Pre-Holiday Blahs and Bliss

I must admit, the diminishing daylight and rainy skies is probably affecting my mood, but it’s a tug-of-war with my love of gray clouds and wet gloom. Growing up in Arizona affected me more than I know. Part of that is getting used to an unfamiliar seasonal pattern.

I think about emotional patterns reflecting environmental ones, and there’s got to be a similar phenomenon connected with our work. Motivation is harder, judgment harsher. But. There’s a flip side.

My delight in bright colors and silliness is magnified. I’m hesitant to emphasize this too much—I’m not the best Pollyanna. it’s just another reminder that, like most everything, there are more ways to understand and analyze darker days than just as a mood dampener.

Magic Breaking Through

Fuzzy snow in the dark on my building’s rooftop

No matter how cynical I feel, there’s always something magical about the first snow of the season. Probably because I spent so much time in the Southwest, it’s always been special. Now that I’m here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s normal for most, if not very frequent.

But I want to always be aware of the magic moments. The feeling of them is kin to the wonder of artistic creation and connection.

The Haunting of the Season

Halloween never lasts long enough. I’m not much of a horror movie fan, but I like the idea of them, and am always up for a good one. More than that, I love the shift of light and life, when everything, well, falls.

Amidst the magic and spookiness that is the general tenor of autumn, I get restless, as if creating has kept pushing me forward, and I don’t quite know where I am.

The cusp of Thanksgiving (in the US) is a good time to look back a bit, to see where you’ve been and if you’re still on the path you should be. Art is tricky business. It’s holding onto water, trying to capture hints of smells on the street, stopping shadows and colors that change by the second. I always hope to keep moving, but nonetheless take time to look at the big picture. Focus can be isolating.

Layers of the Past Piling Up

It’s a bit strange living in a city that preserves a good bit of its past. I’m not used to it. But a cool feature of the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of trees. So you get the new with the old, the living and the (constructed) dead side-by-side.

This is our ongoing inspiration and source for art. Everything that was made with everything that grows and changes is the source. The mix of both is what we make new things out of.

The Old Furry Companion

To be fair, he’s only 6. But along with the comfort of his companionship, I try to learn his lessons, too. As good as it feels to have finished a degree, I miss being in formal classes, and I’m always looking for education like a junkie for school.

The biggest lesson he teaches is to take each day as it comes and be sure to get enough sleep. Next to that is to ask for help (for food, water, and attention) when needed.

There’s a kind of animism that appeals to me in the world out there. Everything has theoretical agency, and everything is a potential teacher. All I have to do is keep being open to it.

Joan Jonas’s Art Ecology Reflects the Ocean’s

Joan Jonas has an installation at Ocean Space, a new exhibition venue made to facilitate artists and scientists studying the oceans. It’s fascinating and eclectic. Jonas incorporates performance, sculpture, video, drawing, and painting into the work, which may not be fully finished till the end of its run in September.

She’s paralleling the natural ecology of the sea with a kind of ecology of artistic practice. Everything works together as a whole piece, no one element is meant to stand on its own. They feed and support each other.

The Link Between Sky, Weather, and Serenity in Portland

Oregon, that is. I’ve always loved rain and cloudy skies. I didn’t get a lot of them growing up in Arizona and almost as few living in L.A. for 17 years. But since I visited Portland last year, I noticed there’s another aspect to the gray. In the middle of the day, rain clouds are, indeed, leaden.

But at dawn—and dusk—the cloudy turns positively cerulean. It’s beautiful, and full of portent, and it makes the other colors near the ground stand out, somehow. It’s a lovely combination of gloom and beauty, and the relative stillness of the early morning gives the day a zen quality that calms and gladdens me.

Real World Art Interventions by Magda Sayeg

I’m always fascinated by artists who interact with the physical world in various ways. Especially when they turn the familiar upside down. Magda Sayeg does this sort of thing a lot, creating what I’d call interventions more than merely installations.

Using yarn as a medium has some deep connective salience. It’s familiar, but outside the context of a home or apparel, it brings a sometimes unnerving resonance to both natural and human made objects. Simultaneously, it adds touches of humor and cozy familiarity, drawing us in with bright color and warmth.

Excitingly Going Slow in the Cold Months

One of the advantages of the new year being in the winter is that is encouraged slowing down. The wild outdoors, so alive and encouraging in summer, is more asleep than any other time, especially the further toward the poles you go.

It’s good for you, the artist—the maker and creator—to slow down with it. Got some resolutions to uphold? They’re probably internal to your own psyche or stuff you’ll do inside, mostly. So let winter slow down your approach and process. Roll with the season and see how much easier it is to be deliberate and steady. You’re making progress and it’s fun, eh?

When it warms up and things around you come alive, it’ll be time to make a big, arcing dive into stuff. But for now, relish the world’s encouragement to stay inside and slowly build up a habitual head of steam.