J.C. Penny – under the name “Ride-Em”, these toys entered the market in 1932. Each toy made of a Packard truck had the famous Packard logo placed at the front of the truck, along with the Keystone logo – usually on the side of the toy. In 1937 the Packard line of toys was phased out along with the Packard logo. After WWII they began producing wooden toys including train sets, by the 1960s they had sold out to various companies and Keystone ceased to exist.

 

 

Structo Manufacturing was founded in Freeport, Illinois in 1908. It was originally known as the Thompson Manufacturing Company — and later changed to “Structo Manufacturing” in 1911 — a play on the “inde-structo-ble quality of their steel building sets. Their motto was “Structo toys makes men of boys!” – and some of their earliest toys were steel construction kits – forerunners of the “Erector” set. Included in some of the builder sets were roadsters and trucks, launching many years of pressed steel vehicle toys produced all the way into the 1950s and 60s.

 

 

Tonka Toys

Mound Metalcraft was created in Mound, Minnesota in 1946 by three partners; Lynn Everett Baker, Avery F. Crounse, and Alvin F. Tesch. Their original idea was to manufacture garden implements. The building’s former occupant, the Streater Company, had made and patented several toys. E.C. Streater was not interested in the toy business so they approached Mound Metalcraft to buy the company. The three men at Mound Metalcraft thought the toys might make a good side line to their other products.

After some modifications to the design and the addition of a new logo with the Dakota Sioux word “Tanka” or Tonka, which means “Great” or “Big”, the company began selling metal toys. This soon became the primary business. In 1955 Mound Metalcraft changed its name to Tonka Toys, Incorporated. The logo at this time was an oval – showing the Tonka Toys name in red above waves – presumably honoring nearby Lake Minnetonka.

The impact of the Tonka truck concept has been enduring and pervasive, especially the Mighty Dump Truck and associated “Mighty” line of construction equipment models introduced from 1964. The all-metal “Tonka Trucks” were sold throughout the world and earned a reputation as being indestructible, although the steel has been increasingly replaced by plastic from the late 1980s onwards.

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