I’m growing…

First things first: head over to www.chaosbeyond.wordpress.com.

That’s where it’s all going DOWN.


You’re still here? Well at least check out some of my other posts on this one, I think I moved this and this and the rest all over from the knightlibrarybootcamp class site

Happily enough, things are going pretty darn well — despite the stresses that come from both the outside and the inside — I want to share where I’m headed with you readers who were here from the beginning. I’m going to head extra-back to chaosbeyond.wordpress.com to share where I’m headed in this ChaosBeyond. Ha, I coined that back from the very beginning: ChaosBeyond..it still rings true.

via I’m growing….

This link here has early pieces from my whole cohort (we started 10 strong and now are down to 8, the core group, each one is brilliant in their own unique and creative way!!)

Written one(-ish) year ago today(-ish): “I want to be a journalist and write about what I think is cool. It would be great if I could actually find people to pay me for this..not holding my breath.”

Well, that was written whenever I joined, probably a year or less ago. I arrived to Eugene ONE YEAR AGO ’bout exactly. I’ve grown. Grad school multiplied my already high-stress and anxiety-filled way of looking at the world BUT, I’ve rolled with the punches, am learning Kung Fu with the brand new love of my life and now tutor science for UO and LCC undergrads, am interning for Eugene (alt-)Weekly (and adoring it and learning exponentially..for..free..? AND getting published to how many readers.

So, all that said, I’m still battling the underlying issues but just the very fact that I’m not keeping my head *completely* down while I barrel along is kinda what keeps me barrelling along.

Thanks for reading! ❤

-stacebird [*][*]

Categories: Uncategorized

A painter's craft, Tilke Elkins and the art of creation

July 15, 2011 1 comment

The forest awaits.

Imagine getting to know a piece of the forest. Not just standing on a trail and admiring the view, but rather immersing yourself in the wilderness around you. Make the effort to get down on hands and knees and inspect this world, taking it in from every angle. Brush your fingers along the bark and branches; feel the shape and intricacies of a stone; hold your head close over the water to see the details of a streambed.

This is what painter Tilke Elkins does. Why does she do it? And why does she return to the same spot again and again, examining it from all variety of perspectives?

This is simply her unique process of creating a painting.

In an interview she describes how, from the beginning of a her work through to the final brushstroke, “every stage has significant cohesions of meaning…not in the part of the work that can be seen, but in what can be felt.”

Ultimately, she wants the process to speak for itself. “Whatever feels the most resonant, I go with it; I respond.” She say how she focuses on “melding conscious observation with intuition- but measuring, to a certain degree.”

Tilke Elkins in The Voyeur Art Gallery

Elkins stands next to her artwork that is hung on the wall in the airy Voyeur Gallery. She is lit by the late afternoon sunshine creeping in through an open door that leads out to Blair Street. An audience is crowded in the small space. They are listening to Elkins speak about the various abstract paintings that fill the surrounding, clean white walls. Long strips of hung fabric, dyed in light earth-tones, flutter in the soft breeze that moves through the gallery.

Now a Eugene local -though native to Montreal- Elkins is the artist of focus this month at the gallery. Here, she is presenting her first professional art showing.

As a part of the Voyeur’s monthly Artist Talk, which is open to the public, Elkins describes the process of her work, of following the inspiration that leads to the yet-unknown outcome that will become a finished painting.

She explains that when she is making a new piece of art, she doesn’t approach her work with any idea of a final product; there is no prior vision. Rather, she places intense and engaged focus on finding a place in the outdoors that attracts her for a certain reason. When she finds a place, she studies it intricately in her uncommonly hands-on manner. And then she paints it.

Some of Elkins' work.

In the gallery, a week after the artist talk, Elkins describes in her interview how, in seeking motivation for her work, she is particularly attracted by what she calls “a place that feels human on an abstract level.” She goes on to say how “familiarity and mystery in the same moment [is something that] really draws me.” This idea of a human feeling could mean something like the form of a face in a rock, she says, or a tree with human-like features; but it also could mean some human artifact, something architectural or even an object some person may have lost or discarded as trash.

“In the wild we look for human shapes in non-human surroundings to connect to that space,” Elkins believes that it is unrealistic for us to pretend the two worlds, those of human and nature, are not connected.  Rather, she thinks that we have chosen to change the nature of our wilderness. And what we need is to find a balance, to integrate with nature and to accept what that integration looks like.

Such integration she speaks of is often depicted in her paintings.

The largest painting in the room nearly covers the entire wall at the back of the gallery. At first look, one sees the base of a large tree and the undergrowth that crowds below it. Light green leaves contrast against darker shades of reddish purple and blues and greens that make up the forest floor. Elkins looks at her audience that has repositioned to view the piece. “Does anyone see the shoes?” she asks. Only one or two people nod. The rest search the painting delving into it with their eyes. Then she slowly points out one sandal after another; they blend in so extraordinarily well to their surroundings that they themselves have become part of the landscape.

Among others, this is one example Elkins uses to show the constant presence of humans in an area that is otherwise categorized as a strictly natural space. But the line between natural and unnatural can be a difficult one to draw.  The connection between what humans term natural versus the unnatural presence that is civilized humankind, is something that Elkins explores deeply in her artwork.

In fact, her opinion of the word natural is that it is too broad of a word to really have certain meaning, particularly when mankind is so apt to remove itself from the word.

Elkins remembers always feeling at home in the wilderness. As an only child, she was given the opportunity and freedom to become very independent. She would seek solace in the fields and forests on family vacations to their house in the rural Vermont countryside. Even in Montreal she discovered she could easily immerse herself in the abundance of urban wilderness that the city offered.

When asked in the interview how she became introduced to art, she speaks of the artistic influences of her parents- her mother, a writer and father, a poet. Elkins recalls how her mother would take her to art museums and how, even at a young age, she recalls being captivated by the works of Dali, Picasso and other legendary artists.

At the age of twelve she recalls realizing how much power there was in the act of drawing: that she could create something new on the paper that only existed there and nowhere else.

Elkins' color palate.

Throughout her life, Elkins has experienced synesthesia, a condition in which her mind places certain emotions, or specific associations, with a particular color. This sensitivity to color she describes as “a language we ‘re not even aware of being fluent in.”

But despite this quality of perception, Elkins spent the majority of her youth believing that she could never become an artist. While it was something that was important to her, she said that she didn’t “have the right to be an artist.” She believed that since she could not measure with her eye, the way artists did, and create an accurate replication of an image on the page, it was simply something she could never achieve.

It wasn’t until college that her printmaking professor, David Bonbeck, made her feel like he saw something really legitimate in her work, something that was of artist quality. This is what finally gave her the confidence to apply to Bennington to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree, which has led her to where she is now, a painter with a gallery show.

Elkins also is in the process of beginning an art school, where she will teach classes focused on “exploring and understanding color, and preparing pigments and other art supplies from found and natural sources.” This fall will mark the school’s initiation.

An older woman slowly enters the gallery, assisted by a younger girl. Elkins excuses herself briefly from the interview to join them. She and the woman speak about the different pigments in the paintings Elkins has used in her work. The two share a keen interest in the art of using natural pigments in their art. Earth, berries and even soaked black beans are some of the sources from which the colors are derived to make her own paints. For Elkins, it is a way for her to avoid synthetics materials in her work.

As the old woman walks up to her work, her quiet, labored speech had to be translated by her assistant, “It reminds me of dandelions,” she said in reference to the bright yellow the artist had achieved in one painting. To this Elkins replied, “That is such a compliment, I love dandelions.”

In fact, one may have no trouble imagining Elkins examining a dandelion- along with all the other kinds of flowers, grasses and insects she might come across in a field- as she makes her way slowly along, on hands and knees, in search of the next inspiration that may appear.

For more information, visit Tilke Elkins' website. Click photo for link.

Photos by: S. Hollis

Behind the Scenes of an Oregon Country Fair Artisan

Visitors to the Oregon Country Fair may be unaware of the true behind-the-scenes work and effort artisans invest into their craft, which from an outsider’s perspective may otherwise seem like a dream job.

The 42nd Oregon Country Fair just finished its third and final day, leaving vendors to search for their next gig or, in some cases, live off the money made until the following year’s fair.

For the fair’s duration, the weather remained sunny with mild temperatures which artisan Cindy Manzanita felt very fortunate about. Rainy weather or scorching hot days can have a negative impact on the amount of money a seller may make in the short amount of time the fair runs. With the time invested in producing enough of their wares to sell to the thousands of visitors the fair attracts, having fewer potential customers can easily reflect fewer potential sales.

For artists who want a spot among the hundreds of booths in the forested fairgrounds there is an application and acceptance process to go through to be allowed to set up at the fair; and inevitably there is much competition. And that is only if there are open spots available that the fair could allow in a new vendor.

One vendor who has managed to stake out a relatively permanent spot in the fair over the past seven years is James Allen Curtis.

Photo Credit: Damien Bradley

At a wooden table at the entrance to the booth, Curtis works on a piece of a future mandolin, carving away at the wood in a circular motion- shaping it. There is a small crowd almost constantly gathered in front of the work table. Here they have the opportunity to learn a bit about the amount of labor involved along the road to the finished product.

Photo Credit: Damien Bradley

Curtis is a luthier, which is the title for someone who builds stringed instruments. He has been making mandolins for 16 years and says he still continues to learn new parts about his craft. When he was 12 he became interested in playing the mandolin, having a fondness for the small, portable size of the instrument. He paid $300 for his first one, which was a very large amount of money to him. He happened to come across a luthier at a music festival and it was then, Curtis recalled, that he realized he could make mandolins himself.

So after working nearly constantly for three months Curtis had his first handmade mandolin. After concluding that it worked, a mentor told him that if someone bought it, he would have himself a job. When he realized that he could sell his instruments, he suddenly had a career.

He has since made a total of 135 stringed instruments, including mandolins, guitars, ukuleles and more. There are several of each displayed around the artist’s booth. Each piece is different, he said, I don’t have any kind of standard model that I follow. The types of wood he works with include mahogany, spruce, koa and Spanish cedar. Some of these are very dense and hard to lathe and must be milled down to save time and prevent injury. The constant work can cause repeat stress syndrome in his arms, he said, and he wants to avoid it where he can.

Curtis invites those interested to view a time-lapse video on his website that shows a visual of the process of making a ukulele. The amount of time can be easier conceived by watching over the course of three minutes, what Curtis described in the narrative as “a behind the scenes look at what actually goes into making a musical instrument by hand,” here he explained that the video “basically boils down four days into three minutes.”

But despite all the work, Curtis said that he has had years where he has sold several instruments and others where he hasn’t sold any at all.

Eugene Weekly Science Update

In science and environment-related news around Eugene this week, there is the The Register Guard article on how the Bureau of Land Management is making the proposal to reintroduce herbicides to Eugene to help combat. The BLM stopped using herbicides in 1984, after a court ruling in response to a lawsuit filed by Eugene’s Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. Now, the BLM has produced the mandated environmental impact statement required for herbicide use and plan on intriducing the weed-killing chemicals in limited application. Before this plan is put to action, the BLM officials are opening the issue up to public comment. To comment: Send mail to ATTN: Vegetation EA, Michael Mascari, Bureau of Land Management, 3106 Pierce Parkway, Suite E, Springfield, OR 97477; by e-mail to OR_Eugene_Mail@blm.gov; by fax to 541-683-6981. Comment deadline is July 16.  To learn more, check out the National Pesticide Information Center.

In the labs at the University of Oregon, KVAL.com describes how Dr. Hui Zong and his research team have, through a observing genetics in mice, discovered the exact location where a deadly brain cancer called malignant glioma originates in the body. Particular cells called oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) were those which were found to display the first symptoms of this cancer when exposed to certain mutations that lead to malignant glioma. By having discovered where the cancer begins, the doctor hopes to better understand the OPCs and how they can snuff out the disease at the source. Additionally, the technology used to find the source of this specific type of cancer could possibly help in the discovery of the origins of other types of cancer as well.

The Huliq independent news source has released an article that describes how the Fukishima meltdown can be linked to the increase in baby deaths throughout cities, including Eugene, along the west coast of the United States. In a Twitter search of “Eugene Oregon”, a tweet by @oilpatchplug was  in the feed, alerting others to this news development and his link brought one to a YouTube video of a woman reading the article.

The Future of Bicycling in Eugene: An Uphill Battle?

For this week in everything bicycling-related, we have an article in MyEugene on some of the recent roadwork that is being done over the course of the summer. The newly paved roads will be sporting bike lanes from 29th to 32nd Avenue as you head south and from Donald Street to 29th heading north.

While this good news is uplifting for those who want easier bike accessibility throughout the streets of Eugene, there is also some bad news this week. By way of a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) partnership, an alert has been released that congressional leaders are attempting to cut federal funding for SRTS, Transportation Enhancements and the Recreational Trails Program.

Apparently, there are congress representatives that call this dedicated spending “frivolous” and “not in the federal interest”. What almost certainly could result from this halt in funding is the discontinuation of these programs. What concerned citizens who don’t want this to happen can do to possibly curb these opinions from making headway is Contact their Members of Congress. The article goes on to describe just how important these programs are to Eugene cyclists and pedestrians.

On a lighter note, this week in the Daily Emerald is an article on “bike polo” which has started showing up in local tennis courts. Two teams of cyclists compete using long handled mallets to direct a ball into lacrosse goal. “It’s so underground still,” says Eugene youth Lucas Strain, when asked what the bike polo players call themselves. Watch the video to get an idea of how it works!

Finally, the humorous blogger EugeneBicyclist documents the 2011 Tour de Crate, which just happens to occur concurrently with the Tour de France. The Tour de Crate is a ‘race’ in Eugene between all the “craties”, or cyclists sporting a plastic milk crate on their rear wheel rack. So each day is an update on one or two of each day’s most notable events along with. Be sure to also check out last year’s race!

The 2011 Arts and the Vineyard Festival Celebrates its 28th Year

This weekend, Maude Kerns Art Center held its 28th year of the Arts and the Vineyard crafts and wine tasting festival.

A cloudy morning on Sunday broke apart in the afternoon for the Arts and the Vineyard visitors and doused Alton Baker Park, the bustling craft show and wine-tasting festival in sunshine for the remainder of the day.

Festival-goers were out in great numbers, milling slowly between the individual artist tents inhabited by some manner of decorative crafts, paintings, jewelry or photography.

Photo credit: Chris M. Scotti

One artist’s passion is revealed as her driving factor, “I’ve always picked up rocks as a little kid,” said artist Amy Wilson, who goes into great detail about the history of the stones that she has turned into polished, silver-strewn pendants. She described the variety of types of rocks in her collection of handmade jewelry as having been pushed southward from Canada by a glacier that “scrubbed a lot of North America,” and left rock deposits in areas, specifically the Puget Sound. The sound is where she has always traveled to collect the rocks, only now it is for a living. “I love that they’re just little pieces of our geologic history.”

Photo credit: Chris M. Scotti

Ed Coffman, artist of Hudson River Inlay journeyed across the country from Windsor, New York to be in this year’s festival. The intricate landscape designs are first sketched out in a process that takes months to determine how the wooden pieces will be cut and fitted together. Coffman explained that the sketches are “the guide for the jigsaw puzzle artwork that it is.”

Photo credit: Chris M. Scotti

One of the particularly brilliantly colored booths lit by the afternoon sunlight was Noelle Dass’Artimal designs. Dass claims her whimsical paintings are her way to uplift the spirit, both her own as well those who enjoy and “respond well” to her lighthearted and fun style. “It keeps me going,” she said. This Eugene-based artist said that while some vendors don’t enjoy solicitors coming to their booths, “I like [giving] donations.” The artist mentions on her website that a portion of her sales go towards animal and non-profit organizations.

Photo credit: Chris M. Scotti

Near the artists’ market was the Youth Art Arena, that attracted children with live, captive-bred and rescue animals at the Zany Petting Zoo. Children were also given an opportunity to create clay figures at the ClaySpace tables. Sue Davis, who volunteers for Clay Space, stood next to a tabletop that displayed the children’s sculptures which sat out to dry before the kids returned to collect them, “We just give them a wad of clay and they go at it!” she said.

On the eastern end of the fence-enclosed festival grounds, smells wafted from a

Photo credit: Chris M. Scotti

wide variety of local vendors selling international foods. The crowds of wine tasters mingled between nearly two dozen booths from which employees continually filled glasses. Some of the wineries represented are also established vineyards which grow their grapes in and around the Willamette Valley and greater Oregon.

A wide swath of grass was kept open, one side dotted with tables and chairs where the festival goers sat down to eat and drink. Many people sat out on blankets in front of a large stage with a tie-dye background where the folk duo, Heartroot, was playing. From song to song, the male and female pair strummed a variety of stringed instruments while they sang in harmony.

The music played on as children ran through the grass below the stage as the second day of the 2011 Art and the Vineyard carried on into the evening.

Contributing Editor: Chris M. Scotti

Bicycle Highs and Lows

In the world of Eugene bicycling, this week started out with the beginning of a repaving project on Alder Street which is a road commonly used by University students, including bike commuters.

On KVAL’s website the article on the repaving project mentioned that a grant through Oregon’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Program will cover more than a fourth of the $2 million project.

The new road is planned to have bike lanes, including a two way lane between Franklin and 18th Avenue.

This weekend the Eugene Safe Routes to School organized what they dubbed as the “Kidical Mass Camping Trip”. Kidical Mass is the next generation of Eugene’s bike movement designed by Shane MacRhodes, manager of SRTS, to get kids and their families out on their bikes. This was the group’s first overnight trip. Eleven families total came out and rode out to Armitage Park on Saturday afternoon and spent the night there. The group came home without a hitch (or with many if you consider all the trailers) and with talk about doing it again soon.

The Intrepid Group! Photo Credit: Shane Rhodes

On the Eugene Bicyclist blog this week, there is a post recounting the death of a cyclist, Jennifer Marie Sells of Springfield. Sells collided with a truck on Main Street and was killed. Thusfar, the cause of the accident has not been determined. News stories on the accident can be found from this list originally created on the Eugene Bicyclist blog:

Also written this week by Eugene Bicyclist was a post on the green bike lanes that have been showing up in a spattering around Eugene over time. The green lanes give bicyclists, who are riding in them, the right of way. These green lanes can also be seen as a way to further emphasize to drivers that they are sharing the road with cyclists.

KVAL.com has a video clip and an article out on the Adaptive Recreation program’s “Adaptive Bike Riding” program through which those with disabilities are given a chance to get on specially designed bicycles after an introductory safety check and instructions on hand signals to use while riding. This gives disabled community the opportunity to get out on bikes when they might not have been able to before.

Categories: Uncategorized