They’re creamy and they’re dreamy. And I want to make them mine, each and every one! I’m talking about the ceramic work of California artist Sara Paloma. Whether it’s the color of the glaze, the texture or the shapes that are just so, there is something about these pieces that grabs my heart.
Just so subtle and supple.. like a wisp of cloud. Her work is definitely going on my “coveting” list! Read more about Sara Paloma on her website and see more work available for purchase in her Etsy shop. And she’s having a sale!!
PS– You may have noticed that I’ve stopped doing Design Foraging on Fridays. There were just too many artists I wanted to share, so I decided to do five artist features each week instead of four! Design Foraging will now be an occasional posting, at least once a month, probably more. 😉
The rocks out here in the Northwest fascinate me. Growing up in Florida, there wasn’t much in the way of rocks that I remember.. just tiny pebbles and sand. But out here, there are big, beautiful rocks! I always marvel at the variety when we find ourselves in a dry, rocky river bed. Dusseldorf-based artist Ramon Todo is juxtaposing rocks with their distant cousin, glass, for some stunning studies in contrast.
The blue green hue and reflective surface of the glass give these stones a landscape-ish quality, almost as if the sky or sea were caught between the two pieces of earth. Such an interesting contrast of textures, don’t you think? And the glass is perfectly cut to fit between the stones, as if it evolved there naturally. I want to turn one over in my hand and see how the light changes the reflections in the glass.
If you’d like to see more from Ramon Todo, please visit his page at Art Front Gallery.
There is a certain type of place that I love to come across in our travels– the little artsy town. Different from just any ol’ small town, these are spots that despite their diminutive size, are a thriving community for creative people of all kinds. Last weekend, we made a trip to one of my favorite such towns, Astoria, Oregon. I thought you might enjoy hearing a little more about my take on what makes this spot so especially artsy!
So here we go, in no particular order..
1 | The scenery
Situated right at the northern border with Washington, Astoria is your introduction to Oregon when driving down the coast from WA. Surrounded by the Columbia River on the south and Young’s Bay on the north and just a few miles from the Pacific give Astoria an especially coastal feel. It smells like the sea! Homes and businesses cascade up the hills, giving way to stunning views, especially on a rare clear day. Coastal mountains peek out from behind the clouds, adding to the drama of the landscape.
2 | The architecture
You won’t find much slick and new in Astoria, which I must admit, is a big part of its charm. Original architecture remains entact and even celebrated by most local businesses. Even the small downtown JC Penney department store is still there in all its original glory! Sure there are newer buildings around, but the downtown area for the most part retains its old school charm.
3 | The art scene
Of course, an artsy little town needs a gallery or two. Astoria boasts a nice selection of galleries, contemporary, traditional, and even a wonderful photographic gallery. I was sad to see Lunar Boy gallery didn’t make it, I loved its quirkiness, which seemed so right for Astoria. Imogen Gallery ( bottom photo above ) is now in their spot and seem to have retained some of their artists, so all is not lost. And Imogen seems a welcome bit of sophistication and curatorial restraint. A monthly art walk, as well as other community arts organizations seem to ensure a thriving artistic community.
4 | The quirkiness
What’s a small town without some quirk? Astoria has plenty to go around! From funky little boutiques and bookstores to a crazy rusted out old delivery truck roaming the streets to a massive king malamute named Komo who will give you a friendly lick, Astoria folks don’t take themselves too seriously.
5 | The libations, both with and without alcohol
Astoria doesn’t seem to be just a draw for visual creatives, but makers and creators of all kinds, including those of a beverage-nature. I’m talking the two main Northwest beverage groups, coffee and beer. There’s a Rogue presence, the NW brew staple whose fare includes quirky offerings such as Voodoo Maple Bacon Ale and Beard Beer— the yeast for which was actually harvested from.. wait for it.. the brewmaster’s beard. Gross! Yet, Mr. F just had to try it. ( Verdict: it was good but more in a Belgian style which isn’t Mr. F’s fave ). Then there’s Ft. George Brewery which we hadn’t tried before and now greatly regret! Got a big thumbs up from Mr. F. No Northwest town is complete without a coffee house or twenty and Astoria is no different. There’s java aplenty, not surprising for a spot that averages 67″ of rain each year. Those gloomy days give Astoria brewers and baristas plenty of time to perfect their crafts.
You’ll want to add Astoria to your must visit list, for sure.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the superficiality of life, isn’t it? But what happens when we look beyond the surface glitter and get real? Are we afraid of letting people see beyond the facade to the layers of disfunction and mistakes? There are artists who do just that. Like self taught Port Townsend, WA painter Jeane Meyers, who builds up and covers up in order to go back and reveal what’s underneath.
Yes, maybe revealing the ugly might not be so fun or flattering, but it adds texture and depth and a certain sense of vulnerability, not only in Meyers’ work, but in our lives, as well. By submitting to the process and taking what is found underneath, we letting go of our compulsion for perfection. And in return, the work ( and we ), become more interesting and more complex.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my several decades of life, it is never say never. Now I might say I highly doubt that will ever happen.. but I’ve learned that just when you think never is the only answer, you change, circumstances change and you find yourself thinking.. ok, maybe.
Mr. F and I are learning to always be open to where the next turn in the path may lead. What we might think is a step back, may end up being two steps forward in a different direction. We spent some time this weekend, as we seem to do every weekend, exploring around us and playing a familiar game.. “Could we live here?”. We were in this area when we first came out to the Northwest together and I was still adjusting to traveling, to married life, to being away from my family and in a completely new setting. We have some very fond memories of that time, but it definitely wasn’t the easiest for us. When we left I was close to “nevering” this place, well, that other little town in particular. But now, after experiencing more places, this rainy, beautiful peninsula does have its draw.
We explored one of our favorite little towns, Astoria, OR and I remembered thinking how we’d kind of crossed it off our list as just a bit too rainy.. never say never. Then on Sunday, we drove up Hood Canal and Mr. F took me for a little tour of neighborhoods higher up in the mountains where the air is a bit drier, a bit crisper, the towns much smaller, but the homes way more affordable.. never say never.
[ fall day in Astoria ]
[ beer..a “never” I broke after Mr. F & got together ]
[ taking these paths together ]
[ views like this might never get old ]
We are incredibly blessed to be living a life that is so wide open. There are friends who say they could never live this way, but to them I say never say never! Freedom has its advantages.
Want to see more from this artsy life? Follow me on Instagram! PS– found a fantastic Frida Kahlo shrine in Astoria! Head over to Instagram to see. 😉
I like to inspect things closely. And when they aren’t aware of it, I like to examine people closely. There is so much expression and beauty held within the eyes and the lines of each face. French born artist Jerome Lagarrigue, in his larger than life portrait studies, focuses his brush on the eyes of his subject, revealing emotion that we might not notice without such targeted attention.
Sometimes, when Mr. F & I are sitting together, reading or watching a movie, I can’t help but gaze at him for a while. Pretty sure it creeps him out a bit when I do that! But there is something so lovely about memorizing the face of the one you love, isn’t there? Not to mention really seeing all the people you interact with every day. How many of us could describe the faces of friends, family, colleagues well enough to create a true likeness? If we don’t know a face well, how will we ever be able to read it? To know what isn’t being said?
To see more of Jerome Lagarrigue‘s work, please visit his website. Take some time to sit and stare at someone you love today, Artsies. 😉
Yesterday, I shared with you Lucky Jackson‘s work and wrote about the masks we wear. Well, it seems like I’m on a bit of an identity-crisis train this week, so hop aboard! I was really struck by this series of photographs by Austin artist Denise Prince, in which we find women dressed in finery, yet seeming very out of place.
These women, decked out in evening wear, seem frozen in time, not just physically, but perhaps spiritually as well. They could be the homecoming queens whose lives began with such hopes for greatness, only to find themselves living a much more ordinary, less glamorous life than they ever expected. Sometimes, we put such expectations on our future, don’t we? Of course it’s perfectly normal to have dreams. Haven’t we all, especially when we were young, dreamt of accepting an Oscar or Grammy in our evening gown or tux? Maybe we expected our lives to turn out differently. But no matter what turns life has taken, we can always still be the star of our own story, just perhaps less formally attired.
Mr. F and I often talk about what has drawn us to the Northwest. The mild summers have a lot to do with it, but even more, is the feeling that, in comparison to so much of the US, there is a wildness here. Big cities are few and far between, the landscape filled more with small towns, rural communities and much still wild and untamed wilderness. The thought that we can go out on a hike and see deer, elk, bears, and even moose in some areas, is thrilling. We are living on the edge, ya’ll. But that also means that we, as humans and society are ever encroaching on the wilderness and the animals found therein are paying the price. These themes of nature and our relationship with it and effects upon it are the catalyst for the work of Portland sculptor, Rachel Denny.
In her work, Denny has created a visual language for exploring the charm and delicacy to be found in the natural world. Whimsy belies a deeper meaning, if we take the time to look beyond what we see.
It’s that time of year. Kids are planning who they’ll “be” for Halloween, adults are racking their brains to come up with costumes for themselves that are funny, clever, sexy, whatever the think they are or wish that they could be. But the latest series by Canadian artist Lucky Jackson, I am the Hero of This Story, has got me thinking about the masks we all put on every day.
It’s funny how we all grow up thinking we can do anything, be anything, but slowly over time as we age and life beats us down, doubt creeps in. Maybe I’m not smart enough, or pretty enough, or cool enough, or brave enough. So instead of believing that we can be the hero of our story, we play dress-up each day, pretending to be who we are not, faking it, hoping to make it through.
Eventually though, either publicly or privately, whether when we’re young or at the end of our days, the facade will begin to crack. We’ll come to realize that face we’ve been putting on all these years isn’t really who we are. And hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll figure out who is truly hiding behind the mask.
These painted woodcut pieces by Lucky Jackson harken back to those days of dreaming of who we would become, but also look to what happens to who we become as we listen to the voices around us. Want to see more of Lucky Jackson‘s work? Please visit her website.
I don’t know what it is about the work of this month’s Featured Artist, Jennifer JL Jones that reminds me so much of the Pacific Northwest. Maybe it’s the watery, downward strokes that make me think of the softly falling rain or perhaps it’s the subtle glowing light, so different from the blaring bright this Florida girl had been used to!
This piece in particular, Sukha [Totems], is just the perfect representation of a Pacific Northwest Fall and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t anywhere near her mind when she painted it! Autumn here in the NW is such an interesting mix of brilliantly changing leaves, grey skies and rain soaked earth. Days that are made for cozy sweaters, boots and definitely don’t forget your raincoat!
My perfect Northwest Autumn day would be spent wrapped up in these cozies, grabbing coffee and heading to the art museum, followed by an evening at home by the fire gazing up at Jennifer Jones’ painting. 😉 One day, I will have one! One day.