Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gregory Glynn's Foundation

Gregory is one of the most focused artists I have met. We first worked together during the Art in the Meadow installation at Blakely Harbor two years ago, and would frequently run into each other at all hours of the day as he was raking vast mounds of cut grass into timber forms for his meadow piece. He is a hard worker and meets his work in an all-consuming physical way, whether methodically cutting and reassembling old growth logs for studio work, or tackling the sprawling ivy eradication project spearheaded by IslandWood.

And so with Foundation, his work was true to this form. Gregory had proposed building a dwelling out of scotch broom on a portion of the park that is perched high above the water, with views up to Mount Baker and down to Mount Rainier. It was to be a commentary about the site, its history as a residential area for creosote plant workers, its future as a green space accessible to all types of humanity, and its proximity to pricy homes with similar vistas.

As artwork does evolve through its emergent process, so did Gregory's, and the depth to which the actual piece touches on many issues surrounding struggles between humans and their landscapes became vast. When you approach the work on its dogleg away from the loop trail, you first see the clearing. This site was entirely populated by scotch broom at the outset of the exhibit, and Gregory cleared it by hand (along with two other significant patches of broom at other points on the site). The broom was laid in a methodical, stacking pattern to form a literal square footage of a foundation for a home, and over the first weeks of the installation, the branches wilted and the stack compressed. It now holds the weight of anyone who wishes to climb on it.

Further up the hill is the prime viewpoint, the sought after place at which one sees the surrounding Puget Sound. And the paradox is that Gregory has also made it into the viewpoint into a cleared section around three historic trees that were girdled -- a process in which external bark and cambium is systematically removed, here by a machete -- and left to die where they were rooted. The viewer is forced to consider a much darker side to the desire for ownership over territory.

Gregory's writes "Natural materials such as wood, stone, water, and vegetation are elements most often used in my sculpture. I’m interested in creating simple forms that explore a complex dichotomy of strength and vulnerability existing in nature. Inviting impermanence, factors such as time, weather, and the process of decay enable nature, the supreme sculptor, to have a final hand in the life cycle of each piece. My process is often physical and laborious but it is through work that I discover interesting problems are created and solved. Ultimately, my intention is to make artworks that evoke a sense of connection between us and this world which we exist.

Constructed from the invasive Scotch Broom that sprawls rampantly throughout Pritchard Park, Foundation is represented by a stacked footprint of a house. Spectacular views of Seattle, Puget Sound and Eagle Harbor can be appreciated here and offer an opportunity to reflect on recent occurrences and those that happened in years past."

Look for an article in this weekend's Islander about Gregory and his work, by Lin Kamer-Walker.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Melanie Noel's ghostrain

The Pritchard Park site is such a layered experience, it is impossible to capture a round view of the place strictly through the language of visual artwork. Melanie is a poet, and distinguished in that fact alone. But add to the mix her experience with sound and performance, her quiet incisiveness and ability to sustain a dialog, and her love of words, and she compels her way into the fabric of this show.

Simply put, Melanie conducted historic and firsthand information about the site, and she grew a poem from these seeds. The poem was then fragmented in various ways and the fragments were transcribed onto vellum and folded into small (about 1-2 inch) open cubes which were suspended throughout the site. Some of the cubic lanterns are marked with trail and name markers, others are meant to be discovered by attentive visitors to the site. At two points -- hanging under a non-native redwood tree's glorious canopy and sitting in a derelict abandoned car -- viewers are able to see the poem flat, in its entirety.

I include here at closing words about the site that Melanie wrote while working on the poem, as well as her statement about more of the intention behind the piece.

"It is unusual somehow, the park, the illicitness of so much of [the park's] social
life, and the incredible mix of beauty that supports that - it's like
shallow loam full of flowers on an island of bones somehow. There is
something there - that a little quince orchard can co-exist with an old
lamp cover - something boundless and bound up at the same time."

"ghostrain is inspired by Chilean poet and artist Cecilia Vicuna's, visual poems she calls "metaphors in space."

'Precarios is what is obtained by prayer. Uncertain, exposed to hazards, insecure. From the Latin pecarius, from precis; prayer. The word oir (to hear) was originally the same word orar (to pray). Reciprocity. By praying you reconnect.'

ghostrain is a single poem spread throughout Pritchard Park in white boxes, some tangled together and some hanging alone. The words are on the inside. They are a precarios of history, imagination and language; of their ability to migrate and dwell together, and find their place in a context of invisible integrity."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Diana Liljelund's The Immigrant

As you approach the bottom of Creosote Place the stunningly unobstructed water and city view opens up on your right. Tucked into the southeastern corner of this open space is Diana Liljelund's piece, the Immigrant.

It is a red tree, bright and slick at the water's edge. This dead madrona was given to Diana by Art Koura, an old time Bainbridge Islander. With determination and community help, Diana painted the trunk and much of the branch system by hand before it was trucked to the site and cast into a concrete base. Now the trunk lists gently eastward, gesturing toward Seattle or points beyond. Best viewed from the ferry approaching or leaving Eagle Harbor, the trunk alternately leaps out from the green backdrop or blends unnoticed.

Diana's words about her work and the Immigrant read:
“Trees and the forest invoke wonder and inspiration for me. Within a painting I try to create a place: a translation of a moment in time that I have experienced and wish to share. I work with many layers of color and their interralationships, spatial depth and structure to create a composed narrative. The installations are created through a process of a working dialogue with a place, and what is found there to be celebrated, unearthed, and given new life.

A graceful dead Madrone tree has moved from five miles inland to quietly establish a new and unexpected identity on the beach which challenges known truths. The synthetic red of the poised tree framed by the sweeping soft green curve of the forest edge creates an arrangement suspended in the brevity of the moment inspired by the ancient art of Ikebana. Celebrating the link between man and nature ‘the Immigrant’ creates a new life for itself and in doing so affirms a new balance in the environment around it."

More about Diana's work can be found at

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Introduction to Artist Profiles

It has been a month of tomorrows...

Following over the next days I'll feature a post on each individual artist in the Collocation exhibit. The sequence will procede in order of the numbered progression referred to on the map that is available on this blog and at the site.

By entering the park via the Creosote Place entrance at the end of Eagle Harbor Drive, viewers will see the show in the order that was intended by this curator. That said, the joy of the installation is its ability to surprise even the most conditioned visitor to the site. Time, weather, light, and circumstance illuminate the work in new ways. Plants have grown up, people have tramped down the trails, the exchange between organic and imposed continues.

As such, I encourage multiple and frequent viewings.