Monday, March 25, 2019

Here is the Sea

From the gallery statement:
"Here is the Sea brings together artworks that use the ocean and its coasts as a site for investigating the fraught relationship between humans and nature. Richmond is a city with thirty-two miles of shoreline, and through this exhibition visitors to the Richmond Art Center are invited to reflect on what is at stake and what has already been lost in our local maritime environment. The exhibition presents a range of environmental work, from political pieces with critical messages for social action, to works exploring more subtle, personal impulses that shape our relationship to water.

Artists: Stephen Bruce, Christy Chan, Tanja Geis, Marie-Luise Klotz, Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, Love the Bulb Performers, Katie Revilla, Jos Sances, Dimitra Skandali"

Curator Amy Spencer was brilliant in her selection of artists and her arrangement of the exhibition space. On the wall that spans one side of the gallery is Jos Sances masterwork The Whale and just opposite on a free-free-standing black wall are three of our photographs of single nurdles each floating in a sea of rich black. With his to-scale scratch-board drawing of one of the largest creatures in the ocean and our enlargements 300x of the smallest pieces of plastic in the ocean, the compare and contrast are extreme.

Thanks to Noah and Kris Lang at Electric Works for their expert digital imaging and printing who made our grain of sand BB-sized nurdles look awesome at 32” x 32”.

Talk about apocalyptic sublime — the pesky poisonous pre-production plastic pellets look sooo beautiful. The luminous sheen of the nurdles floating in the thick saturation of the black on black background. 

Our photographs are titled:
Oma # I Oma #II and Golden Seven

“Oma” (grandmother) and “Opa” (grandfather) are used as pet names for grandmother or grandfather in Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands.

-oma. A suffix meaning “tumor” or “cancer,” as in carcinoma. Often, the suffix is added to the name of the affected body part, as in lymphoma, sarcoma, carcinoma.
“word-forming element, from Greek -oma , with lengthened stem vowel + -ma , suffix forming neuter nouns and nouns that indicate result of verbal action (equivalent of Latin -men ); especially taken in medical use as "morbid growth, tumor.”

With OMA as the title for our nurdle photos we are combining two different (sweet and sour) and seemingly disparate uses of the word. Nurdles are the ur-source, the grandmother, of all manufactured items made from plastic and they are one of the most pernicious, cancerous pieces of plastic in the ocean.

To show nurdles actual size, two gold rings with nurdles replacing the diamonds and a scatter of nurdles are presented like rare jewels. Lest we forget:

Like diamonds, plastic is forever….

In the entry way corridor our banner No Room for Sand greets visitors to the exhibition:

Here is a blog post about nurdles

Here is a blog post about beach plastic jewelry

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Big Step

As an artist one of the great rewards is to have a vision then be able to realize it. The double-triple reward is to have encouragement and support to do so.

Thanks to Steve Costa and the Geography of Hope conference team, this weekend we were able to take a big step forward with our beach plastic shoes. We did walk the walk, realizing the vision that was sparked in a conversation back in November with Steve at a benefit party for Michael Stocker’s Ocean Conservation Research.  Brainstorming ensued and before we knew it our shoes were leading the way into the conference.

During lunch our shoes were piled on the lawn in an arrangement that invited lively discussion and questions about the shoes and their arrival on the beach and the suggestion of a game matching possible and unlikely pairs — how about a croc with a loafer? or that high heel with a flipflop? Our sign posts offered a place to pause and consider philosophical thoughts about the meaning of the pilgrimage.

The next morning the conference community gathered for a special pilgrimage walk to the Miwok Village Kule Loklo. As the troop headed up the hill, someone exclaimed, “There are those shoes!!! At dawn, in secret, a line of shoes was drawn along the trail so that they would be an unexpected greeting, connecting the dots from Kehoe Beach to the Dance Palace to the Woodpecker Trail. 

That shout of recognition was all that was needed to make it all worthwhile.
“There are those shoes!!!”

Yes, quite a journey. So it goes and on it goes…

Friday, March 15, 2019

Pilgrimage of Soles

Over 100 + shoes and soles we have collected from Kehoe Beach will be presented on March 16 during the day at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station as an art installation for the Geography of Hope Conference. Our beach soles will greet people as they enter the conference in the morning and will send them on their way in the evening. During lunch we will be available at a “shoe station” for people to try on the shoes and experience what it means to walk in another persons shoes. On Sunday morning the shoes will be placed at the trailhead of Woodpecker Trail as people embark on the community pilgrimage walk.

Since 1999 Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, as a collaborative team, have been visiting Kehoe Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore. We have rambled 1000 meters of this tideline hundreds of times to gather plastic debris washing out of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way we have collected boxes of shoe parts, heels, padded inserts, flip-flops, and whole shoes, shoes that have been on a journey over land and sea. Never a pair, just one right or one left. Tattered and worn, each poses a question, about where it came from and the ocean currents that connect us all. Each shoe has a story to tell.  

“Not until we are lost do we begin 
to understand ourselves.”

—Henry David Thoreau

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, 
but it is the journey that matters in the end.” 

– Ursula K. Le Guin

 “Do not seek to walk in the footsteps 
of the wise men of old, seek what they sought.” 

– Matsuo Bashō 

"It feels good to be lost in the right direction.” 

– Anonymous

“You’re off to Great Places! 
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, 
So… get on your way!”  

– Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“Only those who will risk going too far 
can possibly find out how far one can go.” 

– T.S. Eliot

“Each day is a journey, 
and the journey itself is home.” 

– Matsuo Bashō

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

– Jawaharial Nehru

 If you understand—                               things are just as they are. 

If you do not understand—                        things are just as they are. 

—Zen saying

"When I let go of what I am, 
I become what I might be." 

– Lao Tzu

 “All journeys have secret destinations 
of which the traveler is unaware.”
  — Martin Buber

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.   – Stephen Wright

One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.   – Henry Miller

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.   – Confucius

"Follow your star and you will never fail to find your glorious port."   Dante Alighieri

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer.”  John Muir

“Walking is also an ambulation of mind.”     Gretel Ehrlich

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Seal Show

Just this last Saturday we headed out to Drakes Beach to enjoy the Elephant Seal Show that was been delighting visitors to the Point Reyes National Seashore. Thanks to the government shutdown, for several weeks there were no rangers to shoo the massive creatures away. So they hauled out and proceeded to pup and mate in record numbers. And then people came out in record numbers to see them bust a move (or not). This stationary behemoth we named the “Blubber Burrito” some 5,000 pounds of fun. Our neighbor Rudi has been serving as a docent so was able to get this video of this hefty guy making his moves.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 19, 2019

We had no idea that Taylor, our next neighbor, otherwise a very sane person, is jigsaw puzzle addict. Took her no time at all to complete the 500 pieces from our "Buffet" series co-produced with Ocean Recovery Alliance. 

As an aficionado, she explained that the variety of colors and objects in the image made it fun and a bit easier to do. When we showed her the design with the expanse of sand, she exclaimed — ohhhh too hard. A point well taken as we continue our test-marketing. 

She was thrilled with the completed puzzle. We all agreed, it does look good and has a beautiful shimmer, as does Taylor.

Truth to Power and the Blue Wave were the themes for this years Women's March. Judith took both to heart and created two blue waves. One, a waving hand, and the other inspired by Hokusai's wood-block print The Great Wave off Kanagawa, both embellished with beach plastic. Because when ever, where ever, plastic and pollution should be in the conversation.  

In the run up to the March, there was much divisiveness — some think seeded by the Russian operatives sowing political discord. But in Point Reyes people showed up. People stood up. People were united by Richard leading the group in a chant:

The people united will never be defeated. 

El pueblo unidojamás será vencido!"

Friday, January 4, 2019

Cold Shoulder

With the clear and oh-so-cold mountain air we welcomed in the New Year at Lake Tahoe. 

“It is a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords.” 
Mark Twain, describing Lake Tahoe

On road trips Judith is our book-on-tape — on this drive to South Lake Tahoe she was reading aloud The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New Years Eve while out on a tear we happened upon our new-old-friend Mark Twain commemorating his many adventures in these here parts. Richard sat down with Twain to talk things over.

With Judith's sister Janis and brother-in-law Paul we wiled away some relaxing and cozy hours by the fire. Richard enjoying Consilience by E.O. Wilson and Judith working the first of our puzzles that are hot off the press. Partnering with Ocean Recovery Alliance in Hong Kong we will be offering in 2019 jigsaw puzzles in two styles that we intend to sell in museums and gift stores. 
“Littoral” — in situ images of plastic pollution in the environment 
“Buffet” — colorful, eye-dazzling artistic arrangements of plastic
Promoted as a stimulating opportunity for education, awareness building, and fun, each puzzle set is either 99 pieces for youth (5 and older) or 500 pieces for those who would like to be challenged with the plastic puzzle that literally and littorally impacts our global community. Challenge indeed — 99 pieces was fairly easy to complete, giving that weird sense of accomplishment when a piece fits into place. 

A brisk walk to the Tallac Historic Site had us all shivering from the cold and blistering wind coming off the lake, but not too cold for Janis who, always on the case, has a keen eye for trash.

and Judith who found one of those pesky fruit labels 

As we headed for Fallen Leaf Lake we spied a huge pile of colorful pieces of plastic at the bottom of a sledding hill — a mound of broken saucer sleds and plastic toboggans remnants of fun and crashes.

The pile of broken fragments should have been warning enough but Janis stood stalwart as "Safety Dog" warning us to be careful on the slick ice until she took a tumble that landed her in the emergency room with a broken humerus — that was not funny.

So as to not end with such a catastrophe we turn to the way Janis has transformed the catastrophe of the tinniest pieces of plastic into a beautiful revery on snow flakes. An avid Instagrammer, along with her great pics, she writes long informative posts. 

Here in the Bay Area, we know little about cold (excepting in the summery fog), but as Poet Antonio Machado says, "The cold is a good advisor, but it is cold." And...quoting something attributed to Twain but uncorroborated is the coolest thing he never said, "The coldest winter I ever saw ..."