All posts by jrsherrard

Just a guy, ya know...

A Capitol Christmas…

Friday morning, Paul and I, at the urging of a well-meaning friend, descended on our state’s Capitol for what was meant to be a book signing in the legislative gift shop.  It was a slow day for book sales, I fear, though we watched dozens of Washington State calendars selling hotter than hotcakes, and were mildly dispirited by the disinterested yawns (“Washington Then and Now?” the handful of power brokers who wandered past seemed to exclaim, “Been there, done that.”).

There were, as always, pearls of conversation and gentle conversators, but for the most part, we stared blankly at each other and wrestled over a single New York Times.  Much amusement was provided when I found a life-sized ad for HBO’s “Saddam, BMOC” and we took turns shooting pix of each other.

Then we each in turns wandered up into the Rotunda, where we discovered an unfolding scandal.  While Christmas had reached its merry tendrils into nearly every nook and cranny….

(as always, click to enlarge photos)

…there were serpents in that Yuletide tree (note the state patrolman patrolling with care).  But first, let’s visit the capitol’s own creche, a simple stable amongst the marble columns.

Not 30 feet to the left, ATHEISTS had insisted upon their 1st Amendment rights (damn them), and placed a sign reading, in part, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

FOX news, namely Bill O’Reilly, had taken up the cause a few days ago, encouraging his viewers to express their outrage to the Guv. Hundreds of calls and emails poured in hourly.  Christmas under siege, Santa held for ransom, myrrh stolen from Christ child.  Protesting churchgoers were up in arms.  Some added their own signs (see more state patrolmen patrolling beyond the tree).

Then, between 7 and 7:30 in the morning, someone stole the atheists’ sign. Dan Barker, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation proclaimed the act, “unfriendly.”  Later in the day, someone turned the sign in to Country KMPS’s Ichabod Caine.  The State Patrol is investigating.

Below, see the brightly colored placard on the left; also in place of the original anti-religious sign is a terse gold-colored reminder from the Foundation: “Church/State – Keep them separate”.  George Washington – not a foe of religion, although perhaps of religious partisanship – has positioned his enormous head between opposing sides (his bust here was, Paul informs me, given to the Capitol Building by the Daughters of the American Revolution).

Meanwhile, downstairs in the basement gift shop, Paul and I thanked the staff for putting up with us and left the marble corridors of power, heading once again for our own cluttered basements, which make up in padding what they lack in grandeur.  Outside, Paul paused once more to glance at the Times.

In wearing this mask, Paul wrote me earlier this evening, we were doubly posturing, acting the part of an actor acting the part of Saddam, who spent decades rehearsing his own execution by practising it on others.

Is there some significance here? A cradle of hypocracy liberally perfumed with Frankincense?  Heavens to Murgatroyd, I’m reluctant to bring up old lessons, but aren’t we all, to some extent, reaping those whirlwinds?

Up the Chimney with Dorpat/Sherrard

It’s a Christmas cracker!  Paul and I will be reading tales of the season in a couple venues around town. The first is on Saturday the 13th at the Haller Lake Community Center at 7 PM. The second is at the Good Shepherd Center Chapel performance space on Monday the 22nd, starting at 7:30.

We’ll be reading classics – Paul’s soulful version of ‘Gift of the Magi’, plus, donning Santa cap and bells, his sonorous and heartfelt ‘Night before Christmas’.  Jean will finish off with the hilarious Jean Shepherd saga ‘Red Ryder meets the Cleveland Street Kid’, from which the movie ‘A Christmas Story’ was adapted.

We can’t decide whether to call these evenings Up the Chimney or Down the Chimney with Jean & Paul.  Votes?

Join us!

More of 'Ashes to Ashes'

My apologies for not having gotten these up sooner. They should have accompanied Sally Anderson’s fine review, but better late than never, I always say (in fact, I never say that, but it seemed appropriate for this remarkable show).

(click twice on thumbnails to see full size)

(Incidentally, the mysterious final photo of the series was taken peering through the newspaper coffin to obtain a view, not of eyes, but of the negative-corpse-space’s leg holes.)

Photos we won't be using

Yesterday, I made a few stops around town picking up Now and Then shots for Paul’s column. Those below are extras.

First, I stopped at the 41st and Aurora pedestrian overpass and met historian/preservationist Heather McAuliffe and her daughter’s grade school class and teachers from BF Day for a repeat of a 1936 photo. The original was taken below the overpass looking up.

Then I headed downtown to meet Ron Edge, a photo collector and history sleuth, who’s been helping Paul unravel mysteries. We were trying to repeat a pic of an old tin shop at the corner of what is now 1st and Yesler. Here’s Ron, braving traffic:

Later that afternoon, I met baseball historian Dave Eskenazi and we climbed up on top of a vast rooftop (a windowless storage building for King County Elections) looking for signs of Dugdale Park, an ancient baseball field.  This eerie white expanse, which covers the footprint of the old park, is just around the corner from Washington Hall at 14th and Fir.

As always, click on the pix to see them full size.

ASHES TO ASHES Reviewed by Sally Anderson

DSL welcomes guest blogger/reviewer Sally Anderson, who lives within two vigorous stone throws of the Chapel at Good Shepherd Center.  Here she reviews the remains – it is up only until this coming Saturday, Nov. 15, through 9 pm – of 21 biodegradable coffins hanging from the chapel’s high ceiling.

“Ashes to Ashes”

Chapel, 4th Floor, Good Shepherd Center (climb or find elevator), Wallingford USA
Open noon to 9 pm through Sat 11/15
Wayward Girls Productions (“Lift up your skirts and fly”™)

Artists include (but not limited to):

Maisoui Barham
Alex Branch
Johnny Chalapatas
Catherine Cross
Ben Darby
Jeff Hansel
Christiana Hedlund
Robert Howells
Wendy Lawrence
Matthiu Mendieta
Joshua P. Waddell
Mary Welch
Good Shepherd caretaker Mark Willson

“Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”

– From “The Circus of Animals,” W.B. Yeats

There are some ladder-gones, and some ladder-beginnings, in this varied take on “the first comfort after death,” to borrow a sentiment from Paul, who joined me a couple of nights ago with “Nancy Appleseed” – Nancy Merrill – perhaps Seattle’s greatest proponent of the planting of trees… for an evening romp among biodegradable caskets.

21 friends and acquaintances accepted curator/resident Mary Welch’s invitation to create coffins for the (suitably) fleeting exhibit titled “Ashes to Ashes” that ends this weekend – Saturday at roughly 9pm – at the Chapel in Wallingford’s Good Shepherd Center.

The exhibit commemorates other endings as well: it’s the last in Welch’s Chapel Trilogy (preceded by “Closet” and “Seven Chairs: Interpreting the Chakras”), the last exhibit under the name Wayward Girls, and also signals the end of visual art exhibits in this intimate space, as the Chapel is better suited acoustically and architecturally as a venue for music, which will continue under the label Wayward Music.

Criteria for showing: the coffins had to be easily biodegradable, weigh 30 pounds or less, and “not stink” for at least 3 weeks. The artists had to both “justify” their materials and be able to themselves fit within, “whether curled up, laid flat, squished out, or the knees stretched out,” per Mary.

All of which left room for the use of beeswax, bamboo, burlap, and bubblegum; newspaper, grouse feet, rice paper, feathers, metal repousse, 16 loaves of Franz whole-grain white bread, silk, antlers, porcupine quills, ink, aluminum foil, leaves, stuffed toys, sugar, and postcards… and words. Lots of words. Some are incorporated into, or inside, the coffins. One submission appears to be a hanging series of newspapers; closer observation reveals, through a tiny cut-out square, that the newspapers are in fact hollowed-out in their centers in the shape of a body.

Each is paired with a paragraph or so of the artist’s imagined obituary. Mary’s humor tends toward the dry side, her caption reflecting her disdain for euphemisms about death:

Maisoui Barham’s, whose interpretation stands out as one of the most organic and complex, begins “They fed me – Now I feed them.” Materials include bones, feathers, fur, and “lightning-struck wood,” to name a few of many.

Johnny Chalapatas also wove elements of nature, using bamboo, burlap, jute, and seeks from friends’ gardens, stating that “Energy doesn’t end; It just leaves its container.” The soft, thready fuzz and whispy fibers of his piece create an oddly crisp shadow that is alone reason enough to visit the exhibit.

The coffins float ethereally from fishing line hung from the high arched Chapel ceiling. This lends a (fittingly) subtle extra dimension of fragility, and rewards with a remarkable play of shadows throughout, on the simple wooden floor and on the waxen flower petals, folded papers, spiky metals, and other fine details atop the coffins. In a happy accident of juxtaposition, the severe shape of the “Chinese Take-Out” coffin (“Thank You / Come Again”) seemingly throws a shadow with arms and feet, which turns out to be cast by its neighbor, “Bread Woman.”

The exhibit overall has a reverential air, from the gracefully muted lighting to the “sound experiment” by Steve Peters (CDs available at the pearly gate) which emanates continuously from a mysterious source.

While several of the coffins reflect the somber mystery of death, the group marvelously avoids a sense of morbidity. A couple are notably lighthearted. The obituary accompanying Matthiu Mendieta’s “cigarette” coffin reads, in part, “Always ready for the next drink and defiantly always on the go. Creative with a very dark sense of humor. May he rest in peace.”

The legend for Catherine Cross’ “Phoenix A-Z” reads: “Instructions for Disposal: 1. Insert dead artist. 2. Keep flat until after burning. 3. Burn / Cremate and Collect / Save ashes (carbon offset investment prepaid to US Department of Education). 4. Mix ash with at least ten yards of rich, well aged compost containing at least thirty percent horse manure. 5. Depending on seasonal and regional availability, Fill manure spreader or heavy duty chalk field liner with the ash and compost mixture. 6.  In a large gently sloping meadow facing the sea and bordered by woods, write the words “I Love You” in a smooth thick cursive font as large as the site allows. Add more compost as needed.”

On Wednesday, the exhibit was visited by a group of seniors. Curator Mary, who also does duty as gatekeeper, couldn’t predict their reactions. The next sound she heard was waves of raucous laughter.

Go see and listen. Ends Saturday night.

    

(Below: Good Shepherd on the night, Nov. 11, 2008, Sally Anderson visited its chapel for this review)

From Périgord (southwest France)

Bérangère writes:

Here are three  photos in Périgord in the neighbourhood of Maison Rouge where my Uncle Claude and Aunt Yanick are living, it has been raining so much all the 4 days long, and we spent so much time around the divine table to eat so many splendorous meals that I decided the last  morning to wake up early and walk at the beginning of the day on my own, smell the wet morning country  !!!

Joe Max Emminger!

A remarkable show from Joe, one of our especial favorites around DorpatSherrardLomont. His luminous paintings, at once raucous and restrained, deliriously primitive and utterly civilized, really knock our socks off.  Joe’s work is the stuff of dreams, found on cave walls and along alleys, quaysides and memory palaces; signposts for the soulful.

In French, window shopping is leche-vitrines (literally, licking windows). Passing Joe’s bright canvases, I had the nearly irresistible urge to leche-tableaux.

A view from the galleries into the gallery.

Joe with his program writer and designer.

Admirers and fellow leche-tableauxists:

After, outside in the damp, the world seemed refreshed. I found Paul with Renko and Stu Dempster standing in the middle of the street like amazed children.

Don’t miss this show! At Grover/Thurston Gallery, 309 Occidental Ave. S., through December 13th.