Category Archives: art

Vacation; or, We Attack the Pacific Northwest

N.B.: I’m stealing the format of this post from Tammy, because it’s a great way to do this quickly given that we took about 4,000 pictures.

We drove from Pocatello to Port Townsend, WA (1,700 miles) to visit Grammy and Grandpa for 2 weeks (the kids staying an extra third week). We hadn’t been to Washington before so this was a great treat. Turns out, Anthropapa and I discovered it was ideal there, and we now have a 5 year plan to relocate to the Seattle area! Must get master’s degrees first, though.

A is for public Art. This was at the Seattle Center, and even had one tube the kids could climb inside:

B is for Beach. Grammy and Grandpa live above a private beach, complete with a sand dollar colony and 40 bazillion shells. This picture is from a day trip to Dungeness Spit:

C is for Clouds. We had beautiful weather except for one cloudy day, but the sunsets were gorgeous. This is the view from the back deck:

D is for Doughnut machine. SillyBilly has been reading Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, which features a doughnut machine run amok. We were thrilled to see this one in the Public Market on the waterfront in Seattle:

E is for bald Eagle. Grampa says there are one or two bald eagles flying by quite often, perching over the sound watching for fish. They are awe-inspiring. Sorry, I have a very lame camera. Squint a little:

F is for Fourth of July. We went up to Port Townsend to sit on the beach and watch the fireworks at Fort Worden. We could see fireworks from at least three other spots around the sound. The Fort Worden show was simple, but lasted much longer than any show we’d seen before:

G is for Columbia Gorge. We drove up the gorge on both ends of the trip. Coming west we kept seeing Mt. Hood peeking out at us. Going east we had a slightly less fun time (went the wrong way on the highway, before we could get off we saw a tanker truck on its side blocking the entire westbound side, had to backtrack all the way to Portland, two-hour delay leading to being on the road 12 hours). But we won’t blame it on the beautiful gorge. This is the view from the Washington side, westbound:

H is for Hat. Though the temps were cool, the sun was very strong and I needed my hat! I almost forgot it in the ferry terminal leaving Seattle that day. I remembered at the last minute, and when we went to get the hat from the bench where I’d left it, we found a young man trying it on! I waited to see if he really wanted it (I would have gladly left it behind, even though I like it) but Anthropapa ended up asking for it and the man gave it back a bit sheepishly. Now my little blue hat has a story:

I is for Interesting. Anthropapa and I snuck away one day to Seattle while the kids stayed with their grandparents. We had lunch with old friends (Hi Erin and Kensuke!), found some treasures at a Tibetan store (certainly none of that in Pocatello), parked ourselves for a few hours at the awesome Elliott Bay Book Company, and saw some amazing installations and exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum, including some Helga paintings by Andrew Wyeth, beautiful Northwest native weavings, and this installation in the lobby, which inspired some interesting conversations about meaning in modern art:

J is for Joy. So many things to be happy about on this trip! Being with Grammy and Grandpa, discovering things large (the Seattle Aquarium) and small (the Port Townsend Marine Science Center), seeing wildlife (seals, eagles, deer, elk, sand sharks, sculpin, crabs, sand dollars, goldfinches, gulls, jellyfish) and many wildflowers. This is a tiger lily among lupines up on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park:

K is for Kids playing. Lots and lots of that. This was at the Seattle Center:

L is for LEGO Liberty, also at the Seattle Center:

M is for Multnomah Falls, which Anthropapa and I stopped by to see on our way home. So beautiful!:

N is for Nibblers. We saw deer in the backyard, deer in open fields, and a few rather saucy deer who were clearly looking for handouts at the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge:

O is for Olympics. Truly awe-inspiring. Next time I hope we have time to explore more. We just had time to go on a quick hike,  a little taste of the beauty of these high mountain peaks:

P is for Playground. Even on vacation, sometimes it’s nice just to take a little swing:

Q is for Quiet. So often we had the beach to ourselves, or sat on the back deck watching for sailboats with just the birds to accompany us. Even on our hike on Hurricane Ridge, with lots of other people there enjoying the sunny day, it seemed quiet. Maybe it was the beauty all around us, like this avalanche lily:

R is for Rivulets on the sand. We went out on the private beach during low tide to explore the sand dollar colony and go beachcombing. I was entrance by the shapes the retreating water had made in the sand, and realized later that I saw very similar shapes in eroded mudflows by Mount St. Helens:

S is for Seattle Skyline. We went over twice on the ferry from Bainbridge Island. What a fun city, not too big or small, quite clean, and with friendly people. Lots of culture as well as amazing outdoor opportunities. We’ll be back, for sure:

T is for Transportation. We took several ferries, and rode the bus, a monorail, and a trolley. It was great fun to take the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry, seeing lots of sailboats, container ships, and even some jellyfish!:

U is for Unusual. We did many unusual things (for us), including staying up late, eating fried clams, watching movies, and playing with light-up light sabers on the Fourth of July:

V is for Volcano. Anthropapa and I scouted out Mount St. Helens National Monument on our way home. Yet another awe-inspiring mountain! I’ve always been interested in geology, and we both clearly remember the 1980 eruption (Anthropapa even remembers the ash fall in Montana). The visitor center has some great displays, and a rather frenetic film, but the star of the show is the mountain herself. Pictures really do no justice in this case:

W is for whirlpool. One day we noticed these beautiful water forms as the ferry left the terminal:

X is for eXciting! For the kids, even simple things were so very thrilling. Grammy took them fishing off the nearby dock several times. The first time, Napoleona almost immediately caught a sand shark! She couldn’t keep it (all six-gilled creatures must be released back) but was so amazed at herself. She and SillyBilly went on to catch several sculpin. Unfortunately, though they are edible, they are almost all head. Nobody wanted togut and clean them! They might look calm and cool, but really they were quite thrilled:

Y is for Yikes! As Anthropapa and I left Seattle on the ferry, we noticed this boat following us, resplendent in jaunty red and accented by a machine gun! The public address system notified us a few minutes later that this was a routine Coast Guard escort. Hmmm. Funny that we hadn’t seen one before! One time we watched the boat almost stop to intercept a sailboat that was unwisely heading toward the ferry. They wisely turned away, as I’m sure they noticed the nice man with the big gun out front:

Z is for blast Zone. The ridge where the Johnston Ridge Observatory now sits across from Mount St Helens was directly in the path of the pyroclastic flow in the 1980 eruption. It’s hard to conceive of that much earth moving so fast and so far. These trees, several feet in diameter, were simply snapped off at the base by the force of the blast:

And if you’ve read through all this, you deserve an award 🙂

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Filed under art, Books, Family, Food, friends, Napoleona, Nature, papa, play, Science, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly, travel

Southern California, May 2009

The kids and I took our annual pilgrimage to see grandparents at the end of May. Then this year the trip came hard on the heels of SillyBilly’s kindergarten graduation, and Anthropapa did not come with us (saving his vacation time for an even bigger trip we’re taking in a few weeks, out to Seattle to see other grandparents).

Plus this was a working vacation for me, since I had one deadline to meet right in the middle of the trip, and another one right on its heels. And SillyBilly had major allergies and asthma from Nana’s dog and so required lots of medication the whole time, even after we decamped to Grandpa’s house for the last few days. And I kept forgetting my camera.

So, I’m kinda beat. I’ll make this short.

We spent lots of time just relaxing at Nanas. Note the groovy shirt custom made by Grammy!

We spent lots of time just relaxing at Nana's.

The kids, along with Nana and a neighbor, made $15 on one pitcher of lemonade (the other pitcher got kicked over by mistake) and the lemons came free from a neighbors tree.

The kids, along with Nana and a neighbor, made $15 on one pitcher of lemonade (the other pitcher got kicked over by mistake) and the lemons came free from a neighbor's tree.

We went to the Getty Center with Grandpa Walt. We didnt see a lot of art, because the kids wanted to make their own. Here, SillyBilly explores the possibilites of tube sculptures.

We went to the Getty Center with Grandpa Walt. We didn't see much art because the kids just wanted to make their own. Here SillyBilly explores an interactive tube sculpture in the Family Room.

Napoleona in the Getty Center Sketching Room, copying a French bust.

Napoleona in the Getty Center Sketching Room, copying a French bust.

We also saw an amazing exhibit on a 1600s polychrome wood sculpture, made by a Spanish sculptress. Watch amazing video about the techniques used to make it, including the natural paints shown here, at http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/roldana/.

We also saw an amazing exhibit on a 1600's polychromed wood sculpture, made by the female Spanish court sculptor La Roldana. Lots of info including on these natural paint sources, at http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/roldana/.

We had a great day at the awesome tide pools of Leo Carillo State Beach. (Photo by KnaPix.) Unfortunately along with (legally harvested) shells and stones, we also inadvertently brought home...

We had a great day at the awesome tide pools of Leo Carrillo State Beach. (Photo by KnaPix.) Unfortunately along with (legally harvested) shells and stones, we also inadvertently brought home...

Crabby! Specifically a Blue Banded Hermit Crab. We thought we had picked up only empty shells, but as we rinsed things out back at Nanas, this particular black turban shell started walking. Unfortunately there was no way for him to survive away from the ocean. RIP, crabby.

Crabby! Specifically a Blue Banded Hermit Crab. We thought we had picked up only empty shells, but as we rinsed things out back at Nana's, this black turban shell started walking! Unfortunately there was no way for him to live away from the ocean. RIP, Crabby.

We also went to the park and the bookstore, ate lots of good food (sushi! Mexican! blintzes for Shavuot! frozen yogurt!), picked blueberries in Somis, picked strawberries and roses in Grandpa’s backyard, did some woodworking (SillyBilly and Grandpa made a box — pictures to come once it’s shipped here and painted) and probably lots more that I’m not remembering.

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Today’s Art History Lesson

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a piece of artwork for the first time and being completely blown away by it?

This morning I was reading my daily email of NY Times headlines, and a travel article about Roman ruins in the south of France caught my eye. I skimmed the article and then looked at the accompanying slideshow of photographs. At this one I had to stop for a long time:

An ancient carving at the Musée Départemental de lArles Antique

An ancient carving at the Musée Départemental de l'Arles Antique, Photo: Ed Alcock for The New York Time

Can you see how amazing the relief is in this Roman carving? I can see at least three levels of soldiers coming right out toward me, including the center-left soldier who is almost three dimensional at head level. And each soldier has a distinct, individual face and expression. Notice how some have facial hair, unlike typical Roman fashion — perhaps they are native Gauls? And Anthropapa noticed how the relief and level of detail increases from the bottom up. I love the composition of this piece, the beautiful forms, the expressive faces.

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One of the more fascinating things I learned in Foundation Year was Rudolf Steiner’s views of the evolution of human consciousness, particularly as revealed through art. He divided human history (we will exclude prehistory here) into seven epochs, each represented by a particular culture that exemplifies the state of consciousness of that time: Indian, Ancient Persian, Egypto-Chaldean, Greco-Roman, Western/Central European (the current epoch), Russian/Slavic, and American.

Steiner described how humanity became more and more separated from the spiritual world, culminating in the incarnation of Jesus Christ who brought a new way for humanity to access spiritual truths and who averted the impendingly complete materialism of the human being. (Far too complicated to go into more detail here!) However, Steiner also said that this “fall” into materialism and separation was necessary for the development of individual human consciousness.

Hence arose that peculiar and quite “human” civilization in the Graeco-Roman time in which man was made to rely entirely on himself. For all the distinctive characteristics of art and political life in Greek and Roman times are traceable to the fact that man had to live out his own life in his own way.

The Spiritual Guidance of Man and Humanity, lecture 3

I feel that I can see a little bit of that in this sculpture: the individuation of the faces, the high level of detail in three dimensions. We don’t see the stylized human forms of the ancient Egyptian or Persian cultures, and though those cultures did produce art with its own detail and complexity, I would argue not in such a three-dimensional way and certainly not with such individuated features. (And yes, this is a gross simplification of thousands of years of art.)

Achaemenid (Ancient Persian) archers

Achaemenid (Ancient Persian) archers

Nebsen and Nebet-Ta, ca. 1400-1352 BCE

Nebsen and Nebet-Ta, ca. 1400-1352 BCE

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Inherited Bookishness

Warning: book-related geekery ahead!

Today SillyBilly and I had a book-lovin’ afternoon. First we watched this video of a modern book bindery that a fellow EFA member mentioned on our group discussion board (double click to open this one):

This contrasted nicely with another video we watched a few months ago, on hot metal printing circa 1947:

We were amazed to see the differences: the technology, from stamping each letter into metal, lining them all up in order by hand, and pressing them into a copper plate, to an almost fully automated, computer-controlled assembly line. And the similarities: it’s still just paper, cardboard, and glue.

This inspired SillyBilly to continue working on his book, which received its table of contents and first page today:

The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion

Table of Contents
By D. Hunt
(Table of Contents)
1) The Powerful Goo
(2-7 still untitled)
7 Chapters!
To Mama from D.

There was a dark, dark forest and there was a colony of ghosts. There was a very special rock that was powerful that the ghosts…

(I don’t know what’s coming next…. I’ll keep you all informed.)

I love that dark, dark, forest. It’s hard to see, but the red thing is the eerie glow of a ghost’s eyes.

Later at dinner I was describing the modern bindery video to Anthropapa and Napoleona. Evidently it caught her imagination too, because after dinner I heard them playing with books: SillyBilly was making little machine sounds (whssshhht! ffffft!) as he slid books down the tilted footrest of our recliner, while Napoleona “inspected” the books as they came down, checking for proper pagination and end paper gluing.

Imitation at its finest! Videos might not be a strictly approved Waldorf activity, but I love what kind of art and play it inspired today.

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Snippets of Life

Can you tell I finally charged the camera batteries?

A few weeks ago we went over to ISU for some fresh air and exercise in the quad. It was one of those bright blue winter days.

The castle Administration building

The "castle" Administration building

The Fine Arts building, with the Portneuf Range behind it

The Fine Arts building, with the Portneuf Range behind it

These trees are perfect for little kids to climb. They’d been off-limits for a few months while a new patio area was being built next to the student union. We were excited to see that the fences were finally down.

Napoleona as a rosy-cheeked tree elf

Napoleona as a rosy-cheeked tree elf

SillyBilly demonstrating that there are no straight lines in nature

SillyBilly demonstrating that there are no straight lines in nature

I realized that I never posted the follow-up to the volcano project. SillyBilly painted his clay version brown and green, but we didn’t get around to adding any gravel and all our dinosaurs were too big! But it did look pretty splendid anyway.

Still couldnt find the red food coloring for the lava

Still couldn't find the red food coloring for the lava

Then one day we did some paintings with acrylics on dry paper. (I know, should be wet-on-wet. Here come the Waldorf police.) We investigated what we could do given only blue, red, and yellow.

SillyBilly

SillyBilly

Napoleona

Napoleona

Mama

Mama

The last two days, SillyBilly has been home sick. Another virus, another asthma attack. This time we even had to get out the evil prednisone. Which makes him hyper (along with the nebulized albuterol, boing boing boing) but I can’t let him play outside with his cough. Sigh. So we’ve done lots of stuff to keep him busy.

We talked about how you might say “the sky is blue” or “leaves are green” — but you’d be wrong! They can be many different colors, depending on the light, time of day, season, and so on. So SillyBilly experimented with his pencils to see how leaves might look:

New coloring book joy!

New coloring book joy!

Then he decided to something completely different with his pencils.

Spontaneous alphabetization

Spontaneous alphabetization

We made very sinful sugar cookies, with pink sprinkles for extra panache. SillyBilly chose acorn cutters, while I went with hearts.

Butter and coconut oil and sugar and almond extract...mmmmmm

Butter and coconut oil and sugar and almond extract...mmmmmm

With the oven still hot from the cookies, I roasted an eggplant and made my first ever batch of baba ghanoush, as we for one had tahini on hand. Napoleona declared she loved it so much that she was going to cook it every single day for her own kids some day. Then we realized she was talking about the store-bought hummus. Oh well.

I’m hoping SillyBilly is better by tomorrow afternoon, because there’s a Pi Day/Einstein’s birthday event at the local mall, complete with liquid nitrogen and a Van de Graaf generator. He’s not going to want to miss that.

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Who Does She Think She Is?

Heidi over at there is grace recently posted about this wonderful documentary about the struggles women have in modern society in balancing their need for artistic creativity and the demands of motherhood.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but something in the trailer caught my attention: people on the street were asked if they could name five female artists. They couldn’t even name one!

At first I was self-righteously disgusted. These were people on the steps of the Met Museum in New York, for heaven’s sake, and they couldn’t even name ONE woman artist? I could name a dozen right off the top of my head, right?

Hmmm. . . .

Writers

This one is easy for me:

Ursula K. LeGuin
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Edith Wharton
Christine de Pisan
Jane Austen

Susanna Clarke
Judy Grahn
Mary Balogh
Christina Rossetti

Margaret Atwood
Mary Stewart
A.S. Byatt

J.K. Rowling
Zadie Smith
Jane Yolen
(and I could go on.)

Visual artists

Hmm . . . getting a little harder:

Frida Kahlo
Liane Collot d’Herbois
Tove Jansson

Mary Cassatt
Diane Arbus
Annie Leibovitz

Georgia O’Keefe
Elsa Beskow
(I had to reach into anthroposophy land to find two of them!)

Now, I’m not going to do actresses, as that’s too easy, as is musicians/singers. And of course there are quite a few writers and artists in my own blogroll! But it was interesting to realize that while I can name many female writers, it wasn’t that easy to name more than five visual artists.

As I mentioned to Heidi, I don’t know if that’s a reflection of poor arts education or the patriarchy of the art world. Even if artistic work is easier for women without children (if only because they have more time!), why aren’t more women prominent in the visual arts? Why can I think of fifteen male visual artists in a few seconds and struggle to think of that many women?

Patriarchy certainly plays in there — notice all of the female artists I thought of date from the late nineteenth century at the earliest, but I can think of male artists dating back to the early middle ages. On the other hand, apparently writing has been an “acceptable” female activity for much longer. I wonder why that is?

Try it — how many can you name?

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When Good Ideas Go Bad

Have you heard of the PROTECT Act of 2003? This is a complicated piece of legislation that intends to prevent child abuse.

I think we can all get behind that general concept, right?

But . . . there’s a problem, specifically with the sections about child pornography.

In general, the intention was that child pornography, particularly on the internet, should be prevented and those trafficking in it punished. And here we are talking about images of real children. This kind of material is not covered by the First Amendment.

Sure. All good, so far.

The problem comes in section 504 (a), which expands the definition of “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children” to include “a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting . . . [that] lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”, whether one “knowingly produces, distributes, receives, or possesses with intent to distribute.” said representations. And then add on section 504 (c): “It is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exist.” (1)

Now that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. There are several problems here:

  • Who determines whether the representation has value?
  • How is it child abuse if the depicted minor doesn’t exist?
  • With a work of art, how do we tell whether the person depicted is a minor?
  • Since when does the government get to tell artists what they can create and what art individuals can possess in their own homes?

So here’s a potential scenario: If you decide to draw a picture of what appears to be an underage child in a sexual situation, even if you never show it to anyone and even if it is purely a product of your imagination, you could be convicted of a felony.

If you drew the picture, your punishment would be “imprisonment for 5 to 20 years for a first offense, for between 15 and 40 years for persons with certain prior offenses, and a fine of up to $250,000”, and if you give the picture to someone else, their penalty for possession would be “imprisonment for up to 10 years for a first offense, for between 10 and 20 years for persons with certain prior offenses, and a fine of up to $250,000”. (2)

And here’s a real life scenario:

Christopher Handley, a manga collector from Iowa, has been charged under the PROTECT Act because he received a package in the mail that included alleged child pornography. The mail in question was seven Japanese comic books. After the postal inspector received a warrant to open the package, Mr. Handley was arrested and the 1,200 comic books in his collection were seized as evidence. Some of his collection included lolicon and yaoi manga, both of which depict young people (or people that appear very young) in sexual situations.

Evidently the district judge handling the case has determined that the applicable sections of the PROTECT Act are unconstitutional, but that Handley may still be tried for the obscenity charge.

As Neil Gaiman has said about the case, “Nobody was hurt. The only thing that was hurt were ideas.”

Now, this is not art I would be interested in creating or looking at. But I will not say that someone else does not have the right to create it or look at it. And I will not agree that drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings, or even needlepoint for heaven’s sake, are the same thing as a photo or video of a child. Putting a child in a sexual situation and taking pictures or videos of it is wrong. Creating something out of one’s imagination is not wrong, and in my opinion should be considered free speech.

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1. Text of S. 151 PROTECT Act, Library of Congress. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c108:6:./temp/~c108Mi6YrK:e83707:

2. Federal Child Obscenity Statues, US Department of Justice. http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/obscenity_stats.html

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