Black bear eating from my apple tree, August night, 2012

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Manzanar National Historic Site

Some of our most interesting National Parks sites are so remote, very few people manage to visit them. Manzanar National Historic Site in California is one such place. Situated in the gorgeous but somewhat inhospitable Owens Valley on Highway 395, tucked between Death Valley to the east and the sheer escarpment of the Sierras to the west, this Historic Site is one that takes some planning and  a real desire to investigate. It is well worth your effort. Like battlefields and Native American sites managed by NPS, Manzanar serves as a poignant reminder of a dark time in our nation's history, and while sobering, the stories it tells, of the people who lived and died there, are stories we all need to know.

From the NPS brochure (boldface is mine):

"Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor led the United States into World War II, and radically changed the lives of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry living in the U.S. The attack intensified racial prejudices and led to fear of potential sabotage and espionage by Japanese Americans among some in the government, military, news media, and public. In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing
 the Secretary of War to establish Military Areas and to remove from those areas anyone who might threaten the war effort. Without due process, the government gave everyone of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast only days to decide what to do with their houses, farms, businesses, and other possessions...

...Each family was assigned an identification number and loaded into cars, buses, trucks, and trains, taking only what they could carry. Japanese Americans were transported under military guard to 17 temporary assembly centers located at racetracks, fairgrounds, and similar facilities in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona. Then they were moved to one of 10 hastily built relocation centers. By November 1942 the relocation was complete."

I am always stunned to find Americans who have no knowledge of the fact that we sent some of our citizens to internment camps here in the good-old USA during these turbulent times. Two-thirds of the people sent to Manzanar (some people call it a "concentration camp") were American citizens by birth.

Please hit the link above to learn more about this particular camp, and to find out about the uncertain futures the internees faced during this difficult time. Our freedom is everything, and these innocent, hard-working citizens did not deserve to be herded up and fenced in by the military, losing everything, due to paranoia. No matter where you stand politically, I hope you'll agree that this kind of prejudice and government action was unwarranted, and not at all in keeping in line with our Constitution. If you happen to be traveling past this remote historic place, please stop and ponder for an hour or two. Somber yet, beautiful, the time you spend here will change your world view and make you appreciate the simple freedoms we all take for granted.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Jersey Maritime Museum, Beach Haven

Recently, I spent a few days on glorious Long Beach Island, a natural, relatively quiet part of the Jersey Shore. While my intention was to play in the surf and bird watch, one day of our stay was dark and gloomy. As a torrential downpour soaked us in the town of Beach Haven, we decided to step into the New Jersey Maritime Museum to escape the storm. What a great place! The collections of maritime artifacts and historical archives are superb. I highly recommend a visit here whether raining or not the next time you have a few hours to spare in this part of the world.

Some photos of our time spent there:

Old diving suit. How did they move around in these things?

This is an actual huge lobster claw from a 40-plus pound giant plucked from the ocean, painted to look like a pirate.

Lots of information on Jersey Shore shipwrecks. Here a plaque for the victims of the sinking of the Powhatan.

Bottles retrieved by shipwreck divers

Looking down from second floor. Note all the artwork, and life ring from days gone by.

While much of the subject matter is serious, whimsical touches keep it lively. Here, a pirate figurine
 swings in the window overlooking visitors.

Creepy/cute sailor doll in a maritime toy display
Something for "Jaws" fans

Friday, April 12, 2013

MASKS Art Exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Art

I'm happy to be contributing art to this year's "Masks" fundraiser and show at our local art museum. Last Friday's opening was a huge success and I was really impressed by the talent and the diversity of creative ideas featured. I encourage anyone in the area to check out the exhibit, vote for their favorite, and even place a bid or two. Here's my submission--"Sugar Skull," a Mexican "Day of the Dead" piece.

Here's more information on the show, from the museum's recent email:

"Now on display are 206 masks for the museum's annual fundraiser. Until May 3 you have the opportunity not only to admire the masks, but also to bid on them silent-auction style. Bids start at $40.00 and everyone can bid!

There were 1,377 people who came through during First Friday Gallery Walk with a waiting line out the front door - awesome. One mask already has a bid of $1,200.00! However there are plenty of masks available at the opening bid amount – stop in today to find your favorite.

Below is more information about this event.

Silent Auction
Over 200 masks are on display in the Main Gallery and Gallery 101 which is the student gallery. Each mask has been created by members of our community from all walks of life. They have generously donated their time and creativity to benefit the exhibitions and educational programs of Fort Collins Museum of Art.

How to Bid
 1. Obtain a bid number card from volunteers at the reception desk and throughout the galleries. Fill out the bottom of the bid card and return to the reception desk. Use your bid number to bid on your favorite masks. Bid sheets are located near each mask, be sure that you are bidding on the correct mask and please write legibly!
2. All masks have a beginning bid of $40.00 but you may start the bidding higher. Be sure your bid amount is at least $5.00 above the former bid.
3. Come back often to check if you're still the highest bidder. The Silent Auction closes on Friday, May 3rd, at 9:00 p.m.
4. The winning bidders will be called on Wednesday, May 8 to pick up their masks May 8 – May 12. Payment will be collected at that time.

Phantom Gems
 As you go through the museum you will see an image of the Phantom of the Opera mask. This image signifies that the mask has a Phantom Gem attached to it. The gem could be tennis lessons, admission to an event or a basket of goodies!

Please read the bid sheet for the mask to learn about the Phantom Gem attached to it.

When bidding on the mask, please consider the value of the Phantom Gem that goes with it. The winning bidder of the mask also wins the Phantom Gem – two lovely items with one bid!

People's Choice Voting
You may vote for your favorite mask as the People's Choice. The winning mask artist will receive a family membership to the museum. Ballots and an acrylic ballot box are located in the reception area.

Gala Masks and Proxy Bids
 If you bid on a Gala Mask you are bidding on mask that goes to the Gala Celebration at Embassy Suites on April 20. If you cannot attend this event, you may give us your proxy bid and we will continue to bid for you at the gala. Gala Celebration reservations are $125.00 per person. Reservations must be made by April 12. Please talk to Gloria or April for more information."

For those who are interested, my mask comes with a "Phantom" gift of cupcakes from a local bakery, so if you win the mask, you win those too.

Here's a link to the web site.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Beach in a Bowl"

This post is a little bit late, but I still like the idea so much I am sharing. This year for the holidays, instead of a tray of cookies for some of my friends, I gave a "Beach in a Bowl." Here's a photo of my Bowl Assembly Line on my dining room table.

I was lucky enough to be able to gather gorgeous seashells in Florida in December, which I took home, cleaned, and coated with a very light varnish. (These were all washed-up shells. Taking live shells is illegal and wrong.) A good friend mailed me sugar-white sand from her home in the Panhandle (thanks Linda!), and I found nice, 6" diameter glass globe-bowls at the Dollar Store. Small starfish came from a beach shop selling souvenirs. For those whose bowl was being hand delivered, I put one cup of sand in each bowl, then laid flattish sea shells like tiles on the sand. Next, I made sure each bowl got a nice variety of large and medium-sized shells in various colors. Finally, I sprinkled small shells on top, and placed a starfish in the mix. Each bowl also got something unique--a piece of driftwood, a "sea bean," beach glass, a piece of coral, or a sea worm shell.

For my friends whose gift had to be shipped, shells and sand were packaged in separate Ziploc bags, the starfish was wrapped in tissue, and the bowl got swathed in both paper and bubble wrap. Each recipient was able to assemble his or her own "beach."

If you live near a supply of sea shells, you might like this idea as a gift. In the past I have also made a "Beach in a Bottle" using a wide-mouthed, cork-stoppered bottle (from Pier One) laid on its side, ala "Ship in a Bottle." Be sure you get nice clean sand to use. If your beach's sand is not up to par, a trip to the craft store for some bright white sand may be in order.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Year, New Art, New Challenges

For the new year, I've decided to branch out and explore new media and new projects at the studio. In late 2012, I returned to my cartoon roots (I used to illustrate greeting cards decades ago) and played with animal portraits I called "Animals with Attitude" (above examples). These pen and ink and watercolor designs have proved popular with my personal circle of friends, so I've decided to offer high-quality repros of them in my Etsy shop.

Additionally, Canyon Wren's Nest (me!) invested in a new top-end professional printer. This machine produces gallery quality images and accepts many different paper types, sizes, and thicknesses, so I'm excited to try out new media (in addition to the archival watercolor stock I already favor). And in my experimentation with the new technology, I've discovered the museum quality photographs I've been printing are gorgeous, so I'm also offering select photo prints at the Etsy shop as well.

Because of the enhanced capabilities of the new printer, I'm finally able to run larger versions of some of my pieces on watercolor stock. I get many requests for this "African Lion" image larger than the 8-1/2" x 11" size, so it's thrilling to be able to offer a bigger version on 13" x 19" stock.

Click on any of the images above to be directed to more information on my Etsy shop.

I look forward to expanding my artistic horizons and experimenting with new paint, paper, and techniques in the upcoming months. As always, thanks to everyone for the continued support.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter Evening at the Studio

Anyone who has attempted watercolor painting knows that quality natural light is essential to the process. You need soft but  intense natural light to illuminate the paper as you work, and to assist you in mixing just the right colors on your palette.

For me, the best natural light in my studio begins in March, due to my western facing window and the position of the sun at that time of year. So for now, while I do get a few "good" hours to paint on a sunny winter day, if the skies are dark, and of course, at night, I have to busy myself with other studio-related tasks, like promotion, organizing, fulfilling orders, etc.

Well, last night I realized the studio was a bit untidy and I attempted to clean and straighten out the room. I tend to work with a bit of disarray, but after the holiday rush to fill gift orders, the place looked like a tornado had come through. After a well-spent hour, things looked better, and in the light of day this morning, look better still. Thought some of you might enjoy a peek at nighttime in my art studio. As you can see, I surround myself with things that aren't art supplies, but that do make me smile and add a touch of whimsy.

My betta, Bert

I love wooden toys

Wooden alligator puzzle and coaster from Paris

I have an extensive English Bulldog collection, most of which is on a shelf in the kitchen

Wooden pig marionette

1960's light fixture draped with fabric

This cheap inflatable globe is frighteningly accurate

I use a 1930's vanity to hold supplies

Toys, etc.

A New York Times crossword puzzle is handy to have around while waiting for paint to dry. The transistor radio that I still use is at least 20 years old and was purchased on a camping trip to the Tetons.