Sitting the Press

Woo-hoo, it’s finally almost here!  After, well, a BUNCH of years working in fits and starts and then some serious stretches, barbara bosworth and I have at last finished our awesome collaboration in the meadow.  Called THE MEADOW:  A REVERIE, it’ll be out in October of this year from Radius Books.  If by chance you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve seen mentions of it before–nights of fireflies, days of foraging, etc.  We had a grand time delving into this small, seemingly simple place.  But nothing’s simple.  And that’s a lesson learned many times in that meadow and in making the book.

NOT that i am complaining.  To the contrary, a huge huge shout out is due to David Chickey, one of the principles at Radius Books.  David took our decidedly un-simple collection of materials and fashioned them into an absolutely gorgeous book.  Barbara and I had the chance to sit the press in Verona, Italy, with David and another Radius author, and see how our pieces plus David’s design got put to paper.  It was fascinating.

myfirstpageAnd as is required, we signed off on each page before they printed the big batch of them–even my pages, which was kind of cool, since they didn’t require any color matching.  And why yes, that is a dopamine molecule on my very first signed page.

 

A Field Guide to Other People’s Trees 2.0

This post has been a long time coming!

Those who have known me as an exhibiting photographer may have seen some of the images in this book in various shows several years back. I began making them just over eight years ago (yeah, I couldn’t believe it either), and showed the first few, along with some vignettes, at AXIOM Gallery when it was still in Cambridge, MA in 2006 as part of a show called Art & Science: A Symbiosis.

After that, as the body of work grew, I showed it in both solo and group shows, and made a gorgeous folio of photos and the mini-lyrical essays.  The folio was a blast to make, but it is also very fancy (in an understated way, of course)–hand-made Japanese paper, tipped in c-prints, folio box with blind embossing, the whole shebang.  So lovely.  And so expensive.

When I started working at IDSVA, I didn’t have the time to put work out into galleries, and this project (and my photography in general) languished.  So as much as I loved that adventure, I am happy to have time for art again.  Along with starting a couple other projects from scratch, I decided to revisit this project, since it still beckoned.  I wanted to make an edition that could be sold for a reasonable price.

And, lo these many months later,  it’s about to hit the shelves. It has more photos, more writing, but the same premise and spirit as OPT 1.0 had.

Look how pretty it is:

Other People's Trees

And the insides are nice too.

Below is the flagrant self-promotion moment, with details about how to buy the book.  So, skip if you want, but I hope you don’t!

From me:  I’ll have many copies come January 2015, and would love to sign a copy for you or for you to give as a gift.

From your local bookstore:  keep those indies alive!  And if they don’t have it in stock, they can get it from the distributor.

From the publisher:  George F. Thompson has it on his website, and you can order it directly from him.

From the folks who are working out the kinks of drone delivery:  Always an option if one of the others doesn’t pan out.

Storms and “Super Storm”

We have power back.  And internet.  And cell service.  All of which took nearly a week down here at the end of the earth.  Though I am NOT complaining, as some friends still don’t have internet back.

Folks here are calling it a freak storm.  But I am having a hard time seeing it that way.  Over the last few years, we in the northeast have begun experiencing storms right around Halloween that are dangerous, disruptive, and costly.

In 2011, 3.2 million residences and businesses had power outages during the “Snowtober” storm.  Like this year’s storm, that one hit when trees still held their leaves–leading to not only outages, but massive tree damage.  And that weather wonder came on the heels of Hurricane Irene and a spate of tornadoes (yep, tornadoes) in Western Mass.

A year later, over a week-plus in late October 2012, Superstorm Sandy, the second costliest hurricane in US history–coming it at a whopping $65 Billion–hit the entire eastern seaboard, after causing devastation in the Caribbean.  Ten million power customers in the US had power interrupted.  Nearly two hundred people died due to weather-related events.

And a week before this Halloween (2014), a rainy northeaster hit New England, interrupting power to 44,000 households.  That, of course, was followed by the storm we just endured.

This surge of Halloween-time storm activity was worrying me this morning, which is why I began to write this post.  I am wondering what the conjunction of nor’easters coming earlier and hurricanes driving further north is likely to portend.  Now, though, I am past wondering and well into worrying, because I just got back from a reading by Kathryn Miles from her new book SUPER STORM.”  It’s about Sandy.  But really, it’s a look at all that went horribly wrong–not just the bad decisions that individuals made, but also the bad decisions that are due to systemic flaws and frailties.  Miles conveys in gripping detail what happened over nine days.  But as importantly, she makes clear the crippled technologies, the poor communication, the skewed perception of risk that all also contributed to the disastrous outcome.

During the Q&A, Miles emphasized that learning about how frail the weather infrastructure of the US is was one of the most disturbing parts of writing the book.  She wonders how we can make good decisions in the face of bad weather if we don’t have adequate data to predict just how bad it will be.

Great question.

Collaborative Art-Making

The St. George peninsula is mid-coast Maine is an astonishingly artsy place.  Among the famous artists who’ve lived here or near are Andrew Wyeth and his son Jamie (who still lives here), Kenneth Noland, Greg Mort, and William Thon. And in addition to those better known names are dozens and dozens of full-time and summer-time makers, working in media as diverse as watercolors and stone, encaustic and rusted metal, digital photography and hand-made paper.  It’s a great place to be a maker.

Every summer, through an open studio program organized by the late, great Don McClain (no, not that one.  The other one), between 20 and 40 artists have opened their spaces to visitors for one or two weekends each summer.

I love such projects, but I started to feel bad for the artists because they couldn’t visit each other.  This celebration of the area’s creative community precluded the participation of many of its members.  I tried to figure out something I could do to bring us all into community?

chapbook-230x300And from that, the “progressive poetry project” was born.  Here’s what we did:

1.  I left a box of blank cards with each of the artists who was interested in participating, and instructions to the folks who visited the studio to write something on the card that was inspired by the work.  Not “this is so pretty,” but maybe something like “blackberries tinged with sea spray.”  Or whatever.  I tried really hard to keep it open and not prescriptive.

2.  I collected all the boxes, spent some time looking at the art work, and then used as many of the words on the cards as I could to make a poem that was responsive to the work or the words or both, one poem per studio.

3.  Then, I turned those into a little chapbook, illustrated with images by several of the artists, and shared with everyone who participated.

What I hoped was that the artists and visitors would consider us as all in “it” together, a community of collective appreciate and creation, and that those often firm lines between makers and viewers would blur.  And that did happen, at least a little.  But what also happened, delightfully, was that many of the artists felt that the poems really suited their work–even though they couldn’t control what folks said about their art, or what I did with the things that they said.  And I have to think that that’s due to more than serendipity, that the poems were the distillation of community being manifest.

Total Synergy!

orion

As you know, this blog is about art, environment, the places those two hang out together, and a bunch of things that are somewhat peripheral that I try to squeeze into that rubric anyway.

It doesn’t take ANY squeezing to get ORION to fit.  This magazine has been around for like 30 years, bringing us some of the most beautiful and significant nature and environmental writing and art that’s out there.

And (woohoo) today was my first meeting as a member of their Board.  I’d like to think  this blog prompted the invite.  Yeah, wishful.  But check it out.  You’ll see that the art and articles are the kind of things you’ve read here–okay, so the ones at ORION are by famous people who are really, really good at what they do.  But you get my drift.