February 10, 2012


After Denver was inundated with snow on the second of this month I emailed a friend: How much snow in your area?  Have you tricked your dog into fetching snowballs?  Over 30 year ago (December 7, 1971) Tucson had the most snow ever recorded – about 7 inches.  I was teaching back then and, of course, school was cancelled.  Our dog went crazy in the backyard, and tried to fetch our snowballs!  She sent me a video of her dog bouncing through the snow (which I can’t insert into this blog unless I buy more space) and this note:

It was GREAT, I believe that there was about 18” in my yard.  I wish I would have thought about trying to get Maggie to fetch the snowballs!  She loves to play Frisbee and would probably try to catch the snow.

By contrast, here in Tucson it’s supposed to be 76° today and 80° tomorrow.


TMA’s Contemporary Art Society went to an ArtSpeak program at the Davis Dominguez gallery last weekend.  Duncan Martin, a realist landscape painter from Colorado, and abstract sculptor Barbara Jo McLaughlin spoke about their work.

Barbara’s works were inspired by her trips to pre-Columbian ruins inCentral and South America.  (No photos of her sculptures.  I should take my camera when I go to galleries!)

Duncan’s 15 pieces are the beginning of his 58 in 58 painting project: Painting in All 58 National Parks in 58 Months.  Shown here is Morning, Needles, Canyonlands  48″ x 60″ oil on canvas.  http://duncanmartin.squarespace.com/

The Pima Community College west side campus where I work has a nice little gallery, the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, in the Center for the Arts, the building on the east side of the campus.  I’d gone to a number of musical performances at the Center, but had never been in the gallery until my friend, Nancy Tokar Miller, asked me to the opening of EAST/PACIFIC/WEST: CONFLUENCE this week where she and two fabric artists, Claire Campbell Park and Mary Babcock, are shown.  Beautifully curated.  Here is Nancy’s Over Molokai,  62” x 66” acrylic on canvas.

Chatted with Barbara, who now lives in Hawaii.  She weaves on a vertical loom, from discarded nets.  This from the web:

While living in Oregon, the fiber artist collected gill nets from a man who ran a fishermen’s union. The discarded nets, dumped in a freshwater river when they became ripped or obsolete, were sent to the union for recycling.

“He had a whole room full of old nets. It was amazing and beautiful, all those colored pieces of fiber,” she recalls.

Babcock cut up the nets and wove them back together using deep-sea leader lines. The end products reflect the green and blue hues of the ocean.

“Each (tapestry) is primarily one net apiece. All that color range comes just from being used out in the water and the sun. I did no dyeing,” she says. “The real exciting thing, when I moved to Hawaii and brought them with me, was that in the Northwest, that’s not the color of the water. But they reflect so much of the colors of the water here.”

Babcock’s fascination  with fishnets continued when she moved to Hawaii five years ago (she’s chairwoman of fiber at the University of Hawaii-Manoa art department), and she began collecting nets at Kailua beaches. A couple of tapestries in the show are made from nets retrieved from Kalama Beach.

“I think it’s seasonal. The nets seem to wash up during the winter,” Babcock says.

Nets from Kailua shores are different from Oregon gill nets. The fibrous lines are 1 inch thick and much more vibrant in color. Babcock says that because these nets come from the ocean, with living debris such as algae attached, preparing them for weaving requires sun bleaching to kill the debris and do away with the strong ocean smell.

It’s easy to make distinctions between the gill net tapestries and those made from nets from Kalama Beach. But one piece, titled “Pacific Exchange” (shown here), combines the Oregon and Hawaii nets.

“They’re really both from the Pacific Ocean — from opposite pieces of the same ocean,” says Babcock.

If you’ve got some time this weekend, I’d recommend both shows.

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2 Responses to “February 10, 2012”

  1. Jim Says:

    I suspect that you would immensely enjoy the guided hike from Cusco to the remains of the great Machu Pichu civilization, culminating with a swim in their hot springs – in the Peruvian Andes. Our Amerind guide was a Quechua archeologist, who took great pride in narrating the Pre-Columbian history of his people, as we sat in our tent in the evening drinking coca leaf tea and then dining with fine Peruvian wine. James hiked all the way to top with me; but, Mary got altitude sickness, because we did not acclimatize long enough in Cusco. She and her guide rode part way up to top to meet us.

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      I’ve been to both Cusco and Machu Picchu, although we took a bus between them. Our tour guide was also an archeologist. And we sat in the hot springs at Agua Calienta where our group spent the night at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, which was marvelous! That was 15 years ago, but the chefs were French and the food (only place we visited that quinoa was served, although it’s become commonplace now in the US) was delicious! Cocoa tea was essential; I never got altitude sickness, and could bound up the steps of our Cusco (altitude 11,200 ft) hotel. A few years ago a friend of mine hiked part of the Inca Trail, very trendy now.

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