Monday, November 11, 2019

Good Signs in Singapore

Back in September we were lunching in San Anselmo with Doug Woodring our friend from Hong Kong. To say that Doug is a BIG thinker is an understatement. As co-founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance, he travels the world, convening conferences and cleanups. For his latest BIG MOVE — he initiated the travel from Bruges to Singapore of the Skyscraper AKA the Bruges Whale designed by New York-based architecture and design firm StudioKCA for the 2018 Bruges Triennial. 

We were doing as we always do when we get together with Doug — brainstorming about user-friendly ways to message about plastic. To deal with the tragic mess of plastic we talked about how to make the question of plastic — a puzzle? a fun game? a treasure hunt? We told him about the interactive activity we developed for the Oakland Museum asking visitors—"Can you find a piece of plastic (in our installation) and tell a story about it?"




Since writing about what we find is an important part of our art practice, one thing led to another. We ended up selecting some fun and findable items on the Skyscraper Whale then writing the text for the Singapore signs. 


CAN YOU FIND ME? 




















This pic from The Straits Times Plastic Whale Breaches for the Sky. 

By the look on that little girls face, clearly the whale is a hit. And we hear from Doug that the signs are doing what they are supposed to do  engaging the public in a fun (and sometimes puzzling) way — causing people to stop and take a closer look. And that is a good sign.

The Whale will be on display in front of the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands until December 19 when it embarks on an Asia Pacific tour.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

As Above, So Below

We are so pleased and soooo darn proud to announce that our beach plastic is in Baltimore, yes, Baltimore, that Baltimore —  gracing the entrance corridor at the American Visionary Art Museum, October 5, 2019 until September 6, 2020 in a must-see exhibition, The Secret Life of Earth: Alive! Awake! (And possibly really Angry!)

And if that title of the show is not enough to get you to go then maybe Trump's tweets will encourage you to visit this fine American city that has its maritime history on display in the Inner Harbor and one of the premier bio-medical research centers on the planet — how about Johns Hopkins University. Plus, it is home to the Lethal Ladies of Baltimore from Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. We would just love, love for Trump to be in the same room with them. They would show him a thing or two.

AVAM Director Rebecca Hoffberger describes the what/where of our installation:
“As our entry floor dramatically ramps and curves upward, the whole of the ceiling assembly will be the most dramatic and beautiful welcome for all our visitors. Beach plastic garlands will be strung, bowed, horizontally. In between we will hang, also from the ceiling, a beach chair and table dangling at a crazy angle, along with as many objects of interest. Next to that will be my essay on plastic punctuated by the small global plastic toys and items that made their way from afar to your park land beach. Behind our front desk, will be displayed on an 86” tv monitor, the dramatic wind and water, neon colored-temperature coded, real-time, Goddard Space Flight Institute-generated, glorious images of the actual world oceans swirling and continuously interacting as well as their world wind interactive - hypnotic and far better than any giant lava lamp!” 

With that in mind we shipped off a big box- yes BIG box packed full of plastic. 







We have been flying high watching from afar as our a freight load of “stuff” that we sent to Baltimore was being installed. We knew that the visionary AVAM team would make us look good and did they ever. When friend Arlene saw the pics she exclaimed, It’s as if the sky sprouted Miro!!! That blue — so deep blue as the sky or deep blue as the ocean is the perfect setting for As Above, So Below.






We are thrilled that the reporter from the Baltimore Sun in her review Is Climate Change Art? picked our work as a ”must-see.” We never imagined that when we started picking up plastic — doing what we call “planetary housekeeping” — that our collection would be “news.” Her description of “the adult equivalent of an infant’s crib mobile” is apt. The bold, bright colors against the blue, the soft breeze from the HVAC, do create an effect that we hope will captivate visitors so they stop and stare at the strange and the familiar and come to the question — was that once mine?


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Best and Brightest


It really was the most beautiful day to go to the beach — temperature at 86° a luxurious warm, no wind and nary a trace of fog.  The sun so brilliant, it shattered all records of illuminated grandeur.


A visit with Rebecca Didomenico is always to the brim with inspiration. We walked the walk and talked the talk about art and imagination and how to best represent.

In the deep of night I turned to her gift of her latest book Flying Inside Paper, 60 poems and images, published on the occasion of her 60th birthday to celebrate her 60 years of creative life. And wouldn’t ya know, as it happened, the pages fell open to the most moving of reflections about her mother Ann Stephens who I had the great good fortune to befriend for some 30 years.


Noticing is The Only Witness of Memory Left 

Did anyone notice the moon? 
It’s glorious, she said, with more than enough light 
pouring out of her eyes.
Even though, lately 
her eyes are devoid of anything 
remotely luminous 
not to mention glorious.
Now she sits at the table, 
not eating, not making connections 
to the words coming out of our mouths.
Every once in a while, 
she spells a random word out loud,
as if to make it belong to the conversation in her mind.

And I know how she feels: 
how sometimes 
the words fall short of their meanings 
And how they seem to be bumper cars 
colliding in the cover of night.

And I think about how my husband used to say,
If I hear one more time 
how that plum tree is the most beautiful tree in the world 
Or this restaurant is the best one she’s ever eaten at,
I will scream. 
And I say, think about the alternative;
sitting there for eternity with a bitter old woman 
who can’t hold the splendor in anything. 
And because, sometimes 
my husband has an uncharacteristic ability 
to surprise you with his talent for learning, 
He turns to her,
The half of his face next to mine in darkness,
and says, I notice, dear,
What would we be without her!
(meaning, of course, my mother 
and the moon simultaneously),

and our Alleluia, Glory be to God!
And to all of us here, still able to witness, 

I whisper inside.

  
                 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Coastal Clean Up Day 2019


Clementine marched and held her sign high at the Global Climate Strike in San Francisco on Friday then put her words into action with her brother Aloysius on Saturday with us on Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore.

It was a glorious day for climate in action — gentle waves, soft ocean breezes, the perfect shoes-off temperature to wiggle toes in the sand.

We like to say Coastal Clean Up Day is our Christmas, our Yom Kipper, our Ramadan, our Dewali, too. It is the day we join with others in an international effort to do what we do on a regular basis. Our religious fervor for the planet is expressed in the concept of halakha, meaning the walk the walk or take the path sometimes translated as law, which guides many aspects of daily life.

Slather on that sunscreen, grab your collecting bags, don your Pick Me Up Bag and come-on, let’s get going. 


After a check-in at the table set by docents from the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, the kids were primed by the display of plastic caps and David Liittschwager's pic of the stomach contents of a Laysan Albatross. Yes, their wingspan is twelve feet!




We are on the case to collect plastic. Come-on, let's get going. 



But this time of year, the nadir of the plastic seasonal cycle, is not prime time for collecting.
Some particpants complained about the dearth so instead of Coastal Clean Up Day in September we propose a day where celebrants of the sea go to the edge and bow to the mighty forces of the ocean. Our vote is to have coastal clean-up in April when the Winter/Spring currents bring the plastic in. The north flowing Humboldt Current brings debris out to the Gyre in Summer/Fall. Maybe the Fall event should be Beach Appreciation Day! 


Although there was scant plastic there were plenty of other reasons to be at the beach. On the lookout, the deep search was on — a tide line dig for sandcrabs, Pacific Mole Crabs.





A delicious reward for a fine day at the beach — a Water Buffalo milk gelato cone, a soft serve swirl of salted caramel and vanilla.





From the newswire: 
Tens of thousands of Californians turned out to take part in the 35th California Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest annual volunteer event, organized by the California Coastal Commission.

They gathered hundreds of tons of trash at beaches, shorelines and inland waterways, cleaning up at over 1,000 sites in 55 of California’s 58 counties -- the largest collection of sites in the cleanup’s history. Cleanups took place up and down the coast, from the Oregon to Mexico border, and as far inland as Lake Tahoe. California’s event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy.

With 75% of the cleanup sites reporting,

the statewide count stands at 59,772 volunteers.

Those volunteers picked up 469,100 pounds of trash
and an additional 33,611 pounds of recyclable materials,
for a total of 402,710 pounds or 251 tons.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Plastic Garbage Project

The Plastic Garbage Project just keeps on keeping on.
Now to the Americas.
In Uruguay until October 18.




Nurdle, nurdle, who can find the nurdle? 
These girls continue to search.
Our nurdles from Kehoe Beach continue to confound.



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Eco Echo

Eco Echo: Unnatural Selection

Exhibitions by San Francisco Bay Area artists on the subject of global and local ecologies

Artists: Anne Beck, Barbara Boissevain, Ginger Burrell, Judith Selby Lang, Richard Lang, Kent Manske, Michelle Wilson, Nanette Wylde

Exhibition Statement

We live in a time of heightened ecological awareness and denial. Climate change, environmental degradation, species extinction, bio-engineering, and genetic modifications are just a few of the issues in which actions, decisions and consequences are engaging our social and political conversations. 

Ecology also refers to a sort of housekeeping--the manner and nature with which environments are cared for. Technology and the increased scale of our actions has resulted in ecological effects which transcend physical borders, often causing individual entities to lose control of the care and quality of their physical existence; and providing others opportunities for both care taking and/or exploitation. 

Our understanding of ecological issues is tied to the wonder and magnificence of science; the scope and reach of which has permeated our existence. Science continues to discover, uncover and invent phenomena beyond common comprehension, often inserting these into our personal lives without our knowledge, consent, or well-being as priorities.The scientific paradigm provides many positive outcomes yet these often include harmful and sometimes unacknowledged negative effects. Monoculture, medical interventions, genetically modified foods, robotics, and pharmaceuticals are obvious examples. These concerns encircle our planet, and with each minute movement, create waves of concern and delight--echos which reverberate in the lives, if not the minds, of earth's inhabitants. 

Eco Echo: Unnatural Selection presents an array of artists who respond to aspects of our ecological environment in unexpected and diverse ways. Each artist is grappling with some ecological concern, creating echos which are celebratory, poignant, beautiful, complex, and provide opportunity for audience examination and reflection.

Exhibition History

Gallery Route One, September 13 - October 20, 2019
Point Reyes, California
pdf Gallery Guide for Eco Echo at Gallery Route One

ARTLab at Cubberly, September 15 - 23, 2018
Eco Echo: Art and Environment Laboratory
with a CoLABorative screen printing event, offered free during the opening reception, a Kokedama hanging art garden workshop, and more!

WORKS/San José, March 3 - April 15, 2018
pdf Gallery Guide for Eco Echo at WORKS San José







Sunday, July 14, 2019

Gift from the Sea


Judith writes:

Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea has long been a source of inspiration. Her meditations on youth and age, peace and solitude, contemplation and creativity are as relevant today as they were in 1955 when the book was published. Over the years I have read and re-read her musings, taking her metaphors of seashells to heart. In those days plastic did not wash ashore. 
Today, at the edge of the Pacific where, as a pilgrim, I meandered the high tide line of Kehoe Beach, I unfurled the long line of scotch tape that holds the wisdom of her words. After months of meticulous work using tape to "lift" the words from the book, it was a momentous occasion to finally see the continuous line appear as if washed ashore, as a gift from the sea...










Adrift in the toss of the wrack, along the edge of eel grass and kelp, where the land meets the sea, the line of the book reminds that... 

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea” 

Another gift from the sea came on a life-changing day in 1999 when Richard Lang, on our first date, introduced me to Kehoe Beach. On that day, he gave the gift of a place that has become the site of our enduring devotion. We've been there hundreds of times to gather plastic debris washing out of the Pacific Ocean. From this one beach we have collected over two tons (and counting) of material. By carefully collecting and "curating" the bits of plastic, we fashion it into works of art that matter-of-factly show, with minimal artifice, the material as it is. This place has become the source of the palette for our creative collaboration. But, it is not just the plastic that brings us here again and again. It's the skittering of the sandpipers and the swoop of the Peregrin Falcons, the ocean breezes and the rhythm of the waves, the swell of the dunes and the vastness of the horizon. 

At the end of the afternoon as I gathered the length of tape to bring it home, in the tangled piles and in the final words of the book I discovered the message of the day:
We tend not to choose the unknown which might be a shock or a disappointment or simply a little difficult to cope with. And yet, it is the unknown with all its disappointments and surprises that is the most enriching. 

There are more shells to find. This is only the beginning.
  


The treasured gift of the embrace of friends and family.