Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Where's the remote?

It was picture perfect on the Bay - perfect for Coastal Clean Up Day where some 900 volunteers turned out in Marin and an estimated 800,000 people worldwide joined forces to remove garbage from creeks, marshes, waterways, rivers, and beaches. Coastal Clean Up Day is billed as the biggest volunteer effort on the planet. And the amount of trash collected is staggering. The tally to date in Marin is 10,800 pounds and counting. The global total is expected to exceed 18 million pounds.

Where's the remote? was the question of the day as we invited people to sit and enjoy the 24/7 programming on our TV set.  Although we were ready-set for super-HD 4K resolution viewing pleasure, it seems that there is nothing but junk on the tube, just a live feed from SEA-SPAN. 

The day after, although feeling a bit worn out, we are feeling triumphant to have come through a difficult passage - how great to be on the other side of what could have remained a bitter tragedy. When the original piece Cascade, containing bottles from all around the Pacific Rim from Malaysia, Singapore, India, Japan, Russia, Korea and of course, China and all collected at Kehoe Beach was inadvertently tossed in the recycle bin we felt a great piece of "show don't tell" art was lost. What better way to talk about plastic pollution as a global problem? 

The Burning Man community came to the rescue. Bottles have been sent to us from Haiti, El Salvador, China, France, Germany, Brazil. Bottles are still arriving.

When a young girl looked at the label on one of the bottles and exclaimed- this bottle is from El Salvador! my dad is from El Salvador! In that moment all of the stress and hard work that went into the collecting of the bottles was suddenly worth it. 

Special thanks for the many contributors to Cascade. 

Special thanks to: 
Joanne Jarvis park ranger and Marin County volunteer coordinator.
Margaret Farley who goes for the count, precinct by precinct as teams report in with their totals. 
The Lions Club who cook up the BBQ feast. 
Ben and Jerry's who donate a cart full of ice cream including Stephen Colbert's AmeriCone Dream and Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz.
and to the thousands of volunteers who help to make it a fun fab day.

Such a pleasure to enjoy time with friends Bob Beto Gonsalves and Christine Kristen who cleaned up at Kirby Cove before heading to the Bay Model for the BBQ  They snapped this pic:  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Ready Set

Every week for years, we tuned in to watch Detective Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue work through the machinations of police troubles in the 15th Precinct of Manhattan. Before we got together Richard had already been watching since the programs inception in 1993. He never missed! A TV show can become a part of the family. When the show concluded in 2005 we were adrift in our ambivalence until we became fans of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

We did get caught in the Game of Thrones magic like the other 23.3 million viewers and enjoyed every Sunday evening with dinner and the show with neighbors Daniel and Taylor.

This summer we were especially dazzled by gymnastics rhythmic (is that really a sport?) and artistic and all the Olympic sports in Brazil. 

But, if we had to name a show as "our show", we'd say Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown is our fav with the right combination of food and insightful commentary on politics and culture. He travels to exotic locals with - what's for supper? as the abiding question. 

When our ages-old Samsung TV went kaput we bought one of the new HD big flat screens with super-duper resolution. We wondered what to do with the old set. Throw it away? but, where is away? Richard took apart the internal workings, revealing the intricate electronic circuitry inside. We poured a layer of resin on the back side of the screen and embedded beach plastic making a picture perfect high-res in brilliant color. 

Now our Samsung is ready for the 2016 fall season and even though it is Smart 4K Ultra HD, it seems that there is nothing but junk on the tube— all we get is a live feed from Congress on SEA-SPAN; a whole load of crap.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Although it has been years since we had given the book Winnie the Pooh a serious read, after seeing the movie at the Disney Museum we realized it was time to revisit the profound philosophies in this so-called "tales for children." John Tyerman Williams in his scholarly book Pooh and the Philosophers describes Jean Paul Sartre's major philosophical work Being and Nothingness as "the longest single footnote" to Winnie the Pooh ever written. He believes that Sartre's wordy discourse about existential nothingness can be summed up in these succinct and sage words:

"What I like doing best is Nothing."
"How do you do Nothing," asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
"Oh!" said Pooh.

From start to finish, our Disney day was nothing but pure magic. We meandered from the fantastic landscape of Walt's world to dancing in the waves and digging in the sand at Crissy Field we had, in fact, taken Pooh to heart. We don't need much to make us happy - a little sand, a little surf and an active imagination.

It was a fine day for fun with family plus this shiny plastic wrapper found washed up in the tideline, that says it allhow very fortunate we are!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Time after Time

When Anand Pandian, anthropologist and scholar from Johns Hopkins University, arrived we had some idea about what he had in mind for his visit - something about spending the first day taking a deep look at our beach plastic with his eye turned toward our collection as an example of the Anthropocene; spending the second day at Kehoe Beach collecting plastic so that he could observe us in action. 

But when he walked in carrying a beautiful bouquet of local flowers that he described as part of the slow flowers movement, it was an generous expression of thanks and a foreshadowing of the conversations about time that were to become the leitmotif of his visit. 

From discussions about locally sourced flowers to the eons of geological time; from the thrill of finding clastic plastiglomerate at Kehoe Beach to the counting of every piece of plastic we picked up (754) it was an expansive two days of thought-provoking that left us full of many more really good questions than answers. 

When he departed with a ribbon of yellow polypropylene rope for a bracelet, he was ready to make a "fashion statement" about plastic on the beach. As soon as the rope was around his wrist, in the habit of looking a watch, he did a double- take as he quizzically considered that yellow band and the knot. Then, in an AH-HA moment of creative insight, he looked up and pronounced the bracelet a watch — the rope had become a time keeper of geological proportion and a reminder of keeping a "watch" on our human activity.

The question:
What time is it?
The answer: 
It all depends on how you look at it.
The question: 
What time would you like it to be?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


When designer Anja Brunt and illustrator Tineke Meirink invited our participation in Trashures, it was a dream come true.

This dynamic duo, intrigued by the beauty of the mundane, with a keen eye for stylish clean lines of European design, brought together 15 international artists who repurpose trash in inventive and beautiful ways.

Several years ago we were encouraged by a book agent to write a cookbook style DIY book about our beach plastic project. Although we love to cook, when thinking about the how-to-make crafty plastic, we tried and failed. We even went so far as to conduct a focus-group to help us develop hands-on activities.

Anja and Tineke have done it!  Their beautifully designed book with step-by step instructions is the fulfillment of an idea we had wrestled with then abandoned. They have cooked it up right. 

Soup's on…

Order Trashures here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Great Masters

Any afternoon at the Louvre there are students with easels and paints learning to read the vocabulary of the palette and brushstrokes of the likes of Delacroix or Rembrandt. It's a time-honored tradition to copy the great masters.

One day as we meandered through the galleries at the MET we watched in amazement as artists painted in full view of the watchful eye of the critical public. Later that day at the MOMA we LOL when we imagined copying the precise lines of a classic Agnes Martin or replicating the energetic drips of an iconic Jackson Pollock.

When we were invited to exhibit our work in the SFMOMA Artist Windows we knew it would be the perfect place to present our "copies" of Jackson Pollock paintings. These three "paintings" were composed of snarls of rope and ghost netting that we unraveled skein by skein then arranged as if they were abstract expressionist gestures of pours and drips of paint. We discovered it is not as easy as it looks! Our compositions were photographed then enlarged and printed on to canvas. It was a thrill to watch people as they walked by, did a double-take, then exclaimed, "Hey, I didn't know the museum had that Pollock."

Since we know the educational value of copying (not plagiarizing) to gain a deeper understanding of the creative process we were honored when students at the Lakeside Art Studio in San Francisco used our beach plastic project as inspiration of their own work with plastic. For months they collected broken toys and household plastic. After sorting it by color, they fashioned it into both permanent and impermanent, individual and group artworks. They made wreathes, hearts and abstract arrangements and using the plastic as stamps they even made prints. From the looks of it, they learned their lessons and are well on their way to being Great Masters. 

Kudos to Michelle Adelsheim aka "Mrs. A", the Lakeside teaching team and the student artists for this photo essay of their remarkable work: HERE. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lovin' the dots

We know how much you love polka dots so we thought you might like to see our "drought dots" cut from Astroturf salvaged from the soccer field at Marin Academy when they replaced their old fashioned plastic sports lawn for the new improved (still plastic) synthetic turf.

The contractors had tossed big rolls of the stuff into the dumpster. While driving Judith did a double take, came to a screeching halt, turned her car around and headed back. Not sure what we might do with this amazing find, nevertheless she filled her car to the brim.

There is much discussion about the efficacy of this turf and the possible detrimental health effects of the off-gassing of the plastic, even so we have LOL watching folks amused by our circular lawn and especially since it stayed bright green even during the drought.

For the kids the dots are perfect shoe putting-on islands and they have made a hop-scotch game of jumping from round to round.

With the green, the spotted pattern on the fawns doesn't camouflage like it does with brown leaves and dappled light, but mom doesn't mind. Here they are just out our front door — lovin' the dots.